Richard Nixon’s Shades

by Steven Storrie

Richard Nixon fiddled with the buttons on his iPod and stared at the stains on the white marble wall. He was sitting in the bowels of the dilapidated California baseball stadium where they held the fights, growing impatient. That Kennedy bastard was ten minutes late. It was the first week of June, and it was hot down here. He eventually arrived with a flourish, tanned and taut in shades and a powder blue polo shirt, looking like he’d just gotten back from the beach. Nixon fumbled for his own shades, hastily putting them on. Look at those teeth, he seethed as Bobby flashed him a smile by way of greeting, I’d like to knock them down his throat.

“How’s it goin’ Bob?” he said instead.

“Dick,” Kennedy replied with a nod and a handshake. Wait, was that an insult? Was it a test? He swept a look over Bobby’s face. Saw nothing. Both men settled down at a table while Nixon fastened gauze around his fists, trying to intimidate his rival. He bet this playboy bastard had never even been in a fight.

“Hell of a place to meet,” Kennedy said, brushing his hair to one side and crossing his right leg over his left.

“Yeh,” Nixon mumbled back. “I’m a busy man, Robert. What do you want?”

Kennedy gazed through his shades into those of Nixon, looked for a sign. He could see the older man’s eyes were darting helplessly about, even behind the dark lenses designed to obscure them.

“Are you fighting tonight?”

“I fight every night, Senator. You ought to try it some time.” Nixon stared intently to gauge what impact his words had.

Kennedy gave nothing away. He smiled, let it pass. Then he abruptly leaned forward, invading the other man’s space.

“Ok I’ll get down to business, Dick. I know about you and Bebe Rebozo. I know you and he laundered money for the mob down in Florida years ago. Quit the race, and no more will be said.”

Nixon scoffed, bristled with uncontrollable rage.

“Your brother was in bed with the mob!”

“Maybe,” Kennedy shrugged. “But my brother never did this.”

He tossed down some black and white photos of what appeared to be Nixon holding hands with Rebozo on a Miami beach. They were nuzzling into one another and looking cosy.

“I think the world would like to know the real Richard Nixon,” he smiled, “the man behind the jowls and the shades.”

Nixon sat silently turning red. “You degenerate!” he exploded. “Who took those? Sandbag me? I’ll finish you!”

Kennedy stood up, straightened out his t-shirt.

“Best of luck with the fight tonight, Dick. I’m gonna be at the Ambassador Hotel. I expect to hear from you by dawn.” He turned and left without another word.

Nixon shook with violence, jabbed his iPod. He stared hard at the door Bobby Kennedy had just walked out of as Elvis Presley began playing in his ears.

“If you’re looking for trouble,” Nixon growled along with The King, “you came to the right place.”

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