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The crowd gathered, anxiously and jubilantly outside Ford’s Theatre. To them, this was another show night, but this time there would be an unforeseen tragedy. A large, American personality would be in attendance, along with several members of the upper class. It is April 14th, 1865. The play, Our American Cousin, was supposedly a sensation of the time, filling the sitting rooms with ladies chatter and critiques.

The guests, decked out in their elegant dresses and freshly pressed suits, filled the seats. The ladies offered hushed conversations to those around them, fanning themselves from the growing heat that was circulating off of the bodies. Above them, in a zoned off box, sat a man of great report, as anxious as the crowd below him to see the show. Slowly, the lights dimmed and the cavernous room was swept in darkness and the hushed voices silenced completely. A single beam of light grew from a box higher than the rest, right in the middle of the theatre. This light shone like an angel’s halo, illuminating the stage, yet focusing on a single actress.

Her voice started quietly, then grew in volume and passion. The sound was euphonic to the observing man’s ears like the finest world symphony, bringing a smile to his wise, bearded face. His head bobbed slowly in time to the songs sung far below, his heart soared and dropped with the music. This would be a show he would watch again in times to come he was sure. A few faces glanced up in his direction, trying to glean his face from the shadows.

The scenes changed below, the music flowed with grand pauses and dropping notes, thrilling trills and drastic crescendos taking them all on a soulful journey. A back door opened behind the curtain. It was linked to the alley behind the theatre. Another well-known man of the time shut the door behind him, listening intently for the small click of the door latching over the music before continuing his sneaking journey towards the performers. The actors and actresses continued with their costume changes and moving the sets around. There were silent exchanges and apologies for clumsy bumps and accidentally stubbed toes. This was a new world, unknown to any not in the trade, a world of choreographed lifts, twirls, tying of dresses and buttoning of suits all done in the darkness, concealed by the curtain.

The shadows hid women in slips, changing to more fanciful dresses, but they also hid the man in the trench coat, his head tucked low and a hat over his face, should any light fall upon him and make him identifiable. He dodged the troupe and found himself in the main lobby, the entrance to the theatre to his left and a flight of stairs to his right. He slunk up the stairs, like a marten stalking a mouse, and his hand went to his pocket. His fingers closed over something cold and hard, but distinctly metal. He had the information he needed, so he knew immediately, which curtained box to slip into; three down, and on his right. The red velvet curtain was pulled shut to keep any outside noises from entering and interfering with the art below.

His left hand stroked the curtain with a touch as gentle as a lover, but as malicious as a coiling serpent. Inside this box, his target, the president of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, sat inside, oblivious to any danger. He pulled back the curtain, pulling out his right hand from his jacket and taking aim with the small revolver. The head was bobbing along, still in time, and just as the music went into a crescendo and peaked, he clicked a bullet into the chamber. The sound was masked by the music as his finger rested on the trigger.

Suddenly, the form in front of him stood up and whirled around. An arm shot out and dislodged the revolver from the coated man. It slid out of the box, under the curtain, and out of sight. He stared in amazement, wondering if Lincoln hadn’t been tipped off to his murderous task. Already, the city outside was being closed off, all routes of escape would be gone, his scheduled escape would be shot to hell now and he was sure to be caught. Panicking, he made the decision to save the plans for the future from the grasp of the public.

The slight commotion went unnoticed by the theatre-goers below, but not those in a nearby box. The woman in the next box over let out a terrified squeak and promptly fainted, alerting the man beside her. He looked over and saw the face-off between President Lincoln and another known face; the face of actor John Wilkes Booth. The duke, for that was who in the box, rushed out and instead of aiding directly, ran down the stairs to the nearest officer of the law. He informed him in gasping breaths of the calamity playing out in the seats near his, also requesting a doctor to aid his wife. The officer ran upstairs immediately, rushing into the now unveiled box and pulling his own revolver.

The scene in front of him was that of controlled chaos. The president was just putting on his famous, black velvet top hat and straightening his suit. Booth was standing there, gaping, trying to decide how to save the information still on his person from the police and the government. The book in his pocket was too important to lose, yet he had no choice. He pulled out his lighter, and the officer clicked a round into the chamber. Slowly he turned, lifting his hands to the inside pocket of his coat to grasp the small book. The officer made no attempt to stop him, thinking he was merely retrieving his last cigar before imprisonment, and was shocked when he pulled out what appeared to be a journal. His shot came a second too late, the book went up in flames as if it was an accelerant itself, and dropped to the floor. The thud of the body followed quickly, and the blood started to pool.

The president tipped his hat to the officer, waving him away, and sat back down. He removed his hat once more and realized with subtle joy the whole exchange had gone unnoticed by everyone else. Easily, he slipped back into the music’s beat and his head began bobbing again. There was only on scene left to the play. He felt slightly disheartened that he had missed any of the brilliant, work but he was also glad, because it gave him a valid excuse to come again.



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A bullet clicked into the revolver’s chamber. A single shot was fired into the bobbing head. The body slumped over the railing with which it had been leaning and fell into the crowd below. The last scene was finished. President Lincoln was dead.



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