October's issue of GQ features a profile of the family of George Zimmerman, the man who owes his life to Florida's "stand your ground" law and extremely understanding jurors, after fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. Writer Amanda Robb paints a picture of a family tormented by paranoia, as the Zimmermans struggle to live in a country where the vast majority of the population despises their brother.
Here are a few of the most fascinating, heartbreaking, complicated moments.
Their paranoid security protocols
"They watched the movie Argo to learn how to live like CIA. Code names for everyone. No mail delivered to the house. No visitors. No talking to the few neighbors they had. No long phone conversations -- keep it short and vague to outwit surveillance. Never discuss your whereabouts via phone or text. Keep a weapon close by at all times. [George's brother] Robert slept with his gun. Still does.
"And in case someone--or multiple someones--decided to mount an attack on the house, the Zimmermans pre-packed their own 'go-bags' filled with everything they would need to flee in a rush, as well as what they called 'footballs' -- like the one President Obama has with the nuclear codes--that contained laptops, cell phones, and other essential electronics.
"They also memorized a color-coded threat-ID system. Code blue: Law enforcement at the door. Code brown: Draw your weapons. Code black: Come out guns blazing."
Concealed weapons certification class
Robb accompanied Gladys to a concealed weapons certification class to learn more about the region's gun culture. "The class's instructor, a police officer in Belle Isle, repeatedly recommends 'accessorizing your gun,' which he illustrates by lisping and wagging his wrist like a stereotypical 'queen.' The instructor keeps up the act until he finds out I live in New York City. Then he veers into Colonel Klink from the 1960s TV series Hogan's Heroes. 'Welcome to Germany,' he says. 'Everyone on the train!'
We don't actually learn to fire our weapons in this concealed-weapons class, so eventually I tell the instructor, "I have no idea how to load, aim, or shoot a gun." He recommends I get a .38. "It's a good baby gun," he says. "Yes!" [George's mother] Gladys exclaims. "Personally, I love my .45!" Then she does this kind of Angie Dickinson draw-and-aim move from the TV show Police Woman."
A brush with luxury
The Zimmermans agreed to make an appearance on CNN after the network agreed to pay for two hotel rooms for three nights and "everything" else they might need. After racking up debts from lawsuits, mortgages and the rent from their secret home, this looked pretty good.
"They ran up a big room-service bill, cleaned out the minibars, got their clothes laundered, made several trips to the spa, treated a party of ten to dinner at the hotel restaurant, and bought swag--from bracelets to bath fizzies--at the gift shop.
"Toward the end of their stay, according to Robert, a manager presented him with a bill for $3,600. He says he called CNN, outraged, only to have the producer accuse them of splurging shamelessly on CNN's dime. "You and your brother are evil!" he remembers her screaming. The hotel manager threatened to call the police. Alone in his room, Robert started shaking. He wrapped all the blankets around him, ordered shrimp, chain-smoked cigarettes, got roaring drunk. Nothing helped. He called his mother in a panic. "I can't get warm," he sobbed. "I just can't get warm."