‘Til Death Do Us Part (Fiction)

‘Til Death Do Us Part was my first sale and first published piece, written for an anthology called Alternate Kennedys and edited by Mike Resnick. It was a science fiction anthology, so of course I wrote a horror story about President Jack Kennedy and a certain demon that made his life interesting.

Sold in 1991 this story’s now over 20 years old, but I think it holds up well. The references are all ancient history for a huge chunk of the population, but it connects with a really interesting part of history in a different and I think funny way.

Enjoy.

‘Til Death Do Us Part

“Jack, is it really safe for me to come here? What if Jackie finds out?”

The President rolled over onto his side.

“Don’t worry. She’s in New York shopping. The guards don’t keep track that entrance to the White House, and everyone on duty is loyal to me. Nothing can go wrong.”

# # #

Washington, D.C. (UPI) The capital was in an uproar today after the Washington Post disclosed that it had obtained pictures of film star Marilyn Monroe leaving the White House last Tuesday approximately 3AM (EST). The pictures were printed in the Friday edition of the Post.

The pictures were taken by Post photographer Lance Jacobs, who claimed that he had had an anonymous phone call telling him that “to keep an eye on the President” that night.

White House spokesman Pierre Salinger announced that there would be an official statement later in the day, but noted that “the President is a very busy man, and it’s not unusual for him to have visitors at odd hours.”

Jacqueline Kennedy, in New York to host a fund raiser for the Daughters of the American Revolution, declined to comment, saying only “Jack is a good husband and a good Catholic. I’m sure he has a logical explanation, because he would never do anything to hurt me or his children.”

Marilyn Monroe was not available for comment. According to actor Peter Lawford, a friend of Monroe’s, she was “on vacation for a few days in Bermuda between pictures”.

# # #

President Kennedy sat at his desk in the Oval Office, his head buried in his hands. “Can we stall them? Stonewall until something else comes up?”

“Jack, her face, among other things, were clearly visible.” Bobby Kennedy turned from the window and confronted his brother. “You’ve seen the pictures! No stonewall in the world could protect us. That would just give Stevenson more time to leverage this. We need a clean, quick out. What it is, I have no idea.”

“Bobby, call Hoover. He’ll have some dirt on the Post. He can shut them down.”

The Attorney General sighed. “I did call Hoover. He asked for copies of the prints.”

A sound somewhere between a sigh and a gargle erupted from the President’s mouth. “Congress is going to rip out my throat and leave the corpse for the voters on election day.”

“Jack, it’s not that bad. Something will come up and the voters will move on to something else. It’s not like they found out your crew was asleep on that PT boat — we can make America sympathize with a husband fooling around if we can get the media to work with us. They may snicker, but it’s human. All we need is the right slant. Get your mouthpiece working on a release before the dogs start digging through the garbage for something else. We’ll be okay.”

# # #

Washington D.C. (UPI) White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger announced Thursday in a prepared statement that the reason for Miss Monroe’s visit was “to discuss with the President plans for her upcoming USO tour of Southeast Asia and Europe. Because of their schedules, a late-evening meeting was the only practical time, and lasted until approximately 3AM because of the many details that needed to be worked out.”

Response from the Congress was immediate and not printable. Republican Senator Adlai Stevenson announced that the Senate would be forming a special committee to investigate possible impeachment of the President, noting that if the rumors were true, that “any man with morals as questionable as the President seems to have is not a fit person to be sitting in the Oval Office.” An unofficial White House response labelled Stevenson a “sore loser” and that any investigation would prove the President’s innocence.

Jackie Kennedy, in London to host a fund-raiser during the opening of the London Symphony, released the following statement: “I have all confidence in my loving husband and continue to believe that these rumors were based in the tawdry minds of the press and not in reality. Jack and I love each other dearly, and he would do nothing to hurt myself or the children. Every day we are apart there is a void in my heart, and I wish I could be with him in this time of crisis. I plan on telling him that myself as soon as I return to Washington.”

When asked when she plans to return to Washington, Mrs. Kennedy only noted that she was flying to Monaco immediately after the performance to work with Princess Grace in charity work for the starving orphans of that country, and that she had no idea how long it would take to get them all fed and put to bed. “As soon as we have wiped out poverty in Monaco, however, I will be by my husband’s side, defending his honor as I know he would defend mine.”

According to studio spokesmen, Marilyn Monroe was still on vacation and unavailable for contact.

# # #

“Bobby! Did you see what Jackie said? And who called Adlai a sore loser? He’s going to hang on until I’m dead!” A paperweight crashed against the door with a thud.

“That wasn’t supposed to be quoted. Sorry. Who’s idea was this late-night USO shit? Are you trying to get impeached? That’s so lame it hurts.”

The door opened, and head appeared, saw the paperweight and disappeared. The door quickly crashed shut again. Another paperweight hit the door at the same time.

“YOU said that? I ought to kill you. The USO bit was my idea, and Norma agreed to do it. Nobody with a brain will believe it for a second — but nobody can shoot holes in it, either.”

“You better hope so, Jack. Or you’re dead meat politically. You better get Jackie home, too. The longer she stays away, but worse it looks for you.

“Jackie won’t come home. I’ve tried everything. She’s going to sit over there in Europe and watch me twist in the wind. She never did forgive me for that nurse the night Caroline was born, and now she’s getting even. This better calm down soon, or my career’s dead. All for a couple of tits.”

“Yeah, but what tits, Jack.”

“Shut up, Bobby.”

# # #

UPI (Hollywood) In her first public statement since her clandestine trip to the White House, actress Marilyn Monroe, back from vacation to start filming of Tom Jones was quoted as saying “There is nothing between myself and the President. We’re just good friends. I have nothing else to say, because there’s nothing to talk about.”

In Washingon, Senator Adlai Stevenson announced that the hearings on the All Nighter crisis, as it has come to be known, would begin in two weeks on August 6, and that all attempts to acquire the minutes of the meeting between the President and Monroe, as well as visitor logs for that evening, have been meet with silence by the White House. Stevenson commented that the White House could expect a subpoena for the records within the week.

# # #

“Jack?”

“Norma! It’s not safe for you to call. I think Hoover has this phone bugged. I know Adlai’s bugged yours. We can’t talk.”

“Jack, we have to do something. He wants me to testify! Jack, I miss you. I don’t know what to do.”

“Norma, you’re an actress. A damn good one. Lie.”

There was a moan in the telephone. “I can’t do that. I’ll be under oath. That’d be illegal!”

“Norma, no more illegal than sneaking into the White House in the middle of the night and sleeping with a married President.”

“Jack, when are you going to tell Jackie about the divorce?” “That’s the worst thing we can do right now, honey. I can’t do anything until after I’m re-elected. If this blows up any worse, it’ll cost me the election, and it won’t do your career any good, either.”

“I can’t handle this. I tried to go to the bathroom last night and there was a man from the Tribune in my shower. They won’t leave me alone. Peter’s got me some more tranqs, but I can’t sleep. We need to talk. Can we get together?”

“We can’t get together now. The press would rip us to pieces, and so would Adlai. If we hold together a while longer and push through this, we can be together forever.”

“Jack, I don’t know if I can do it. I’ll try, but I’m afraid. Lonely and afraid. I need you.”

“I need you, too. I wish I could be there, but we have to string this out just a while longer. Do the best you can. Don’t talk to anybody you don’t have to, and practice your story for Congress. Trust me, it’s easier to lie to them then you think.”

“Jack…”

“Norma, I have to go. The King of Belgium is in the other room to talk about cheese tariffs. I’ll talk to you soon. I miss you.”

“I love you Jack. I’ll try.”

Kennedy hung up the phone, then threw it across the room.

“Bobby! Get in here!”

The door opened, and the Attorney General ran in. “What, Jack?”

“That was Norma. She’s cracking, the slut. We need to do something, or she’s going to spill to Adlai on national TV. Do you know of any place we can start a war? Blow up a couple of leaders and pin it on the revolution or something? We need a diversion.”

“Castro’s up to something, but we don’t have enough info to go public yet. Maybe we can scam something up in Vietnam. I’ll look into it.”

“Vietnam? Where’s that?”

“It’s a rice paddy out in Asia. Nobody wants it, so we can bomb the shit out of it for a while without anyone getting hurt. Do you really think she’s going to crack?”

“She was hysterical on the phone, Bobby. She’s cracking as we speak. She just doesn’t know it. Lawford’s got her stuffed to the nipples in tranquilizers, but that won’t keep it bottled in long enough.”

“Damn. You better talk to Giancana, then. See what he can do. I’d get one of my friends in the CIA to look at it, but Stevenson’s got spies in our spies. Sam’s not traceable.

“Put out a hit with the Mafia on Marilyn Monroe? Are you crazy?”

“You got a better idea? If you do, I suggest you use it. Or do you like the idea of losing the election, getting divorced and possibly being the first President of the United States to be Impeached — because of a Morals charge?”

The President shuddered and rubbed his eyes. “Yeah. I’ll have Judith call Sam and arrange a drop. Jeezus. You never would have guessed that a pair of tits could cause a national scandal.”

“Jack, these weren’t just tits. They were Marilyn Monroe’s tits.”

“Bobby, don’t remind me. Get out of my sight and go start a war.”

# # #

UPI (Hollywood)

The film community is in shock tonight as one of the leading stars of today, Marilyn Monroe, was found dead in her Hollywood apartment of an apparent overdose. The police are investigating the death, but consider it a probably suicide. She was found by a friend. actor Peter Lawford, who was visiting to talk to her about the script for her current film, Tom Jones. She had recently become embroiled in a controversy over a late-night meeting with President Kennedy at the White House and was scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday. Monroe was the stage name of Norma Jean Baker, and was 35. Her film credits include Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, Some Like it Hot and West Side Story.

# # #

“Jack, couldn’t the Mafia have made it look like a fucking accident? Run the car off a cliff or something? Everyone’s wondering if you had the CIA shut the bitch up.”

“Giancana says it wasn’t his guy. When he got there, she was already gone. All he did was cover his tracks and get the hell out.”

“You actually believe him? He’s setting you up, Jack. Taking your money and leaving you to hang. He’s never forgiven you for screwing him in that concrete deal.”

“Bobby, think for a moment. What’s worse: having the Mafia hanging around your neck for the rest of my life because they know I ordered a hit on Monroe, or having everyone wonder whether she’s dead because I told the CIA to do it?”

“What’s worse? Both, Jack. What if Giancana’s lying, and decides to remind you of your ‘debt’ to him in, say, five years? You think you’re safe now, but are you? Hell, maybe we should have had the CIA do it.”

“Do you think they’d have any more luck with Monroe than they’re having with Castro? She’s dead, and Stevenson’s up a creek. We should be able to ride this one through, now.”

“Jack, at least TRY to sound unhappy that she’s dead, okay?

# # #

UPI (Washington DC)

Republican Senator Adlai Stevenson announced a delay in the start of his hearings on the Kennedy-Monroe meeting because of the untimely death of actress Marilyn Monroe. “Now is not the time to sully the memory of someone who is important to so many people in this country. This investigation can wait while we all grieve the loss of one of the shining lights of America. I can only hope that neither her involvement with the President nor these proceedings had anything to do which this final act of desperation.”

# # #

“Bobby, did you see what that asshole said?”

“Jack, let the man have his final swipe. He can’t hurt you know. The probe is dead and he knows it. You’ve won. Get Jackie home and maybe you’ve got a shot at re-election now.”

“Yeah, I have, haven’t I? I’ll call Jackie and try grovelling again as soon as I get back from the funeral. Maybe if I let her redecorate the Lincoln Room.” The President grimaced. “Again, that is. Oh, this is going to cost me.”

# # #

“Jack.”

The President sat up in bed, suddenly wide awake. “Who’s that?”

“It’s me, Jack. Marilyn.”

“Norma? You’re dead! Is this some kind of sick joke? Who is this?” The President turned and fumbled for the light.

“Jack, don’t turn on the light. You won’t see anything. I am dead. But I missed you so much. I had to be with you.”

The light snapped on. The President stared at the empty room. “What’s going on?” The light turned itself back off. “I told you you wouldn’t see anything, Jack. You won’t see anything.” Something brushed the President’s cheek in the dark. “You can, however, feel me.”

“Norma! What are you doing? Stop that! You’re dead!”

“I’m dead, Jack, but I still need you. I need you badly. Love me, Jack. Love me with all your life.”

# # #

“Jack, you look like hell. Your back bothering you again?”

“No, Bobby. Just having trouble sleeping. Nightmares.”

“The PT boat again? Shall we call Feelgood for some more tranqs?”

“No, not the PT boat. Norma. Damn, I wish Jackie would get back here. This sleeping alone crap is driving me crazy. I’d sleep better if she was with me.”

“Still no luck bringing her home?”

“Nope. She wants me to fly out and grovel in person first. Come and bring her home.”

“Do it, Jack.”

“Huh? You kidding? She’d never let me live it down!”

“So? You won’t live it down anyway. You need her, and she knows it. Besides, a vacation will do you good. Go spend a week or so in Monaco. Relax, play kissyface and get her back here. You haven’t had a vacation for a while. The country will understand. What could go wrong?”

# # #

UPI (Washington DC)

Secretary of Defense John McNamara announced today that United States Military Intelligence had conclusive evidence that the Russians were building installations in Cuba for the purpose of housing nuclear missiles targetted at targets within the U.S.

Showing a series of photographs taken by high-altitude reconnaisance flights, McNamara detailed what he claimed was a methodical military buildup of Russian troops and the creation of a series of missile silos and military bunkers.

The President, who has been in Monaco with his wife on vacation since August 28th, cut short his trip and was returning to Washington. White House Press Secretary Pierre Sallinger said that no further public statments would be forthcoming until the President arrived and was briefed on the situation.

# # #

“Bobby, if you ever, ever say ‘What could go wrong?’ to me again, remind me to have you killed. Now, what happened? This was supposed to be a nice, quiet, uneventful vacation and re-union with my wonderful, caring wife?” The President grimaced. “At least she’s home again. Hope you like puce. That’s the color of the wallpaper going in the Lincoln room.”

“Forget the wallpaper, Jack. Remember that war you told me to start when we were looking for a distraction on Monroe?”

“Now that you mention it, I do.”

“We forgot to call it off. Congratulations, Jack. We’re the parents of a major nuclear crisis. You, me and Khrushchev.”

“You set this up with the Russians?”

“No. He’s doing it on his own. We’re just blowing it up onto the front page where everyone will see it.”

“Oh, Jesus, Bobby. He’s a hard-nosed bastard. It’s not going to be easy to get him to back down. Nukes in Cuba.”

The President rubbed his eyes. “You don’t suppose I could get Adlai to impeach me now, could I?”

“Not a chance, Jack. You’ll have to deal with this one.”

“Damn. You know what’s worse?”

“What could be worse than nukes in Cuba?”

“Jackie insisted on separate bedrooms.”

# # #

“Jack. You’re finally back. I missed you.” “Norma?”

“Yes, Jack. I’m glad your back. I need you.”

“Not tonight, Norma. Please.”

“Love me, Jack. Love me. I need you.”

“Norma, no. Norma. Stop that. Please, I need to…Norma! Stop!”

“Love me, Jack. Love me forever.”

“Oh, Norma. Ohhhh….”

# # #

“Jack, why is Jackie pissed?”

“Don’t ask, Bobby. You don’t want to know.”

“Jack, she was talking about painting the White House. Blue.”

“Shit! That woman will be the death of me.”

“What did you do?” “I, um, I called her Norma.”

“You WHAT? Of all the stupid shit stuff you do, Jack, that’s the most stupidest shit I’ve ever heard. Why?”

“It slipped. The nightmares are back, and Norma’s in them. I wasn’t thinking.”

“You NEVER fucking think. You and those gonads from Hell, Jack.”

“Never mind that. How’s the blockade going? Any word from Krushchev?”

“Fuck Cuba. It’ll wait. Go get Jackie settled before she ends up in fucking Monaco again.”

“Fuck her, Bobby. Fuck being President. Let’s give Nikita whatever he wants and we can bring in some broads and party until Adlai kicks us out and changes the locks. I don’t give a fuck any more.”

“Jack, you’re just tired. Go talk to Jackie. Krushchev wants out of this as badly as we do. We just need to find a way for everyone to save face. Let the diplomats do their job, and you go grab Jackie and take a nap. I’ll hold the fort.”

“I don’t want to take a nap. All I see is Norma.”

“Jesus. Let me call the doctor and get you something to knock you out. You need to get some sleep. You look like shit.”

# # #

“Jack.”

“Norma. Please. Leave me alone. I can’t handle it. I’ve got to get some sleep. Go away.”

“Jack, I can’t go. I need you. You need me, too. You think of me, don’t you? When you’re with her? Or the others?”

“Norma, go. I’m crazy. You’re dead. You’re a figment of my imagination. You don’t exist.”

“I’m real, Jack. I may be dead, but could your imagination do this to you?”

“Norma, stop. Oh, god. The best lay I’ve ever had and it’s a fucking ghost.”

“A fucking ghost, Jack? Very funny. True in its way. Don’t think about it. Enjoy me. Love me. Be mine tonight. Be mine. Forever.”

# # #

“Jack, did you get any sleep at all last night? You taking that stuff Feelgood prescribed for you? It’d knock out an elephant.”

“No, I didn’t. Makes me too stoned to think. I’m doing okay.”

“Well, you look like hell. We need to announce the agreement on the missles to the public in two hours, and you look like a fucking ghost.”

The President giggled. “A fucking ghost. Right. Heh. Tell you what, Bobby. You get the speech finished and I’ll go try to get a quick nap. Have someone come and get me so I can be made up in time for the speech.”

# # #

“Jack.”

“Norma. I’ve tried. I can’t live without you. What have you done to me?”

“Loved you, Jack. Loved you like you’ve never been loved by a real woman. Loved you like I never could when I was alive. As I will, as long as you sleep in this room.”

“This room? What about when I’m not President any more? What will we do then?”

“Then I’ll be gone forever, Jack.”

“No! You can’t do that!”

“I must. I can visit you only here, Jack. Only where we were together in life. This is the only place we can be together. As long as you live.”

“Oh, God! What if I lose the election? I’ve got to have you!”

“There is an alternative, Jack. We CAN be together. Forever.”

“Forever?”

“Join me, Jack. We can be forever together. I’ll never leave your side again.”

“You mean, die?”

“Yes, Jack. If you want me, you have to join me.”

“No! I can’t do that! Suicide is a sin. If there is life after death, that would send me to Hell. I’d never kill myself.”

“You don’t have to kill yourself, Jack. You have — resources. I know.”

“No. I don’t want to die!”

“But you want me, Jack.”

“Yes. I want you, Norma. But I don’t want to die.”

“Love me, Jack. Love me. Be mine. Be mine tonight. And forever.”

“Norma, I love you. But I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be, Jack. I’ll be there for you. Forever.”

“I don’t want to die.”

“Love me, Jack.”

# # #

UPI (Washington DC) In a speech televised Nationwide, President John F. Kennedy today announced that he and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev had come to agreement on the placement of Soviet troops and missles on the Island of Cuba. According to the President, all nuclear warheads and offensive missiles will be removed from the island, as well as Soviet troops and training personnel. In return, the United States will remove the blockade of the island and drop the economic embargo against the Castro regime, as well as the cancelling of a CIA-run covert operation known as Mongoose. The United States will also be dismantling an unspecified number of Jupiter class nuclear missles currently stationed in Turkey. Cuban dictator Fidel Castro issued this statement….

# # #

“Jack”

“Norma. Come here. I need you.”

“Jack, if you had let them bomb the White House, we could have been together now. Forever.”

“That would have killed thousands, maybe millions, of others!”

“So? They’ll die sooner or later, anyway. I want to have you. I want you now.”

“Then come here. You can have me.”

“No. I want you forever. Promise me you’ll join me. Come to me soon.”

“I don’t want to die, Norma. I’m afraid.”

“You’ll have to make the choice soon. Life? Or me. If you don’t choose, I may not be able to meet you when you come over later. I don’t have much time left.”

“I need you, Norma! Give me a chance to work it out. I’ll think of something. But it can’t be suicide. And I can’t let people die with me.”

“They’ll die with or without you. If you don’t hurry, we’ll lose each other. Choose me, or let me go.”

“There is no choice, Norma. I’ll join you. As soon as I can work it out. Come here. Love me.”

“Love me, Jack. With all your life. Forever.”

# # #

“Sometimes chances must be taken, Sam. I take the lesser risk.”

The Mafia boss absently removed his glasses and cleaned them on his tie. “So it seems. What is it that requires the President to come to me directly?”

“Let me be blunt. I need a hit. I can’t do it with my people, and it can’t be traceable back to me or my administration. It’s too sensitive. I can’t trust the CIA. I can trust you.”

“That’s a funny one, Jack. You’d rather deal with the Family than with your own spies. If you were anyone else, I’d think I was being set up.”

“You’re not. I’m offering permanent immunity for you, plus your fee. I’ll make sure Justice leaves you alone.” The President pulled an envelope from under his jacked and tossed it on the desk. That’s the retainer. The other 50% on delivery.”

“You’re serious. Who is this? Nasser? De Gaulle? Castro?” “Connally. Governor of Texas.”

“A Governor? What did he do? Sleep with Jackie?”

The President bristled. “If you must know, next spring he’s planning on announcing that Texas is seceeding from the Union. He has to be stopped before that goes public, or all hell will break loose. We might lose the entire South.”

Giancana blinked. “Interesting. I’ll see what I can do.”

“It’s more complicated than that. He can’t be made a rallying point. And he has to be killed when and where I say. I can make sure there are holes in Security that will allow your men to get in and out. They can’t be caught. They can’t miss. There can be no martyrs.”

“You ask a lot, Mr. President.” “You’re up to it, Sam. We both know that.”

“I will do my best. For you, and for our country. Secession. That makes him traitor. I think I will enjoy this.”

“Good. Here’s what we do. I’m scheduled to be in Dallas in November. That means the Secret Service will do security. I want you to get two or three sharp men and get them positioned. I’ll tell you the location later, but they’re to be told to take out Connally. Have them take out the entire car he’s in — everyone riding with him dies. That’ll keep him from being the prime focus.” The President’s eyes glanced at the door. “Maybe I’ll sitck Lyndon in there with him. Two birds… No. Better you don’t know who he sits with. Just tell them to take out the entire car.”

“Tell me when, Mr. President, and where. We will do what you need. I am in your debt.”

“No, Sam. I am in your debt, and we both know it.”

# # #

“Jack.”

“Norma! Where have you been? It’s been days!”

“It grows harder to visit you, Jack. The paths are dimming and I lose my strength. Soon we shall part forever, unless you join me.”

“We have to hold on for a few more weeks, Norma. Just until Dallas. Then we’ll be together forever.”

“Jack. Together. Forever. You’ll be mine. Forever.”

“We’ll be lovers for all eternity, Norma.”

“Lovers. We will be together, Jack. Now love me. Love me with all your life. Give me strength to hold on until you join me.”

# # #

UPI (Dallas)

A stunned country mourned the death of its first family today, after an assasination attempt claimed the life of John F. Kennedy and his wife. Kennedy, in town for a fund raising dinner later that evening, was attacked while his motorcade travelled through downtown Dallas. At least three gunmen opened fire on the President’s car, killing the President; his wife Jacqueline Kennedy; John Boucher, the driver; Jeremy Stark, a member of the Secret Service security team; and Pierre Salinger, the White House Press Secretary. Also riding in the car was Texas Governor John Connally, who was seriously injured but is expected to recover.

The gunmen opened fire at 12:45PM, firing at least 40 rounds of ammunition into the car. All are still at large.

# # #

“Jack! You’re here!”

“Norma! I’ve come for you as you asked.”

“Yes, Jack, you’re here. And now you’re mine.”

“We belong to each other, now. Lovers forever.”

Monroe chortled. “No, Jack. Not lovers.”

“What? What do you mean?”

Hell doesn’t believe in love.”

“Hell? We’re not in Hell!”

“We aren’t? How did I die, Jack?”

“Giancana’s man killed you.”

“No, Jack, I really was gone when he showed up. I’m a suicide. Just like you.”

“I didn’t kill myself!”

“You didn’t pull the trigger, no. But you killed yourself as surely as I did, Jack. Inspired piece of theater, that was. But you’re still a suicide. And you’re mine. We will be together for all eternity. You to be tormented for your sins. I to be the torment.”

“Loving you is a torment for all eternity?” “Loving me, Jack? With what?”

Marilyn Monroe pointed at the President’s naked body and laughed. The President looked at himself — and saw the smooth, unbroken skin between his legs.

The screams almost drowned out the laughter.

# E N D #