Hunter



Hunter
By Andrew Macdonald

IV


“More coffee, sir?”

“Yes, please,” Oscar told the waiter, as he placed the money for his check on the tray, mentally flinching at the amount. He leaned back in his chair and continued to survey the other tables in the restaurant, while a busboy approached to clear away the last of his dishes. He had chosen his table well for the purpose. It was in a dark alcove, partly screened from the main dining area by a large potted plant, so that Oscar could see without being seen. The restaurant was a pretentious, trendy one, just five blocks from the Capitol and frequented by the city’s power seekers, as well as by a fair number of real power wielders: legislators, upper-echelon bureaucrats, lawyers, newsmen, lobbyists.

During the course of his dinner Oscar had spotted several interesting prospects at other tables. He recognized Congressman Stephen Horowitz in a boisterous, noisy group just two tables away. Horowitz had been much on television recently, as his committee held hearings on a new bill to bring 100,000 Haitian immigrants per year into the United States. In an emotional speech just a week before, he had denounced those who opposed his bill as the very same “racists” who had been against his earlier bill, since enacted into law, to ban White South Africans from immigrating into the country. What a hideously ugly little man he was, Oscar thought, feeling a distinct itch in his trigger finger as he studied the legislator’s ratlike face, with its darting, beady, close-set black eyes and wide, leering mouth. But, really, shooting was too good for Horowitz. Oscar would much rather wait for a chance to catch the man alone and work him over with an ice pick, slowly.

Besides, he didn’t want to change targets that radically yet; he wanted to keep hitting mixed couples for a while, except now he intended to pick them from a higher tax bracket, in order to make an even bigger splash in the news media. And there was an excellent possibility at a table on the other side of the room, which Oscar unobtrusively had been keeping an eye on for the last half hour: a tall, lightskinned mulatto with two White women, both of whom seemed to be on intimate terms with him. Oscar had no idea who the women were, but he had seen the mulatto on the television news several times - once, in fact, with Horowitz, in a news conference held in the street in front of the South African Embassy. He headed an organization which lobbied for punitive legislation against South Africa and economic aid for Black-ruled African countries. Perhaps the women were employees of his organization, or perhaps just a couple of power groupies, a species all too common in this city.

Finally the mulatto paid his bill, then sauntered over to Horowitz’s table to pay his respects, one of the women hanging on each arm. Oscar rose and left the restaurant without looking again toward his intended targets. Outside he paused at a coin-operated newsrack and purchased a Washington Post. From the corner of his eye he saw the mulatto and his White companions emerge from the restaurant and turn to the left, down a tree-lined and imperfectly lighted sidewalk. Oscar followed at about 30
paces.

As soon as he was out of the brightly lighted area in front of the restaurant, he slipped his silenced pistol out of his coat and into the folded newspaper he was holding in his right hand. The trio in front of him turned the corner. By the time Oscar reached the corner they were entering a late-model, white Cadillac parked at the curb. He quickly scanned the area and sized up the situation, feeling the familiar tension in his muscles, the icy perspiration in his armpits. Although there was a moderate amount of traffic on the street with the restaurant, there were no moving vehicles on the side street. The nearest pedestrians were a group of five persons he had just passed on their way toward the restaurant; they were at least 100 feet away now, their backs to him.

Oscar increased his stride and drew abreast of the Cadillac as the mulatto closed the front passenger door on the two women. Oscar turned sharply to the right and intercepted him at the curb behind the automobile. As the mulatto looked up with surprise and annoyance at the large White man suddenly blocking his path, Oscar raised his pistol, still covered by the newspaper, and shot his victim between the eyes. The mulatto fell back heavily against the vehicle without uttering a sound, then sprawled into
the gutter. Oscar fired two more carefully aimed shots into his head, then stepped forward and jerked open the door of the Cadillac. The women had not realized what was happening, and Oscar quickly and precisely shot each of them in the head once, then twice more. Then he turned and strode briskly back toward the main street.

Oscar glanced at his watch as he drove back across the Potomac into Virginia: just eight o’clock - still not too late to see Adelaide. He had told her he would be having dinner with some contract officers at Andrews Air Force Base that evening and would give her a call if he got away early. It hurt him to lie to her, but he could see no other way of dealing with the situation. The girl was intelligent and had basically good instincts, but he had no intention of burdening her with the knowledge of - and therefore the moral responsibility for - his private war. She had not been through the experiences in Vietnam he had, nor had she shared his prolonged soul-searching for an understanding of the meaning of many of the things happening around them - such as miscegenation. He was not at all sure that he would be able to make her accept the moral necessity of his actions. Like all women, she was much more likely to focus on the personal aspects - on what was happening to the individuals Oscar chose as targets - than on the impersonal justification for those actions and their implications for the future of the race.

Oscar had had to harden his resolve tonight to kill the two girls. He had no doubt at all that what he had done was right, but there was something in him that resisted doing violence to a woman of his race - even when she clearly deserved it. It had been easier in the supermarket parking lots. All of those women were obviously of the lowest type - worthless White sluts who had married Blacks because they had no better prospects among men of their own race. But the girls tonight had been moderately attractive, even classy. Too bad.

As for the mulatto, there definitely had been more satisfaction for Oscar in killing him than the other Blacks. Partly it was because this one had publicly declared himself an enemy of the White race by his actions against the Whites of South Africa, and partly it was because he was such an arrogant, swaggering, uppity nigger. Maybe, too, it was because the girls with him might have amounted to something under different circumstances. In any event, Oscar suspected that his increased satisfaction soon would be matched by increased anguish in the ranks of the enemy.

His suspicion was confirmed later that evening. He and Adelaide were sitting up in bed to watch the 11 o’clock news together, as they often did. Tonight the presentation was ragged and disorganized, the obvious result of the news team having gotten the tape of the day’s big story too late to edit it. Without any preliminaries the newscaster began, “It looks like the race killer has struck again!”

Oscar watched with fascination as the camera scanned the scene of his activity a mere three hours ago, now swarming with uniformed policemen, FBI agents, newsmen, and curious bystanders. FBI agents already had arrested a suspect and were questioning him, according to the newscaster. That brought an involuntary smile to Oscar’s lips.

The real focus of the news was on the mulatto Oscar had killed, Tyrone Jones. There was only a cursory mention of the two White women, and then a long eulogy on Jones and his role in “the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa.” Senator Horowitz gave a brief interview, mentioning that he had been with Jones only a few minutes before the latter was shot, and that he had lost a “dear, dear friend.” Horowitz went on to say that he intended to call for a Congressional investigation of the Jones shooting and the other killings of racially mixed couples. Then he leaned toward the camera with a twisted leer on his face: “Anyone who thinks that he can halt the progress we are making in race relations, in our efforts to break down the old barriers of hatred and prejudice separating the races, by these murders is terribly mistaken. We will put all of the resources of our government behind the endeavor to track down the sick killer or killers responsible for them. America will continue its march toward a fully integrated society, and no one will be permitted to stand in the way.”

Then there was five seconds with the distraught parents of one of the women who had been shot. Adelaide shook her head in sympathy and murmured, “How terrible!”

“If she was with that Jones creature, she deserved to be shot,” Oscar responded.

“Oh, Oscar! How can you say that? That’s awful.”

Oscar sighed and said nothing, but he thought to himself that he was going to have to begin talking with Adelaide about some things - soon.