the museum of americana

a literary review

The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln Run Backwards–Flash Fiction by Marc J. Sheehan

Imagine one of those talking dolls with a string planted in its back–Chatty Cathy or, better yet, Ed Grimly, whose catch phrase was, “I’m as doomed as doomed can be, you know.” Except instead of the string returning to the doll, the doll snaps back to the ring at the end of the pull-cord. That’s what it looks like when John Wilkes Booth is summoned back to the presidential box of Ford’s Theatre from which he jumped after shooting President Lincoln. He flies backwards through the air, returns to the box as Lincoln seems to suddenly startle awake as if from a worried dream. Booth aims the pistol at the back of the president’s head then backs out of the box without a sound. The opposite of ‘dissolution’ is not ‘solution’ he thinks. Does he really think that? How could he defy gravity, so calmly suck the bullet back into his gun whose barrel is the exact size of a wound? This is the solution to the Confederacy’s dissolution, he thinks, as he steps into the Lincolns’ box, because the technology does not yet exist to rewind the scene. The technicians of the sacred are at work on this and are only seconds away from a breakthrough. Sadly, their seconds are eons.

 

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Marc J. Sheehan is the author of three poetry collections, most recently the chapbook, Limits to the Salutary Effects of Upper-Midwestern Melancholy, from Split Rock Review. His flash fiction has been featured on NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction series and Selected Shorts.  A chapbook of his flash fiction, Dissenting Opinion from the Committee for the Beatitudes, was recently published by Etchings Press. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan.