In 1962, Marine Corps Pvt. Kerry W. Thornley (and Discordian Society co-founder with Greg Hill) finished writing his first novel based on a friend and fellow Marine buddy, Lee Harvey Oswald, who strangely ended up defecting to the U.S.S.R. in the middle of the Cold War.
Little did Thornley know that his former friend, Oswald, who he used as a template for his main character Johnny Shellburn in his oh-so-hot-new-first novel, The Idle Warriors, would soon become the most-hated-man-in-America, unbelievably accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. As a founder of Discordianism, perhaps a young Kerry should have expected some turn-about-is-fnord-play from his sweetheart Eris, the Goddess of Discord, in this matter.
Through the book’s fictional Oswald-based character Johnny Shellburn, The Idle Warriors gives a rare and first-hand insight into the mind of the man who allegedly committed the most infamous crime of the 20th Century.
The Idle Warriors is Thornley’s fictional book written about Lee Harvey Oswald before the John F. Kennedy Assassination, making the work the only unique and pre-assassination artifact completely free of later events and their subsequent biases regarding Oswald and the JFK Assassination. Unfortunately, after the events on 11/22/63 in Dallas, Texas and the subsequent Warren Commission investigation which ended-up hauling Thornley into testify about his personal relationship with Oswald in the Marines and included interest of Thornley’s own pre-Assassination writings about America’s First Lone Nut Assassin, the original type-written manuscript was somehow lost by Kerry Thornley to his eternal dismay.
Believed by Thornley himself and others to be forever misplaced and forgotten, a copy of the The Idle Warriors‘ original manuscript was miraculously rediscovered and rescued from the National Archives in the early 1990s by an unlikely pair of fellows attending a Dairy Queen Christmas-time franchisee convention in Washington, DC, who happened to have a side-interest in JFK Assassination lore, research, and materials.
Thornley gave his a copy of The Idle Warriors manuscript to the Warren Commission as background information to Oswald’s life and motives, and it languished as an obscure evidence item in the National Archives. Originally submitted as exposition to his testimony, the manuscript by Thornley had mostly been forgotten. Over the years, Thornley came to misplace his only other copy of The Idle Warriors and came to believe he had lost all copies of the manuscript.
By some Discordian Xmas miracle, the Dairy Queen franchisee amateur researchers requested, and were oddly granted, special permission by the National Archives to deconstruct the Warren Commission’s copy of the manuscript page-by-page and allowed to photocopy Thornley’s type-written The Idle Warriors pages.
Eventually this photocopy was handed over to infamous conspiracy and innovator publisher Ron Bonds of IllumiNet Press who immediately published The Idle Warriors, in conjunction with Kerry Thornley with a new introduction by Best Evidence author David S. Lifton, in 1991 under the IllumiNet Press imprint, launching the Ron Bonds conspiracy publishing empire.
The only book about Oswald before the JFK Assassination was finally published. Hail Eris and Dairy Queen dip cones!
Here’s your Christmas miracle fnord excerpt from The Idle Warriors:
Chapter 15: A Christmas Story
THE GIN FIZZ GLISTENED CHEERILY in the varicolored glow of the Enlisted Club’s Christmas decorations. Pat smiled and counted on his fingers, “September, October, November, December. If the next four months pass like this, we’ll be back here in Japan from maneuvers in no time!”
“But Pat,” said Henry Hamilton, “who wants to be in Japan tonight?”
“Me, I do. And I want to get drunk.”
“On JC’s birthday you want to get drunk?” Henry’s intentions were more serious than his flippant tone, but he knew how to communicate more effectively than most moralizers – lightly – painlessly.
“Yes, I wanna get stinkin’, stoned, bombed and blasted. Happy Birthday, JC, wherever you are!”
“If you learn to tolerate the people around you, then you wouldn’t find it necessary to act like them so often.”
“Act like who?”
“Bob Kidd. Johnny Shellburn.”
“Go to the devil, Hamilton.”
Henry smiled sadly, got up and went to the devil, or to the barracks, or some place, leaving Pat Hoolahan to drink alone.
“Happy Birthday, JC! Happy Birthday!”
Pat’s voice was loud and hoarse. “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday to you, Dear Jesus. Happy Birthday to you.”
There was laughter in the barracks.
“Merry Christmash yourself, Christian.”
“Merry Christmash, Jack.”
“Merry Christmash, Mouse.”
They joined in the drunken laughter then, arm-in-arm, they weaved down to the other end of the barracks.
Pat bumped into the fire extinguisher. “Help me get the pin outta the fire distinguisher, Jack. I wanna distinguish a fire.”
“What? There’s no fire.”
“I know,” Pat hung his head in shame, “but I’m homesick for snow at Christmashtime. I wanna fill the barracks with snow. Help me get the pin outta the fire distinguisher.” Pat looked doleful as he begged, not attempting to take the pint out himself – a simple operation.
“No snow.” Robles decreed.
“Yes!” Pat jumped and yelled like a small boy.
Pat took the extinguisher off the wall and searched elsewhere for a partner in delinquency.
He came upon Johnny Shellburn, just back from the States.
“Well if it isn’t the fair-haired lad. Help me get the pin outta the fire distinguisher.”
There were no volunteers among the many hands.
He walked up to Sergeant Wooly: his last hope. The fat little buck sergeant was asleep on his bunk. He looked strange without his glasses on.
“Sergeant. Please, Sergeant, wake up. Help me get this pin outta the fire distinguisher!”
“What’s the matter with you, Hoolahan? Get away.”
“Wooly has no balls! Wooly has no balls! No balls, Wooly, unless you help me.”
“Go away, Hoolahan.”
Pat had a new crusade now. He went over to a nearby GI can, dropped the fire extinguisher in it and then returned. “Wooly, you have no balls.” He hit the sergeant on the arm. “See? No balls. Why don’t you fight back? Huh, Sarg? Why don’t you fight back? ‘Fraid of me, eh?” He clobbered Wooly a good one, this time on top of the head. “Huh? No balls, eh? Wooly has not balls at all, everybody. No balls at a–”
Wooly had gotten up and was holding Pat by the back of the collar; he was guiding Pat over to his own bunk and kicking him in the rear end between steps.
Pat was silent. Once the ordeal was over and Pat was in his rack, tucked in by Sergeant Wooly, he said, “Merry Christmash, Sarg, and Happy New Year, too.”
“I’ll Happy New Year you if you get out of you rack and start anymore trouble.”
“Yes, Sergeant Wooly. You’re a good man, Sergeant Wooly. You got a bucket full of balls.”
Pat pulled the covers up over his head and shut his eyes. Suddenly he felt like vomiting. He jumped out of his bunk and tripped up against the GI can where he’d put the fire extinguisher. He threw up in great gusts. Afterwards, he crept back to his bunk. Somebody turned the barracks lights out. It was ten o’clock.
After about ten minutes of silence, Pat started crying. “I’m sorry, Hamilton. I’m sorry.” His sobbing ceased and he let out with a real wail. “I’M SORRY, HENRY! I’M SORRY!”
Hamilton, heard him from the next cubicle. “Sorry for what?”
“I’M SORRY I GOT DRUNK ON JC’S BIRTHDAY!” His voice was a high-pitched, terrified scream. “I’m sorry, Henry! I’m sorry! Sorry!”
“That’s okay, Mouse. Quiet down.”
“Okay, you’re sorry. Be quiet.” Henry’s voice was deep and harsh.
Pat was quiet.
“What’s going on?” asked Phillips, the Duty NCO.
“Nothing, Hoolahan was just having nightmares or DT’s or something.”
Bob Kidd came walking up in the darkness. “Pardon me, Sergeant Phillips. Let me use your flashlight a minute.”
Phillips handed his flashlight to Kidd. The beam danced on the barracks windows, aimlessly, for a moment. Then Kidd directed it on Pat Hoolahan’s bunk. Troops began to gather around in the darkness to see what Kidd was going to do.
The light showed Hoolahan with the covers over his head.
Kidd said, “Patrick Hoolahan? Do you hear me?” Bob disguised his voice; it sounded deep and hallow.
Hastily, Kidd pulled a blanket off the end of a nearby bunk and draped it around himself.
“Patrick Hoolahan? Do you know who this is?”
“This is JC, Pat. I heard you were drinking on my birthday.” Pat’s panicked scream cracked open and penetrated the still barracks from end-to-end. “I’M SORRY, JC! I’M SORRY!”
Sergeant Phillips, who knew he should put a stop to this, became helpless with silent laughter.
“I’m sorry, JC!” The covers began to slide down as Hoolahan peeped out. “I’m sorry, JC!” The shadow-like figure of Kidd loomed over Pat, the light beam shining from it into Pat’s eyes. Pat screamed without words.
The barracks echoed back not a scream, but laughter – insane laughter of men who’d been bored, drunk and homesick too long, sadistic laughter of men who had no purpose in life anymore.
Pat screamed again.
Henry Hamilton chuckled. Jack Robles laughed in a great inward gulps of air, laughing too hard to breathe properly. Sergeant Wooly laughed uproariously, as only fat men can. Johnny Shellburn twisted and slapped himself and pounded on the edge of this bunk in an uncontrolled fit of hilarity. His sides hurt, but he kept laughing.
Pat screamed again. He sounded like a man in torture. Only Bob Kidd didn’t laugh. He stood there in the darkness, peering down at the squirming, screaming Pat Hoolahan. “This is JC, Pat, and I sentence you to five thousand years in purgatory for drinking on my birthday.”
“No! No! No!”
Kidd turned out the flashlight and thrust it into Sergeant Phillips’ hand. The sergeant was doubled up against the wall laughing. Kidd scanned the barracks, coldly. He walked down the aisle and disappeared out the door into the night.
The laughter and screaming continued for several minutes. Finally, all became quiet.
The next morning Pat awoke late. He was reminded that it was Christmas by the decorations in the barracks: great strands of toilet paper and fluffs of shaving lotion over everything.
He remembered only one thing of the preceding night: someone woke him long after midnight to impart that one roll of toilet paper would stretch clear from one end of the barracks to the other, length-wise, and halfway back again. He got up and went to the head. On the way he passed a number of friends. They all looked at him strangely, uncertainly. Only Bob Kidd met his glance with a confident return. It was as if all the others had committed a terrible crime the night before and only Bob Kidd was without guilt.
Pat remembered sitting in the Enlisted Club with Henry Hamilton, nothing more. Well, there was not much importance to be placed in the expressions on people’s faces anyway, he knew that, so he let it pass from his mind and sink into depths of his subconscious, where no incident is ever forgotten.