A world without



A great circle of round gunmetal and slatted wood folding chairs occupied by people who are like Jimmy, like Cathy, like Cosmo, like Hank, but a shade darker, not of hue, but seriousity, a tinch more tightly wrapped, this being Boston, an ancient European city, not the freefalling town of San Francisco, thinks JIMMY, the heel of his left boot balanced on the toe of his right, spiral notepad on his thigh, ballpoint pen in his lips, aware that he’s aware of his awareness.

The regional meeting of the New England Draft Resistance Committees is burrowed deep in its agenda (plural. lit: the “what are to be dones”). The agenda metamorphosize, split off, circle back upon themselves, form tendrils and knots, contradict themselves. The question of whether, becomes the question of who, becomes what is possible, becomes who has the power becomes what would they do with it, becomes when and if so and who would, and occasionally why.

The men mostly and women some are attempting to make events happen one at a time, which events can never be made to do; they overtake their makers, race past their intentions, which is about to happen. Meanwhile:


Stopping the draft is no longer the issue. Ending the war is.


If we stop the draft we stop the war. The draft is the sine qua non.


Individual soldiers don't fight the war. Only the Army fights the war. We must organize inside the Army, within the machine.


Underground railroads to Canada are a necessary precondition. Without them our brothers are trapped inside the Army.


Mass demonstrations are still the only way most people become involved.


We’ve started an off-base coffee shop for GIs in Austin. Soldiers hang out; vets from Nam hip them to what’s really going down. The authorities are going nuts. We must have money for defense.


Money is in the saddle, and rides us. What best raises money too often determines our priorities.


We have to set priorities. We can’t do everything. Do we work inside or outside the Army?


What do you think, Jimmy?


We do everything.




The people are ready and we can’t hold them back. We have to make all things possible.


They’re not ready for everything.


What Jimmy means is we have to make it possible for everyone to do what they’re ready for, and they’re ready for more than we think they are.

Who is Michelle Freneau? Why does she have a name and the others only letters? She is lithe, darkhaired, quick. Words have a way with her. Jimmy has been told she’s the girl friend of a local antiwar leader facing trial. Why did Jimmy ask? Because he believes in the right of women to fall for him.

Michelle is one.

They have played a game since he arrived in town three days ago. They watch each other and they watch each other watching. They are not certain they want to give people something to talk about; they skirt the edge of gossip. Her boyfriend’s best friend has warned her off, she deflected his concern. Nothing has been consummated; they are not even devoutly wishing. The game takes the form of calculated displacements, a judging of relative motion: what can they each get the other to do? They are acting dangerously and responsibly at the same time, or so they think. They are in love. With the game.

Jimmy’s relation to the world, his presence in it, its enunciation to him, have been transformed. Specifically, he has gained mass. He is, in the words of the Beatles, heavy. As in physics, increased mass produces stronger attraction. His presence carries more gravity. People shift position in relation to him; he is more substantial. He puts his weight behind ideas, people, suggestions.

In the next room, from which the chunk-whishhh of a mimeograph machine issues steadily with breaks for fresh reams of paper, the telephone rings. It has rung often during the meeting and been answered in the mimeo room. This time there is an odd cry, which dims the discussion in the meeting room. Just as someone picks up a phrase that has fallen, the mimeograph machine is turned off and a young woman appears in the door. She holds the telephone she has answered in her hand, though she has replaced the receiver; the cord trails behind her into the workroom. She seems unable to release the phone. She has long gold hair which puts Jimmy in mind of the tail of a comet.



The word fails her. ”Every” is shouted. “One” becomes whuh, as if the first syllable had exhausted all the air in her lungs.



Brothers and

But she has their attention. She holds the telephone as if hoping it will tell them what it told her so she will not have to, but the telephone is still.



Martin Luther King has been shot.

No one in the room believes King has been shot, wounded, and survived. They know he is dead. Many have disagreed with King, some considered him an Uncle Tom, no one doubts he is the most important African-American in history. He created the world they grew up in. Since racism is not an idea but a physical force, they know it has killed him.

A young man begins to cry. Not from grief for a loved one. Grief for himself. He wanted to live in a world in which Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive, and now he cannot.


It’s over. It’s all over.

Some people stand, some slump. A man who has been leaning against a wall beats his head slowly against the wall in time to some dirge within. Someone takes the telephone from the hand of the golden-haired woman and returns it to the mimeo room. Everyone waits for an order, a command, guidance.

Michelle Freneau walks from her chair to Jimmy’s, crouches by his knee, leans against him, faces not Jimmy but the group. He puts his hand on her shoulder. People interpret her action in many ways. She does not consider it solace, betrayal, homage, or weakness. It is the lioness who does the hunting. What Jimmy feels is not love, but a transfer of power, the opposite of anxiety, the sound of a woman opening a door.