I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.
- Aristotle, Greek Philosopher (B.C. 384-322)
Chapter 11: A Special Recipe
The meeting began with Carlos asking the other three how the interviews went. They took turns, Susan telling them about her interview, Johnny describing his, and then it was Darren’s turn.
“I didn’t say shit. They asked me if I knew him, I said not really, that was about it.”
“Whoa, wait a minute – what about telling the cops about him calling you last night, how did that go down?” Johnny asked.
“Nah man, I didn’t even bring that shit up.”
“You what?” Johnny asked in disbelief. Stunned silence. Susan looked like she’d been punched in the gut. Carlos held the rest of his face completely expressionless, but Johnny saw the intensity in Carlos’ eyes as they bored through Darren with a piercing, almost homicidal glare.
A moment passed, then another, and then suddenly, as if he’d arrived at a decision about something, the malice in Carlos’ eyes was gone in an instant and he said, “Let’s not worry about it, man. Why don’t we just finish up here and get some rest.”
Both Susan and Johnny could barely contain themselves from exploding and telling Darren how many different ways he was an idiot for not mentioning the phone call before the cell phone records were subpoenaed, but something about the snap change in Carlos’ demeanor was so drastic they knew he wasn’t blowing it off but setting it aside. So they held their peace and let it rest for now.
The rest of the meal was finished largely with the silence of unspoken thoughts. The plates were cleared, the bill was paid and the meeting adjourned.
As they left the restaurant and headed for their cars, Carlos said to Johnny, “Hey, cruise over to my car, I’ve got a CD I want you to listen to.”
It was a pretty lame excuse and Johnny wondered if Darren knew that he was going to be the real topic of conversation. Susan gave Johnny a look over her shoulder without breaking stride, the look as if to say, keep me in on the loop. Darren seemed completely oblivious to all three of them as lumbered down a straight line for his car.
Once they were inside his Buick and the doors were closed, Carlos said, “We’ve got a problem, man.”
“You’re damn right we do, and here this guy was lecturing us about not doing anything stupid.”
“And you called him, right? You told him ahead of time to make sure he mentioned the phone call and go with the moonbeams and satellites shit, right?”
“Yeah, and his exact words were, ‘Okay, sounds good.’ I even asked him if he thought he could make it sound convincing and he said, ‘No problem.'”
“That guy’s gonna fuck it up for all of us.”
“What a stupid fucking imbecile.”
Carlos just shook his head, his disappointment and anger at Darren beyond words.
“So what do we do about it?” Johnny asked.
“What were you thinking we should do about it?” Carlos returned the question right back to Johnny.
“We gotta have him call the cops and tell them he forgot to mention the phone call.”
“That’s going to sound almost as suspicious as him not mentioning the phone call in the first place, and not only that, but it still doesn’t fix the problem.”
“He’s a fuck up, and he’s going to keep fucking up until all four of us are locked up. He’s gotta go.”
“Gotta go?” Johnny asked.
“He’s gotta go, man. If he can’t stick with the program when it’s as simple as letting the cops know the guy called him the very same day he died, if he’s so fucking stupid he doesn’t realize that’s going to be a big red flag when they start going over Slurpee Boy’s phone records, he is going to screw up and keep screwing up until all four of our asses are facing life in prison. He’s gotta go.”
“Dude, you mean gotta go like, kill him? We can’t add another murder to all this.”
“We don’t have to do anything. All I have to do is make a call.”
Johnny looked at him and saw it quite plainly, this wasn’t just empty talk. Carlos was dead serious.
“I can’t man, no more killing, I don’t think Susan will go for it either.”
“Ever hear of an eye for an eye? That guy he killed was totally innocent, so Darren’s not some poor, innocent guy himself. Blame it on Karma, ’cause he’s got it coming to him in the first place. Then he starts acting stupid and refusing to go with the program and it comes down to: if we don’t stop him, he’s going to take us all down. At that point you don’t even have to feel sorry for him.”
“The only way I’ve been able to even live with myself the last couple days is knowing that it was Darren who threw the punch. But if your friends, or whoever you know, if we get them to kill this guy, if we pay for them to kill this guy, that’s blood on our hands. I don’t think I can live with that.”
“So you’re saying whacking him is out?”
“And you’re one-hundred percent sure about that?”
“Well then, there’s only one option left.”
“I’m going to cook that fucker up a Manson Burger.”
“A Manson Burger? What the hell’s a Manson Burger?”
“I do a lot of reading when I’m down. One of the best books I ever read was that Bugliosi guy’s Helter Skelter. You know when the Manson Family was on trial for those Helter Skelter murders? Sharon Tate and Rich La Bianco or something?”
“The prosecution had a former Family member that was going to testify, so Manson got word to some of his girls on the outs and told them that chick needed to be taken out. You know how they did it?”
“They took her out to a hamburger stand and spiked her burger with pure liquid acid, enough to bring an elephant down.” Ever since he’d first read Vincent Bugliosi’s book Helter Skelter, Carlos had been fascinated by the concept of LSD as a weapon and using a massive dose to completely obliterate someone’s mind.
From his reading, Carlos also knew that the attempt had failed and that after recovering in the hospital, the once reluctant former member of The Family did a 180-degree turn and became the star witness for the prosecution, providing perhaps the most solid testimony in the trial. Had Johnny asked him whether it had worked or not, Carlos would have told him the truth but would have said it was obviously because they just hadn’t dosed her hard enough. Johnny never asked, however.
“You’re talking about giving Darren enough acid to turn him into a drooling idiot?”
“Yeah, I’m talking about putting him on a trip he’ll never come back from. We won’t have to worry about him any more, and when the cops see the phone call Slurpee Boy made Darren the night he died and find out that Darren’s in a mental institution from dropping a massive amount of LSD, it will fit perfectly with the paranoid phone calls you and Susan were up front about in the interview and they’ll think maybe he never mentioned that guy’s phone call because the two of them were hanging out that night, dropping acid and someone had a bad trip and it ended up with one person dead.
“It’s either that or just straight up kill the guy, Holmes. You choose.”
Johnny just sat and stared at Carlos’ face for a while, waiting to see if Carlos would suddenly burst into laughter and deny he was serious about this whole Manson Burger plan, but he never did.
“How much LSD are we talking about?”
“You ever see how acid comes on blotter paper, like a sheet that’s all perforated with like a hundred little squares on it? It varies a lot, but you could say a typical tab off that sheet is about one-hundred micrograms of LSD. We’re not talking milligrams either, we’re talking micrograms. When it’s in raw crystal form, it takes about ten of those one-hundred microgram doses just to equal something the size of a grain of sand.
“Now if you’ve never taken the drug, just one dose is enough to rock your world, maybe make you see God or something. On the craziest end of the scale, I heard a story how Jim Morrison took 10,000 mics before a Doors concert, and the whole time he was on stage, he kept repeating it, ‘10,000 mics, 10,000 mics . . . ‘ so if you’re like a long-term, hardcore acid head like Morrison was, you might be able to take 100 hits of acid and come out of it with your brain relatively functional. I figure if you give someone ten times that dose, that’s enough to send anyone on a one-way trip to the loony bin. Maybe give them twenty times just to be sure.”
“You’re talking like, 200,000 micrograms.”
“At that point you can just call it 200 milligrams, but yeah. I think that would do the trick.”
“You know somewhere where you could get that much?”
“Yeah, and you’d be surprised how cheap it is, too. Street value of a sheet of acid? Basically you’re talking 100 tabs for like $100 or $200 when you buy it by the sheet, but that’s after the dealer gets his cut. What we would be buying would be the raw crystals straight from the source, no middleman. It was a few years ago, but last I heard, it was going for $3,000 a gram. What we need is a fifth of a gram. Usually you can only buy as much as a gram or a half-gram, but I think my homies will hook me up, so we’re talking about $600 to buy 200 milligrams.”
“You’re serious about this?”
“Fuckin’ A, holmes.”
“A Manson Burger.”
“We’re going to serve that fucker up a big, fat, juicy Manson Burger.”