It was a dark and stormy night. That is the plain fact of the matter, and what's more, that piece of data played a central role in the events of the evening in question.
There was, however, nothing remarkable about Bueber paying a visit during bad weather. He always tended to show up during what he called "low-visibility conditions." He prided himself on being security-conscious. What the rest of us would call "paranoid."
Generally speaking, he didn't like coming to see me, because I live on a hilltop, off in the middle of the country. To my way of thinking, it was a nice, quiet place to live, but Bueber saw it as nothing more than a security nightmare. One man with a pair of binoculars could keep a precise catalog of who visited me at what time. Worse, I was the last house at the end of the road, and there was only one road that led to the small town where I lived. It would be child's play to button up and seal off my town in general, and my house in particular. In short, my house was, from his point of view, a severely insecure location.
To be honest about it, that was precisely why I bought the place in the first place. When I lived in the center of town, in the middle of a complex roadnet with many means of approach, in an apartment building with multiple exits and no good place for any imaginary opposition to set up observation posts, Bueber had shown up any time he wanted-usually at three in the morning. Being out in the middle of nowhere cut his visits down to a minimum.
Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoyed Bueber's visits. They were most stimulating. They were, however, the sort of thing best enjoyed in small, infrequent doses.
Bueber was, nominally at least, a colleague of mine, that is to say a theologian, and a scholar. However, I would not be surprised to discover he had not cracked open a Bible in years, for his true avocation lay elsewhere. He specialized in finding the links, the connections, between things. Name any two events, mention any two people, give him ten minutes in his file room (plus another five either end to lock and unlock the doors to it) and he would be able to establish a connection between them.
He was, in short, the top conspiracy man in the country. He was the best there ever was at it, too-though some would say that was not necessarily a good thing.
He had proved, to his own satisfaction, at least, that there were no fewer than eight gunmen in Deally Plaza that day, working for at least three different-but interlocking-conspiracies. No fewer than six of them had instructions to "pretend to miss on purpose," for reasons so intricate they must be regarded as beyond the scope of the present text. He also established a clear link tying Oliver Stone to the subsequent, thirty-year cover-up plan-though even Bueber admits that one is somewhat speculative.
He has documents to show that Salvadore Allende was in the pay of the CIA. He has linked the Trilateral Commission to the Teamsters, and proved it was the Trilaterals-in league with rogue elements of the Interstate Commerce Commission-who caused Hoffa to disappear. However, contrary to popular rumor, Hoffa is not buried under the goal posts at the Meadowlands. It is his double buried there, a security agent hired by Clifford Irving to pretend to be Hoffa during the period in which the union leader was having round-the-clock secret meetings with Howard Hughes.
The substitution did not fool the Trilat-ICC conspirators, however. They took out both men, and buried the double in the football field in order to throw off the scent. They hired the same team that switched JFK's coffin during the flight from Dallas, and arranged for Hoffa to be doubled-up with another body in an existing grave, where no one would think of looking for it. Jimmy Hoffa is buried in Grant's Tomb. Bueber had documents demonstrating that the collapse of the Soviet Union was merely an unusually elaborate KGB misinformation operation. Once the West is lulled into what Bueber calls "a false sense of reality," Phase Two will be activated, and the resultant confrontation will make the Cuban Missile Crisis seem like a Swiss picnic.
Watergate, needless to say, was bungled deliberately, as a diversionary tactic, so as to insure that no one could ever believe that the Republican Party was capable of covert action. This allowed GOP special ops teams to act without fear of discovery when they staged the Munich Olympics attacks, and succeed in their goal of embarrassing and radicalizing Yassar Arafat and thus derailing his attempts to infiltrate the United Jewish Appeal. As for the Iran-Contra affair, Bueber has the whole thing completely nailed down. Once the U.S. had infiltrated the CIA agents posing as Shiite Muslims into Lebanon and arranged for them to take the hostages in the first place, the stage was set for the supposed exchange of weapons to Iran. (In reality, the planes were full of surveillance equipment that Teheran traded to China in exchange for abandoned U.S. gear the Chinese had gotten from the Vietnamese. The Chinese later used the U.S. made, Iran-delivered surveillance gear to spy on the Tienamann Square demonstrators. Bush knew the spy gear was U.S. made, and so dared not stand up to the Chinese for fear of revealing this never-uncovered link to Iran-Contra.)
Meanwhile, the subsequent transfer of funds from Iran was to pay for ops in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, the units of the Sandinista army posing as Contras were in a temporary alliance of convenience with the Trilateral Commission and the Teamsters, faced off against the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
By that time, CDC was on to the U.S. Army germ warfare project that had developed the AIDS virus and field-tested it in Africa some years before, and the Trilat-Sandinista-Contra (TSC for short) coalition did not want that uncovered, for fear of exposing the CIA connection to the Cuban military in Angola. (All three elements of TSC of course being CIA fronts.) TSC was therefore channeling the funds North's people provided into various Gay Rights groups, knowing the stronger those organizations were, the less likely CDC would risk the social unrest that would be caused by going public.
Bueber has a file three inches thick on the subject of the NSA project to recruit dentists to install receivers and transmitters in Ross Perot's teeth. Suffice it to say that the op was bungled, and many of the odd events Perot reported (Black Panthers plotting to kill him, the plot to wreck his daughter's wedding and so on) were the result of his receiving the audio portion of various old movies on UHF while asleep, a case of accidental subliminal suggestion.
For reasons that I have never gotten entirely clear, Bueber tended to come to me first with his discoveries. I have never dared ask why, for fear that he would regard the question as an attempt to investigate him.
The infuriating thing about his theories is that he always had some sort of evidence, however speculative or shaky or circumstantial, and he usually managed to set things up so that disproving his scenarios required proof of a negative. I never could prove, for example, that there weren't deep cover KGB agents so well hidden inside the U.S. Forest Service that no one could find them. So far as Bueber was concerned, if they were undetectable, that was merely proof they were well hidden. In any event, as of the night in question, Bueber had not come around for a while. I had been half-expecting him to show up as soon as the weather turned bad, rendering surveillance difficult. When the heavens opened up that night, I knew the odds were good for a visit, so I simply decided to sit up and wait for him.
When he arrived, I was reading in the library-with my back to the wall, facing the door. Bueber had taught me that much, but only by example. The first few times he showed up, he scared the hell out of me by materializing behind me.
This time I was ready for him, listening for him. So I heard the tiny, imperceptible click as he used his skeleton keys on the back door, the slight creak of the door as he came through, his near-silent tread down the hall. The library door opened without a sound, and Bueber was standing before me.
As has been said of another noted household intruder, he spoke not a word, but went straight to his work. Raising a finger to his lips as a signal for silence, he came into the room and carefully drew the door shut behind him.
He was a tall, very thin man, almost skeletal in appearance. He was naturally very pale, and his face was still cold and wet from the rain, making his skin seem even more transparent than usual. His hair, though at the moment hidden by his watch cap, was pale gray, and cropped close to his head. He was, needless to say, dressed completely in black.
He turned off the overhead lights, moved to the windows, looked outside while standing to one side of the glass, and then drew the blinds closed. He pulled a small device-a bug detector-from a clip on his Sam Browne belt and walked around the room, watching the gadget's display intently.
At last, he was satisfied. He shut off the detector, clipped it back onto his belt, then undid the belt. He sat down in the chair opposite me, setting the belt down on the floor. He pulled his watch cap off and tossed it on the side table.
"Hello, Deblick," he said, as if he had just come into the room in the most normal way possible. Of course, for Bueber, he had just come in in the normal way. At least, almost normal. I had learned to note his moods carefully over the years. That night, he seemed a bit nervous, a bit manic, a bit edgy, even for Bueber.
He was smiling, but there was no pleasure or happiness in the expression. It was closer to the look of madness than of joy. That much was clear in his eyes. They were open a bit too wide, shining a bit too brightly. His mouth was drawn back in a grin, but it was a skull's grin, the ghastly leering smile of rigor mortis.
"Hello, Bueber," I said, setting my book aside. "What brings you around tonight?" Bueber always liked to get right down to business.
"The big one," he said. "The grandfather, the one that ties it all together." He laughed, making a sound like a creaking gate. "The Grand Unified Conspiracy to end all Grand Unified Conspiracies."
"Again?" I asked.
"There is no need for sarcasm, Deblick," Bueber said coolly.
"My apologies," I said as solemnly as I could. It was often difficult to take Bueber as seriously as he wanted to be taken. Of course, if one did take him seriously, then the world was a much darker and more sinister place than most of us would care to believe. "I am always interested in your findings," I said. "Please do tell me what you have learned."
"Very well," he said, somewhat mollified. "But first, let me ask you a question. What do you regard as the greatest of all questions in the field of natural history?"
"Natural history? Isn't that outside your usual area of study?" I asked.
"Perhaps so. But that is as may be. Please indulge me. Answer my question."
I thought about it for a moment. "Origins, I suppose. The question of how we got here. How did life get here? How did humans get here?"
"But does not science have an answer?"
"Yes, of course, the theory of evolution. But, even ignoring the creationist ignoramuses, it is a theory that greatly troubles many in the religious community. It reduces the magnificent mystery of God's creation to a four-billion-year series of accidents. At best, it limits the divine spark of creation to an extremely limited role, and, in my opinion, is quite unsatisfactory in the way it deals with the development of human consciousness, to say nothing of the human soul. To extend the question back further, it seems to me that every nonreligious theory of cosmology ultimately requires a creationless creator, a profound failure of logic."
"Very good, Deblick, very good. You have hit the nail square on the head. It is completely preposterous to imagine all this-" he gestured around himself to indicate the universe at large- "was created by sheer chance. And it wasn't. He just wanted us to think it was."
"I beg your pardon?"
Bueber leaned in toward me, and the look in his eyes turned even wilder. "God is in on this one. God and the Cubans. I have Him dead to rights this time. I only have one piece of the story so far, but I'm going to have it all. Just you watch."
"What the devil are you talking about?" I demanded.
"The devil is precisely what I am talking about. The biggest cover-up of all time," he replied. "The effort to shield the great dinosaur fraud. Tell me, you're an educated man. When did the last of the dinosaurs die out?"
I shrugged. "A shade over sixty-five million years ago. The end of the Cretaeteous. No one knows quite why. There are a lot of theories. Maybe an asteroid struck the Earth and-"
"Ha! The magic asteroid theory! Really, Deblick, you are becoming far too predictable. But I should be fair. At first, I, too, accepted the single asteroid theory, despite all of its internal contradictions. Then I started looking into it. The public believes in the asteroid theory-but the scientists working in the field don't, though they won't admit that in public. They never address the most basic question: If the single asteroid theory is right, then why are there so many candidate craters? How many places could one rock hit."
"I thought they had found one in the Caribbean-" I began, but Bueber cut me off again.
"Check the literature! They've never agreed on where their precious struck. They used to say the evidence pointed to Iceland, or to a land strike, or to an impact in the Far East. How could one asteroid hit in four places? You would be amazed to learn the number of impact features that just happen to be the right age. Besides, do you know when the dinosaurs' population started to decline?"
"I'm no expert, but I assume that they died at the time of the asteroid-"
"Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. The dinosaurs were dying off long before the asteroid strike that was supposed to kill them. How do you explain that? They knew they were going to become extinct, so some of the species decided to beat the rush?"
Bueber was being more than usually confusing. "So what are you saying?" I asked. "That it wasn't an asteroid? Fine. What do you think killed the dinosaurs?"
"Simple. Nothing. Nothing killed the dinosaurs."