“Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
John Wilkes Booth limps off the stage as chaos overtakes Ford’s Theater.
In the background…
“STOP!” shouts Professor Rathbone, clicking a hand control.
Everyone freezes in place, frozen in time.
Rathbone twists a knob on the control, scrolling the scene backwards.
Women and men point and sit back down, Booth flies up to the Presidential box, scuffles with an Army major, and unshoots Lincoln.
Rathbone clicks again, walks to the stage, and spots the quietly singing Rick Astley.
He points the control, clicks, and the hologram vanishes.
The grad students chuckle as Rathbone resets the scene.
Abraham Lincoln told his family of a strange nightmare, waking up and hearing sobbing from invisible mourners, seeing a raised platform with a shrouded corpse on it.
“Who is dead in the White House?” he asked.
“The President,” said a guard. “He was killed by an assassin.”
Abe said there was a loud burst of grief that woke him up, but the truth was, he climbed into the coffin with his own corpse and had mad passionate sex with it.
Abe never got the chance to explore his latent homosexual necrophiliac tendencies.
Well, that, and restore the war-torn nation, either.
Whenever someone tells me to keep a secret, they tell me to keep it under my hat.
The problem is, there’s only so much room under my hat for everybody’s secrets.
I ask them if I can put it under someone else’s hat, and they tell me no. It needs to be my hat. They trust me and me alone.
What if I get a bigger hat? Is that okay?
Yes, they say.
So I trade in my hat for a stovepipe hat.
The rest is history. I became President, and that’s when I really needed to keep secrets.
Bill Herndon opened his former law partner’s letter and read the final line once more:
I’m coming back sometime, and then we’ll go right on practicing law as if nothing had ever happened.
Strange events had been happening since Abe died.
Odd noises at night.
Books removed from shelves.
Papers strewn on the floor.
It was when the unconscious prostitute appeared on his desk did Herndon fear for the worst.
“Abe liked his post-trial hookers,” he chuckled, and he sent for a exorcist. “You’ve done enough, old friend. It’s time to rest.”
The whore fell to the ground, still comatose.
Abe lay back in his coffin and thought.
Johnson should be kicking out Mary Todd and Tad just about now.
I’m not even cold yet.
He’ll probably command the Army to freeze over the lawn for a skating rink. Andy loved skating, and it didn’t matter if it was a hundred below or a hundred above.
I loved skating.
Or perhaps he’d pull a Gotcha on the slaves and enslave them again.
Abe felt angry. He tried to get up.
Oh, wait. Hold on. Um…
I’m dead, he thought.
This is sure going to mess up my ice-skating.
Abe rubbed the back of his head and moaned.
“Stop that moaning!” said a deep voice.
Abe looked around. Clouds everywhere.
“Is this Heaven?” Abe asked.
“Of course, stupid,” said the voice. “Any other questions?”
“Why did you create so many common-looking people?” asked Abe.
The clouds parted, and God walked out. “See?”
Abe winced and looked away. “Ewwwwwwww!”
“Well, I made Man in My image, right?” said God.
“You’re right,” said Abe. “Sorry.”
“Anything else?” asked God.
Abe trembled. This was his chance to ask The Creator about the Meaning of Life.
“How did the play end?” he asked.
A crowd stood around the body of Lincoln, which was all the more crowded because of the small confines of the boarding house.
People were gathering up blood-souvenirs, anything the president had bled upon.
“He bled on the sheet!”
“He bled on the pillow!”
“He bled on the lantern!”
The room filled. The walls began to buckle. Elbows banged against the windowpane.
“Everyone out!” shouted the boarding house’s owner, shaking a fire-iron. “Now!”
All the people filed out of the room and on to the street.
Mary Todd looked around at the completely empty room.
“Where’s my husband?” she asked.
All but one of the doctors packed up and left.
“He can still be saved,” said the last doctor.
“He’s dead,” said Robert. “There’s no way to cure death.”
“Is there?” asked the doctor.
He opened his case and pulled out an array of odd crystals, setting them around the dead president.
Who remained dead.
“Sorry,” said the doctor. He gathered up his crystals and left.
Robert shrugged. “Dad always said: ‘The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.'”
“Fine by me,” said Mary Todd. “As long as we don’t pay his bill.”
The doctors hauled Abe’s gangly frame out of the theater and across the street.
The bed was too short, so they laid him upon it at an angle.
Mary Todd was a wreck. Not only was her husband mortally wounded, but the theater owner refused to give a refund.
Abe’s son Robert pondered the situation: “Surely, God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, man was made for immortality!”
Abe wheezed, sighed, and breathed no more.
The President was dead.
“Never mind,” said Robert.
“What was that loud noise?” was Abraham’s second-to-last thought.
Abe slumped forward and moaned. Booth shouted “Sic Semper Tyrannis!’ and leapt to the stage.
Abe heard the ugly crack of Booth’s ankle breaking. As a testament to Abe’s overflowing compassion, he felt badly for the man who would have to walk on such a leg.
His left eye saw nothing but blood. His one remaining eye opened and spotted the gun in Booth’s hand.
He’d been… shot?
“I guess the bullet is stronger than the ballot after all” was his final thought, and then…
The audience demanded an encore.