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December 9, 2006

Filed under: fiction»micro

Federal Holiday Fiction: President's Day

William McKinley, shot by an anarchist in 1901, is widely thought to have died eight days later from his infected wounds. Lies, all of it. McKinley's shooter, who bore the unlikely name of Leon F. Czolgosz, was in actuality a struggling actor and pioneering performance artist hired by the president himself. Three years later, Czolgosz was himself struck dead by a mysterious disease while traveling in Europe under the alias Frederick G. Whittaker.

McKinley had grown weary of the authority of office. His wife suffered from epilepsy, and a cure was not forthcoming. With his death falsified and a small fortune in stolen White House silver at his side, the former president set out for the unexplored depths of Zaire, where he hoped to find exotic herbs that might remove his wife's affliction, or at least lessen her symptoms.

McKinley's travels led him far and wide. He spent most of his time pretending to be a circus performer, although when drunk he would often put on an eyepatch and call himself "the Pirate President." Among other acts of vandalism and conspiracy, McKinley is believed to have planted the explosives that would later cause the Tunguska explosion, and wrote the bulk of "Ernest Hemingway"'s output (the rest was penned by a young Calvin Coolidge).

Although crypto-historians have not been able to completely trace McKinley's footsteps, they generally agree that his travels came to an end, ironically, when he was shot in a border dispute by badly lost Dutch merchants in Cambodia. His last words are reported to have been "Not in the face!"

An excerpt from The Secret Histories of the Presidency by Jack Shackenaw, page 27.

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