of the fire the night before there hadnât been time to mention it.
Neil looked startled. âI donât believe it.â
I told him what weâd learned from the police.
Neil shook his head. âI guess itâs true if they found it. He never mentioned having sex with anybody. Iâve known him for ten years, and he hasnât had any operations where he might have gotten transfusions. Far as I know, he never had any.â
âHe got it some way. If he knew he had it, he never told anybody, as far as I can tell,â I said. âIf he could keep that secret, he could obviously keep his mouth shut about how he got it.â
After dinner we walked over to the Gay Tribune offices. I wanted to see if Monica Verlaine could give us any leads on the Lesbians for Freedom and Dignity. We found her hunched over a computer on the second floor of the office. Not a trace of yesterdayâs mess remained. Theyâd covered over the holes in the wall with red poster board. A few staffers sat at the other consoles on both floors, each peering at his or her own screen.
Monica suspected Priscilla was one of the organizers of the womenâs group but claimed to know little about them.
âPriscilla is widely disliked,â she said. âOften that keeps her from getting elected to an office, but sheâd be at the center of it. Sheâs perfect for that kind of meeting: energetic, opinionated, unwilling to listen, and out of touch with reality.â
âI can see why youâre not a member of a nut group, but why arenât you more of a feminist activist?â Scott said.
She gave a pleasant ripple of laughter. She pulled out a cigarette and holder, lit up, took a drag, whirled it in a deft circle around her left shoulder, blew a perfect smoke ring, then said, âI donât have to be. Iâm rich. Fuck this powerless movement shit. Take the Lesbian Radicals from HellâI like Neilâs name for them. They have a manifesto of sorts calling for all kinds of absurd kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations. Even if they managed all of it on a large scale, thereâs no revolution coming. A lot of innocent people could get hurt. Theyâll fade away and the world will go on very much the same, as if they had never existed. Doing things my way has more
positive effect for women than all the bullshit talking they do. By the way, youâre wrong to call them a nut group.â
âWhyâs that?â Scott asked.
Monica explained that while she only knew a few of the women involved, she could understand why some of them would be radicalized. She told us about a few of them. One woman, named Stephanie, now grossly overweight and deliberately letting herself look ugly, had started out as one of the most competent emergency-room doctors in Washington, DC. Sheâd worked long hours without pay with the homeless. Late one night five of the men sheâd helped the most had cornered her in a clinic office and raped her repeatedly. Only one of them was ever convicted, and he didnât serve time.
Another woman, named Sally, had grown up in the Catholic ghetto in Belfast. She joined a radical group after her parents had been murdered by a terrorist organization. For a while she tried making a life for herself, working with battered and abused children in the slums of Los Angeles. Her best friend, a man, turned her in to the authorities. âSome of them have good reason to be angry,â she said.
I asked about Priscilla, specifically mentioning her actions of the night before and the attack on us with the truck.
Monica didnât know where Priscilla might have been going. She warned us about trying to catch her or interrupt one of the groupâs meetings. âThese people are fanatics,â she said. âGenerally harmless, but when pushed, who knows? Even I got ugly stares the one time I walked into a meeting, and I was invited.â She shrugged.