SO YOU WANT TO BE A SPY

"Kerry, what do you think of snuff movies?"


Brother-in-law was seated in his characteristic elbow-on-knees position upon a footstool near the center of the living room. I was sitting at my usual place near the door. It must have been between ten and eleven on a Saturday morning. We had just arrived at the house.

"What are snuff movies?" I asked.

"Those are films they make in Mexico," he said, "where a woman thinks she is going to be shot with a fake gun as part of the script, but they shoot her with a real gun, instead."

I could tell right away it was going to be one of those days when I wished I'd never met the sonofabitch.

"I think that's a great idea," I lied.

My enthusiasm now was entirely sycophantic. Humor the crazy bastard, I figured. That way at least I would minimize my own chances of winding up as a star in one of his bloody productions.

I added for good measure that killing was natural and that it was my ambition before my life was over to break every single one of the Ten Commandments -- nihilistic thoughts I had actually entertained from time to time, but which were thoroughly inappropriate to the discussion.

Gary and Slim looked at one another and grinned, communicating great delight with my response.

In addition to The Idle Warriors, I was attempting to write another novel. My rationale for continuing this harrowing relationship was to gather precisely this type of information about the local Mafia, in order to lend authenticity to The Color Wheel, a book I was writing about all the different kinds of characters in New Orleans. But the trauma was starting to get the best of my curiosity.

Glaring at me with evil glee, Gary ended the discussion of snuff films by saying, "Yeah, I'm going to get people into murdering other people on film, and then I'm going to build a network of blackmailed murderers."

Note 10

Another exchange in which I responded fearfully because of Brother-in-law's fierce attitudes, I regret as much as the chat about snuff films.

Once he said to me: "Kerry, the Cubans are mostly of Spanish blood, and Spaniards are white people. So if there is another war, and if there is some way of influencing where it occurs, I think it would be good if that war was against somebody other than the Cubans -- such as an Oriental race. Don't you?"

"I think there should be a war against Communism, " I commented.

He also used to say, "You know, Kerry, occasionally Fidel Castro turns up at bars right here in Jefferson Parish."

"You're putting me on!"

"No. He sneaks into the country and visits bars in Jefferson Parish, and sometimes he and his friends beat up on a bar girl and kill her."

I didn't know whether to believe that or not, but there didn't seem any point in arguing about it. On subsequent repetitions of the story I would just say, "Yeah, you said that already."

"Kerry, do you realize that professional spies never look like spies? That they don't always even try to remain inconspicuous?"

"Yes, I read a book called So You Want to be a Spy? once. Sometimes the best cover is to be very conspicuous -- to walk through the front door with a duchess under each arm."

"Yes. And another cover is to look ordinary."

Never did the conversational theme veer from Nazism for long.

"You know, there were assassination plots against Hitler." We would discuss these at great length; he was extremely well informed about them.

"Something else happened near the end of the war, when Hitler could no longer hide from himself that he was losing. He gave orders that all the German stockpiles of nerve gas be released into the air. He wanted to take everybody with him, but Nazis under him in the chain of command quietly refused to carry out his orders." That was another one he brought up again and again.

Sometimes Gary came off as a wizened pipe-smoking social philosopher and it seemed ungracious to think of him as anything else.

About the roots of Nazism he spoke intelligently.

"Nazism, Kerry, is a reactionary ideology -- but it is in reaction against something. And it's worth thinking about. What is this thing it is reactionary against? Roman imperialism -- its heritage in culture, resulting in colonialism in politics!"

For as we both knew, neither Germany nor Italy had empires of colonies sending them cheap raw materials, until they undertook their fascist rampages. "Kerry, it was a reactionary movement against imperialism -- not a pure one, but those were its roots."

Another time he asked me what I thought of recruiting people of various, conflicting anti-imperialist ideologies to the same organization -- a secret society constructed for the purpose of destroying imperialism. Not only did it then seem to me an excellent idea, but in spite of all that has happened since then I cannot quarrel with the basic concept.

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CONFESSION TO CONSPIRACY TO ASSASSINATE JFK

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