How could they keep the candidate safe until after the election? Divine Fury. Chapter 56
April 20, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
GIVEN THE CONDITION of his bike, it was a minor miracle that Lee could walk away from the crash. Carr called the News editor who lived in nearby Rockridge and she commandeered a neighbor’s pickup truck to retrieve them, bringing extra bottled water, towels and a box of gauze pads.
The rear wheel looked as if a giant had stepped on it. The bike frame itself was bent beyond repair where it had flown into the trunk of a redwood. Somehow, Lee had managed to pass through the only gap in the line of trees. His arms were badly scraped where he’d skidded along rocks and gravel. He had a nasty cut on his chin and his left shoulder was killing him. Lee knew his assorted other body parts would be complaining to him for at least a couple of weeks.
They cleaned up the worst of the blood, dirt and gravel from Lee’s wounds and took him to the emergency room at the Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. There, they finished the clean up, checked for broken bones and filled his pockets with prescriptions for painkillers and antibiotics.
It was evening by the time they got back to his flat. Carr helped Lee up the stairs. She helped him with a sponge bath to avoid disturbing the dressings.
“I can’t believe we didn’t get the license number,” said Lee through gritting teeth. “I’d love to see him again, in or out of a courtroom.”
“You may remember that we were a little busy at the time,” said Carr patiently.
They had plates of ravioli that Carr picked up from a deli two blocks away. Lee let Carr put him to bed with a big glass of water and a vial of painkillers on the nightstand. At last, nothing hurt while he lay immobile and let the drugs have their effect. His limbs felt like chunks of lead as he sank into a deep, sound sleep.
While he slept, Carr showered. Then she pulled out her laptop and began working on story assignments for the next week.
* * *
“You’re wrong,” said Andrew Harper. “We’re all Harvey Milk. Particularly, the three of us.”
He was sitting in an armchair in the living room of the home in the Berkeley Hills he shared with Harry Blount. It held a blue and red Turkish carpet on teak flooring, a corner sofa and two chairs that had trim lines and rusty earth tones. Blount and Bobbie Connors shared the sofa.
“All I’m saying, Drew, is that maybe you need to take some reasonable precautions in case that lunatic is still out there planning to take you down,” said Connors. “Why not play it safe, just in case?”
“To steal one of Harvey’s lines, it’s because I’m Andrew Harper and I’m running for governor,” said Harper. “I’m not going to run scared. I’m not going to be intimidated by bigots and gay bashers whether they’re certifiable or just your everyday nut cases. I consider my esteemed opponent in the latter category, by the way.
“All three of us have chosen to be targets,” he continued. “Bobbie, you did it when you walked in the parade 20 years ago. You showed your colors and I’m sure you took abuse from…well, everyone, right? Your superiors. Other officers. I’m sure they tried to stuff you back in the closet.”
“Yeah,” said Connors. “Not much chance of that. I pretty much burned that closet down as soon as I was out!”
“Exactly!” said Harper. “We all chose this path years ago. I’ve got a goddamn election to win and I don’t have time to be distracted every time I’m threatened. And believe me, it’s happened a lot over the years. And, I don’t mean just death threats. I mean threats of scandal, humiliation, losing jobs, harassment of friends and family. All of it. So, no.”
Blount had been quietly listening. Now, he turned to Connors.
“See,” he said. “I told you what his reaction would be. And, I know this doesn’t make your job any easier, but there can’t be any publicity about this. You know that, right?”
Connors nodded her head.
“It’s like bomb threats,” she said. “People find out they can shut down an office building by calling in a bomb, and suddenly you’ve got ten more doing it.”
“Exactly,” said Blount. “People hear about a death threat. Maybe they think it’s affecting the campaign. Suddenly, every homophobe jumps on the bandwagon. This campaign is crazy enough. Let’s not bring out any more crazies.”
“And let’s not forget what week is coming up,” said Harper. “Sitting this out is just not an option.”
Connors knew he was referring to Pride Week, San Francisco’s annual celebration of gay, lesbian and transgender life. There would be concerts, street fairs and other events, including the massive Saturday parade. Thousands would fly in from around the country for it. It was like a huge convention – a movable, rainbow convention. Harper was the grand marshal of the parade. His presence there and at other key events would show the nation – the world even – how far the gay rights movement had come. More importantly, it would be the platform from which he rallied his supporters – particularly the gays and lesbians, but an army of others in greater San Francisco besides them – and galvanize them all into a force that would sell his candidacy to the rest of California in the months ahead. It was pivotal to his success in the general election.
Connors nodded slowly. She was deep in thought. How was she and the SFPD going to keep Harper safe? She knew she had to redouble her efforts to identify the author of the email and find him. Once he turned up, she would live out of his back pocket if she had to until this damn election was over.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.