The Magic Bullet Theory – Redux

The Best of the Zola System

I’ve received several e-mails asking me about the Magic Bullet Theory blog.  It seems people can’t seem to find the original post.  So, to make life easier, here is the blog that started ended up as a play that premiers this Saturday at 11pm at the Sacred Fools Theatre in Los Angeles.


The Schoolbook Depository seemed like an odd place for a sniper team to operate. Harry didn’t understand why he had to shoot over the targets’ shoulder, although it was explained to him over and over again. It had to look like a real assassination attempt, complete with a triangulated crossfire and live Ordinace.

A tall, rangy Texan, Harry looked out over the Plaza, his mouth feeling like it was full of cotton. The night before, at the Cedar Bar, he had whopped it up with several members of the security teams as well as the snipers who were to be positioned on the knoll with a flat line of sight. Even the booze from the night before couldn’t replace his resentment of yet another argument with his wife Julie. What did she expect him to do with his life, work at the post office? The army trained him and gave him a specific skill set. He could become anything, anywhere, under any circumstance or in any terrain. Harry belonged or blended in so well, you would never guess he was there to conduct any operation for the Acme Removal Corporation.

“Wind from west to east,” his spotter called over the radio.

Harry opened and closed his eyes, waiting for the motorcade to come into view. He shouldn’t have had that last shot of Jack with that Secret Service guy. What if it were a real hit from that Castro fuck? What if the target was truly in danger? Harry made a mental note to talk to his CIA handler about their seeming unprofessionalism. They were there to protect a client, not get shitfaced the night before.

A leaf from a Texas Live Oak fluttered past his scope. He and Julie had two of those trees in the front yard. She had Harry go dig up the seedlings from a vacant tract of land right after the bought the house in 1959 and now, she wanted them to move to Ohio. Sure, it would be a better place to raise their son Vaughn; better schools, around her family and better job opportunities, or so she kept telling Harry. What was he supposed to do, got to work in a Chrysler plant or become a corporate killer for the GM, Ford or Firestone? Harry didn’t think they wanted his type of killing in the private sector but who knows, maybe that’s exactly what they were looking for, someone to drop an engine block on the loud Polack next to him.

“HARRY! They’re in the kill zone. IN THE KILL ZONE,” his spotters screamed, breaking him out of his reverie. Harry shook his head, set himself and breathed slowly as he squeezed through the trigger. He fired off his single over the shoulder shot with the arrogance of a man who always hit what he was aiming at. Harry was shocked when he saw the target sit straight up and grab his throat. “Fuck me,” he swore. “I could swear I had the rearview mirror dead center.”

“Get out! It’s a hit. GO GO GO,” Harry heard over his radio. He pushed the Mannlicher-Carcano between two boxes and bolted down the stairs as the other shooters let go their volleys. He hoped the other snipers aim was better but his stomach began to churn with a sour discontent. If his shot sat the target upright, at least one of the other bullets that were supposed to fly over his head may have hit him. All of this happened because of some booze and a fight with the wife. ‘Jesus Christ.’ Harry thought. ‘What the fuck have I just done?’

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