MEET ME AT THE GRASSY KNOLL
By Lou Antonelli
The older man was looking around. “Where exactly are
“The railroad parking lot. The triple underpass is up
there.” He pointed ahead and to the left. “That white
picket fence is behind the grassy knoll.”
As they walked across the lot, the signalman in the
second story of the train tower nodded. Hurtt smiled
“That’s Lee Bowers,” he said through thin lips. “He
had a view of the whole deal. He’s the one who said he
saw two men at the fence that day who he didn’t
Dimitri nodded to a railroad cop. “I better keep my
mouth shut,” he said as they passed. “I forgot what they
might think if they heard my accent.”
“I’m sure someone would have reported it, if they
heard a Roos-kie at Dealey Plaza that day!” said Hurtt.
The two men had only met the day before. The young
Russian man had sat behind an expensive mahogany desk.
“Well, H.W. Hurtt was quite a character,” said
Dimitri with a thin smile.
“My grandfather was what he was. He didn’t care about
celebrity. He didn’t give a damn about what people
thought of him.”
“But I did. That’s why I’m here.”
The young dark-haired man smiled nervously at him
across the desk. “I don’t mean to be rude, Mr. Hurtt,
but are you sure you can afford my services?”
“Don’t be fooled by what happened to my family,” the
older man said. “Yes, dad blew the family fortune, and I
grew up poor--very poor. But I assure you, I’ve made it
all back on my own.”
The young Russian man stroked his thick dark beard.
“Yes, I’ve read that your father tried to corner the
platinum market back… oh, God, when was it?”
The older man leaned back in his chair and stared
hard at the young Russian. “Long before you were born,
back in the 1980s. I was a little boy when it happened.
Life sucked after that.”
Dimitri grimaced. “Sounds like you have some baggage,
“My dad grew up under a double cloud. He was a rich
man’s son, and he was also the son of the man who
‘killed Kennedy’. Lots of people thought my granddad was
behind the assassination.”
“He was very right wing.”
“My father felt he had so much to prove. That’s
probably why he went and tried to do something as stupid
as corner the world market on a precious metal. He
wanted to prove himself.”
Dimitri sat forward and looked at the gray-haired
man, who had begun to sweat. “I’m sorry, I can’t imagine
how far your family fell--But what are you trying to
Hurtt stood up and grabbed the back of the chair. “I
understand that if you give me what I want, I can’t
change history. Any idiot knows that. I’m not trying to
exonerate my grandfather. I know he had nothing to do
He leaned over the back of the chair and stared at
the Russian. “I was a teenager, my grandfather was
almost 90, when I asked him straight out, looked him in
the eye, and asked him--just like I’m talking to you--if
he had anything to do with it. You know what he said?”
Dimitri shook his head slightly.
“He said, ‘Marty, I hated the liberal Yankee
sonofabitch, but I wouldn’t done a thing to touch a hair
on his head--because I knew I’d be blamed!”
Hurtt sat back down. “His health was failing. He knew
was on the way out. Why would he have lied? More
importantly, I knew he wasn’t lying?”
He wiped his brow. “He died a week later.”
“So what is it you want? If I were to agree to use
the technology and take you back, you can’t interfere,”
said Dimitri. “You can’t change anything. You certainly
can’t tell anybody.”
Hurtt leaned on the edge of the chair and stabbed the
air with his finger. “There was some-fucking-body on
that grassy knoll! Someone else was there to shoot
Kennedy. A backup in case Oswald folded. That would tell
us who was really behind the killing. Remember what
Oswald said the last time he spoke to the press.”
“Yes, I do,” said Dimitri. “He said he was a patsy.”
“Yes, who was he a patsy for? I want to know. I want
to know who was responsible to putting all that pain on
my family for so many years. You want to know, Mister
Krasney, the reason why I spent all these years working
so hard to build the Hurtt fortune back up? Do you want
to know why I never married, worked twenty-hour days,
seven days a week? Because as time went by, I knew that
as technology developed, there would be a way, some day,
to learn the truth.”
He sat back. “Of course, I was thinking forensics,
“But even if you learned what you wanted, you
couldn’t tell anyone,” said Dimitri.
Hurtt jumped up again. “I would know! That’s enough.
I would know that I was right and my granddad was right
and every-fucking-body else was wrong! That’s what I
want. I want to find out who was on that grassy knoll! I
want to know who the second gunman was!”
Dimitri steepled his fingers. “Twenty million
dollars. Half up front in a Caymans bank account. I have
a lot of palms to grease, and security to arrange. We
can only be gone a half hour, at most, in real time.
Otherwise the problems of quantum cascade become
Hurtt snorted. “Twenty million dollars, eh?”
“If you think…”
Hurtt held up a hand. “For what I want, that’s cheap.
I’ve waited fifty years for this. Push your laptop
Hurtt turned to Dimitri in the back seat of the taxi
as they rode past rows of palm trees. “Nice place to
hide the operation.”
“They don’t ask too many questions here. Believe me,
a lot of your money never left this island.”
The taxi pulled into a rather neglected industrial
park. Dimitri paid and tipped the cabby.
“I wanted to take the taxi, in case someone is
looking for my car,” said Dimitri. “It’s already parked
He walked up to a rusting metal warehouse and
unlocked a door. When he turned on the lights, they saw
a small platform in the middle of the room.
Hurtt walked over. “This is it, huh? Looks like a big
version of the rock’em sock’em robots boxing ring.”
“I didn’t grow up in the U.S. I think that was some
kind of toy?”
“Uh-huh. Where’s the equipment?”
“Most of it’s in the next room. The crucial
component, the gravitational lens, is beneath the
“I knew gravity could warp light. I didn’t know it
could also warp time.”
“Yes, Doctor Molnar proved that.”
“I bet this requires a lot of power.”
“Not as much as you would think. While the time field
takes some, the teleportation field uses most of it.
We’re 800 miles from Dallas.”
“The old stomping grounds. When I started grade
school, we lived in North Dallas--the rich part of
town--but I was in the third grade when dad blew all his
money in his little precious metal scheme,” said Hurtt.
“You know what it’s like to get thrown into a public
school in North Dallas?” asked Hurtt. “I went to school
with the children of the servants who worked for my
parents’ former friends.
“You have a lot of bitterness,” said Dimitri.
“At least $20 million worth,” said Hurtt. “I remember
sitting there in history class in high school when we
went over the Kennedy assassination, and how the kids
would stare or whisper. Fuckers!”
Hurtt rubbed his hands. “I remember staring hard down
at the history book, and just thinking, ‘history’s a
“Yeah, well, remember, no interference, and no
anachronisms,” said Dimitri.
Hurtt knited his brow. “I forgot I have a cell
phone.” He patted a pocket. “It’s turned off.”
“Just keep it hidden. Ready to go?”
Dimitri pushed over a small stepstool, and the pair
stepped into a gap of the “ropes”.
“These piezoelectric bands keep the warp fields from
causing any electrical disturbance that would give us
He took a small remote control device from his jacket
pocket. Hurtt smiled.
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, I’m just getting a load of that plaid jacket and
“Hey, I’ll blend in.”
“I just went for plain white shirt and navy slacks,”
said Hurtt. ”Won’t draw attention.”
Dimitri held out the remote. “Nobody will be looking
“This thing’s on auto,” he continued, “so we’ll be
snapped back no matter where we are in 25 minutes.”
He slipped a small chip into Hurtt’s shirt. “This
will insure you come along.”
He activated the device. It was like being inside a
glass elevator, but they stood still and the world
whirred by. The outlines of the platform disappeared as
the world came into focus again.
They were in the parking lot of the railroad yard.
They now stood behind the fence on the grassy knoll
and looked around.
“Nobody back here,” Hurtt muttered.
A dumpy man with thinning hair in a cheap blue suit
held an 8mm camera and stood next to a column. Hurtt
nudged the Russian.
“That’s Abraham Zapruder. He got that famous
Dimitri looked around. “This is an excellent
Hurtt looked up Elm Street, where the six-story
schoolbook depository sat on the left. “It’s amazing how
little this area has changed. Then again, it is a
They walked around the fence. At the end of the
colonnade, a young black couple sat at a picnic table
eating a sack lunch.
“If they only knew what’s about to break loose,”
Hurtt said in a whisper. “What do we do now?”
Dimitri looked around. “We wait.”
They walked into the colonnade. “I assumed this was a
memorial to Kennedy. I didn’t know it was here
“This is a memorial to the founder of Dallas, John
Bryan,” said Hurtt. “His cabin stood near here. This
plaza was a city park years before the shooting.”
He winced as a pair of women walked past on the
sidewalk below them. “Lord, I forgot how much women’s
fashions have changed. And look at that hair.”
Fifty feet away, a young man and woman with a small
child had a picnic lunch spread out on a blanket. A
portable transistor radio played “Sugar Shack”.
Dimitri looked past them towards downtown Dallas.
“The motorcade should be coming along any minute.”
He turned and realized Hurtt wasn’t there. He ran
down the colonnade and back around the fence.
“Dammit, what are you doing?”
“I wanted to see if anybody was here.”
“There’s obviously nobody here, get back.” He
gestured broadly. “If there is a sniper, you’ll scare
Hurtt came back around and jerked a thumb over his
shoulder. “Well, I’m sure there was somebody on this
knoll behind that fence.”
Dimitri looked at his wrist. “Well, if there was a
sniper, he’d better set up fast. There’s just ten
minutes to go.”
Hurtt glanced backwards.
It was a beautiful late autumn day. People on the
grass and sidewalks chatted and smiled, as they waited
to get a glimpse of the handsome young president and his
The radio played “Telstar”.
There was a distant wail, echoing of the walls of the
downtown Dallas canyon. Hurtt stiffened. Dimitri
A minute later, a police motorcycle entered the plaza
and began the slide down towards the triple overpass.
Zapruder climbed on a pedestal at the end of the
“I’m keeping an eye on that fence,” said Hurtt.
“Don’t gawk, huh? Might be too obvious.”
He stood transfixed for a moment as the motorcade
entered the plaza.
“You see anyone at the fence?”
He turned and realized no one was standing next to
He stood still for a moment as he realized the
president’s dark blue Lincoln Continental limousine had
come into view at the far end of the block.
He turned and ran out the colonnade and up the steps
back around the fence.
Hurtt stood there--alone.
“What the fuck’s wrong’s with you!” hissed Dimitri.
“There’s no one here,” Hurtt said distantly.
“That’s not our problem.”
It sounded like a firecracker. Below them, people
looked puzzled. The two men turned and saw the limousine
halfway down the block.
They saw the man in the back seat reach for his
throat as the limo passed out of view behind a traffic
sign. Dimitri tried to say something, but his jaw
wouldn’t work. “We shouldn’t have done this,” he
thought, “this is too intense.”
The limo cleared the traffic sign. It was obvious
there was something wrong with the president. Dimitri
knew what was coming, and he looked away.
He saw Hurtt had reached into his pocket and pulled
out a small gun.
Hurtt’s face was contorted with rage. He pointed the
gun towards the window in the far corner of the book
depository’s sixth floor.
He rasped. “Goddamn you!”
His shot almost overlapped Oswald’s coup de grace.
Dimitri turned quickly to see a pink mist spreading in
front of the limo. The president’s glistening head
Hurtt was still pointing towards the book depository,
trying to get off a second shot. The Russian went at him
with a flying tackle. The older man crumpled as Dimitri
slammed the palm of his hand against his jacket pocket
and he activated the remote control.
The world changed again. Dimitri’s momentum carried
them over the edge of the platform and onto the hard
warehouse floor. Hurtt’s body cushioned his impact, but
Dimitri pitched forward and hit his forehead on the
Dimitri rolled over and pulled his arm out from under
Hurtt. He looked at his watch. He’d only been
unconscious for a few minutes.
Hurtt’s eyes flickered. Dimitri stood up and nudged
him with his foot.
Hurtt groaned. “Stupid bastard,” muttered the
Dimitri was a little unsteady, but he lurched over to
the platform, where on a corner a small box with a green
light hung. He leaned with both arms on the edge of the
platform and stared down at the quantum indicator.
“Thank fucking God,” he thought. There were more
groans. “You’re alive, you fucking idiot,” Dimitri
He walked over to where the Texan sprawled, and
yelled in his face. “Twenty million or no twenty
million, I can’t believe you did that!”
Hurtt opened an eye. “I think I need a hospital.” He
held out a hand.
Dimitri pulled him up to a sitting position. “You’re
lucky, the quantum indicator says history was not
changed.” He got down into his face. “What were you
trying to do?”
Hurtt looked up at him. “Nothing. I lost my temper,
dammit. I always carry a gun.”
He leaned forward onto his knees. “I forgot I had it.
When I got out of the cab, I felt it in my pocket. I
just thought if I patted the pocket and mentioned a cell
phone, you’d make the assumption.”
“You mean you didn’t plan to take the gun?”
“No. But then, when I saw it all happening in front
of me, I lost it.”
“Yeah, well, it tore me up, too. It was a bad idea to
Hurtt stood up. “I just lost it. I went blind with
rage. I knew that motherfucker was up there in his
“You would never had hit him in a million years.”
“I know.” Hurtt held his chest and groaned. “I think
you cracked a rib.” He ran this fingers through his gray
hair. “What went wrong? There’s testimony that there
were two men behind the fence, behind the grassy knoll,
when Kennedy was shot-- but I never saw anyone.”
Dimitri raised his head.
“Yes, and people saw a puff of smoke--but when they
looked, there was no one there,” said Hurtt. “I wonder
Dimitri began to laugh softly.
“What’s so funny?”
“No one saw anyone when they looked because I had
already tackled you.”
“I don’t understand…”
“Idiot! Don’t you see? WE were the two men behind the
fence! You found out what you were after, after all.”
“Yes, there was a second gunman. It was you,
you fool! And that’s why there is such a mystery!
Because the second gunman didn’t shoot at Kennedy. He
shot at Oswald.”
Dimitri nodded at Hurtt. “We created the
mystery of the second gunman.”
Hurtt winced as he straightened up. “You said your
car is inside here. Let’s get to a hospital.”
As they rolled over the speed bump on the way out of
the industrial park, Hurtt groaned--and then began to
Dimitri leaned over. “What’s so funny?”
Hurtt smiled at him. “I got what I wanted--after
pissing away twenty million dollars--and it sure wasn’t
what I expected. But I did learn I was always right
about one thing.”
“I still don’t like history.”
Dimitri looked at him, a bit shocked, then saw his
pained grin, and laughed.
“Hold on,” he said, “we’ll get you patched up at the
hospital. Once your ribs are healed, then we can laugh
about the ironies of fate all we want.”
“A very Russian attitude towards history,” said Hurtt,
still clutching his chest.
“A very practical one, I would add,” said Dimitri.
“It’s a lesson you should learn.”
“I just did,” said Hurtt. “That lesson cost me $20
million. Watch out for that pothole.”