As the pro-choice majority of the Supreme Court has dwindled to a
few old Justices, legal scholars predict a world eerily like America
before the Civil War, with women fleeing anti-abortion states, the
authorities a few steps behind. But there’s nothing like fiction to engage the heart. What would it
feel like to live in the world like the one the law professors coldly
imagine? Catch up and read Chapters One, Two, Three, Four and Five.
Continuing every Tuesday and Friday until the heroine meets her fate, I
will publish at this site an installment of her adventures and an
imagined, terrifying, but not unthinkable America in the time after Roe.
Chapter Six: Where’s the Doctor?
was waiting anxiously by the bedroom door.
think she’ll be okay," Howard said. "She doesn’t know where
the house is, because she was completely unconscious when we brought
her here, and we’ll blindfold her when we take her out. Who knew she
was going to start wandering around like that?"
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nodded agreement, his fair hair falling over his forehead. "Anyway,
I’m not sure they would do anything more to us for being gay than
running the Road. And I don’t know how much longer we are going
to get away with it, anyway. The counselors are starting to come
once a week, asking Faith and me why we don’t have children."
coming here, too. We’re going to have to move, I think. Next
time we move someplace, we have to bring a baby. Maybe the Guides
will have a baby we can adopt. I hate to leave this beautiful house,
though. And it’s so perfect for the Road."
gave a whispered hoot of laughter. "Going native? Howard Brown
falls in love with Richmond, the capital of the old Confederacy, home
to the Heritage Plantation Foundation, drafters of the new constitution
of the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing, among other things, that
no legislature may ever pass a law protecting the rights of gays.
Boy, what a few Greek columns will do to a gay boy!"
stop that! I am as radical as you are. This whole two household partnership
was my idea. If it weren’t for gays like us, there would be
no Rainbow Road. We moved here when no one was doing anything to get
those gay kids out. And spoiled darlings like this tall drink of water
with the snoopy disposition would just have to rot in their fathers’
arms. Sometimes I feel like the last radical left in America."
be a lot calmer," Howard answered, "if I knew where that damn doctor
was. He knows where we live." He began to pace around
and chew his nails, as he did when things got tense.
here sweetie," Richard said, "and let’s forget our troubles for
one more night."
Chapter Seven: The Underground Jeep
was the woman again. Daylight was filtering through the open door from
what she now knew was an empty room. What was she, the housekeeper or
something? She was pretty young to be a single woman, even if
she was sort of plain. There were hardly any single women around any
more, what with the rules about marrying instead of burning and all.
Even widows got married off to their husbands’ brothers, when their
husbands died from one of the new diseases or smoking. That’s
how she wound up with that awful Arthur. Hard to believe he was
related to her beloved father, even if only by half. Of course
mom could have said no. They weren’t forcing people to marry the brothers
at that point. She never liked being poor, her mother, so she
didn’t have a lot of options. Especially since Lucy was only
twelve when her father died. Anyway the woman was wearing a wedding
moved her head back and forth.
better," she said.
you want to get up and get dressed?" the woman asked. I washed your
swung her legs over the bed side.
course you cannot go out. You should not have tried to wander
around last night."
said nothing. Where was the diamond she had hidden? Did they find it
when they washed her clothes? It was a secret pocket, but it certainly
wasn’t supposed to be for smuggling diamonds!
a bedpan under the bed, if you have to go. I guess you forgot
we showed it to you last night. You were pretty sick." Her tone was
not unkind. But something in it scared Lucy.
won’t tell, I’ll never tell, no matter what they do to me," she
sounds fine," the woman said, "but it’s three days now. You’re
a runaway girl. They must be looking for you. I saw the marks on your
back when we took your clothes off. Even if they don’t try you for
running away, someone’s been beating you pretty badly already, haven’t
they? Think what he can do to you if you’re a recapture. Who
was it? Your husband?"
not married," Lucy answered. She was so ashamed of the beating. She
hadn’t even told David. She drew a breath. "It’s my mother’s
husband. I live – lived with my mother."
sort of old to be living at home, aren’t you?"
woman seemed little interested in pursuing it.
going to try to get you out today. I’m not happy that the doctor
isn’t answering. If they’ve caught the doctor, this house could
well not be safe. We need to move you out. Here are your clothes.
Let’s get dressed." She walked toward the door.
Lucy did not know what to call her.
smiled a little. She wasn’t beautiful like the Angel Man, but she
had a sturdy, matter-of-fact air that was somehow reassuring. Everything
about her was short, Lucy reflected. She was short, she had short brown
hair and short nails.
Harriet," she said.
What is this room? There are no windows . . . "
can’t tell you," Harriet answered. "I can’t tell you anything
about this place. If you should get caught, you won’t be able
to lead them here no matter what they do. It’s bad enough the doctor
had to know where to come. But we had no choice; the last Parcel
was bleeding buckets, abortionist just dumped her in the Toyota, the
goddam butcher." She frowned hard. The doctor thing was obviously
worrying her a lot.
door bell rang.
"Don’t move from this
room," Harriet whispered roughly. "Don’t say a word, no matter
what. If something happens to me, someone will be here to take you out.
This room is completely hidden; you cannot see the door from the other
room and it appears on no plans, they would have to burn the house down
to find you. Just sit tight."
ran for her skirt on the chair, feeling for the diamond. There. Pretty
good secret pocket after all. Seemed like hours passed. Lucy could hear
voices – they sounded like women’s voices – from some distant
place in the house. She put on the skirt and light blouse she had run
away in and waited.
came back. "Okay, we’re going. That was counselors paying a home
visit. Could just be a coincidence. We don’t have children,
and they do come once every couple of months to see if we need help
having children or something. Or it could be that they wanted
to look around without committing to a police action. They don’t
like to send the Bureau unless they’re sure. But the last thing
I need is a runaway if they do decide it’s time."
pulled a white cloth out of her pocket and beckoned Lucy over. "Sit
down. I’m going to blindfold you. You may not know how we work."
and still feeling a little strange, Lucy felt herself led across floors
and down some stairs. The smell changed and she thought she must
be in some basement. They walked a while in the basement smelling
place and stopped. She heard Harriet click something and the sound
of a door opening. Then the air changed again, damper and dank
smelling. Her hands brushed against a wall that felt like earth.
She could tell it was dark, although a flickering light indicated her
Guide had a flashlight or something. They were in the earthy smelling
place for quite a while.
so soon?" a new voice asked. Her heart stopped. Had they
voice was steady. "They sent a counselor. I can’t tell if
it’s for real or just to snoop around, but the doc’s gone missing,
and he knew…"
boy. If they arrest him, he could bargain us away in no time."
It was a female voice. "Okay, give her to me and go back.
Just pretend nothing is happening. If they come, we’ll say the
doctor made it up to buy himself out. If there’s no runaway
there, how are they going to prove we did anything?"
aren’t so fastidious about proving things since the Agreement, my
dear. And they’re already suspicious because Howard and I don’t
know. But they still can’t just throw you in jail without any
proof at all. Now go back and clean everywhere she touched. They
may not believe in DNA, but they still use fingerprints."
by Lucy," Harriet said. "I hope you make it out, and I hope you
have a wonderful life."
other woman took Lucy’s hand and they walked along. After a
few minutes, the new Guide said, "I’m afraid we don’t have such
fancy digs as Harriet and Howard do. Especially with the Doc gone
missing, I’m going to have to leave you here while we arrange some
felt panic rise. Leave her in this dank place? Blindfolded?
woman took the blindfold off and Lucy saw a little canvas chair and
a lantern. They were in a tunnel of some sort, under the earth.
That’s what she smelled.
a book," the woman said. She was taller than Harriet and prettier.
She had the traditional Red State long hair and perfect nose.
"Things could always be worse." She handed Lucy a book from a table
behind the chair. "I’ll be back as soon as I can."
listened as her footsteps disappeared and, stifling the desire to run
after her, sat down in the chair. Might as well see what kind
of book they give out on the Rainbow Road. Some Canadian thing.
She opened the book at random and began to read. "Nolite te Bastardes
Carborandurum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down." Well, that’s
a good start.
she could get any further, she heard the woman coming back. "Okay,
let’s go." She seemed upset, less calm somehow. She kept running
her long hands through her silky hair. She hustled Lucy along, the blindfold
business essentially forgotten. "Oh, shit, the blindfold." She reminded
Lucy a little of Harriet – same no nonsense manner above a deep well
of pure terror. Blindfolded, Lucy walked in what she now knew was the
tunnel and then heard another door open and the air change again. When
the blindfold came off, she was looking at a new red Jeep.
new woman began to work inside the car, pulling and tugging. The back
seat leaned forward — Lucy had never seen a Jeep do this, and then
the woman picked up the whole bottom of the car to reveal a well, covered
with a dun colored quilted pad like the movers use, but small, so small.
am sorry to do this, but you have to go under this floor. It’s
a false bottom – we moved the seats up to make it, but we couldn’t
move them up too much or it would be obvious. Here’s a bottle
of water, you can breathe – it’s hardly airtight, so don’t worry
about that. Now if you have to go to the bathroom, go now. Once
you’re in here, you can’t come out until we have you over the line."