December 5, 2005

Prologue

The silence of the pre-dawn morning was broken only by the occasional car or truck passing on the snow-slick two-lane highway. A car slowed to a crawl as if closing in upon its prey. The rear end slid a little as the sedan skidded to a stop. The darkness was broken by the white flash of backup lights as the vehicle slowly backed up four dozen yards and turned into a narrow driveway. The sounds of a straining engine could be heard through the barely falling snow as the car lumbered through the mud and slush. The headlights bounced up and down and side to side in duplication of the rutted road. Snowflakes danced in the twin beams like chorus girls in the spotlight. Round and round they spun, climbing and falling to the ground in the wake of the slowly moving automobile.

The car coasted to a stop in front of a run-down farmhouse. The roof was partially caved in and the awning over the porch had long since been consumed as firewood. The glow of a cigarette could be vaguely seen through the frosted windows of the idling car. The engine cut out as the door opened. A short figure in a bulky overcoat climbed out of the dark vehicle. The cigarette arced a path through the darkness as it was flipped into the distance. The man looked to the east as the first rays of dawn began to spread their pink and orange fingers through the clouds of the night sky. It had stopped snowing. The man's breath made clouds around his head in the early morning cold.

The man huddled next to the car until the sun began to peak over the horizon. He opened his trousers and relieved himself on the left rear tire before clearing his throat and spitting in the direction of the vanished cigarette. He slowly made his way toward the house.

The man mounted the sagging steps, hesitated and ducked through the doorless entryway. The sun’s weak rays provided just enough light for the figure to navigate the littered hallway. He made his way to what was the front living room. The television set and VCR were strangely incongruous in the surroundings.

He started the gas-powered generator. Its sound filled the early morning air. The man involuntarily winced at the noise. He lit another Camel and turned on the TV. Static changed to a blue screen as the VCR powered on. The tape was over after three minutes. He poured steaming coffee from a large green Thermos and went to the corner to relieve himself yet again. He sat down and watched the tape twice more.

His assignment was clear. The Vice President of the United States was to attend the “Greatest Spectacle in Sports” – the Indianapolis 500 in just four and one half months hence. In May the Indianapolis 500 gets top attention in the papers: not this year. This year the Vice President would be assassinated while attending the race. The man in the bulky overcoat watched the film yet again. The man would go to Indianapolis tomorrow and begin laying the plan to kill the heir apparent to the Presidency.

He picked up all of his cigarette butts and placed them in his pocket. From his briefcase, he took a wad of plastic-like gel. He first stuck the plastique to the side of the generator and then added a detonator. He was seven miles away on the interstate when the farmhouse disintegrated into a ball of flame.

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