In the last weeks of the millennium, December of 1999, Joseph Edward Billings III, named in a popular financial magazine as number 423 in their annual listing of the 500 richest men in the world, has been diagnosed with fourth stage cancer… incurable and advanced. A Korean War veteran who served as a sniper on the front lines, Joe returned to the States and stumbled into the opportunity of a lifetime. Serving first as a well-paid mercenary, employed by American corporations, oil companies and financial institutions, protecting their investments in Central and South America against insurgents, he wound up working as a contractor for the fledgling CIA and through his work, developed connections with influential people in every seat of power from the legitimate corporate world to the criminal underworld.
Joe has a terrible secret and the terminal diagnosis triggers in him the desire to bring it to light. He decides to tell the story of his life as context to reveal that which he’d kept hidden for more than 36 years, a secret that will finally end the relentless speculation concerning the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Joe writes…
Pictures of the earth from space make it seem so utterly beautiful, quite serene with its rich, diverse colors… blues and greens and sands and browns… all layered over with the wisps and marbling smoke of clouds, such that you could never imagine without knowing its past that such a place has been the scene of wars and genocide, a planet with a long sad history of horrific violence and unutterable brutality.
Similarly, there’s no law of nature I am aware of to suggest that a killer’s appearance reflects his violent nature. In fact, a pleasant appearance and appealing physical symmetry are the hallmarks of many predators in the animal world. The tiger, the hawk, the eagle, the lion, and the wolf are all beautiful creatures. Even sharks have a certain elegance in their physical makeup, graceful, smooth lines throughout their length, soft features in terms of color and aspect, however deadly are the hidden rows of teeth they use to shred and flay the flesh of their victims. A perceived threat from the sighting of predators in the animal kingdom comes only with the foreknowledge of their predilection for the hunt and their talent for killing.
With humans, it’s ever so much harder to see. A pleasant smile and a civilized tone can hide from you a multitude of sins. What’s more, they can be an advantage for people like me, a natural camouflage for malicious intent. The facts of my life are the true measure thereof, not my good looks.
One fact above all…
Though there have been many otherwise theories and speculations, an intense government investigation and a book length report signed by men whose famous names gave weight to its conclusion, the Warren Report declared with finality that Lee Harvey Oswald, firing from a window in the Texas School Book Depository, killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. While that report concluded that he acted alone, people have always harbored significant doubts about what happened that day.
Who did what… and why?
If you took an honest poll today, in the wake of so many subsequent theories in a plenitude of books that raised doubt about the Commission’s finding, books that suggest conspiracies and alternate theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination, you might find that the sum of the common wisdom is this, “No one really knows who it was who fired the fatal shot, the one that actually killed the President.”
Not knowing who… how could anyone ever know why?
Me? I can tell you everything because I was there and I was involved.
“Who did it?” is the easier question for me to answer.
Just a few words do the job quite nicely.
It was me. I did it.
I killed John F. Kennedy. Though I was not a “lone gunman” but one of several, I fired the one and final shot that took off the top of JFK’s head and killed him. The harder question to answer, even for me, is the one that asks, “Why?”
The Magic Bullet is the strange story of an extraordinary man, a fictional assassin who knows who he is, what he’s done, and why he did it. He tells his story without reservations, without the saving graces of vanity and self-image. As Joe explains it… “Any little side trip into self-serving rhetoric will only pollute the truth and I want this to be truthful above all. Truth at all cost, even at the expense of my own vanity.” In giving you the context of his life’s story as a way of revealing a lifetime of secrets and subterfuge, he is trying to answer that one unanswered question… “Why?”
Coming soon. Watch this space for announcements concerning how to purchase this riveting thriller that brings new perspectives to old mysteries with a cast of characters you will never forget… a story you won’t want to miss.
Working on recording a reading of one of the short stories in my anthology, Shrapnel, as a nod to the kind of PR one usually does for a book, travelling here and there, doing readings in book stores and such. Because of he pandemic, that kind of marketing isn’t really viable, so one has to be creative. I will choose one of several stories in the collection that lends itself to reading aloud and I’ll practice until I can do it properly, record it, and post it here with enough fanfar, I hope, to attract listeners who can listen when they have the time… which is probably a better way than scheduled stops in various bookstores, certainly a greater possible audience.
Today, however, I want to give you a little sample, a scene from one of the stories in the anthology, a story titled The Zen Society of Cleveland. The premise for the scene? A young Vietnam Veteran living in Cleveland during the mid-1970s has reached a point of desperation. The war, a failed marriage, growing debt and alimony, coupled with a dead-end job represent a string of events that have left him flat broke at the end of every day and hungry. With a few dollars in his pocket, he is looking in the phone book for the number of a pizza parlor and instead stumbles upon a listing there for the Zen Society of Cleveland. He sees it as some kind of sign, a serendipitous possibility in the midst of his despair and wonders whether he should call them and ask them what the hell it’s all about… why is he even here?
Book signings are a wonderful way to reach the people for whom the author writes, an excellent promotional tool, but one that is essentially unavailable during a pandemic, so… it’s time to make exception work. The question is… what is the viable alternative and how do you make it happen?
Improvise, adapt, and overcome…
If it’s good enough for the Marine Corps, how much better for the indie author (slowly getting used to the title, but it still feels strange). Nobody’s going to do it for us… well, let me take that back. There are people who can and will do it for you, but they want a piece of the pie…. “In advance, please.” For those of us with limited funds, the job inevitably falls on us, so what’s the answer?
How about a virtual book signing?
And well you may ask, because I don’t know yet, but we’ll figure this out.
It’s the American way, but… while you are here, check this out:
With KDP Amazon, my anthology, Shrapnel: Short Stories, is getting world-wide distribution. Today, it’s available to English speakers in every nation across the globe where people are able to order books through Amazon’s web site.
I was pleased to see that my first review (five stars) came today from Canada. Hello, Canada, and thank you.
My book is available everywhere in the Kindle Version and a quality paperback book is also now available for delivery in the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, and of course, in Canada. Amazon usually ships within three days. In the near future, and for those who are unable to order a paperback copy from Amazon in their country, but would prefer a book to the various e-reader devices, I will offer it for sale (autographed, if so desired) right here on my website and for the same price as Amazon, with the addition, of course, of a relevant charge for shipping and handling (cost will vary according to the destination). Watch this space for announcements.
If you live in the USA, your link to order Shrapnel: Short Stories in Kindle or paperback is here: Amazon.com
Links to purchase Shrapnel outside of the USA are listed as follows:
United Kingdom: Amazon.co.uk
If you purchase Shrapnel: Short Stories, I do hope you will take the time to leave a review on Amazon. This is the first of what I hope will be many books to come in the near future. An honest appraisal of this book and its content will help me to learn what you think about my work and what, if anything, I can do to make it better for you. There is a novel in the works right now that should be ready for publication before the end of 2020.
Watch this space
For more information about the anthology and what it contains, visit the book’s web page here at: Shrapnel: Short Stories
Quo vadis, America? To where are we headed? by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Considering that the launch came sooner than I thought and on a weekend and quite caught me off guard, it went well enough, I think. I am new to KDP Amazon and to independent publishing, so there is quite a learning curve. I hope that when you order my book, if you experience any issues with shipping or quality of the product, you will let me know and I will do everything I can to resolve the issue,,. but Amazon is very good at permitting a refund.
As soon as I can align the logistics involved and for those who might be interested, I will be selling autographed paperback copies of Shrapnel online right here my website, so watch this space. Heck, I understand that my autograph and $4.15 will get you a Venti Caffe Latte at any Starbucks in the US.
Seriously though, feel free to contact me if you have any issues with either the Kindle or paperback copies of the book. Of course, if you don’t like my writing, that’s quite another story. Taste in literature is diverse and some people may not like what I write, even though others might love it. An eclectic choice of styles and lengths like the short stories which comprise Shrapnel’s collection should offer something to everybody, but if you prefer bodice-ripping romance, dystopian science fiction, westerns, vampires, or shape shifting, shamanistic teenage mutants, or Christian-themed literature with pristine language, I’m probably not going to be your favorite author.
If you do have an issue or if you want to tell me what you think about my book, good or bad, please feel free to email me at:
I would love to hear from you. And if you haven’t ordered my book… what in the world are you waiting for? Christ on a cupcake… what ever will you tell your friends when they ask you if you’ve read it?!?!
Here’s the link again for those who missed it:
Shrapnel is available now on Amazon.
I do hope you will check it out and try it on. Amazon provides a preview. in their online catalog. Go over and check it out. Use the link at the bottom of this page.
Stories should always entertain and seduce us, else what’s the point? Whatever genre to which they are assigned, whatever the style in which they are written, a collection of short stories should always and primarily hold our interest. At surface, Shrapnel is an eclectic selection of literary short stories. More to the point, they are fragments of ongoing human narratives, boiled down to their essence…life-altering, snapshot moments in the lives of the people that live within them. Priests and prizefighters, soldiers and poets, con men and killers, wives, husbands, sons and daughters, people we pass on the street every day and never imagine for a moment the tragedy, the sorrow, the conflict, or the pain that lives within them… the drama that awaits them just around the corner… wars, rumors of wars, storms, a car wreck or the chance encounter with a violent crime… any manner of events that can change someone’s life in a sparrow’s heartbeat.
Truth is never elusive
It sits pretty on the table
Like a hand grenade
Pull the pin
To order, click on the link below:
Finished the full review of the proof copy for Shrapnel this evening and made the necessary alterations and corrections to the basic revised file for the printers. I will upload the changes tomorrow and, essentially, the print edition should be ready for release after a couple of days. I still have to make the final review of the file for the Kindle edition, which has a different format and that should be ready to upload sometime on Thursday. Shrapnel: Short Stories is an eclectic collection of my literary short fiction and the release for both print and Kindle versions will be on the same day next week. I’ll announce the firm release date when it’s known. This anthology was my first venture into publishing, but it will not be the last. Frankly? I love it.
This process has been an education and a grand preparation for publishing one of my novels in the near future.
The novel I plan to work on next was completed last year and it will now be reworked, edited, and refined. It’s a thriller with a twist and it represents an opportunity for me to appeal to a much wider audience than that which appreciates a literary anthology, so it will also be a grand experiment in marketing… now that I have learned the basic “mechanical” aspects of the process. With that first novel, I will likely consider expanded distribution and some of the more sophisticated methods for cover design and interior layout. At this point there is absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Watch this space.