Hunter



Hunter
By Andrew Macdonald

V

Oscar carefully laid aside the sheaf of clippings which he had assembled in his lap, stretched, yawned, leaned all the way back in his easy chair, and shut his eyes. It had been a busy week, and he needed a little time to think. He was almost grateful that Adelaide’s mother was ill and Adelaide had flown back to Iowa for the weekend to be with her. He had spent all of this quiet Saturday morning reading news reports and editorial comment from more than a dozen magazines and newspapers he had picked up at the newsstand last night after dropping Adelaide off at the airport.

Much of the news and comment were about him - and related matters.

For the past ten days there had been hardly anything else in the news. Two days after the Jones hit - Wednesday of last week - the media reported the bombing of the home of a racially mixed couple in Buffalo and the machine-gunning from a passing car of a racially mixed group of people standing in line to get into a San Francisco discotheque noted for its mixed clientele. Seven persons had been killed and a dozen more wounded in the latter incident, and the police had arrested two White suspects. There were no leads in the Buffalo bombing.

On Thursday, almost buried in the continued media hullabaloo over the San Francisco shooting, accounts were given of the killing in Chicago of two White women – sisters - alleged to have been involved with Black men, and the severe beating of a racially mixed couple in their apartment in Philadelphia.

Then the dam burst. On Friday there were reports of 19 major attacks on racially mixed couples or groups around the country. For the first time there was the admission that there were a number of different activists at work, although in each case reference was made to “the Washington hate killer,” and the incidents outside the Washington area were described as the work of “copycats.” Arrests had been made in more than half the incidents.

Oscar shook his head with disbelief as he read the details. Most of those who were copying him appeared to be acting with incredible carelessness. It was as if they were all good ol’ boys who had been sitting around with a beer in hand watching TV reports of one of his own exploits and had said to themselves, “Hey, neato! I think I’ll do that too.” And then they had gone out and done it, with only the most childishly inadequate preparation and planning. Weren’t there any serious people left in America?

More encouraging were the skinheads, who had taken up Oscar’s banner with real enthusiasm. There were many of them, they were highly visible, and they had no hesitation at all about wading into a racially mixed group with baseball bats, bicycle chains, and bricks. Whatever they did, of course, was wholly unplanned and more often than not was not lethal - although in one case a mixed couple had been knifed to death on a Cleveland street by several of them. On the whole, the race-mixers seemed to be more worried about encounters with roaming gangs of skinheads than with lone assassins.

The worry, in fact, had reached the point that mixed couples were openly expressing their fear of being seen in public. One news magazine reported that some White women in the Los Angeles area who formerly would have taken their mixed-race children shopping with them were now leaving them with neighbors instead. There was an interview with a Washington restaurant owner who estimated that the number of mixed couples at his tables had dropped off by more than eighty per cent since the attacks began being reported by the media.

The reaction by the System was vehement, vicious, and massive. Oscar was surprised. He had expected much media excitement and a major police effort, but he had never imagined there would be quite such an outpouring of rage and hatred. Some of the politicians, churchmen, educators, and others who had expressed themselves on TV had been almost incoherent with emotion. One Christian evangelist had been shaking uncontrollably - not with sorrow but with anger - when he denounced the attacks on racially mixed couples as an unholy attempt to thwart “God’s plan for America.” A rabbi with similar sentiments was literally frothing at the mouth. The president of Yale University, Baldwin Giaccomo, wept as he confessed his “shame that I am White... [and] have skin of the same color as the sick, demented creatures” who were carrying out the racial attacks.

As he watched that last performance Oscar had idly wondered how the good scholar would respond if it were suggested to him that some of the attacks might be the work of Black separatists - Farrakhan’s Muslims, say - who had the same reasons for being opposed to miscegenation that racially conscious Whites had.

At the same time Oscar had realized that reason played no part in what he was witnessing. In some sense of the word all of these spokesmen were motivated by religious sentiment, even though a few of them might declare themselves as agnostics or atheists. They were motivated by a religious conviction that a racially mixed America was better than a White America, that a mulatto child was better than a White child, that a White woman who chose a Black mate was better than one who chose a White. They would deny it if the question were put to them starkly, Oscar knew; they would weasel and waffle and beat around the bush with platitudes about “human dignity” and “equality” and so on, but it was perfectly clear what they really believed.

Somehow Oscar had known all along that that was the way things were. He thought again of the hatred he had seen on the face of the young woman demonstrator in front of the South African Embassy and of the approval for that hatred on the face of the priest beside her. And yet he was still surprised. He knew that America had become thoroughly decadent, that decadence had grown deep roots, and that many segments of the population obtained their sustenance from those roots and would fight any attempt to pull them up. But this reaction to his attacks on miscegenation went far beyond the defense of vested interests. Oscar shook his head in wonder. There clearly was an unbridgeable gulf - not just in interests, but in understanding, in spirit - between himself and these people.

The printed commentary was more coherent than the televised statements but just as vicious. There were editorial calls for new Federal legislation imposing an automatic death penalty on anyone convicted of a racially motivated assault-and one of the most impassioned of these was from an editor who had for years been noted as an opponent of capital punishment.

The director of the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a lengthy letter to the editor of the New York Times that the ordinary civil rights of a criminal suspect should be suspended in the case of a White accused of attacking a non-White for racial reasons. A third writer - a Massachusetts Legislator - proposed that, because of the difficulty in proving motivation, whenever a suspect was White and his victim non-White, the burden of proof be shifted to the defendant; he must prove that his actions had not been racially motivated in order to avoid the special penalties provided for “hate crimes.”

The prize for malice, however, was taken by one of the Washington Post’s regular columnists, David Jacobs. He had asserted in his column last Friday that it was clear from the pattern of killings in the Washington area and from the attacks on racially mixed couples elsewhere that the attackers were sexually frustrated White males who resented the greater sexual attraction which Black males had for White women. He provided a historical backdrop by attributing the same motive of White sexual inadequacy to the lynchings of Blacks earlier in the century. Jacobs then went on to generalize, saying that all White racism had its roots in sexual envy. White racism would continue to be the greatest evil confronting the world until there was no longer a White race, he concluded, and the best thing for the government to do was to hasten that day by encouraging even more racial intermarriage. A tax break for mixed couples would be a good step in that direction, he opined.

That column had infuriated Oscar when he first read it eight days ago. Rereading it today he could only wonder about people like Jacobs. What motivated them? Jacobs seemed to be in a different class from Yale’s guilt-stricken president or the outraged ministers and politicians. The words of his column radiated pure, cold hate. To him the White race was like a strain of especially dangerous spirochetes for which an antibiotic needed to be found.

At least, Oscar thought with considerable satisfaction, Jacobs would be writing no more columns for the Post. He had resolved to see to that himself last week, as soon as he had read Jacobs’ column. And he had carried out his resolve within a few hours.

Unfortunately for Jacobs, his column had not been the only thing in last Friday’s paper with his name on it. The “Style” section of the Post had reported a “publication party” to celebrate the appearance of a new book by another writer for the newspaper. The party, the “Style” article noted, was hosted by the author’s “colleague David Jacobs in his fashionable Jones Court condo.” The article had caught Oscar’s eye only because he spotted the ugly leer of Congressman Horowitz in a photograph of some of the guests at Jacobs’ party.

A quick call to the Washington Post had elicited the information that Jacobs normally didn’t arrive at his office until 2:00 PM. A check of a Washington street map showed Jones Court as a one-block long cul de sac. As it turned out there was only one building on the street that was a reasonable candidate for housing fashionable condominiums, and when Oscar drove into the unattended basement parking area just after noon he quickly spotted an automobile with a Washington Post staff sticker on the windshield.

When Jacobs came down to get into his car half an hour later, he never knew what hit him.

Thinking back over his killing of Jacobs, Oscar could hardly believe how easy it had been. There hadn’t even been the nervousness and perspiration which preceded each of his earlier operations. He had done the whole thing as calmly - one might even say as casually - as if he had been delivering a pizza instead of carrying out a daylight assassination. Part of that was undoubtedly due to an unusual concatenation of lucky circumstances: spotting the clue to Jacobs’ address immediately after reading his column, the writer’s late work schedule, the unattended garage, the staff sticker visible on the windshield, Jacobs’ prompt and convenient appearance at a time when there were no witnesses....

The swiftness with which the job had been finished gave Oscar a tingle of pride. He smiled to think how that swiftness of retribution must have unnerved Jacobs’ collaborators. But Oscar’s pride was tempered by concern: he must guard against overconfidence and carelessness. He had never before been reckless enough to go after a target in broad daylight.

Another little worry that nagged at Oscar as he sorted out the events of the past few weeks in his mind was a feeling of aimlessness. Where was he headed? What sort of ultimate outcome of his actions was he seeking? Was his activity to remain a sort of therapeutic hobby? Or now that he had achieved his initial aim of provoking a massive response to his attacks on mixed couples and had stimulated a certain amount of imitative activity around the country, perhaps he should quit while the quitting was good and marry Adelaide.

He sighed at the prospect. He knew that he couldn’t quit. He would fall back into the same malaise that had gripped him before. He was not the sort who could stand aside and watch the destruction of his race and his civilization like an uninvolved spectator. He had to act. Would it be sufficient, he wondered, to choose an occasional target - a David Jacobs, a Tyrone Jones, perhaps a Stephen Horowitz? Would that be enough to satisfy his conscience and still allow him to lead a more or less normal life with Adelaide?

He wasn’t at all convinced that it would. At the same time he was not especially inclined to continue shooting an interracial couple every three or four days. That hardly seemed worth the risk now. If he were going to continue taking chances, he was inclined to raise the stakes, to go after bigger game. But whom? And why? What was to be the overall plan?

Oscar had no answer. He sighed again and shifted in his chair. He glanced idly at the stack of newspapers and magazines on the table beside him, and his eye fell again on the picture in last Friday’s Washington Post of the guests at Jacobs’ party. He picked up the paper and stared hard at the face of Congressman Stephen Horowitz for a full minute. What ugliness! What utter malice! A faint, grim ghost of a smile slowly came to his lips, and he muttered to himself, “Mine not to reason why; mine but to do and die.”

He laid the newspaper aside. He had made up his mind about one thing, at least.