Kramberber with Monkey, Chapters 4 and 5

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Chapter Four

Todd’s Posthumous Cigar


It would be the easiest thing in the world to dismiss Todd Fullmer. For one thing, he’s dead. For another, he was not a great writer, never wrote a book, and was beset by a particularly tawdry obsession. In addition, he was often wrong. Though throughout his career he tried to offset his passion for assassination with attention to detail and absolute adherence to absolute facts absolutely known to have been facts, he often was required by his own momentum to forge ahead without any facts at all. In fact, we can see from his one chapter in this book that he considered his own burden of proof to be less weighty than that of the law, and—here’s where the hubris swells its chest—therefore made him more adept at getting at the truth of matters assassinatory. But Todd Fullmer was honest in his way, and probably knew more about assassinations one way or another than anyone in the world. Plus he actually wrote a few pieces worthy of reprinting. The following may well have been his best:

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In the Gaza Strip today, the Israelis assassinated another terrorist, as they call them, someone they tell us was a member of Hamas. I’m not going to give his name, because his name isn’t what strikes me as important. They got him with a missile, in a car, in a car with three other people. Those four died as well as three bystanders. The fact that one bystander was a nine year old girl doesn’t much affect me, because the others were innocent as well. Perhaps even the terrorist was innocent, and his three cohorts. My regular readers will recognize that my fascination with assassinations is of an intensity that renders me apolitical. If it weren’t for assassinations, I would be either without passion or have a passion for something else, probably something morbid. But I like assassinations too much to claim to be outraged at their occurrences. Yet even with assassinations a morality prevails. A target should be chosen and executed and that should be that. A degree of collateral damage is acceptable because no assassination can be perfectly controlled, at least not that of a well-protected high level figure. Jackie Kennedy may well have gotten in the way of a bullet, but she didn’t. She didn’t because as assassinations go, that one was done within the moral confines of assassination. High-powered accurate rifles were used, and all of them were pointed at John F. Kennedy. Surely a mistake could have been made and someone else could have been killed. Someone, as we all know, was badly injured. Jackie could have cracked her skull leaping to safety from the vehicle. Had that happened I would still consider that assassination a moral assassination. Another aspect of assassination morality is that the assassin must undertake a measure of risk. Whoever shot from the grassy knoll risked being spotted by a gutsy bystander or two and wrestled to the ground and apprehended. But the Israelis took no personal chances, and gave no thought to innocent bystanders other than tacitly determining that some of them would die. Yes, plane crash assassinations also premeditate the death of innocent people. The difference is that they are not a matter of state policy. They are rogue acts, and when carried out by states they are rogue state policies. The Israeli assassinations are mainstream state policy. In the Gaza Strip, the victim of the assassination deserves to be named; but here in our publication we refuse to dignify this assassination with a single victim. In fact, I ultimately refuse to call these murders sanctioned by the state of Israel assassinations. Only out of convenience, only to place them out of context of legitimate assassinations do I even discuss them as such. In the Gaza Strip today a missile fired by the Israelis killed seven people. Next week a bomb will go off at a cafeteria in Tel Aviv, but no one in the Gaza Strip will call it an assassination. And I am not an expert in suicide bombings. When it happens, I will remain silent. When the Israelis respond by assassinating a target by missile and killing several more innocent people, I will not repeat this article; instead, I will write a short note: The Israelis assassinated no one today.


Being a reporter and not an historian of grand synthetic qualities, Todd Fullmer simply wrote a sort of lamentation. He did not, as we would have, trace the sad decline in assassination techniques from the purely specific, 99% accurate, poison tipped Bulgarian umbrella to the Predator Drone. But that idea is nestled in between his lines, and our hats are off to Mr. Fullmer. As they said about Fidel Castro, give the man a cigar.

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Chapter Five

Trotsky is Notsky

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Nothing drives a man like the combination of failure and the failure to come to terms with it. There is absolutely no doubt that if Todd Fullmer had lived he would have gotten to the bottom of the Kramberger business. Or at least one of the bottoms. Since we have already mentioned sinkholes, we will say that an assassination is like a karst landscape and the truth is a subterranean labyrinth—the absolute truth is the fresh rainwater that gets lost down in the vast limestone darkness, but there are all these sinkholes that dogged investigators who refuse to accept the official line end up finding whole puddles of trapped truth turning to stink therewithin. Had Todd lived, we would be looking over the fields and seeing the top of his head just clearing the lip of a sinkhole of a story much nearer the truth than the government version.

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What gave Todd his extra drive, what allowed him to pursue the most difficult stories to the deprivation of many of his humane needs—to give a mundane yet resonant example, he once spent three months in a hunting lodge far outside Tomsk without a toothbrush—was his lifelong failure to come to terms with the assassination of Trotsky. To lapse briefly into his lingo, one of the greatest assassinations of all time, one that everybody knows about even if the ice pick is often confused with an axe or vice versa, and especially remarkable to Todd in that it took so long to carry out after the initial order was given—at least thirteen years. The problem was that he just could not figure out what to say about it. His head was alive with ideas, but they were vague ones, little puffs of sarin as opposed to gleaming bullets. The problem was not that everyone knew who carried it out and who ordered it and in a confounding, that little Stalin in all of us sort of way, why; no the problem was something else, and that something else was like what would have happened if Kennedy hadn’t been shot, a meaningless unknown that nonetheless rapaciously drives all else from the mind. It is probably safe to say that if there weren’t so many assassinations to go around during Todd Fullmer’s career he would have wound up on a Manhattan street corner, the same one always, repeating ad infinitum in a semi-distracted, semi-determined manner, ‘Trotsky is notsky, Trotsky is notsky, Trotsky is notsky…

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