“Miss, please,” one of the nurses said, “you have to let the staff do their work.”
“I need to stay!” Jackie screamed. Tears welling up in her eyes as she clamoured to kneel next to the gurney. She took her husband’s hand. “Come on, Johnny. You can make it, baby, I believe in you!”
Medical personnel whooshed around her, the beeping of monitors and respirators in the background providing a metronome ominously ticking away each endless second. The emergency room was packed with poor sons-of-bitches suffering all manner of injuries; broken legs, alcohol poisoning, you name it.
The senior surgeon approached her. “Miss, you have to leave this to us,” he said.
“I’m not fucking leaving! That’s my husband.”
Jackie leaned in close to John’s ear. Rivers of tears were now streaming down her face. An orderly thoughtfully placed a bedpan under her chin.
“Thank you,” she nodded.
The orderly tipped his hat and walked away whistling.
Jackie turned back to her husband.
“I don’t know if you can hear me right now but I need to tell you something,” she softly said, choking back her anguish. “I know we haven’t had a perfect marriage. I know things haven’t always worked out the way they were supposed to and we haven’t been together as much as we should have.”
She took a handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed her cheeks.
“We still have to go to Europe, baby. We still have to raise our family. I need you. All of our plans, you can’t just let them go right? I need you to know that I love you,” she continued to sob, “I love you and I – I honestly mean it when I say… when I say that I’ve never felt closer to you than I do right now. I need you to pull through. If you can just hold on a bit longer…”
The doctor came over and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Miss, I know you want the best for him…” started the doctor.
“I do,” she wailed, “Anything you can do. Anything I can do – if he needs blood, a kidney, I’ll give him whatever he needs!”
“Miss,” the doctor continued “I do appreciate the offer but the president has been dead for 18 hours.”
“What?” Jackie recoiled, mortified.
“Part of his skull is on your blouse,” the doctor pointed out.
Jackie looked down. The doctor was correct.
“I did feel close to him,” she somberly said, dusting it off.
“Also, that wasn’t his ear you were talking into, it was a part of his spinal column.”
Jackie glanced over; a rather critical half of Kennedy’s head was indeed missing. The doctor had a remarkable aptitude for observation, she mused. She looked back at the doctor earnestly.
“Give it to me straight, doctor,” she asked “What are his chances?”
“Well, he will likely remain dead for some time.”
“We were supposed to go boating on the weekend?” Jackie remembered hopefully.
“He won’t likely recover by then,” replied the doctor.
The doctor began to walk away.
“Doctor,” Jackie called out, “Do I get to be president?”
“Oh,” she said lowering her head, “Do you?”
Jackie turned back to her husband’s half head and softly whispered, “Don’t worry, baby. Nothing bad will ever happen to a Kennedy again.”
Part of Kennedy’s cerebellum lazily plopped out of his skull and onto the metal gurney.
Jackie got up and walked past the orderly who was still whistling a jaunty tune.
“So, what’ll ya do now, miss?” Asked the orderly.
“I don’t know. I’ve always thought his brother Robert would make a decent president.”