By Andrew Macdonald


“Baby, I believe you’ve got the best set of tits on the East Coast,” Oscar said admiringly, as he watched Adelaide lean over the table to pour a cup of coffee for him, the candlelight accentuating the contrast between the curves and hollows of her naked body. Neither of them had bothered to put their clothes back on after they had made love.

“Oh, have you been taking a survey?”

Before Oscar could think of an appropriately witty response, Adelaide continued: “You must be doing something really fascinating with your evenings. If not a tit survey, then what? Do you realize that you’ve kept me waiting for you until after nine o’clock for the last three nights? You said we would be going out to eat this evening, and that even if your work held you up you would be here by eight at the latest. Here it is ten o’clock, and I’m fixing your supper again. I know you weren’t at home, because I called there an hour before you got here.”

“I’m really sorry, baby,” Oscar replied contritely. “I’ve just had a lot of running around to do the last few days. I spent all day at the computer working on the new contract, and then there were several chores I had to take care of this evening.”

“All right, honey. I didn’t think that you had been with another woman, because you certainly were terminally horny when you got here. I just wish you could arrange your work schedule so that we could have more time together. I start feeling sorry for myself sitting here in my apartment alone, night after night. Why can’t you do your chores while I’m at work? Knowing the Air Force as I do, I’m sure that no contract you have with them could keep you as busy as you seem to be sometime.”

Oscar really ached to level with her. Instead he replied, “I’ll try to do better, baby. I really will. How was your day?”

Adelaide talked to him from the kitchen while she continued preparing their meal. Oscar occasionally interjected a comment or an answer, but his mind was busy on the more serious matter of the whole relationship between the two of them. Was there any way he could share with her his feelings and concerns?

He remembered a debate he had had with some of the other fliers back in Vietnam. It was during a period when the news media were featuring plans and proposals for an increased role for women in the armed forces. The initial proponents were the feminists and their supporters on the left, whose position was that women differed from men only in the configuration of their genitalia and could do virtually anything men could do, including fly military aircraft in combat, and do it just as well. The only reason they weren’t doing it already was the repressive effect of society’s “sexism,” which on the one hand erected barriers of custom and law against women and on the other hand stunted their potential by brainwashing them into accepting traditional female roles. If the laws were changed, and if little girls were raised just like little boys - given baseball bats and cap pistols instead of dolls - they would grow up just as capable as men of being Green Berets or combat pilots.

The other side of the issue was represented by those whose only argument was that “society isn’t ready for women to go into combat yet.” At least, they were the only ones on the other side of the issue who were admitted into the forum by the media, creating the impression that the opponents of a military combat role for women really had no ground to stand on. So it wasn’t long before the trendier politicians and bureaucrats, even some of the nation’s military leaders with political ambitions, also took up the banner of the feminists.

The general opinion among Oscar’s fellow airmen was that the feminist position was insupportable. There were one or two exceptions, but they were shallow men of a contrary disposition who always could be counted on to champion any unnatural cause, the freakier the better. Oscar was sure that no man who had flown in combat really believed that a woman could be a good combat pilot, no matter how fast her reflexes, how fine her coordination, how keen her vision.

The feminists claimed that men had an advantage as fighters only because they had more muscle, and that the advantage vanished in those combat situations where muscle wasn’t decisive: combat flying, for example. Oscar, on the other hand, realized that men weren’t better fighters because they had more muscle, but that men had more muscle because it gave them an advantage in their natural role as fighters. In women, even though they might be the most excellent of athletes, the fighting hormones were missing - and more: the fighting instinct, the innate fighting micro-skills, finely honed over a million generations of primate evolution, during which the males were the hunters and fighters, and the females the nurturers.

The cleverly crooked way in which the news media had handled the issue reinforced Oscar’s already well developed distrust of the journalistic profession. But the debate had interested him and had led him to think about the psychic differences between men and women and the deep roots of these differences in the evolutionary past of the race.

Adelaide was a bright girl, one of the brightest he had ever known, and that pleased him. She could knowledgeably discuss some aspects of his antenna design work with him; she had even suggested a better algorithm than he had been using for one series of radiation calculations. She also was witty and well read for her age: in talking with her he could use a historical simile to illustrate a point, and she could respond in kind. Her intelligence made her a better companion.

Nevertheless, her mind did not work in the same way his did, and he was aware of the differences, subtle and slight as they might seem to a less perceptive observer. For one thing, her mental world was smaller, her horizon closer. What was real to her was the here and now; the past and the future, like distant landscapes in the present, were of much less interest. She was a good, practical worker on limited projects, but the mapping of world-historical vistas and making plans to transform them would seem unreal to her.

For another thing, Adelaide was not a generalizer. Her focus was on the trees, not the forest. She saw people as individuals. He did too, of course - but he also saw them as members of larger categories: as representatives of their races, their social classes, their religions, their interest groups. To understand a man, one had to consider what he was, where his roots were, his vital interests, with whom he identified - not just his individual idiosyncrasies.

The popular wisdom was on her side, of course. Everyone was supposed to see others only as individuals. But he was quite sure that she was not simply conforming to an artificial norm. Adelaide was not an artificial girl; quite the opposite. She had little use for pretense or convention. She was completely unmoved by all of the swirling currents of political and social trendiness.

He remembered her reaction when two obviously “gay” men had swished into a restaurant once where they were eating, sat down at a table near theirs, and held hands as they perused the menu. Despite the vogue homosexuals were enjoying, she had displayed a natural revulsion for the spectacle. She laughed at Black or Jewish jokes, if they were really funny. When he had lectured her once on the subject of the difference in intelligence between Blacks and Whites, and more generally, the difference in the ways the minds of the two races worked, she had found his analysis convincing.

But when an interracial couple was assassinated, she saw two people murdered, not a blow against miscegenation. He was sure that her reaction was natural and feminine, not ideological. And he had noticed the same general pattern in other women as well. All of this did not mean that Adelaide could not be brought around to an acceptance - perhaps even an approval - of what he was doing, just that it might not be easy. He decided to begin the task.

“Sweetheart, suppose we didn’t know each other, and one of the Blacks at the Pentagon asked you for a date - say, that Black captain who gives you the eye whenever he comes into Carl’s office while you’re there - how would you react?”

Adelaide answered as she placed the final dishes on the table and sat down: “Actually, the man propositioned me the first week I was there. And I told him very sweetly, ‘Thanks, but I’ll have to check with my doctor first to see if it’s all right. I’ve tested positive for AIDS, and I don’t know whether or not it’s in the contagious stage yet.’ I guess the word got around, because I haven’t had another proposition from a Black in more than a year. The other White girls are pestered by them all the time.”

“You never told me about that. I’m surprised that you were ready for him with such an effective turnoff.”

“It’s my standard response to randy Blacks. One of the first things I learned in college was that an answer like that is the only thing that’ll work. They simply won’t take a polite ‘no’ for an answer. It’s got to be either, ‘Buzz off, nigger,’ or something like my AIDS answer. During my first year at Iowa State they were really a problem. I was completely unprepared for it. There had been no Blacks at all in my high school - none in the whole county where I grew up, for that matter. But there were lots of them, most from out of state, at the university. They made such a nuisance of themselves I felt like a bitch in heat. I didn’t want to be rude, and I didn’t want to be thought a racist. I also didn’t want to date any of them. I just wasn’t attracted to them. Besides, it was general knowledge that girls who did date them usually got raped if they didn’t give in voluntarily. They called it ‘date rape,’ but it was still rape - very often gang rape. The university administration gave the girls no backup at all. They wouldn’t even admit there was a problem. Fortunately, I had a roommate who knew the score, and she helped me cope.”

“Weren’t there any support groups for White girls on campus? What about the church groups?”

“Are you serious, Oscar? The church groups were the worst of all. They thought their mission was to save girls like me from racism, not from being raped. They were always organizing dances and other social functions, and their big concern at every function was to pair off the White females with Black males. White men who showed up were made to feel unwelcome. They were so obvious about it!

“The only organized groups on campus which made an issue of rape were the feminists, but they didn’t say anything about the racial aspect, of course.”

“Of course. But I’ll bet the racial conditions on campus helped them with their recruiting.”

“Probably did. A lot of women who had had bad experiences with men - especially with Black men - were full of anger that no one else sympathized with them or would help them, and so they turned to the feminists.”

“How did you manage to avoid falling into their clutches and being converted into a man-hater?” Oscar asked only half seriously.

“I was tempted to join one of the feminist groups during the time when I felt most insecure, as a freshman, just for moral support. And I probably would have, except the feminists’ agenda, even in the least militant groups, went way beyond providing moral support for women. Most of them weren’t just angry about the way women were treated; they were angry that they were women, instead of men, although they would never admit that. They campaigned against rape, but when you got to know them you realized that what they were really angry about was having to be on the bottom. To put it crudely, they wanted to be the rapists instead of the rapees, the fuckers instead of the fuckees. And since I’ve always been happy to be on the bottom, as long as there was a good man on top, I couldn’t empathize with them.”

“I’m grateful for that, baby. It would have been a real loss to the race if you’d become a dyke.”

“Well, at least a loss to you, I hope,” she smiled. “I don’t know that I’m doing the race much good.”

“Hmm. True. We ought to do something about that. We need to think seriously about getting you pregnant. It’s really a crime against Nature for someone with your genes not to have five or six kids.”

“I’m open to suggestions.”

“Looks like I’ve put myself on the spot again,” Oscar smiled. Then he frowned. “You know, baby, I’ve got some loose ends that I have to take care of. With a schedule like I’m keeping now we couldn’t really have much of a home life together. I hope that I can work some things out in the next couple of months which will let me go into the business of being a husband and father with a clear conscience.”

“Honey, it’s true that your work schedule is pretty aggravating to me sometimes. But couples all over the world raise families with worse problems.”

“I appreciate your flexibility, baby. One of the reasons I love you is that you seem able to take into stride almost any sort of problem which comes up, without complaining. But I believe I really am near the point of being able to make some changes which will be good for both of us - and for our children. I need to concentrate my energies on these things for just a while longer.”

Oscar could see the disappointment and pain in Adelaide’s eyes, and his soul writhed. He did not want to lie to her, but that is what he was doing. For the truth was that he had no clear idea of what lay ahead for him. What could he hope to have resolved in a couple of months? If he kept escalating his war against the System, he would likely be dead or in prison in that time. On the other hand, it was hard to imagine how he could escalate the war beyond what he was planning to do to the People’s Committee Against Hate. The only possibility seemed to be to find a way of continuing the war by legal - or, at least, less risky - means. But how? He had drawn a blank every time he had tried to think along those lines.

He didn’t know what else to say to Adelaide. There was simply no point in telling her exactly what he was doing. Even if she were ideologically and emotionally prepared to accept that knowledge, there was nothing she could do to help; she would just be frightened and worried. Yet he felt that he must tell her something. He didn’t want her to think he was stalling because he didn’t want to marry her. And he desperately wanted her to understand his motives, to share his conviction that he had to fight the evil that was threatening the whole meaning of their existence.

He tried again, his voice serious and, at first, hesitant: “You know how I feel about a lot of the changes that are taking place in this country, sweetheart. I’ve mentioned most of them to you at one time or another: the growth in racial mixing, the flood of non-White immigrants pouring into the cities, the increasingly obvious crookedness and lack of responsibility of the politicians, the destructive bias of the news and entertainment media, the breakdown of the country’s morale, the decay of discipline and of standards everywhere, the loss of any sense of racial or cultural identity on the part of the dwindling White majority.

“I guess most people have thicker skins than I have, and they don’t let these things bother them. But they do bother me - a lot. They bother me so much that it’s hard for me to take anything else very seriously. My work has become for me nothing more than a way of making money. I can’t get excited about it when I see so many other things going on - more important things, terrible things - that call out for my intervention. It’s hard to plan ahead, to think about a career, when the future looks like the sort of place I wouldn’t want to live in - or have our kids live in.

“I want to fight it, baby. I feel that I have to fight it. Nothing else seems real or worthwhile to me except fighting it. Nothing else but you, that is. When I’m with you I can put everything else out of my mind for a few hours. I can think about you and me, here and now. I can see you, feel you, hear you, smell you. I can luxuriate in your beauty, your softness, your womanliness, your sexiness, your love. But when we talk about marriage and children, then I have to think about more than here and now. I have to figure out how I can fight and also be a responsible husband and father at the same time. That’s my problem, sweetheart, and I’m trying to work it out.”

There was silence for a long moment, as the two looked into one another’s eyes. Then Adelaide spoke: “Honey, you’re an unusual man. You’re not like any other man I’ve ever known. I think that your attitude is quixotic. I don’t like many of the things that are happening today myself. I don’t like some of the directions the world is headed, and I’d change them if I could. But I can’t, and you can’t either. There’s nothing we can do. Anyway, our responsibility is not to take care of the world, but to take care of ourselves as best we can. There’s a lot of dirt out there, and we can’t change that. But we can keep our own lives clean and make clean lives for our children. That’s all we can do.”

“Maybe not even that much, baby. Sure, I guess you and I can keep ourselves clean. But things are falling apart pretty fast out there, and I’m not at all certain that we’ll be able to guarantee clean lives for our kids. They’ll be growing up in a country in which their own race will be barely a majority - and a badly fractured and split majority at that, while the minorities at least know how to stick together and vote together.

“And I guess that if I were a cold-blooded gambler 1 wouldn’t put any of my money on a bet that we can do anything to head off the catastrophe. But I’m still not quite as sure as you are that nothing can be done. Perhaps I am quixotic, but for me while there’s life there’s hope. And I have to try. I wish I could make you understand how I feel about the inevitability of doing whatever we can, regardless of the odds.”

Oscar thought for a moment, then he continued: “I guess you’re aware of the gang rapes of White girls by bands of young Blacks which have been going on around here. Usually the news media won’t say much about it, but it’s really on the rise. There was that rape of the jogger in Rock Creek Park last week, for example, in which more than 20 teen-aged Blacks grabbed the girl and spent nearly two hours raping her repeatedly, right on the jogging path. Then they cut her throat and left her to die. It wouldn’t have made such a splash in the media if she hadn’t been a senator’s niece.

“Suppose you and I were walking through the park and had come on that scene while the raping was in progress. Suppose I were unarmed, and it was a good mile to the nearest telephone. Some men, I suppose, could tell themselves that there was nothing they could do, except start running for the telephone, in the hope that they could get the cops there in 20 or 30 minutes. But for me there would be no choice. If the girl were a member of my race I would have to charge right into those Black animals and do whatever was humanly possible to rescue her. If I ran away I would not be able to live with myself. I would feel dirty and dishonorable forever afterward.

“And that’s sort of the way it is with me and the world. It’s my world, my race’s world, and it’s being gang-raped. I’d feel dishonorable, I couldn’t be at peace with myself, if I didn’t do what I could - even though doing it might come between you and me.”

Adelaide smiled. “I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more,” she quoted.

“Exactly, my lovely Lucasta, exactly,” Oscar came back.

“Well, honey, I’m still sure you’re quixotic and that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change the course of history. But I just want you to know” - and here Adelaide’s voice became low and husky - “that if you decide to go to war against the whole world, I’ll be your camp follower, if you’ll have me. And if you charge unarmed straight into the gates of Hell, I’ll be running along behind you as fast as I can, if I believe you still love me.”

Tears glistened in Adelaide’s eyes, and Oscar found that he had a lump in his throat so hard that he could not speak. All he could do for a moment was reach clumsily across the dinner table and grasp her hand. His motion knocked over one of the candlesticks, which sputtered out. Then he rose swiftly from his chair, crossed to Adelaide’s side of the table while she herself stood up, and crushed her tightly in his arms. They stood there silent and motionless, a single column of shadowed, gleaming flesh illuminated by the flickering light of the remaining candle.