The topic for this blog is to take a story and change the ending. So what tale do I attempt to rewrite, the choice is so vast that I have been relishing the possibilities for rather too long and written nothing for several of days while wasting hours on whether I can effectively alter what is a great yarn.
I have decided to have a go at The Day of the Jackal. In this fantastic tale written by Frederick Forsyth and immortalised on film in 1973 by Fred Zinnermann a professional assassin is hired by the OAS to kill Charles de Gaulle. Most of the story is taken up with the preparation, how he gets to Paris and into position to take the shot that could change history. At the crucial moment the Police burst through the door and he misses his target and is himself shot dead thereby ensuring that his identity remains a mystery.
The Jackal crouched by the open window waiting for the presidential convoy to pull into view, everything was ready the rifle had been assembled and the silencer fitted. The single shot was in the chamber and ready to go. As he knelt breathing in the clean summer air his mind began to reflect on the enormity of the action he was about to take. He had over the years of his “career” removed many despots from power and reshaped history with a single bullet, invariably for the better. This however was the president of France and although he was not an admirer was this really the right thing to do, would France be better sans Le President? His moral compass so often silent at these moments was veering off course in a most alarming and unusual fashion. His mind made up he quickly broke down the rifle and returned it to the form of the crutch he had used as part of his disguise to gain entry to the apartment block. This was not a scenario he had hitherto envisaged and as his mind raced to devise an escape route for the first time he began to falter. In truth he had never really considered how he would get out of Paris, he had assumed that once the job was done he would simply walk away although in reality this was unlikely to happen. He knew the police were not far away so he moved quickly, back onto the stairs and up to the roof. He could hear the sound of cheering as the cavalcade passed through the streets below and also the more alarming din made by the gendarmes ascending the stairs and crashing through the door of the room where moments before he had been hiding.
Although the inspector wanted his quarry for the moment he was content to know that the man he was charged with protecting had been spared the assassins bullet. That brief pause as they searched the room was all the time needed for the Jackal to slip anonymously back into the crowds now thronging the streets where moments before the president had passed safely by. Swallowed up by the vast numbers of people it was easier than he had expected to get clear of the area.
The Police never found him or discovered his true identity. They didn’t look too hard, the inspector got promoted and everything returned to normal. The OAS frustrated yet again searched throughout France and beyond for the man they knew only as the Jackal. He for his part lived quietly for the rest of his days enjoying the agreeable climate of the south of France. Just another disillusioned man from the city escaped to the country to restore one of the many abandoned properties in a village so far off the beaten track that the only sign was a stake in the grass with a small board nailed to it.