Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Spotlight: Saving Jackie K. by LDC Fitgerald

The First Lady in Danger?

Jump into the past to save her!

Enter an upside-down world where Soviet henchmen botched their mission to eliminate John F. Kennedy fifty years ago, slaying his wife Jackie instead. The unthinkable crime incites Americans and triggers an unending war with Russia.

In present day, as the two superpowers teeter on the brink of mutual destruction, a team of outlaws discovers a way to jump through time. The wisecracking felons decide to take matters into their own hands by traveling back to 1963 to save Jackie K. To fix the future, they must right the wrongs of the past.

But, their mission may go awry . . .

Book Excerpt:
Chapter Twenty-Three
Monday, September 23, 2013

1:00 pm – PDT

After lunch, Dee corralled the team around the diorama on the workbench. “First, some background for context. Let’s travel to the past to November 1963. President Kennedy has embarked on a tour of five Texas cities, including San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin. Tragically, he’ll never make it to his final destination. The tour’s objective is to garner support for his ’64 reelection campaign, which is already heating up. Although JFK won the Lone Star State in 1960, his popularity as a Democrat in the South is waning. Thus, various speeches, appearances, and motorcades are planned in each location to give the incumbent maximum exposure to the population. No one could fathom the tragic outcome in Dallas.”
Dee gestured to the foam board. “Here is our rendition of Dealey Plaza. Perhaps surprisingly, the park has not changed much in the past fifty years. If we visited in present day, we’d be hard pressed to notice the minor differences such as signs and lampposts. The map is oriented with north pointing up. Main Street runs east-west along the bottom, while Houston is on the right-hand edge going north-south. Houston is lined on the east by the Dallas County Criminal Courts Building and the Dallas County Records Building.” She touched the tissue boxes representing the structures. “At the top right, Elm Street intersects Houston. The Texas School Book Depository Building with its fabled Hertz billboard and clock on the roof sits on their northwest corner. Elm bisects the plaza in a southwesterly arc to the left, forming a triangular expanse between Main and Elm known as the infield.” Dee swiped her hand across the green area.
“Note that we show only half of the park. A mirror image exists to the south, with Commerce Street forming the bottom of the triangle arc. The three thoroughfares—Elm, Main, and Commerce—converge to the west under a railroad trestle known as the Triple Underpass. North of Elm is a concrete structure called the Pergola, a round archway facing forward. The back wall and top are semi-enclosed, with large rectangular openings allowing sunlight to stream inside. In front are concrete columns and a few steps leading down the sloping hill known as the Grassy Knoll. A longer staircase on the left proceeds from the railroad parking lot in the northwest down to the sidewalk.” She pointed to the magic marker walkway near the flimsy construction paper half-moon.
“Now, let’s time travel to Friday, November 22, 1963. Picture a gorgeous day with sunny skies and mild temperatures. Air Force One touches down at Love Field Airport in Dallas at 11:40 am Central Standard Time. The President and First Lady exit the plane to the cheers of the waiting crowd, while city officials present Jacqueline with a bouquet of a dozen red roses. Mr. Kennedy’s charcoal gray suit is unmemorable. However, Mrs. Kennedy is wearing a custom-made, double-breasted pink Chanel suit with matching pillbox hat. Her dark navy silk blouse dramatically contrasts with the ensemble. It’s no exaggeration to claim that spectators were as excited to see Jackie as they were to see Jack. The couple walks along a chain-link fence greeting their well-wishers. To the dismay of his Secret Service agents, JFK stops on enumerable occasions to chat and shake hands. Ten minutes later, he finally boards his limousine for the parade through the heart of downtown, with the intention of heading to the Trade Mart for a luncheon speech.”
Dee began to place Lilliputian vehicles on Houston Street. “The motorcade consists of twenty-odd automobiles and an assortment of motorcycle police.”
“Wait.” Jay held up an index finger. “Your grandfather was in the motorcade, right?”
“Unfortunately, no. The detail primarily included city officers, and granddad’s beat was in the suburbs. He would have loved to be part of it, though. He had voted for Kennedy and admired him, at least up until then.” Dee gave a wry shrug before continuing.
“Okay, so a phalanx of Dallas motorcycle cops start the procession, followed by the pilot car and four more motorcycles. Their chief purpose is to keep spectators from spilling into the road. Next is the lead car carrying police and Secret Service tasked with scanning observers and buildings for anything suspicious. Here is the presidential limousine.” She placed a replica on the board. “Imagine American and presidential flags billowing from the front quarter panels. A specially designed 1961 Lincoln convertible, it has two collapsible jump seats between the front and back seats. A narrow foothold on the bumper and two inverted U-shaped bars on the trunk allow Secret Service members to climb aboard and hold on when necessary. In the rearmost bench seat, Kennedy rides on the passenger side with his wife beside him.”
“What the hell were they thinking?” Bick thumped his fist on the table, causing the models to quiver. “It’s inconceivable that the president was out in the open like a sitting duck. Today’s agents would never permit it.”
“I know. It’s not like presidents hadn’t been targeted before.” Dee shook her head at the senselessness. “Anyway, passengers in the jump seats are Texas Governor John Connally Jr. in front of JFK, and his wife Nellie in front of Jackie. Secret Service Agent William Greer drives, while his colleague Roy Kellerman rides shotgun. Two motorcycle cops flank the rear of the Commander-in-Chief’s limo. The follow-up car trails behind, overflowing with Secret Service, including two each on the side running boards. The vice president’s car comes next, carrying Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.”
“Wait a cotton-pickin’ minute.” Quin emphasized his drawl. “How does some fancy southern belle wind up with the name Lady Bird?”
“Nickname, to be exact. She was born Claudia Alta Taylor, after her Uncle Claud. When she was a baby, her nursemaid proclaimed her ‘purty as a ladybird’ and it stuck. No one seems to remember her birth name. Doubly unlucky for Mrs. Johnson, a ladybird is more commonly called a ladybug.”
“Sheesh. An insect.”
“Yeah.” Dee raised her eyebrows, proud of the depth of her knowledge. “The remainder of the caravan consists of various dignitaries, White House communications, reporters, photographers, police, and an official party bus for White House staff.”
“Official party bus?” Sera scoffed.
“Yes, believe it or not. I’m led to believe the designation was fairly accurate, too, with a lot of drinking and smoking going on.”
Dee motioned to the diorama. “Back to the lay of the land. Our home movie buff, dressmaker Abraham Zapruder, is perched on a concrete abutment in front of the left side of the Pergola, with his receptionist Marilyn Sitzman standing behind him.” She pointed to the tiny figures.
“Mr. Zapruder simply wanted to record a piece of history.” Jay scratched his head. “He had no idea his eight millimeter camera would capture the most sensational assassination of the century. We’re fortunate Dee owns a rare copy of the infamous reel.”
“Now, the KGB. There are three operatives: Ivan Grekovich, Dmitriy Sokolov, and Viktor Vladimirsky. They used American aliases for documents, of course, but we will use their proper Russian names for simplicity. I’ll provide you with their photos and dossiers later. Ivan is prowling in front of the Pergola to the right of Zapruder. Dmitriy and Viktor are skulking on the other side of Elm Street in the infield. They are spread out so Viktor will be the first that JFK will pass.” Dee put red soldiers on the board indicating their positions. “We used toy militia to differentiate them from ordinary citizens.” She blushed at the odd method of demarcation.
Frank hefted up the Dmitriy figure in his palm. “You mean they were standing out in the open in the middle of all those people? I thought KGB spies were supposed to be the best-trained covert assassins in the world. But these guys don’t sound too bright to me.”
“Frank, you make an excellent point.” Iggy held out her hand for Dmitriy. “From what I recall there was a lot of speculation as to why they blatantly tried to gun down the president in public. Many concluded the three spies were patsies who were meant to be caught. That way, the US would strike first in the war and the USSR could claim it responded in defense. But nobody will ever know the true story. It’s just a conspiracy theory.” She placed the character back in position.
“Let’s concentrate on the key cars involved.” Dee pushed the other vehicles aside. “It’s 12:29 in the afternoon when the entourage heads north on Houston and makes a sharp left onto Elm, passing the gathering crowds on both sides.” She started rolling the matchbox presidential limo on the diorama and butted the motorcycles up behind it. “Fewer onlookers show up in Dealey than elsewhere; they line the curb only one person deep. Perhaps that helps explain the KGB’s brazenness.” She glanced up, astonished to see the whole crew riveted to her narrative.
“At 12:30 pm, the open-top black sedan nears Viktor on the infield. He is supposed to shoot the driver to slow the vehicle. But he draws early and misses, the bullet lodging in Agent Greer’s door. Governor Connally hears the deafening crack, sees the shiny weapon, and cries, ‘My God, they’re gonna kill us all!’ In heroic fashion, this former Navy lieutenant commander—who won a Bronze Star for bravery in World War II—turns to the president, tackles him, and tries to wrestle him to the floor. Obviously, he assumes JFK is in danger. By the Pergola, Ivan concurrently aims at Kennedy, but by now Connally is in the direct line of fire. His shot goes through the governor’s neck and lodges in the president’s shoulder. Neither wound is fatal. The noise and chaos cause driver Greer to brake in confusion, giving the KGB more opportunity. Witnessing Connally’s actions, a terrified Jackie turns toward her husband as Dmitriy pulls the trigger from further down the infield. The bullet rips into Mrs. Kennedy’s back, shattering a lung.” Swallowing with a gulp, Dee paused.
Sam took advantage of the hesitation. “What a colossal screw-up. I can’t believe the ineptitude of the KGB. A single target and they missed? I’ll wager it shouldn’t be too hard to stop these clowns.”
“One step at a time, Sam.” Dee turned back to the model. “Secret Service members in the follow-up car react immediately. Clinton J. Hill races toward the Lincoln convertible and mounts the bumper footstep. George W. Hickey Jr. cocks his rifle from the rear seat, while the other agents simultaneously draw their weapons. Right after the third shot, Special Agent John D. Ready leaps off the passenger side running board, and gallops up to the Pergola, where Ivan aims back at him. Ready shoots the commie in the head, killing him instantly. Meanwhile, Greer accelerates out of Dealey through the Triple Underpass with Agent Hill lying across the top of the back seat as a shield. Bobby Hargis, a motorcycle cop who flanked the driver’s side of the president’s car, guns his bike and jumps the curb onto the infield, chasing Viktor as he sprints after Dmitriy. While steering one-handed, Hargis manages to pull his gun with his free hand and nails Viktor in the behind as he tries to escape.”
Quin exclaimed, “He shot him in the ass?”
“Yes.” Dee smiled shyly. “Although wounded, Viktor continues to lope ahead, so Hargis hops off the bike to give chase. He catches up and body slams Viktor. Dmitriy bolts to the getaway car they left on Main Street and peels away. As you can predict, pandemonium reigns in the plaza as citizens duck and cover or flee for their lives.” She pantomimed her fingers running up the staircase next to the Pergola toward the railway parking lot.
“With sirens wailing, the motorcade races to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where JFK and Connally are treated. With severe injuries, the governor needs six hours of surgery to repair the damage, while the president is patched up with minimal intervention. Sadly, the First Lady is pronounced dead on arrival.” Dee sniffed.
“A Roman Catholic, the slain mother is given a public viewing in the rotunda of the Capitol Building in DC on Sunday. On Monday, she is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. I’m sure you remember the disturbing photo of daughter Caroline placing her teddy bear on the casket at the gravesite.” Dee dabbed the corner of her eyes with a tissue.
Iggy patted her shoulder. “I watched the coverage live. Seven years old, I sat in front of the TV playing with my dolls, mesmerized and frightened. Every station broadcast the footage; you couldn’t escape it. I identified with Caroline, who was just shy of her sixth birthday. I worried that someone would hurt my mommy as well.”
Dee cleared her throat. “Afterwards, captive Viktor remains loyal to the homeland and never talks. It isn’t until his comrade Dmitriy is caught at the Russian embassy in Mexico City that we uncover the truth. Under duress, he sells out his superior, Leonid Novikov, who was the mastermind of the operation.”
Sam interjected, “And that’s when Kennedy makes his notorious speech threatening the Soviets with retaliation. He unashamedly cries for his loss and parades his motherless children before the media.”
Dee furrowed her forehead. “I guess you could look at it that way.” She switched on the old-fashioned projector they had purchased at the Hobby Hut. “Now, let me show you the Zapruder film.” She turned off the lights and the grainy, hand-held movie flickered on the wall. The reel thrummed its spinning cadence as they watched in silence.
No one spoke for a few moments.
Bick finally stated the obvious. “Okay. We know what happened. How do we prevent it?”
Dee sighed. “I’m working on it.”

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L.D.C. Fitzgerald is the author of SAVING JACKIE K, a thrilling adventure to rescue the First Lady. In writing a story with an unexpected twist on the Kennedy Conspiracy, Fitzgerald relentlessly researched the facts regarding the JFK assassination, and wove them into a fictional world.
The author name L.D.C. Fitzgerald is, in fact, a pseudonym representing the combined talents of two writers: Lisa D. and Dave C. Lisa is a recovering Marketing Executive, having spent two decades researching consumer insights. Dave, a self-educated computer geek, has been selling his soul to corporate America for over a quarter century.

You can visit their book's website at

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