“How do you figure they keep the thing burning all the time?”
“Eh, they probably shut it off at night and send some Pee-Eff-Cee nimrod out here to fill it with butane.” Red said nonchalantly, then theatrically flipped his Zippo and lit a Lucky Strike, “We came here from a fortress hidden inside a dead island volcano in the middle of the ocean and you’re puzzling over a glorified cigarette lighter?”
“Maybe I’m just making conversation, kid.” Ben tucked his hands deep in the pockets of his trench coat. It was a cold November day in Arlington, damp from a recent storm. 1965 was speeding towards it’s end.
“So you buy this conspiracy shit, Chief? You think it’s true?” Red said, looking straight ahead, a thousand yard stare.
“Hell, I don’t know.” Ben was a bit surprised to hear himself say the words, “I’ve read a whole lot of documents and seen some pretty amazing stuff the last few weeks, you gotta realize. But I don’t know. I guess I’m skeptical either way.”
“My old man was fucking certain it was a hit. I think his grave is over there somewhere.” Red pointed off to the distance, at rows and rows of white crosses.
“What’s in the coffin?” Ben asked, gazing at the sea of buried dead soldiers, wondering how many he might’ve known during the big one.
“Hell if I know. Rocks, I guess. A mannequin. The plane was so trashed, they just figured me and Pop had to be goners.” Red dragged casually on his smoke, “I guess mother came to the funeral. If they let her out.”
“What happened to your mother?” Ben queried.
“Cut the shit, Chief. You read the file. She’s in the bughouse.” Red looked square at Ben, “Maybe Pop should’ve been in there, too. Maybe you as well, for getting mixed up in this circus.”
“So what do you think happened to Kennedy?” Ben asked, changing the subject.
“I think people just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that one limp-dicked little puke can wipe out the leader of the free world. I think one nut did a nutty thing, and now there’s an outbreak of nutjobs all over the goddamn place.” Red pulled his cig all the way to the nub, then flicked it away, “It’s the only explanation for everybody getting all excited about those four sassy pansies with with their sisters’ hairdos, prancing around.”
“So why do you stick around? Go along with this cloak and dagger outfit?” Ben pulled a flask from his chest pocket.
“I’m in it for the kicks, daddio.” Red cracked his first smile of the day.
“I’ll drink to that.”
And so they did, passing the flask back and forth.