“So here is the deal,” he said, taking a long pull from his cigarette. Oh yes. He, C.W, that is, was in one of his very favorite shapes, Edward R. Murrow again. “I’m organizing a vast conspiracy to assassinate an international leader in broad daylight in front of thousands of people.”
I let that sink in. We were sitting on the balcony of our condo smoking, he a "cig" and me a cigar. “Okay,” I said. “In broad daylight.”
“A vast conspiracy.”
“Let’s see,” he said, and began to enumerate, “at least two foreign countries, the United States intelligence community, the FBI, the State Department, organized crime, and a myriad of citizens. Is that the right word? Myriad?”
“It is if you mean a bunch,”
“A big bunch, some of them petty criminals, two, three time losers. And we have to keep it a secret.”
“Okay,” I said, “you have your cast of characters, planning the most secretive and minutely organized act of terrorism in broad daylight in one of our country’s largest cities with cameras rolling, and you don’t want to get caught. What’s next?”
“You hire a deeply troubled person, an idiot with no experience in crime or organization, a person already under surveillance for disloyalty, to kick the whole thing off.”
“Hardly a logical choice for such a complicated assignment,” I said.
“I think you mean ‘correcto,’ don’t you?”
“Whatever. So, you think a nut-case could pull this off?”
“You would be referring to Lee Harvey Oswald?”
“No,” he said sarcastically, “Donald Duck.” He composed himself. “But ask yourself, does that make sense?”
“Not really,” I said, “but it forms a digestible narrative for the non-discerning. Go on.”
“You’re a 14-year-old-boy,” he said.
“I’m not, was once, never again, thankfully.”
“My point exactly,” he said. “Not the best of times. Your voice is changing for some reason. You are developing acne, the girls won’t talk to you, the 16-year-olds bully you constantly, you worry that you’ll never reach average height, you just don’t seem to fit in anywhere, and your grades aren’t high enough to get you into college.”
“Sounds about right,” I said. “Your point?”
“You wake up one morning, look at yourself in the mirror, and think, ‘I don’t have enough problems. I think I’ll decide to be happy, lighthearted, and carefree.’”
That confused me for a second or two, then, “I think you meant ‘gay’ didn’t you?”
“Whatever,” he said. “But yeah. It’s your language, not mine. Anyway, does it bespeak a shred of logic? 'I'll chose to be a homosexual to take my mind off my troubles?'”
“I see your point,” I said. “Want to bring it around to current events?”
“Your family is starving,” he said.
“You have no money and no prospects. You hear your children crying from hunger at night.”
“Okay. Is this going somewhere?”
He ignored me. “A hundred miles of desert, snakes, killers, and other dangers away is the promise of sustenance, and hope.” He drew on his cigarette and exhaled.
“Miraculously you make it to the land of plenty, but you’ve been punctured by cacti, beaten, and wounded. You are starving, exhausted, weak, penniless, and missing your impoverished family. You are a wanted criminal, fearing capture with each step you take.”
“You find friends."
“They ask you what’s the first thing you want to do?”
“And you say … , you say,” He stopped for dramatic effect.
“I say what?”
“You say, ‘very first thing I want is to register to vote in your elections.’”
I said nothing.
He shook his head slowly. “How in the world?”
“How in the world what?”
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