Friday, November 27, 2009

Jack Ruby Spends His Last New Year’s Eve with His Sister

V / Jack Ruby Spends His Last New Year’s Eve with
His Sister, Telling the Truth as He Knows It:
Parkland Hospital, December 31, 1966

So ask me how many times did I know anything, really.
in this life. Ask me did anyone ever bother handing over
anything I could use. These days almost no one recognizes me.
Up here on the sixth floor, I’m Jack Shit in a bathrobe.
And the doctors making their hypodermic rounds are claiming
everything’s for the pain, as if that’s what they’re trying to get rid of.
I’m not supposed to realize they are delivering more of the cancer
because obviously someone out there still thinks enough of me
to want me gone, especially now with my conviction overturned.
and instead of getting the Chair I’m down for a new trial out of town,
somewhere that isn’t Dallas. These last three years that’s all
I’ve asked for: let’s go someplace else and talk. I should live
so long. I’d say a few things so good, they’d stay said that way
forever. Three years go by, and I’m not your same brother. I’m related
to history now, condemned to keep repeating myself until someone finally
listens. I want to put things right. But not here.

After that sorry Oswald collapsed, I admitted doing it
to show the world that Jews have guts. Or to spare the widow Jackie
another trip to Dallas.
At the time, I was shooting for impulsive
or sympathetic – reasons enough, it turns out, to convict me anyway.
But now someone’s decided anything I said clearly should have been
inadmissible. My lawyer Belli tried to sell the jury I’m a victim
of psycho-something epilepsy – all you need to know is blackouts, Jack.
Hell, I wouldn’t buy that myself is Jesus Christ was giving it away
on the courthouse steps. It took the jury less than an hour
to figure of course I’m guilty, and what else could they say.
No one in that courtroom was expecting an order of death, but that’s
what the jury recommended. I could have gone for something lighter
that early in the morning. Death seemed a little much.

Real guts would have been telling Marcello’s guys to shoot their craps
in hell when they called me of all people, wanted me to know
some unsuspecting putz I’d never heard of in my life had failed
to leave the country fast enough or else –
by sheer coincidence, you understand – get taken out himself. Instead,
he’d been brought in by the wrong cops, unexpectedly
alive. Lee Fucking Oswald – another one of history’s three-name nutjobs.
And I could feel it slipping away, that moment
he was still their unfortunate problem more than he was mine.
They were thanking me already for remembering who
I should gladly thank for being still alive in the nightclub business.
And this is when I figure out what’s going on for myself: it’s not
some half-cocked flake on the loose by himself in Dealey Plaza.
And this is when I know I’ve got to take the play. If I don’t,
all kinds of things get taken from me, fast.
And I know people in this town who would never be able to get enough
of that: Yessirreee . . . hitting a Catholic boy’s not bad at all
but can we still get us a Jew?

I came out of fucking nowhere,
and I’ve been working my way back ever since. But there’s no way
I’m about to die even close to guilty in the eyes of the law.
I’ve been reversed for two months now, and it’s as if what happened
never happened – my part, at least. I’m almost beside the point.
I said it before: I’m history. I’ll stay written down forever
in the Warren Commission Report. Twenty-six books it took those guys
to dish out all the bullshit required to conclude what they already had
in their made-up minds to begin with: Oswald. Only Oswald.
Once they’ve got that down cold, the Ruby, only Ruby part’s a snap.

I’ve got my own Magic Bullet Theory, and this one you can take
to the bank. It’s not any single shot zigzagging through Kennedy
and Connally, opening seven wounds and breaking bones along the way
before finally emerging as Warren Commission Exhibit 399 when it’s found
hours later, pristine on a stretcher here at Parkland.
My theory says
it’s the bullet all of us have to bite, sooner or later, like our lives
depend on it – a kind of making do, getting by this shaky way
or that, even if we’d rather not. It’s nothing that goes through us
and comes out clean on the other side. It’s whatever we have to go through,
ourselves, at midnight or high noon. With no one watching.

And when a few minutes go by, or days, or years of actually feeling
free, in the clear, like we’ve dodged another round of trouble and maybe
we can get back to business as usual: here comes that unmistakable bullet
with our name on it again. Just like in the cartoons, now it’s changing
directions, about to hit us one more time in the ass. And that means
one more time we’ll have to swear we never saw it coming.

So Happy Fucking New Year, Sis. How about you try the Ritz
or maybe Phil’s for some pastrami, corned beef on rye with a few extra
kosher dills. Bagels and cream cheese, lox and green onions. I say
bring it all on. This is still America, last time I checked,
and who knows. Maybe I’m still strong enough to keep a lot of it down.
You tell them you’re there for Jack Ruby. And how much
I appreciate that. Tell them make it lean, because Jack Ruby did everybody
at least one favor in his life. Tell them what I told you:
more than ever, I’m history. But I was there for them, too.
And if your order’s not completely on the house after all of that,
you tell them, if it’s not asking for too damn much,
for all the business your brother’s done his part to keep them in,
maybe he could get finally a little credit this one time.
Only make it sound better, OK? Make me sound better. Not so small.
You’re so good to me, it hurts. Play it however you want to,

but you never even thought about any of this, let alone discussed it
with me or anyone else, until you saw that, to your surprise,
they were still open on New Year’s Eve. And you walked through the door.


From Jack Ruby's America
By David Clewell

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