From Chapter One: “Night Falls Fast”
Lester Hunt quietly got out of bed early on the morning of the last day of his life. The Senator hadn’t been able to sleep much anyway and he needed to leave without awakening Nathelle. He dressed quickly, stopping to look at her face and assuring himself one last time this was best for her. Walking by the kitchen window, he permitted himself a quick glance across the backyard to where Joe McCarthy lived in a small apartment below. Hunt’s lip curled slightly as he remembered the times he had watched Joe and his girlfriends drinking and cavorting on the patio.
McCarthy offended Lester’s personal sensibiliti es of what a senator should be, of what a man should be. The previous day, McCarthy had made public a threat to investigate a senator he didn’t name, one he said was involved in a bribe. When Lester Hunt first heard that, he briefly wondered whether he was the target. Now he allowed himself a sneer, an expression that softened as he remembered McCarthy had his own problems. The “Army-McCarthy” hearings had ended two days earlier. He remembered Joe Welch demanding that McCarthy listen. “Senator,” he said, “I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.”
Then Lester Hunt went on with what remained of his life.
He quietly opened the closet door and retrieved an old rifle he and Nathelle kept handy in the event that intruders broke into their home again as they had the previous December. As he walked to his car, he loaded the rifle and placed it in the back seat. As Lester Hunt drove one last time down Connecticut Avenue, he looked to his right at the beautiful towers of Washington’s National Cathedral just before passing by the Naval Observatory. Minutes later he turned left onto Constitution Avenue and passed by the monuments and memorials that had inspired him, just as they had inspired millions of Americans, over many decades; the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House in the background. This morning he took little notice and received no inspiration.
Excerpted from “Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins: The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt” by Rodger McDaniel. Copyright (c) 2013.