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The women in Amazon House were not the first to organize themselves; already a citizen's task force had been formed to help find the murderer or murderers by hanging xeroxed signs in the windows of grocery stores. The church memorial service had been full to overflowing with hundreds of people who couldn't possibly have known Rachel. Rachel's attractive senior picture on the front page of the Oregonian probably had something to do with it.

Amazon House could hardly boast hundreds, but it was many more than the haphazard organization had anticipated. Originally, the atmosphere had been one of subdued anger, but as the house began to fill and beverages were consumed, a festive mood was developing, paradoxically but undeniably; a parallel on a mass scale of Lily's tendency to laugh most when she was feeling worst. Or maybe the women were just relieved that they were doing something for a change.

Mercy and Lily were standing at the entrance to the kitchen, watching the house fill up and hoping there would be enough to drink. When Deborah arrived, she spotted them and made her way through the crowds in the living room to the kitchen door. "Where's Lyssa?" she asked.

Mercy looked around quickly and shook her head. "I'm not sure exactly. A few minutes ago she was in the kitchen too. Isn't she in the living room?"

"I didn't see her. She's the driving force behind all this, isn't she?"

Mercy patted Lily on the shoulder and Lily laughed. "Lily suggested it to Lyssa in the first place."

"But Lyssa got the ball rolling," Deborah concluded.

"I'm not too good at rolling balls," Lily admitted, and laughed again.

"It was astonishing how Lyssa took up the sword like an avenging angel as soon as she heard about the girl in Lily's school," Mercy said. "You would have thought it had been Hannah."

It was, Deborah thought to herself.

"It would seem more logical if Roxana had gotten involved, what with Daphne and all," Lily said. "But she's not the type, I guess."

"The business with Daphne was pretty bad," Deborah agreed. "But I hear Roxana's running around again like nothing happened."

"She's here too," Mercy informed her. "Probably wherever Lyssa is. You should have seen them an hour ago. Lyssa was pacing back and forth and complaining about the apathy of the average woman because no one was here yet, and Roxana was sitting there as cool as a refrigerated cucumber, and only slightly more bitter than usual, making jokes and telling Lyssa to calm down."

"We didn't have anything to worry about," Lily said as the sick doorbell rang yet again. "Now you can hardly get through the living room."

"I noticed."

"You want something to drink, Deborah?" Mercy asked.

"What have you got?"

"Oh, quite a strange assortment. There's some mediocre beer and even worse wine, as well as your standard assortment of soda pop," Mercy said.

"What's the mediocre beer?"

"Someone brought Bud Lite, of all things."

Deborah looked through the door to the beverage table. "Looks like there's a six-pack of Coors there too."

"So much for political awareness," Lily said, laughing.

"And the worse wine?"

"If you're lucky, there might still be some Almaden left. Otherwise it's Gallo."

"Almaden would be fine."

Mercy led Deborah to the round table, leaving Lily to her own devices and the crowd in the living room. "So what exactly did Lyssa tell you?" Mercy asked, pouring Deborah a glass of Zinfandel.

"Only the basics. She was very abrupt, said she still had a lot to do. But if this keeps up, you guys would have been better off renting a gymnasium," Deborah commented, inspecting the packed house. "And how is Lily doing?"

"She's become a demon, I hardly recognize her sometimes. She's all for some kind of public action, behind Lyssa all the way."

"Lyssa must be in her element with a cause like this to fight for. She told me she'd even temporarily dropped the no nukes initiative, because there were already enough people to fight for that."

"Myrine has temporarily dropped it too--and the Oregon marijuana initiative as well." They looked at each other and laughed.


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