Subject: For All Nails #51i: Victoria's Secret (Part 9)
The Lambs Club
2 May 1973
"It's a pity, really," said Magistrate Ian Douglas. "I
haven't seen a lost cause defended so well in donkey's years,
but it's still a lost cause."
"You're talking about the Madoka case, I assume?" asked Paul
"Naturally," Douglas said, sipping his drink. "She's a
handsome woman and she puts on a fine show - she had Hodges'
witnesses tied in knots all day. When it comes down to it,
though, what she said was in violation of the Sedition Act.
I don't see how a jury can get around that in the end."
"You think she'll be convicted, then?"
"Almost certainly," Douglas sighed. "No doubt she wants to
make a statement, and she has done, but at the end of the day
she'll be guilty as charged. The part I don't understand is
why she wanted to make this particular statement. I suppose
I can see how someone in her position might have some
grievances, but why the VNC?"
"I recall you asked her that on the day she was arraigned,"
"I did, and I'm still not sure I got a satisfactory answer.
She gave me the reasons why she thinks Victoria ought to
change. Those _aren't_ reasons to support people burning
farmsteads out in the bush."
"Have you ever considered that maybe she _doesn't_ support
the VNC?" asked Masseret.
"She's said she does," Douglas replied incredulously. "Why
shouldn't I take her at her word?"
"You should. But maybe she only supports what she _thinks_
the VNC is. I was there to watch opening statements today,
and I heard her describe the VNC's goal as 'to make Victoria
into a state of all its citizens.' That _isn't_ what the VNC
wants, but it's what _she_ wants, and I think some of her VNC
clients may have agreed with her in order to attract her
sympathy. I think she might have a mistaken idea of exactly
who the VNC intends to share the future."
"You're saying she thinks the VNC is just a more militant
version of the All Citizens' Party? Damn it, Paul, she's an
intelligent woman. I can't imagine her being that naive."
"And how long ago was it that _you_ said there weren't any
racialists in the Democratic Party?"
"Touché," the judge answered. "We've all got blind spots,
don't we? It's just that she's so clear-headed about most
things, I could never imagine _her_ having one."
"Placing her on a bit of a pedestal, aren't you?"
"I suppose so. But as I've told you before, maybe she
deserves to be on one..."
3 May 1973
"John Amalfi tells me that Patten is definitely open to
overtures," said Lord Peter Carrington.
"I've had a telephone meeting or two with him myself,"
replied Ambassador Gilmore. "They certainly are concerned
about the Germans' comments on the trial - Patten has
characterized them as being just short of infringements on
Victorian sovereignty, and not all of that was election
rhetoric. The trouble is that they also seem to have an
exaggerated idea of how much we want them to switch sides."
"How so, John?" Carrington asked. The ambassador would
never have tolerated any of his own staff using his first
name - awful Mexican habit, that - but he and the British
high commissioner had known each other for a long time.
"They're certainly making some rather ridiculous demands,"
responded Gilmore. "They want us to extradite suspected VNC
leaders living in North America, sever ties with Bunyoro and
Abyssinia, sanction Botswana for funding the VNC with diamond
money - damn it, Peter, nobody even knows if the Botswana
_are_ paying the VNC. I'm certainly willing to keep my
criticism private, at least until Burgoyne tells me otherwise,
but I'm not about to promise them a bloody alliance or to
_approve_ their bloody racialism. If I even started to do
that, the Grand Council would have my head."
"Of course, all those demands might be an opening bid."
"I don't think I could even open. I'm willing not to condemn
them, but cooperation is out of the question."
"That's a shame, John," said Carrington. "I was hoping we
might find a common purpose here. Victoria's an important
regional power, and one that used to be part of the United
Empire. We want it back rather badly; it would be quite a
coup to bring some of His Majesty's lost children home."
"Surely you're not intending to comply with their demands."
"Oh, not all of them, not by any means. We certainly don't
intend to let them dictate our foreign relations. But we may
consider some degree of intelligence sharing, and possibly a
favorable trade arrangement to make up for the sanctions
certain other countries are considering. Britain hasn't had
much good news on the foreign front since the war, and we're
well past due..."
3 May 1973
"All right, bitch," said the guard. "You stay right here;
I'll go get her."
Victoria Madoka sat down in the gray interrogation room and
watched the guard disappear. She was scared; more so than
she had ever been in her life. She had been in prison
before - even as an inmate - but this was different. The
other times, she had been registered, her presence noted, and
her treatment governed by rules and regulations to which she
could appeal. Now, she was in a place she was not supposed
to be, and there was very little to stop the guard from
denouncing her to the prison authorities or simply making her
disappear. The bribe she had paid him was equivalent to more
than two months' salary, and Anand Rajaram had singled him
out as the most corruptible of the prison staff, but he could
still change his mind - and her fate - at any time.
Nor was Nyeri prison camp a place to inspire calm. The part
Victoria was in looked less like a camp than a conventional
prison; walls bristling with barbed wire, guard towers,
concrete yards, dreary buildings containing row upon row of
cells. The interrogation chamber where she sat was deep
underground, the air was thick and moist, and the floor was
stained a subtle dark red.
It could not have been more than twenty minutes before the
guard returned, but it seemed an eternity. At any minute,
Victoria expected the door to crash open and soldiers to pour
in and arrest her or worse, but when the door opened, it was
only the guard shoving a chained prisoner ahead of him.
"You've got half an hour, bitch," he said. "After that, she
goes back in the cells and you go to whatever bally jungle
you call home." He pushed the prisoner down into a chair and
left the room, locking the door ominously behind him.
Letitia Ntimana was barely recognizable. Even in the dim
light, Madoka could see that her face was a mass of bruises,
cuts and cigarette burns. In entering the room, she had
stumbled far more than could be accounted for by the guard's
manhandling, and when she spoke, her voice came out a rasp.
"I didn't think anyone knew I was here."
"People know," Victoria said quietly. "The _Guardian_ ran an
article on you this morning, and I've filed a habeas corpus
petition in Nyeri magistrate's court. We'll get you out of
here; just have patience."
"No, you won't," Letitia said. "I don't know what Charles
told them, but they're convinced that I'm a VNC commander.
They won't let me go." She laughed weakly. "I doubt it
would do any harm to tell you that I really am VNC, but not
anybody important. I doubt it would do any good, either."
The attorney looked up quickly at the ceiling before
realizing that the illicit nature of their meeting meant that
nobody was listening. If this had been a registered visit,
the prison authorities would no doubt have monitored every
word, but the guard couldn't make a record of this meeting
without revealing that he'd taken a bribe. They could speak
freely here; more so, in fact, than they could have done at
Caroline Boyle's home.
"Is my family all right?" Ntimana asked.
"I'm taking care of your children, and I told Caroline to go
to hell. They'll be fine. And so will you - they can't make
you disappear if your name's in the papers. They'll at least
have to charge you, and keep you in a regular prison where
your children can visit."
"I wouldn't be too sure," Letitia said. "The rules are
changing, Victoria." It was the first time she'd ever used
Madoka's personal name, and the attorney felt that a distance
had been bridged between them.
"I want to thank you, though, for what you've done," she
continued. "And just in case I don't get out of here,
there's something I need to tell you..."
Jonathan I. Edelstein in Kew Gardens, NY
"It's been a lot of fun." -- in memoriam, Alison Brooks