The wagon was primarily occupied by refugees from Iraq heading to the Promised Land, Europe. I was observing them and I was writing down on my notebook. I was on the night train from Athens to Thessaloniki. I’ve been there for the presentation of my book and I was on my way back to my solitude, after a three-day socializing-overdose.
On the opposite seat, since I was travelling in a four-seat compartment, there was a man about my age, even though he looked younger perhaps because of his thin figure.
He was dressed old-fashioned, a white shirt and a waistcoat. He brought to mind an Oxford student in the era of the Second World War, just like Turing or even better like Cumberbatch.
He spent quite a long time on his tablet, texting, reading, smiling. At some point he put it aside and opened his leather bag. He produced, and started to read, a book, entitled “Schroedinger’s cat”.
I remembered a comic strip for physicist nerds and gave a laugh. The guy opposite to me lowered his book and gave me a look.
-Mister Schroedinger, I have good news and bad news about your cat.
He laughed too. He obviously knew the joke.
-Are you a physicist? he asked me.
He had a very strange pronunciation, hard to place. There was undoubtedly an American background, but he pronounced the vowels and the consonants crystal clear, as if an android out from a Philip Dick book.
-No, I told him but I read various books. And you? Where are you from? Sorry for asking, but your pronunciation…
-The States. Sorry, I mean the United States.
-Of America, obviously.
We shook hands. His name was Timothy Seaman. He was of Greek origin and homosexual. He didn’t come out with it, but it was no-brainer to figure. Maybe that’s why Turing sprang immediately into my mind.
-My grandfather insisted that I should learn impeccable Greek, both ancient and modern, tο speak and write them. He held the view that the Greek language helps people think more clearly.
-Language and thought are two sides of the same sheet, to quote de Saussure. Your grandfather could be right after all.
-What have you studied?
-Nothing. Just like Cormac McCarthy, I attended the University precisely as needed. Hardly.
-If you ever come to America, I’ll introduce you to him.
-You know McCarthy?
-He helped me out with my latest publication regarding the massacre of Indians in Arizona.
-Are you a novelist?
-No, I teach chaopolitical science.
He elaborated the topic of his doctorate but describing it is beyond me since I didn’t take in that much. Let’s settle for that it has to do with the merging of political science and chaos theory.
-And you are a novelist and no mistake.
-I do what I can with what I got.
-Philip Roth had said so, too.
-I know. If you intend to copy someone, then copy the best.
-Are you from Thessaloniki?
-I live there. But I come from Peloponnesus.
-Peloponnesus. Where exactly?
-You’ve never heard of it. It’s a small village, almost magical, somewhere in between of Arcadia and Olympia.
His smile vanished.
-Thalatta they used to call it but now…
I didn’t finish my sentence; his eyes opened wide.
-I’ll be jiggered! Are you from Lantzoi?
-I got it. You’re about to tell me that we come from the same place.
-Can’t be. Someone up there has set up us a prank.
It’s preposterous. It’s been two years since I’ve been in Athens. I’m on the night train, travelling in the compartment 5 and just across there is an American teaching something chaopolitical who origins from Thalatta. What chance there is something like this to happen?
-What’s your surname? He asked me as if he wanted to raise the earnings of the rollover jackpot.
He was disappointed.
-Sounds nice. Mythical, artistic. Never heard of it before.
-Thank God. It would be too much if we turned out to be relatives. It would be…scary.
Then, out of the blue but with unjustified delay, an atomic bomb exploded in my head and shed light into every corner.
-Where are you teaching?
-At the University of Chicago.
-Chicago! Have you heard of…
It was beyond me not to come out with it. I hit the pause button of the video and the world stood still. The train stopped just before Lamia, the Iraqi people and Timothy froze on their seats, the planet ceased revolving around the sun.
I took a few breaths, pressed the play button and I spoke.
-Do you know a guy Thanasis Dogas?
That was what Timothy could say, a nothing-to-do-with-Greece “fuck” as if he had seen a monster pouncing, the monster of destiny.
-We need a drink, I said and got on my feet.
We headed for the canteen.
We ordered a couple of beers and sat next to a gaggle of youngsters who were singing and used the table and the seats as percussion.
– First of all you shouldn’t…I’m sorry but I’m somewhat ruffled. Normally this name shouldn’t ring a bell to you.
-What do you mean by saying “normally”?
-I mean that this man, Thanasis Dogas, doesn’t exist.
-He did exist in Thalatta and left to…
One more atomic bomb. My mind was blown to smithereens, just like Japan before surrender.
-Seaman? The man of the sea? Have you anything to do with Thanasis?
-With Thanasis no, but with Timothy Seaman I do have. He’s my grandfather.
-Give me a break! Thanasis Dogas and this Timothy Seaman, your grandfather, are supposed to be the same person?
He hesitated for a while, with his stare fixed on my eyes. Finally, he admitted it with a simple nod of his head.
-Thanasis disappeared in 1939. Since then, nobody has heard from him.
-Quite true. Thanasis Dogas fell in 1943 in the battle of Leyte Gulf.
-Timothy you’re clouding the issue.
-I just tell you what’s on the records.
-But in 1943 Timothy Seaman was born and he was 30 years old.
-OK. It seems we need a lot of beer. Wait a sec.
Thanasis Dogas was arrested in 1939 for tax evasion. He had taken out an awful lot of people, but there was no evidence. He was imprisoned for two years, till the Japanese danced hula in Pearl Harbor. The US entered the war, tipping the balance which till then was in favour of the axis powers.
Thanasis was a top assassin and he would serve better in war than in prison. He was proposed to join the marines and wipe his slate clean. He didn’t think twice. A few days later he was on board aircraft carrier Gambier Bay.
He fought and distinguished himself. But how could you award a medal to an ex-criminal?
After the great battle of the Leyte Gulf, men of OSS-Office of Strategic Services- the holding company of the CIA, approached him. He was offered a post in the under-construction company which would officially be operative in 1947. It pays to have an assassin in the roster.
But first he had to die, disappear, to become someone else. He should eliminate any connection with his past and those who knew of his existence.
He didn’t give it a second thought. Dogas was one the 2.500 Americans who fell in the naval battle. And Timothy Seaman was born, agent of the Company that would soon be named CIA.
In CIA he turned out to be very useful because of his ruthlessness. He was stationed in Iran, where they overthrew Mosaddegh in a coup, as well as in Guatemala back in 1954.
He was in Cuba during the Batista era. Not as a gangster but as a businessman – and an agent, for those who were in the loop. He left Cuba when Castro took power.
He had many personal interests there, of economic nature, so since 1959 they attempted several times to do the horse-faced Castro in, but failed out of sheer bad luck.
On 17 of April 1961 the invasion at the Bay of Pigs was carried out. Seaman was one of those who planned it out. There is a photo of him from that day.
-I’m sure you’ve seen it, said Timothy and put his tablet out.
He browsed quickly with a sibyllic smile.
-There he is! he finally said and turned his tablet towards me.
Of course I knew the photo. It was taken during the visit of the Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and his wife to the White House.
-Karamanlis is Dogas? I said laughing.
-My chaopolitical theory deals with this phenomenon too, the phenomenon of observation. Our eyes see only what our brain wants to see. In this particular picture, you and most of the people see only the two couples. How lovely Amalia is dressed! And Kennedy, how charming he is! But there are more people in there.
Indeed. Behind Jackie there are two men and one woman to whom I’d never paid the slightest attention before.
-Among these “unimportant” people, there is one who caused greater havoc than Karamanlis.
-And this one is Thanasis Dogas.
-Timothy Seaman, to be exact. It’s the guy in the middle.
I took a closer look.
-He looks quite different from the photo from Chicago.
-It’s 1961 and he’s fifty years old; and also a state employee.
He gave a laugh and went to bring more beer, leaving the tablet to me.
Seaman had none of the 20 years-old gangster’s former glory. He looked so boring, so…middle-aged. But there’s more than meets the eye.
-Why are you saying that Than…,I mean Seaman, is the most important guy on the photo? I asked Timothy. Down the hatch.
-Cheers. I’ll tell you.
At the Bay of Pigs Invasion participated only CIA agents and drafted Cuban exiles. Their hatred for Castro was second to none. But to carry out the operation successfully, the co-operation of the air force was necessary, but the air force doesn’t take orders from the Company.
Timothy Seaman stood in the sidelines until the accustomed meeting with the Greek Prime Minister was through. When there were no cameras around, he approached the President and whispered in his ear that the landing in Cuba was taking place.
Kennedy was flared up. He was President for just three months and he didn’t know how the agencies operated. He asked who did such a thing without his permission.
Seaman elaborated and told him that air cover was paramount to turn Cuba into an American state, or, more precisely, democratic.
-Abort the mission! said Kennedy firmly.
Seaman raised objections. There were Americans ensnared on the island and therefore they should press on.
-What’s your name? Kennedy asked him.
-Well, Mr. Seaman…The American State requires your services no longer.
Due to Kennedy’s hesitancy, Castro triumphed once again. The ransom was paid and the American prisoners were released. Seaman and the rest of the agents who had collaborated on the plan, were demoted to be forced in this way into resignation.
Seaman himself ended up teaching at a women’s college in Texas, in empty classrooms.
The clock started ticking for the most charming President of the United States. It would take the involvement of another young man, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Second Part:”Lee Harvey Oswald and the man with the umbrella” http://sanejoker.info/en/2016/10/jfk-part2-lee-harvey-oswald-man-umbrella.html
Translated by Alexandros Mantas
Since we’re not native speakers, feel free to suggest improvements and make corrections
And some music by Residuos Mentales https://www.facebook.com/residuos.mentales/