Gloomy clouds over Lake Michigan hovered low in the October sky. A black Suburban sped west on Route 2. The driver hadn’t seen a car since leaving St. Ignace and this late in the year no state troopers patrolled the two-laner traversing the Upper Peninsula. He cruised though Nabinway at 85, then stamped on his brakes upon spotting a white van parked at restaurant on the bluff. The SUV lumbered to the side of the road and the tall man behind the wheel reached over for his binoculars.

He focused them on the back of the van.

The plates matched those of the fugitive.

Only this morning the Assistant Field Director in Petrowsky had called off the hunt for their quarry.

“The fat man has slipped through our net, but someone that size will breach the surface sooner or later like Moby the Dick.”

The driver of the black car hadn’t imagined ‘later’ would arrive so soon and he tried a number on his cell phone without success, then dialed 911 with the same result. The UP had horrible coverage.

SOP recommended back-up and the agent waited for the phone service to come back on line.

The diner’s neon sign blinked HOME COOKING every five seconds and thirty minutes went by without a single car or truck passing the Wonderland Diner.

The sun dropped beneath the pines. The thickening darkness was all the cover that the fat man needed to escape into the Upper Peninsula’s trackless woods. The agent once more pressed the number for the FBI.


He pulled out his 9mm.

“Fuck SOP.” The agent shifted the SUV out of park and drove right behind the van. He flicked off the safety of his automatic and exited from the Suburban. Blessing himself with the left hand he walked to the entrance with his weapon behind his back. The door opened with a creak.

Neither the cook nor the young man at the counter broke from their fixation on the food fest at table #5, where a fat man in overalls shoveled down the remains of grits and eggs.

“Where them pasties?”

The fat man pushed his stubby fingers through lank hair.

“They’re coming.”

The cook flipped the half-dozen meat-stuffed pasties onto a plate, then turned to the tall man at the door.

“You comin’ or goin’? Cuz either way you gotta shut that door.”

“Business so good you can insult customers.”

The newcomer shut the door.

“Sorry, mister, I don’t heat the great outdoors. Not this time of year.”

The tall man sat at the counter and asked, “What’s good?”

“Most everythin’.”

The fat man wiped his mouth with the back on his hand.

“Chicken pot pie was damn good. Pork Chops too. Ya should try that.”

“Maybe I will.”

The tall man eyed the young man at the counter. The dirt on his hands had not come from any honest labor and the leaves in his long hair indicated a night under a bridge. He was no one and the tall man whipped out his 9mm.

“Don’t shoot me, mister. The money’s not much, but it’s is yours. ” The cook dropped the plate of pasties.

“He’s not robbing no one.” The fat man poked a fork into the flapjack stack.

“Not unless I have to.” The tall man produced a badge with his left hand. “I’m a duly authorized federal agent and that man is a fugitive from justice. You two stay out of the way and nobody will be hurt. Big man, keep your hands in front of you and stand away from the table very slowly.”

“I’m not with him,” the hippie stammered and the agent snapped, “Then keep your hands in plain sight.”

The agent approached the booth.

“Drop that fork.”

“Damn, who ya’ll? The fat people police?” The big man rose with extraordinary grace for a man his size. His hands rose in the air. “Yer wanna arrest me, go ahead, Ah ain’t gonna fight.”

The fat man was wanted Dead or Alive and the agent wasn’t taking any chance. “You know through the drill; turn around, face the wall, and spread them wide.”

“Am ah gonna be safe with ya’ll.”

The fat man stretched his elephantine arms and legs against the Formica wall.


“Ah mean, the only reason Ah ain’t surrendered before was that Ah weren’t sure that yer cud keep me safe.”

“Oh, we have safe places for you.” The agent dangled handcuffs to the cook. “Slap these on the man. If he moves, I’ll shoot him.”

“Shootin’ a man that big like trying to hit a bear in a vital spot.” The cook took the manacles. “No offense, big man.”

“None taken.” The fat man’s head swiveled and gleamed a toothy smile. “Yer a good cook and Ah gots to dig yer fer that.”

“Keep your eyes straight ahead.”

“Ain’t that a laugh? Here ya’ll tryin’ to earn a decent livin’ and this bloodhound starts messin’ with yer customers and orderin’ ya around.”

“Shut your hole.”

“Bet that pea-shooter makes ya feel like a big man.”

“Shut up.”

“You wanna know why they after me? Cus Ah’m privy to the truth about lies. Cookie, why don’t ya ask Bossman why he’s arrestin’ me? I bet $100 he don’t have no clue.”

“These won’t fit.” The cook fumbled with the cuffs.

“You have to open them up.” The tall man glanced at the silent longhair. His hands were on the counter. The agent snatched the handcuffs from the cook and stepped closer to the fat man. “Get real tight with that wall and put your hands behind you.”

“I’m gonna obey your every command, bossman.”

“Cook, you have tape?” The cuffs were too small for the XXXXL man.

“Yes, sir.”

“Ain’t ya suppose to use government-issue tape?”

“I told you to shut your hole and I meant it. Where’s that tape?”

“Right here.” The cook offered masking tape.

“Wrap his wrists tight.”

“Hey, ya don’t wanna be cuttin’ off the blood. Ah mean Ah gotta eat with these hands.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll be stuffing your yap soon enough.”

“I hate prison grub.” The fat man spun on his heels and pushed the cook.

The agent had been expecting this move and pulled the trigger. The shot strayed wide and three hundred plus pounds of sweat, fat, and bones squashed the agent into the opposite wall like a Samoan lineman sacking a quarterback. When the fat man stepped away, the unconscious agent slumped to the floor.

“You killed him,” the cook declared with horror.

“He ain’t dead, only knocked out and you’re a lucky man. People will come in droves, cus they’ll all wanna to hear about what happened and not much happens this time of year or any other, right? If fact ya’ll should be thankin’ me for savin’ yer winter.”


The fat man cocked the 9mm.

“What you gonna do?” The cook looked at the payphone.

“Ah’m gonna go down the highway and ya can tell the fellas that come for this one that too.”

The fat man picked up the pasties from the floor and dropped several twenties on the counter, then looked at the longhair.

“I’m no trouble.”

“And ya ain’t gonna have none neither. I want ya ta drive fer me.”

“Drive for you?” The hippie lowered his arms.

“They have an all-points on my van, so Ah’m takin’ the bossman’s car.”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe ya didn’t hear me right. You’re drivin’. Afterwards ya say that Ah forced ya’ll, which is exactly what Ah’m doin’.”

“You’re not leaving me any choices.”

“Yer exactly right.” The fat man searched the fallen agent’s pockets, finding the car keys, and said to the cook, “Thanks for the lunch. It was delicious. Let’s go.”

The hippie exited from the diner and the fat man pointed to the SUV.

“I like big cars. They make me look thin.”

“There’s not many places to run on the Upper Peninsula.”

“That’s okay, cuz where Ah’m leavin’ here pronto.”

“You expecting an alien abduction?”

“That’s funny, but ET already landed on Earth. Sum of ’em are tubes, but Ah’m so fat, they can’t achieve orbit with my weight. Now git in the car, we have to go.” The fat man shoved the longhair behind the wheel and then sat in the rear with the SUV teetering to the right.

“Head west.”

The hippie studied the rear-view mirror with a little too much interest.

“Who’s been chasing you?” The hippie backed out of the parking lot.

“The FBI, the CIA, the NSA and even Mossad had a shot.”

“Was that guy one of them?”

“Maybe, but he mighta been after the million-dollar bounty on my head.”

“Why you worth a million?”

The hippie glanced in the rearview mirror.

“Keep yer eyes on the road. Ya seen me enough at the diner.”

“I ain’t seen anyone human eat that much.”

“Ya’ll can’t get a better disguise than a fat person.”

“So why they hunting you.”

“Ah tell you and they’ll hunt youse to the ground.”

“Heck, I’m already wanted for credit card theft, so I’m off to Canada, then north to the Eskimo nation to hunt seals or whales or carve tusks. I’m good with my hands and there’s not much call for that skill in the old USA, right?”

“Yer really wanna hear why they’re after me?” The fat man leaned forward to whisper in the driver’s ear.

“Hell, I’d tell you I’d keep it a secret, because after two beers or a joint I’d surrender the family skeletons to entertain the crowd, so if you don’t want your story spread around the Eskimo nation, keep it to yourself.”

The driver’s gray eyes gleamed with a hustler’s sincerity.

“You almost sound honest for a thief.” The fat man settled into the seat. “Ah was once young and full of life like you, then one day Ah heard a story, which altered my life. A secret Ah wuzn’t supposed to hear and didn’t believe. Anyway this man told me the truth of this world. Oh, Ah heard why we were in Vietnam to control the heroin trade. Why we gave China to the Reds? To control one billion people under one leader. The government waved the flag and blacklisted commies in America, which was smoke fer the real drama. None of those truths got me in trouble. No, the one that endangered me is the greatest mystery in the American Century. Yer have any idea which one that might be?”

“Is Elvis alive?”

“Elvis is dead. Ah saw the body.”

“You saw the body?”

“His corpse was bigger than me, but Elvis’ death ain’t the greatest secret in America, unless yer an Elvis impersonator. C’mon, think a little harder.”

“Biggest secret. Oh, I have it. Who killed Kennedy? You’re talking about Dallas, right?”

“Yer wanna hear the tale.”

“I don’t know.”

“Ah, fuck it, Ah’m gonna tell, like it or not. Ah was eleven, when Kennedy was assassinated. Hell, Ah can tell you what Ah was wearin’, cuz Ah went to a Catholic school. White shirt, blue tie, black pants, black shoes. Anyway Ah believed that Oswald was the killer. Same as the rest of the America and Ah believed that, until Ah met the assassin and he wuzn’t no CIA agent either.”

“Who was he?”

“His identity is unimportant, cuz he wuz part of the machine that killed the president.”

“Cause of the Bay of Pigs?”



“Not even warm. This story doesn’t begin with the Kennedys, but Marilyn Monroe?”

“Yeah, the movie actress JFK was banging.”


“Okay, okay, tell me your story then.”

The driver flicked on the headlights.

“What yer do that fer?”

“Cause it’ll be dark soon, that’s why.”

“Yeah, right, so as Ah said, the story starts with Marilyn Monroe. Not many people were aware of that she was the illegitimate daughter of a Mafia gangster. Anyway Marilyn became a movie star and every citizens in America believes she’s havin’ an affair with JFK, only JFK is usin’ her as a ‘beard’ to hide his womanizin’.”

“With Judith Exner Campbell.”

“Glad you watch The History Channel.”

The fat man dropped the southern accent.

“What happened to the drawl?”

“This story goes faster without it. So JFK sees Marilyn socially a couple of times, but she becomes a pain in the ass and JFK orders his brother, Bobby, to tell her it’s over. Bobby goes to Marilyn after the birthday bash in Madison Square Garden. Normally the sight of a crying woman had no effect on the hard-hearted bastard. Only she’s a beautiful woman and he comforts her broken heart.”

“So JFK never made it with Marilyn.”

“I never said never. Anyway Bobby falls in love with Marilyn and starts telling her his business and JFK’s too. He starts talking about leaving his wife and the Kennedys had a hard enough time electing Catholic in 1960 without having a divorce scandal clouding the 1964 re-election. JFK orders his brother to dump Marilyn. Bobby refuses and JFK vows to stop this union, but he can’t turn to the Mafia, since he’s stiffed them on Cuba, so he goes to that old drag queen, J. Edgar Hoover, who’s as pleased as punch to get dirt on the President. The little fruitcake tells him not to worry and flies out to Los Angeles with his boyfriend and they kill Marilyn. Unfortunately Bobby walks into the bungalow and beats the shit out of them and J. Edgar confessed that his brother ordered her murder.”

“Shit. A car’s following us. In fact they’re catching up.”

The fat man glimpsed over his shoulder.

“And they have flashing lights. Step on it.”

The longhair accelerated to 100.”

“Thanks, kid, it’s comforting to have someone in your corner. Now where was I? Oh, yeah, Bobby wanted revenge. Nothing came to him, until the brightest and the best of the White House discussed the drop in JFK’s polls. The president asked, if anyone had an idea to boost his popularity. None of them have a clue, but Bobby suggested that they stage a fake assassination attempt. The rest of the brain trust called him crazy, except Old Man Kennedy understood street politics and mumbled that nothing boosts the likehood of his son’s re-election more than a failed assassination. JFK accepted his father’s advice and gave the CIA the go-ahead. Those university minds plan to place a CIA team with blanks on the grassy knoll. JFK will become a hero, the election will be a landslide, and a mandate assures a new era of prosperity. None of them suspected Bobby was setting up his brother and he goes to the old Mafia boss.”

“Who was Marilyn’s real father?”

“Ten points. Bobby told the old man how JFK had ordered the death of his daughter and agreed to place another shooter on the scene.”

“The Texas Book Depository,” the driver spat like he was rushing an answer to a game show.

“No, Oswald was a fall guy. The Mafia chief put his shooter in the building across the street. November 22, 1963. Everyone was in place. The CIA team on the grassy knoll. Oswald’s rifle in the Depository. The Mafia hit man waiting for his shot. The limo made the turn and the Mafia hit man banged away, hitting the president. The CIA team was confused by the shots and pulled off a few round. The hit man delivered the coup de grace and Bobby had his revenge. Fratricide.”

“It makes sense,” the driver murmured and lifted his foot on the gas. The car slowed on the straight-away.

“I figured you for one of them.”

“Sorry, big man,” the driver apologized, as the car pulled over to the shoulder. “I’m only doing my job.”

Blinking lights filled the interior of the car.

“They want you alive.”

“Yeah, for now. You think about what they’ll do to you, once they find out you know what I know? They won’t be giving you a medal.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Officer Tippitt, Lee Harvey Oswald, Dorothy Killgallen, Jack Ruby to name a few, but we don’t have time to tally the body count. I step out of this car and I’m a dead man by Christmas. You’ll dead by Thanksgiving.”

“That is just some crazy bullshit.”

“Okay, you talk to your boys. If they ask, if I told you anything, you say no and tell them I have a gun and will only surrender to you, then come back to the car and drive faster than hell. A plane is at an airfield five miles from here and the pilot will wait another ten minutes. Now if I’m wrong, step away, because I’m not surrendering to those motherfuckers.”

“Why do they want you dead?” The driver rested his hand on the door handle.

“Who the fuck knows with those people, but you know how they are, don’t you?” The fat man cocked the 9mm.

“I’ll be right back.”

The longhair walked to the men behind the cars. They spoke for a minute and the hippie returned to sit behind the wheel.


“You were right.”

“I wish I wasn’t. You ready?”

“Hell, yeah.” The driver stamped on the accelerator. The black car burned rubber. Shots shattered the rear window, but didn’t break the glass. “That’s one way to quit your job.”

“No one in my job has ever retired.”

“So welcome to head out of the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes your way,” the fat man sang Steppenwolf’s hit.

“Fire your guns into space.” The driver showed they were on the same team, because the open road was the only world left for people like him, until the ranks of the resistance outnumbered the liars in power and hopefully that would not take an eternity.

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