Thereupon I ran through my second-rate notions for disposing of the man Ayn Rand and I considered a fascist-socialist tyrant. Though most of these ideas seemed impractical for one reason or another, Brother-in-law seemed happy to hear them, and I figured maybe he would offer suggestions for improving their weak points.
To my surprise he contributed nothing. Collecting ideas rather than hashing them out seemed his sole purpose.
"Now, Kerry, I think when we assassinate Kennedy -- if it becomes necessary to sacrifice one man in order to protect the assassins, then we should go ahead and sacrifice one man."
"I agree with that."
"And I think that if, besides sacrificing one man, we also have to sacrifice one woman for that purpose -- then we should sacrifice that woman."
"Yes," I said, less certain now of where all this was leading.
"And then, if we have to sacrifice two men and two women, I think we ought to go ahead and sacrifice two men and two women. How about you?"
Slim was looking at me and laughing silently. Obviously I looked a little scared.
"I agree," I replied firmly, annoyed at Slim's amusement.
And so it went -- a most baffling discussion -- settling at last on what number of sacrificial victims I do not remember -- and to what reasonable end I could not begin to guess.
Already, though, it was beginning to sound like a terribly complicated and cumbersome conspiracy. Just how many people did this guy plan to involve, anyhow?
"And what do you think about letting Jimmy Hoffa in on this thing?"
"I think Jimmy Hoffa is being unfairly persecuted," I told him. "I think Jimmy Hoffa is a good man. I saw a book on a newsstand in Santa Ana this summer called Jimmy Hoffa's Hot. It was sympathetic to him. I wish I'd bought it."
After allowing a considerable silence to elapse, he grinned obnoxiously and said, "Next we'll get Martin Luther King."
"Aw, what do you want to kill King for?" I asked. It was not the first time he had made this suggestion.
Brother-in-law just laughed as if it pleased him to say things he knew would annoy me.
"And, Kerry, I think the best way to kill President Kennedy and get away with it would be to involve all kinds of people -- but to keep them under the impression they are working on other projects."
"If you must involve large numbers of people, yes, I guess that would be the best way to go about it."
"But in order to do that," he said, "you would have to have a very large bureaucracy under your control." At this point he stood and walked to the center of the room, where Slim was already standing.
I had been seated on the footstool in front of the sofa and as I stood and followed, I said in a disappointed tone of voice, "Yes." For if anything was certain in my mind, it was that scrawny, T.B.-ridden Slim Brooks and his weird Nazi burglar of a brother-in-law did not control any bureaucracies.
Yet, to my bewilderment, Slim looked at Gary and Gary looked at Slim, both with expressions of absolute triumph in their eyes -- being so obvious about it as to seem melodramatic. They had to be putting me on. I felt dispirited and depleted. Another afternoon had been wasted engaged in humoring the pipe dreams of a cheap braggart.
Slim indicated it was time to go and we headed for the door.
"The only remaining problem," Brother-in-law said, "is who to frame for it."
We stopped and returned to where he was standing in the middle of the living room.
"Why frame anybody?" I asked.
"People need answers," he said in a harsh, cynical tone, but with a little smile. "I figure I'll frame some jailbird."
"Why a jailbird?"
"Criminals who are stupid enough to get caught are an inferior breed. They don't deserve any breaks."
I didn't like that line of reasoning. "I don't think you should frame a jailbird."
A crooked smirk distorted his mouth so much that he had to bow his head in trying to hide it. "Well, Kerry, who would you suggest framing?"
"Aw, why don't you frame some Communist," I answered.
"Let's go," Slim said, heading for the door again.