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Don S. Olson



Look—I wasn’t the triggerman.

In the summer of 1963, from his bedroom window on the second floor of the Westchester Plaza Apartments on the Belford Avenue side of the alley, Charlie Belyea shot little Dougie with an air-powered BB gun. I encouraged him to do it, but I was only the spotter, not the triggerman. He yelled that he was shot, somebody shot him, people were shooting at him, and some of the other kids started to gather around. Charlie and I tore out of his bedroom, right through the living room, out the door, and down the stairs, out to the swing set area. As the door slammed behind us, I heard Mrs. Belyea call out, “Slow down!”

We tried to convince Dougie that getting shot was impossible. The other kids stood around and stared. We were breathless, frantic, saying, “Dougie, Dougie, it’s okay, it’s okay.” A couple of them smirked at us like we were responsible. The idea that someone would actually shoot this cute little boy was unimaginable. To suspect Charlie or me was ridiculous. We were the big kids who looked after Dougie around the playground, right? Weren’t Charlie and I  Dougie’s bodyguards when the Mitchell brothers tried to kick him off the swings? Didn’t we come to his rescue when Victor tore his new shirt and tried to bully him out of his Snickers?

Dougie slowly calmed down until he was just sniffling and most of the other kids went back to the swings and sandbox and jungle gyms. But Fred Spada hung around until Charlie said, “What’re you lookin’ at?”

“Did you shoot him?” Fred said. Fred was Clayton Spada’s little brother, two years younger than us.

“What do you think, Spada?” Charlie said. Charlie wanted to sound dangerous.

“No, Fred, nobody shot anyone,” I said. “That’s crazy. We heard Dougie scream. We thought one of you guys did something.”

“Yeah. You guys are the ones who did something,” Fred said.

“Get outta here, Spada-spaz, or we’ll tell your mom you did it,” Charlie said.

That seemed to work. However small Fred’s respect or fear for us, Mrs. Spada inspired absolute fear and respect. Fred and Clayton attended Catholic school, went to mass, and had to account for their whereabouts every minute of the day. They weren’t allowed much time to hang out with the likes of Charlie and me.

Mrs. Spada was only five feet tall but thick and scary, even for us. She was from Ecuador and always wore long dark dresses. She constantly looked out her front door to see if anything was out of order. The Spadas’ apartment faced a plaza where we played tag and touch football and sometimes got pretty rambunctious, as kids do. She often yelled at us, “Do something constructive!” She stood like a fire hydrant with a single black eyebrow folded down over her dark eyes, glaring. When she yelled, “Clayton! Fred! Get in here!” they slumped and shuffled into the apartment, and I felt really sorry for them. Her husband was a scientist at one of the aircraft companies nearby. I don’t remember him saying one single word. He came home in the late afternoons with his briefcase, and he’d nod at us, but never said a thing. Mrs. Spada greeted him at the door with a big smile, and that’s the only time we ever saw that expression on her face. Then he’d disappear into the apartment and she’d give us that black look of hers and follow him in.

Fred went back to the jungle gym but kept watching us.

“Where’re you hit?” Charlie said to Dougie.

“Right here,” Dougie said, and pulled up his pants leg. On his calf was a slightly depressed hole in the unbroken skin, bright red, exactly the size of a BB. Charlie glanced at me for a minute, then shooed Dougie off to play. Fred drifted after Dougie.

“Jesus, Charlie,” I said to him, somewhat relieved. “You could have really hurt him.”

“Hey, it was your idea!” Charlie said.

“I just wondered if you could hit someone that far away. You didn’t have to go and try it!”

“You wanted me to let you do it!”

“Well, I wasn’t going to shoot some kid!”

We looked at each other for a moment.

“Do you think Fred will tell anyone we did it?” Charlie said.

“Nah. Dougie’s always screaming about something…ya think?”

Charlie thought for a minute.

“We better stash that gun. If my mom sees it, she’ll kill me.”

We went back up to the apartment and tried to slip quietly back into Charlie’s room to hide the BB gun, but Mrs. Belyea walked out of the kitchen with her arm around a big Tupperware bowl, stirring banana slices into lime Jell-O.

“Where were you two headed in such a hurry? What was going on down there?”

“Oh, nothing, Mom. Kids yellin’. You know.”

Mrs. Belyea looked at me and smiled.

“Anything else?”

I had a moment of paralysis. “Um, well, Mrs. Belyea, we were, you know, just, um, well, Dougie down there, um, he…he thought that…”

“Come on!” Charlie shoved me toward his room. To his mom he said, “We gotta put those wings on before the glue sets.”

Charlie built model planes. He pushed me into the room and shut the door. “What’s the matter with you? You sounded like a dope out there!”

Charlie’s mom was a whole other story. Divorced from Charlie’s dad, she was the hottest mom I ever saw in my life. To me, and to every other friend of Charlie’s, Mrs. Belyea was a knockout, a bombshell, the ideal. She was five-three or so, black hair cut short in a pixie-cut, and she had these amazing curves that none of the other moms had. She didn’t dress like anyone else’s mom, either. She usually wore tight, pastel-colored Capri pants with either snug sleeveless turtlenecks or light cotton blouses with the tails tied in a knot so that her breasts were just out there. Man! In those days, some women had a way of supporting their breasts that made them look like a pair of torpedoes coming at you, or like the front end of a ’57 Cadillac.

I have no idea how old she was at the time—probably only about 30 or so—but what 12-year-old kid cares about that? Although we were enthralled by the blond icons of the time—Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren—Mrs. Belyea was real flesh and blood, and for all of us who were beginning to really, really like girls for reasons we didn’t understand, Mrs. Belyea seemed to have a secret that we had to decode. We were fascinated with the way she talked, the way she moved. Each step she took in those Capri pants made her butt flex to one side and then this incredible, exquisite tension would build until suddenly, as her forward foot hit the floor and her back knee bent to transfer her weight, the whole round, packed, powerful mass of her perfect ass would just jump from one side to the other, followed by a tiny quivering aftershock. Then her calf would tighten and the tightening would travel up the back of her thigh, loading her buttocks for the next salvo. Whenever I saw her walking, I heard jungle drums start up and animals began roaring in my head. There were grace notes in the jiggle of her breasts against the broad chords of her hips swaying, step by step by step. And when she talked to us, she would bend slightly forward at the waist so that our 12-year-old eyeballs jumped nervously from her enormous brown eyes to her warhead breasts. So close that I could feel her breath on my ear, she would lay her silky hand on my wrist and say, “Would you boys like some Eskimo Pies?”

After that, there was nothing we could deny her.

We never wanted her to find out about any of the shit we did. If we had disappointed her it would have broken our hearts, crushed us. She was our angel. Of course, when puberty began its unrelenting march into our lives, the angelic quickly became debased by the impure visions we conjured up as we locked ourselves into our individual bathrooms to explore these new, curious, and irresistible urges. Maybe that’s why I remember Mrs. Belyea so clearly.

Not that her influence civilized any of us much. Beyond the range of her smile, or, for that matter, Mrs. Spada’s thunderous and condemning gaze, we reverted to our savage little selves. We ran wild, created adventures, organized ball games, and stayed away from our homes as much as possible. In summertime the total freedom was the most wonderful feeling of all—no school to rein us in, no fixed times to do anything. It was our own Lord of the Flies. We haunted construction sites and staged brutal rock fights in the excavations for sewers for future apartments and aircraft plants. We raced bikes in the streets and tried to kick each other off as we threaded our way between cars. When a plastics factory burned down, we picked through rubble while it was still hot under our Red Ball Jets and gave off smoking fumes that I’m sure were toxic as hell. We built rafts out of old pallets and floated them down a creek that I now realize was an effluent channel from the Frito-Lay factory by the railroad tracks. We played endless hours of “over the line” on the fields of the local school, scaling the ten-foot chain link fence with our bats and gloves and balls, a fence designed specifically to keep us out. We scrambled over the tops of the two-story apartment buildings that most of us lived in to evade Bob the Maintenance Man when he caught us doing any of the things that to him were off-limits. We sprinted across rooftops with absolutely no consideration of gravity, but only concerned by what would happen if he told our parents. Adults existed almost totally outside of our world. With the occasional exception of Bob the Maintenance Man, I don’t remember any intrusion by them into this world that was wholly our own.

Gathered in the alleys, ditches of construction sites, on the rooftops, and in the vacant lots, we lived in our own society. Although we returned to our homes for sit-down dinners and at night slept in our beds like little angels, it was only to refuel the wildness. And it was in these same alleys that we smoked stolen Tareytons and discussed what we thought sex was, who the prettiest girls at school were, and, if Charlie Belyea was absent, what was going on underneath Mrs. Belyea’s Capri pants.

But there was also a dopey innocence. Now and then one of the gang—Jim Flynn, Tommy Allen, Francis O’Leary, Roger Rowe, or the other Charlie, Charlie Cameron—would sneak a Playboy magazine and we would devour it like hyenas. Once I boldly checked out a book on sex from the public library, and we pored over it, trying to digest the technical discussions of vulvae, inner and outer labia, clitoris, cervix, ovaries, vagina. It seemed complicated. Even our own organs took on a dimension that made them more like plumbing than something useful with the girls at school—glans, vas deferens, ureter, prostate, urethra, seminal vesicle. What was all this stuff, and how did it relate to the terms we were picking up on the schoolyard—dick, cock, pussy, twat, shlong, and poontang? Where did Mrs. Belyea fit into all this and why did we feel so funny around her? And furthermore, how was it that Charlie’s dad moved out when he could have been having sex with Mrs. Belyea whenever he wanted? This last subject was one on which we speculated with great energy, puzzled over the Belyeas’ volatile separation versus the stability of the Spada family. Was there something we didn’t understand about marriage?

In the autumn of the same year that Charlie shot Dougie, I was walking to my fourth period art class with my cohorts, shoving and punching each other out of the breezeway between the buildings. David Young ran up behind us, breathless, and said, “They shot President Kennedy!” When we got into class, the PA system announced that indeed the President of the United States had been gunned down in Dallas.

We sat silently. Our art teacher, a spaced-out but otherwise pleasant woman with the slow, precisely articulated speech of someone who’s been around children too long, began to sob quietly. All of the girls and some of the boys in the class began to cry too. Some of us looked at each other with wide eyes; someone should take control. Our teacher tried to bring some sense to things, but halfway into every sentence she’d break down into long racking moans that caused her shoulders to shake. It was unsettling.

The PA came on again. School was closing for the day and those who did not walk to school were to report to their homerooms pending bus scheduling. The rest of us were free to go. Even in late November, it was a mild day in Los Angeles, and being a Friday, despite the events, it felt great to be leaving early.

 As weekends go, however, it was terrible. All sporting events were canceled. All television shows on the national networks and local stations were canceled. Everything was canceled. Although my parents went out that night—working class folks didn’t cancel a night out for anything—there was nothing to watch on television. Instead, they ran movies about Abraham Lincoln and repeated news stories over and over. It was depressing, and I went to bed and listened to the airliners landing at LAX until I fell asleep.

A pall fell over everything on Saturday. Just a few of us—Charlie Belyea, Tommy Allen, and Charlie Cameron—gathered in the alley and jawboned about the assassinated president and swapped stories we had heard about the shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald. We devised the most excruciating tortures imaginable for the guy who shot the President. The Catholic kids among us—Jim Flynn, Francis O’Leary, and Roger Rowe—all had to stay home. Their families took it pretty hard about the Catholic president.

Finally, we disbanded for home. My mom and I watched the new president, Lyndon Johnson, make a speech to the country that night, while my dad pulled a shift at the North American Aviation plant, one among many manufacturers around Los Angeles at the time. Johnson seemed to have the weight of the world on him, which I guess he did. I had no idea what this meant. My mom told me not to worry but to pay attention because it was history in the making.

By Sunday, my buddies and I were out of our minds with boredom. Everything was shut down. I ate my cereal with the TV on because they were bringing Lee Harvey Oswald out for a jail transfer. On the screen a bunch of guys in suits and cowboy hats waited around. I decided nothing exciting would happen. My dad walked into the kitchen as I put my bowl in the sink.

My dad worked hard to take care of my mom and me, and he always made it a point to spend time with me no matter how many hours he worked. When Sunday came, my mom and I did our best to let him relax. He earned his Sundays.

“I’m going to Tommy Allen’s,” I said.

“What’s that on television?” he said.

“I think it’s the basement of the jail where they have Oswald, the guy that shot the President,” I said. “They’re going to move him.”

My dad took a tan Incaware cup from the cupboard and filled it from the glass percolator on the range. He took a tentative sip.

“Do you understand all this that’s been happening?” he said. “Are you all right? Everything OK?”

“Yeah. I’ll see you later, Dad.”

“Stay out of trouble.”

Tommy Allen was a celebrity in our circle because he had been run over more times than any other kid. He frequently missed school because he’d cracked a rib bouncing off a car, or crashed his bike into a driver pulling out of a gas station, or lost a race to beat a stoplight. He even managed to get run down by a Good Humor ice cream truck, which was a real work of art. He had meant to fake it as a diversion while Roger Rowe robbed the icebox when the driver got out to see if Tommy was dead. Roger ate the whole box of Fudgesicles himself while Tommy had his arm set.

I hung around Tommy’s until his mother kicked us out. Then we found Charlie Belyea and Charlie Cameron. The two Charlies had been to church and Tommy had promised to go to the late service, and I never ever went, so we had a few hours to kill.

Belyea had a great idea—we’d make a dummy. We scrounged whatever clothes, newspapers, and hangers we could find for the frame and stuffing, and in short order we had a pretty good-looking dummy, roughly life-size.

The first stop was the balcony over the apartment where three stewardesses (so-called in those days) lived. These gals were almost as fascinating as Mrs. Belyea, but we had little contact with them because of their flying. The guys they dated chased us off if we hung around, trying to look in the windows. We had the theory that sex was going on in there. I had only been in their apartment twice: once when I had to apologize for smacking a ball through their picture window, and again when Charlie Cameron and I helped carry groceries from the carport. The three women threw a lot of parties, and more than once the police came around. There was a big white polar bear rug in the living room. The first picture of a naked woman I ever saw had her spread out on a rug just like that, and it became of great interest to me ever after.

We hung the dummy over the railing. We waited. We heard the door open. We dropped the dummy in front of the landing of the apartment, and there was a ripping scream. When the stewardess realized what had happened and looked up, her face went from fear to anger and finally into a smile.

“You boys,” she said, starting to laugh, “you boys are going to get into some real trouble some day.”

A blond man came out and looked up. He was an airline pilot with a shirt with epaulets and metal wings over the pocket. We came down and picked up the dummy, keeping straight faces until I made the mistake of looking at Charlie Belyea. All he did was raise his eyebrows at me and I burst out laughing and we took off running. The pilot started after us, but his girlfriend called him off.

“Little bastards!” he yelled. “You have no respect for anything! Right after the President gets assassinated!”

We headed over to Belford Avenue where Charlie Belyea lived. There 93rd Street turned 90 degrees into Belford and it was the perfect place to tuck the dummy under a car. Drivers turning the corner wouldn’t see it until they were on top of it.

Clayton Spada and his brother Fred came up the street, returned from church. Although Mrs. Spada didn’t like her boys associating with us because we were public school kids and therefore delinquents, Clayton secretly liked hanging around with us. He had the awkward air of a kid who never learned to throw a baseball, and I think he admired us for our natural ease with such things. He was very studious, but had envy in his eyes when he came from school with his stack of books and saw us lighting out for the ball field with our gloves and bats and cleats. The few times I had been in the Spadas’ apartment, I found it strange, with statues of bleeding Jesus on the cross. And like every other Catholic household I’d ever been in, there was a smiling portrait of John F. Kennedy hanging there, right over the dinner table.

Fred walked by, but then stopped and watched us from a distance. Clayton stayed with us.

“Whatchou guys doing?” Clayton said.

“Whaddaya think?” Charlie Belyea said, pointing to the dummy lying between two cars.

“What are you gonna do with that?” Clayton said.


Charlie and I slid the dummy just behind the front wheels of a Buick LeSabre so that only the legs were visible. To a driver coming around the corner, it looked like someone fixing his car but lying in the road. We crouched behind the Buick to hide, including Clayton.

We didn’t have to wait long. The first car that came around was a Borgward, a strange looking thing, but the man behind the wheel never saw the dummy. The second car was a late-model Olds with a woman driving. She glanced to her right and then straight ahead, and then her head snapped to the right again and her mouth formed an “O” and she wrenched the wheel to the left and the car heeled way over and she clipped the tail of a Chevy parked on the other side of the street. The crash was louder than you’d expect for the damage done, and by the time she came to a stop, we were running away. Looking back, I saw her get out of the passenger-side door.

We tore down the breezeway of the building where Clayton lived and into a series of alleys beyond. I couldn’t believe that Clayton was running right alongside us in that clumsy-footed way of his. It wasn’t easy in wingtip shoes.

When we stopped, Charlie and I laughed so hard that we couldn’t speak, and Clayton was smiling, and Charlie Cameron had to take his glasses off to wipe his eyes. Tommy cackled in a high-pitched staccato that made it hard for him to breathe. This went on for a couple of minutes until we weren’t laughing any longer, but just wheezing and coughing.

“Did you see the look on her face?” Charlie Cameron said.

“She’ll be mad when she finds out that was a dummy,” Clayton said. His eyes moved over each of us, as if he could be part of the gang now.

Naturally, we had to return to the scene of the crime. We slipped through the alleys via an alternate route so that we could look at the scene without being spotted. The woman was standing by the Buick crying, and there were several other adults there, including the owner of the Chevy. He was talking to the woman who had hit his car, trying to calm her down. The dummy was now lying on the Buick’s hood and two of the men looked around. To tell you the truth, I felt bad, although we had to keep ducking back around the corner so we could laugh. It was mirthless laughing now, and when I looked at Charlie Belyea, he looked worried rather than devilish.

After an hour, the grown-ups left. The dummy still lay on the hood of the Buick. We debated if they were trying to lure us out. Clayton was very worried.

“My mother’s going to kill me,” he said.

I said, “Oh, don’t sweat it, Clay—Fred’ll cover for you. Tell her you were playing tag.”

“We were supposed to come straight home from church. Mother is really upset about the assassination.”

“Well, it’s not like Lee Harvey Oswald is running around Westchester Plaza.”

“You guys shouldn’t do this stuff.”

“Clayton,” Charlie Belyea said, putting his hand on Clayton’s shoulder, “have we ever steered you wrong?”

Clayton looked at Charlie, then at me, and then at Charlie again.

“Fred says you guys shot Dougie.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Mrs. Spada stalked around the corner, with Fred right beside her. With her was Mrs. Belyea. Charlie dropped his hand from Clayton’s shoulder. Mrs. Spada looked us over.

 “Clayton, go home with Fred. I talk to you later,” she said. They left.

Mrs. Spada looked at us, one at a time, long enough for each of us to look away. Her thick black and gray hair looked like it was made of iron. Her black eyes were burning like an oil fire.

“Did you do that?” she said, indicating the dummy.

We looked at each other. I started to speak, but she cut me off.

“You!” she said, pointing her finger at me, “You! I know you. All the time—big joker. Big joker! You think everything is funny!”

“But Mrs. Spada, I, I …”

“You think it’s funny to throw that thing in the street? You think so, Mr. Big Joker? I tell you something. Someone else is a big joker, big joker just like you. Just like you!”

“But Mrs. Spada…”

“Lee Harvey Oswald, he’s a big joker! Big joker! An’ they fix the big jokers!”

She spun on her heel and stomped off. We watched her broad back recede down the walkway and heard her thick-soled shoes clomping long after she had disappeared around the building.

Mrs. Belyea looked at Charlie.

“You’d better get on home, young man,” she said. He left.

Mrs. Belyea took me by the arm and led me a few steps away.

“I’ve always liked you, Don. I always thought you were a good influence on Charlie.”

I didn’t know what to say. She smiled. She moved closer.

“I hope nothing will happen to change my opinion of you,” she said. “Mrs. Spada told me some things. I went through Charlie’s room.”

There was a crushing feeling in my chest. Despite that, a strange excitement ran through me, like an overwhelming happiness, but physical, starting right at the center of my body. I couldn’t remember Mrs. Belyea being so close to me before. Her beautiful face was inches from mine. I felt myself getting flushed, north and south, as though my blood was heating and expanding, and if it kept going my head would explode.

“Do you know anything about a BB rifle?”

The words went off like a sonic boom. I had a moment of confusion. It hit me. It was Fred! Fred told his mother about Dougie! And maybe Mrs. Spada told Mrs. Belyea!

A thousand things I could say swelled in my brain all at once. Mrs. Belyea’s eyes flooded into mine. Her breasts were practically touching me. I could feel the pulse in my arm beating against her fingers. I’d never had anything like this feeling inside me before. There was a roar in my ears that was blocking all the words, and I was trying to swim through the blood and the noise and grab some words, any words, to say to Mrs. Belyea before my head exploded and ruined everything.

I took a deep breath.

“Yes, Mrs. Belyea, it’s mine. I was showing it to Charlie and I guess I forgot it.”

She leaned closer. “Is that all?”

Jesus! I was taking the rap for the gun! Was I supposed to say that I pulled the trigger on Dougie? Maybe Mrs. Spada said that I did. What if she hadn’t? What if she was talking about something else entirely, which could be one of a hundred things that Mrs. Spada might say. We weren’t good Catholic boys like her sons. There were lots of reasons for Mrs. Belyea to look through Charlie’s room, like the time he got caught with Jim Flynn’s broken switchblade at school. I hoped Charlie appreciated what I was doing for him.

“No, Mrs. Belyea. Honest. That’s all, really. Well, except for this dummy and stuff.”

Mrs. Belyea kept looking at me, and then let go of my arm and patted it gently. Thank heaven she smiled just then, or I think I might have started crying.

“Okay, Don.” She turned to Tommy and the other Charlie. “You boys ought to go on home now.”

 “And I don’t think you’re like Lee Harvey Oswald at all,” she said to me.

Mrs. Belyea smiled again, and then walked to the corner of the building and turned out of sight. I heard jungle drums beating.

Tommy Allen whistled very quietly.

“Mrs. Spada was really mad at you,” he said.

“Why me? I wasn’t the only one here,” I said.

“Well, you know,” Charlie Cameron said, “she thinks you’re a bad influence.”

“Me?” I said. “Me? What did I ever do?”

Charlie looked thoughtful for a moment.

“She knows you don’t go to church,” he said.

Of all of us, even Belyea, I was the only one who didn’t belong to any church, and it was no secret that my dad held no truck with religion. But I didn’t think that made me into Lee Harvey Oswald.

“Let’s get the dummy out of here,” I said. We carried it to a narrow passage between the alleys. All the air had gone out of us by that point. We dismembered the dummy and I took Charlie Belyea’s things to give back when I went to get the rifle. There was nothing to be said, so we drifted off.

I slogged home. What if Mrs. Spada had called my mom? When I got the BB rifle, where would I hide it? Well, that was Charlie’s problem, really. The closer I got to home, the more dread I felt at the idea of my father sitting there waiting to cross examine me about the dummy and the gun and the shooting and ten other things that I figured he must have found out by then. I felt like a convict walking to the gallows.

In the apartment my dad was sitting in his chair smoking an L&M and watching television. I could hear my mom in the kitchen.

He smiled. “Why so glum? Say, you really missed it this morning. Where have you been?”

Was this a trick? Was my dad acting normally, or was this a trap?

“Oh, just messing around with Charlie and them for a couple of hours.”

“You know when you left this morning, not two minutes later, they brought Oswald out and some fella shot him, right there live on TV.”

My dad seemed like his normal self. That lifted the weight I’d been carrying all the way home. And they shot Oswald!

“Well, gee, Dad, I guess that’s good then, isn’t it?”

“Why do you think that?”

“I mean, he shot the President and everything, so didn’t he deserve it too?”

On the TV there were pictures of Oswald, including one of him holding a rifle and a book. He had a little smile on his face. It startled me how much he looked like Charlie Belyea with that little smile. That was very weird.

“Well, maybe, but maybe not,” my dad said.

“What do you mean?”

“I know it all seems clear now, but what if it’s not so easy? You know, a man shoots the president, so then they catch him, and two days later he gets shot. Everything is fixed. That isn’t the way the world always works, you know. Nice and tidy.”

“But I thought that he was the guy. Oswald.”

“He might well be, but just imagine if he wasn’t the guy. What if he was the wrong guy, or he was there, but he wasn’t the guy who did it? This all happened awfully quickly, you know.”

I didn’t like where this was going.

“What if he wasn’t the triggerman?” my dad said.

My blood ran cold. Maybe he was tricking me! He continued with a straight face.

“What if Oswald, the man they said shot the President, what if it wasn’t him? What if he was shot because they said he was the triggerman? What if the guy who shot Oswald in the basement did it because of what everyone was saying, but it wasn’t right? Maybe the guy he shot wasn’t the actual triggerman?”

And all I could think was, I swear that it was Charlie who shot Dougie. I wasn’t the triggerman. Honestly. I’m not Lee Harvey Oswald, no matter what Mrs. Spada says. I don’t think everything is so funny. Really, I don’t. I’m telling you, I’m telling you, I wasn’t the triggerman. I wasn’t the triggerman. I’m not Lee Harvey Oswald. I am not Lee Harvey Oswald.


Don S. Olson

Don Sherwood Olson is the co-author of The Manager Pool (Addison-Wesley). He teaches creative writing at Northern Arizona University.

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