The Player finds a small, single shot derringer pistol. Clicking on this will cause the camera to move inside the barrel of the pistol and down a long dark tunnel...


The camera emerges from the tunnel and out the end of the barrel of the gun to reveal:

JOHN WILKES BOOTH, dapper, handsome actor with a curling mustache and jet black hair sitting at a table and cleaning his derringer. He is humming "Glory Hallelujah."

He takes meticulous care to place the percussion cap and load the ball. He then places the gun on the table and takes out a long- bladed dagger. He sharpens this on a whetstone.

A copy of the play Our American Cousin sits on the table. He puts down the knife and picks up the play, turning to a marked page. He reads a line in the play and smiles, then puts the play back down.

Booth puts on calf-length boots and all black clothes. He gets a small box from the wardrobe and takes out two shiny new spurs and attaches these to his boots. He slips the knife into his left boot, and puts the derringer in his pocket.

He pours some whiskey in a glass and gargles it. Then reaches into his pocket, whips out the derringer, and strides across the room. An old fashioned, faceless mannequin head sits on the bed. Booth puts the gun to it and mocks firing the pistol. He then says: "Sic semper tyrannis!" He practices this line several times.

Satisfied, he puts the pistol back in his pocket and leaves the room.




The city of Washington, D.C. 1865.

JOHN WILKES BOOTH is getting drunk on whiskey in the back of the bar. He is depressed and haggard looking.

DR. STAUF approaches the table, smiling.

DR. STAUF: If it isn't John Wilkes Booth! I declare! I saw you in Julius Caesar seven-no! eight years ago. With your father and brother playing Brutus and Caesar. Do you mind if I sit?

BOOTH'S expression does not change, but he nods for STAUF to sit.

DR. STAUF: Your father and brother were remarkable in that production.

BOOTH raises his eyebrows, waiting for his compliment.

DR. STAUF: (shrugging) You must have been having an off night.

BOOTH: Oh really?

DR. STAUF: Let's face it, Booth. You'll never be the actor that your father and brother are.

BOOTH squints and smiles menacingly at STAUF.

BOOTH: I prefer to drink alone, mister.

STAUF snatches the bottle from BOOTH and takes a swig. Before BOOTH can react to this rude behavior, STAUF holds up a hand.

DR. STAUF: Now, now, Johnny boy. Don't get upset. I'm a friend. A friend from way back. You don't recognize me. But I saved your life once. You were spying on Federal forces near Manassas when your horse went lame. You were almost captured by Federal troops, but I gave you my horse and drew them away from your trail.

BOOTH: (smiling) That was you! (he peers at STAUF) It was you! I never forget a face.

DR. STAUF: So I guess I deserve a drink, don't I?

BOOTH: You deserve my undying friendship, sir. We are brethren in war.

DR. STAUF: (chortling) Lee has surrendered, you know? The war is over.

BOOTH: (coldly) It's not over.

DR. STAUF: Your plan to kidnap Lincoln is no good now.

BOOTH: (spluttering) How-how did you know about that?

DR. STAUF: I have met one of your conspirators. He's got a loose mouth. But don't worry. Your secret is safe with me.

BOOTH: Lincoln is evil. He's the tool of Satan.

DR. STAUF: Those are harsh words, Booth. Mutinous words. Weren't you arrested once for making anti-governmental remarks?

BOOTH leans forward. He is suddenly livid.

BOOTH: Lincoln gave a speech last month in which he called for freed slaves to be given the right to vote! The right to vote! If that isn't anti-governmental...(stops, splutters) I swear I'll make that his last speech, the tyrant.

STAUF purses his lips.

DR. STAUF: (whistling) Assassination?

BOOTH: Believe me, sir. I have the gumption to do it.

DR. STAUF: Do you Johnny? Do you really? Because sometimes I think you're a little soft.

BOOTH: When I was a lad I met a Gypsy girl who read my palm. She told me that I would achieve ever-lasting fame.

DR. STAUF: I don't think you could kill a man, Johnny. Not in cold blood. I don't think you could walk up behind the president, stick a gun to the back of his head and pull the trigger.

BOOTH: You don't, do you?

DR. STAUF: You're an actor. You like to pretend and stew about things.

In a flash, BOOTH pulls a derringer from his pocket and holds it to Dr. STAUF'S forehead.

BOOTH: The ball in this gun is solid lead. It's real enough to splatter your brains all over that wall.

STAUF smiles.

DR. STAUF: I'm not your enemy Booth. Lincoln is the enemy. Sic semper tyrannis. Do you know what that means?

BOOTH: Of course. Any schoolboy knows it. "Thus always to tyrants."

STAUF gently pushes the pistol away and leans forward conspiratorially.

DR. STAUF: Lincoln will be attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's theater next week. I've drilled a hole in the door of his private box so you can observe him undetected. At the end of Act II there's a huge laugh line-the audience laughs for a solid minute. That's when you act. They'll never even hear the report of the pistol.

BOOTH sits back in his chair and rubs his jaw.

BOOTH: (muttering) Sic semper tyrannis.

DR. STAUF: Are you a slayer of tyrants, Booth?

BOOTH stares at the lines on his palm. Then he fills his whiskey glass and pushes it over to STAUF. BOOTH holds up the whiskey bottle for cheers, and they clink glass to bottle.

BOOTH: (with a wild, murderous look in his eyes) Indeed I am, sir!



Encounter 1: Booth is sitting at a table in the library reading Our American Cousin. As the Player approaches Booth looks up and says: "The biggest laugh comes at the end of act II. The audience will never even hear the gunshot."

Encounter 2: Booth is acting out a scene from Julius Caesar in which he plays Cassius:

"I know where I will wear this dagger then;
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius:
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong;
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat:"

Encounter 3: The Player comes across a dying John Wilkes Booth. He has a bullet wound in his chest. He is babbling: "Never should have worn the damnable spurs. Caught them on the bunting! Stupid spurs."


Booth's spurs. The Blue Angel appears and says: "After Booth shot president Lincoln he leapt over the theater box to the stage but caught his spurs on a flag that was hanging on the wall. He lost his balance and landed hard on the stage, breaking his leg. He was captured and shot to death in a barn the next day."

The derringer pistol and knife.

A letter written to Booth's brother with the following passage highlighted: "This country was formed for the white not for the black man. And looking upon African slavery from the same stand-point, as held by those noble framers of our Constitution, I for one, have ever considered it, one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us) that God ever bestowed upon a favored nation."

A photograph of Booth, his brother and father playing Antony, Brutus and Caesar.

A copy of "An American Cousin". Clicking on it the chiding voice of Weil asks "Beside that Mrs. Lincoln,how did you like the play?"

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