Shauna arrives

Cathy brushed her hair, in a rage that she should think to do so. This is the surprise for which there is no preparing. When the doorbell rang, she lit a cigarette. Shauna meant her no harm. They were not enemies. And yet.

Shauna under the stairway light —silk, jeans, boots, impossible glamor, a pose and not a pose. She appeared at acid tests, street fairs, migrant worker towns that way,  got away with it.

Cathy gestured her in, Shauna paused at the door to the living room, Cathy passed her, continued down the hall. “We’ll talk in the kitchen.” Far from the street and Jimmy’s desk in the living room. Avoiding Jennifer’s castoff presence.

Too late, at the kitchen table, Cathy knew they were in the place, the chairs, the positions they had held two years before.


INT. 1966. NIGHT.

Cathy and Shauna are in the chairs they are in. The wine they have poured is the same Mountain Red. In a third chair, JIMMY sits, on the verge.



I can’t help what I want.

I can’t help what.

I can’t help.




Cathy said :

“You're sure this isn’t personal?”

“We can call it political if that makes things easier.” But Shauna's eyes were happy. She opened the leather handbag, pushed aside the wine glass, produced the manila envelope, withdrew the four 8 x 10 photostats, laid them before Cathy in order, rested her chin on her hand. The magic trick.

Time passed in reverse. Shauna saw Cathy in a ponytail. Whether she ever actually wore her hair that way, Shauna could not remember; the ponytail was what Cathy had seemed, student-young, tough, not exactly naïve, though the word came to mind, but artless, singlehearted, a tough babe in arms. Now Cathy's eyes glowed wetly, she was forming in her mind what she would say and at the same time could not help but grin. Artless still. Shauna liked her.

“I never thought I’d thank you for anything in my life,” said Cathy.

We don’t bring up the past, the past brings us up. As she spoke, Cathy knew her words were heartfelt and counterfactual, for she had thanked Shauna once before and Shauna knew she had thanked her. Two years earlier, with a look.




JIMMY leans against the sink, as if to gain perspective on CATHY and SHAUNA at the round kitchen table. He is dry-eyed, exhausted. Believing himself to live for honesty, he has brought to a climax a situation he can no longer be honest about, and frankly, his honesty was largely a means of control, in which he certainly is not.



If you can’t or won’t choose, darling, then I will take myself out.



I can’t choose between you. It’s impossible. I should have known. I was fooling myself.




Then I’ll break my own heart. Goodnight. Goodbye, Jimmy.


SHAUNA allows herself the luxury of brushing her hand against his face as she did the night in Alabama, as she would later.



I’m sorry.


His words have far too many meanings ever to be known, especially by him.

CATHY does not move or speak; she thanks SHAUNA in all ways but openly.



“So there’s a God,” said Cathy.

“And Cosmo is Her high priest. He sent the photographer to me.”

“Cosmo set this up?”

“He didn’t know about the photographs, that’s what makes it so perfect. Credit is also due to Beef. He persuaded the man to give me the prints.”

“These aren’t prints.” Cathy felt the front, turned one over, authenticating. “They’re photostats.”

“Those I’m keeping safe.”

“You’re not—”

“I’m not blackmailing you. There’s nothing I want from you. You have the man I wanted and now I don’t want him anymore. Really. Truth.”

“Then why hang on to the originals? We have to present them in court. I have to prove they’re the real thing. We’ll need the photographer to testify.”

“Because. I don’t want to be told, Thanks, Shauna, you’re a sweetheart, go away.”

“I’ll let you know what happens,” said Cathy, “I promise.” She stood up.

“When you find the girl.”

“I’ll tell you everything. Now I have to figure how to move.”

They reached the front of the hall when the bell rang. The French Sureté for sure.


the women's group

No such luck. Lynn and Jennifer.

She’s your secret meeting?” said Jennifer. Shauna had once been described by the Chronicle as “a striking Tiburon housewife with platinum hair.”

Lynn, loyally vested in Cathy, choked out “Shna.”

“Shauna, this is Jennifer Warden,” but of course the provider of Jennifer Warden’s photograph knew exactly who she was and replied, “You have no idea how happy I am to see you in person. Someone’s been keeping us apart. Please come in,” as if it were her salon.

They had got to the Castro Theater, explained Lynn, but it was showing “The Green Berets.”

“Fucking with my mind,” said Jennifer. “She knew what she was doing to me, bitch!”

Cause Stew was in the Green Berets, thought Cathy. How does that fit in?

“You look just like your photos,” said Shauna. They were now, by teleportation, in the living room.

“What are you, Army Intelligence? That makes sense.” Jennifer dropped on the guest bed.

“I would have told you,” Cathy said as Shauna passed her, taking in the room from which she had been excluded, Jimmy’s desk, teddy bear, and all.

“You will now,” said Shauna.

“Everybody take a seat,” Cathy said loudly into total silence, “I’ll be back with the wine.”

She returned with a gallon jug and paper cups. Jennifer sat crosslegged on the bed, Shauna had fashioned a chaise of three floor pillows against the fireplace, Lynn curled on the window couch, as far from the rest as possible. She passed the cups out, filled them, pulled forward a folding chair, handed Jennifer the envelope of photos. Jennifer studied them, sank into herself. Nailed, thought Cathy, not for a crime. Nailed to the situation, nailed to being. Like I just did, to myself.

“He was pretty dopy, huh? that cop,” said Jennifer, “I never saw him really. Or your boyfriend. It was all a blur. Boyfriend’s cute.” Then she must have felt the nail enter; she leaped, knocked over the wine cup, flung the photographs toward the bedroom, screamed.

“What IS it with you people? Who the fuck ARE you anyway? Everybody’s taking pictures of me! Everybody’s got shit on me. I should be home with my fucking fascist pig dad at least I know where I stand with him, I don’t know what you want, you’re all playing games with my head, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to file KIDNAP charges, I’m going to put your pussies in jail, SEE HOW YOU LIKE THAT!” She stopped, nailed. Nailed, nailed, nailed to the cross of her existence.

“That’s fair,” said Cathy, walking to the bedroom, returning with a towel. “You should know who we are. Here, clean that up. I’m Cathy Cohen. I’m a political activist and work at a law firm, which you know. I live here with Jimmy O’Shea, who’s a leader of the antiwar movement, and I want to get him out of jail.”

“Jail? Boo hoo. So he’s in the slammer for this.” She looked toward the thrown photos.

“Pick those up too.” Shauna was right to make copies. Jennifer handed her the photos. “This is Shauna,” she said, to give Lynn time.

“I’m Shauna McBride. I do not work for Army Intelligence, I’m an old friend of Jimmy’s from the civil rights movement. I was the one who came up with the photos, which were taken purely by chance by a photographer for Life. The magazine. Think of me as a cultural revolutionary. I used to live in Tiburon. Now I live in the Haight with Greg Bowman, the Hells Angel they call Beef.”

That took.

“You live with a Hells Angel?”

“What did I just say.”

“Fuck me dead. Is that your real hair?”

“And this,” said Cathy, “is Lynn.”

“I’m Lynn Schacker. I’m office manager for the Movement Liberation Front, which organizes around civil rights and the war. I’m married to Howard Schacker, a Marxist scholar. We live in the Mission in a political collective, which means we all do the dishes and take out the garbage. I don’t think Jimmy should be in jail for saving your ass.”

A collective silence, while everyone took out the garbage.

“So that makes me Jennifer Warden, the butt of this joke, huh.”

“Who did that to your face?” asked Shauna.

“My da-dy.”

“You know, there are people who know people who know what to do to guys who do that.”

Conspiracy indictment, conspiracy indictment, thought Cathy. And yet.

“You really live with one of the Angels?”

“Let me tell you something about Jimmy,” Cathy said. She turned her chair around, leaned toward her over the top of the back, continued in the manner of one giving directions or explaining the workings of an implement. “I was set up, several years ago, by someone I knew, someone in my family, to be raped by the trucker who drove me South to join the civil rights movement. He told the guy I was a nigger lover and needed to be taught a lesson. For a long time I thought it was my fault. People in my family thought it was my fault: what did I do to make him do it, cause I was a teenager and sexual and they didn’t approve. When I started living with Jimmy, I confessed to him what happened, so he’d know I was damaged goods and leave if he wanted, and Jimmy was the first person in my life, not only did he not say it was my fault, he said what Shauna just said. We were walking in Golden Gate Park and he said, ‘I know guys who are big and mean and we’ll drive across the country, break the motherfucker’s legs with baseball bats, drive back and he’ll never know what hit him.’ He didn’t mean the truck driver. He meant my relative, because that was who betrayed me. I told him no and I loved him for that.”

“Are you guys shitting me?”

“You think you’re the first girl in the world to get fucked by your family?” said Lynn.

“But talking about it. Who does that?”

“I just did,” said Cathy.

“I know why you did. Cause you’re trying to get me to do what you think I’m supposed to do which is help your boyfriend because he’s such a FUCKING HERO, and he’s perfect and good and only an ASSHOLE like me wouldn’t do something for Mr. Fucking Perfect. You know what I think about Mr. Perfect? I hate him. I hate the war. I hate anti-war. I hate cops. You think he did me a favor and I should return the favor, that’s it.”

Cathy nodded.

“Good. Cause he didn’t. He didn’t do it for me. He didn’t KNOW me. He couldn’t, he doesn’t know Army brats. So if he didn’t know it was ME, he didn’t do it for me. I don’t know why he did it, some fantasy he’s in, he’s pissed, he’s got a hard on for the pigs, SOME reason NOT me. He didn’t think Oh There’s Jennifer, the Major’s Daughter, she’s a poor little thing in trouble. I, Dudley Do-Right, will ride to her rescue, here I go, BAM, nailed the pig, Oh kiss me, Jennifer, or get me out of jail or whatever it is I NEED, you will give it to me, signed, Supreme Commander.”

“You’re right about that much,” said Lynn. “He didn’t have a clue who you were.”

“Jimmy said,” and Cathy would not further praise him, “you yelled and waved at someone before you ran across the intersection. Was that Stew?”

Jennifer flicked her attention across the room, looking for what.

“Yeah,” she said, seized on Shauna to stare at.

Shauna stared back, pretended she knew who Stew was.

“Your brother didn’t save you,” said Lynn. “He didn’t even try.”

That could be the blunder of the night, thought Cathy, decided to skim past. “Did he see you?”


“Why was he there?”

“I read his mind, ok.”

“He came out of Vietnam antiwar.”

“He came out a junkie.” Bit her lower lip.

“But you looked for him there,” said Shauna.

“I looked for him everywhere. I didn’t look for him in Tiburon, if that’s what you mean.”

“You looked where you expected to find him.”

“Ok, smartasses, three-on-one here so I don’t think straight. You found him. Where was he?”

Lynn and Shauna looked at Cathy.

“He came to us with legal problems,” Cathy flicked mental abacus beads, tried to calculate her words before she finished them, “related to drugs. I asked him if he had family to help him out,”

“I know the answer to that one.”

“He said no.”

“But he was wrong,” said Lynn, “he has you.”

“He mentioned you,” Cathy said.


“That he had a sister.”

“But I couldn’t help him.”

“He didn’t say that.”

“You think he doesn’t want to see me.”

We could lose it all here.

“I think,” said Cathy, “he does want to see you. He’s confused. He doesn’t know how to go about it. Maybe he’s not sure where your loyalties are.”

“I wouldn’t turn him in.”

“Not for drugs. You wouldn’t snitch on him for that.”

“God, you don’t know shit.”

“Jennifer,” said Shauna. She rose from her chaise of cushions, leaned on the fireplace mantle. Malcolm X pointed to a spot on the ceiling above her.

“You really run with the Angels?” said Jennifer.

“They run with me, darling. I think you have a very complicated life. Your father beats you up and fucks with at least your mind. You haven’t said anything about your mother.”

“Hey, bitch!” Jennifer said in a male voice to the windowseat.

Lynn looked up.

Jennifer pointed at her. “That’s Mom.”

“You shithead,” said Lynn.

“She asked.”

“Now your brother’s back,” Shauna continued. “Something happened. He’s on smack. No judgement. I think he’s in deeper. He thinks you’re connected to his trouble, or can’t help him, or doesn’t want to get you involved.”

“Did he tell you that?”

“Secrets aren’t what they used to be, darling.”

“Why would you commie whatevers want to help a guy like that?”

“Like what?” asked Lynn.

“A bad guy.”

“He’s not a —” said Lynn.

“Oh, yes he is. He’s a junkie. He’s a freak. He’s a loser. He’s a victim. He’s a traitor. He’s a war criminal. He’s a keen disappointment. He’s a sad case. He’s out of control. He has to be done away with. He’s disposable. He’s a tool. He’s a fool. He came to your ‘law office’ and you talked about legal remedies to his situation. Everybody knows what he is. Everybody thinks they know what to DO about him. Let’s DO something about Stewie Warden. He’s everybody’s unit.”

“You need some backup,” said Shauna.

“For WHAT? To find him? I found him. Except for that stupid cop her boyfriend creamed. Which was ok by me. He did me a FAVOR but he didn’t do ME a favor. If I found him on my own we’d have just gone about our business. Now you’re bringing in all this politics.”

“Maybe he’s political,” said Lynn. “He wasn’t at Stop the Draft Week looking for you. Maybe he was there for the reason we were.”

“Will you shut this bitch up? My brother kills people like you. He kills em and cuts off their heads, ok? And puts their heads on a stake so their ghosts can’t go back to where they were born. Which is fine by me, cause the more people in this world with their heads on stakes the better my life is. NOW you don’t want to help him, do you? See? NO. Your Jimmy the Mick he’s a hero and so’s my brother, but if you help Stew you get him killed. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS?”

Her hair frothed.

Shauna kneeled beside Cathy, whispered. Cathy nodded.

“OOO what was that? Who’s in charge here? She’s not,” hexing Lynn with two crooked fingers. “You ask Cathy’s permission?”

“Yes,” said Shauna.

“So she’s in charge. The girlfriend.”

“Yes,” said Shauna, settling on the bed a foot from Jennifer.

“Don’t you pull a dyke move on me.” She put no strength in it.

“You go to the movies, Jennifer,” said Shauna. “Spy movies, gangster movies. There’s two sides, Ruskies and Americans, whoever, or in gangster movies, that’s less pu-lit’i-kul, where the ransom has to be dropped off so the kidnappers let the wife go. Yes?”

“Yeah.” Looking trick question.

“And each side could screw up: the ransom’s delivered and the wife gets iced anyway. But somewhere in there, no matter what happens, for a while, they have to trust each other. Not because they like each other, or admire, or believe the other side’s word, but because if they don’t, the exchange does not take place. They have to act as if the other side means what it says. This is our situation, Jennifer: you have Jimmy, we have Stew. You can get Jimmy out of jail, we can get Stew out of hiding, at least from you. You deliver what we need. We deliver Stew. Is that clear?”

Jennifer magnetized.

“And finally, darling. If you decide not to act as if you trust us, there are two things I can do. One, tell the Angels you’re a bitch for the Gypsy Jokers; you understand what limitations that puts on your movements around town. Two, tell your brother you plan to turn him in, and let him guess to whom and what for.”

Shauna paused, mistress of a class in deportment, explainer of the rules for young ladies who wish to rise in society. An expensive school considered worth the tuition.

“You dropped your teddy bear.” Shauna kneeled and handed it to Jennifer, who hurled it behind her against the wall; it clanked softly and fell on the bed.

“And let me give you a piece of wisdom,” said Shauna. “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who when they enter a room check all the ways to get out, and those who don’t. Sleep on it. Let Cathy know in the morning.”

She had whispered to Cathy, “Let me be the bitch. Not you.”