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THE END OF THE LINE

"I wouldn't come down here for a while if I was you," a friend who volunteers at CAP giggled over the telephone a few days later. "They've been swamped with requests for HOPWA money, and your name is shit."
Ric laughed. It was about time someone shook up the AIDS establishment. And if there was so much confusion and disinformation regarding HOPWA, maybe there were other problems with AIDS services funding in Denver. Ric lobbied to be appointed to the mayor's HIV Resource Council, a group of activists and agency heads that oversees the city's AIDS education and funding efforts. After being named to the post in December, he quickly established himself as a gadfly, raising questions about the funding requests of such established AIDS services agencies as CAP.

Ric now concedes that some of his questions are nitpicking. But if the rules are being bent on the small stuff, he asks, what is happening to multimillion-dollar grants?

When Ric learned that auditors from the federal General Accounting Office would be coming to Denver this week to investigate how the city allocates its AIDS services funds, he called the GAO and set up an appointment. Adding to the clutter in his living room are files full of documents that he intends to give the auditors.

Many of those documents relate to his battle over HOPWA money, as well as funding requests from CAP that Ric contends did not follow federal rules yet were authorized by the council. The violations, he says, include spending emergency assistance funds--designated for such items as medical bills and housing--on education programs and personnel.

Ric doesn't know what effect his complaints will have, but he knows he's not going out without a fight. He owes the memories of his friends that much.

On Palm Sunday, as he approached Father Schaffer for communion, Ric knew he wouldn't be able to keep from crying. Easter Week, with its message of resurrection, renewal and life everlasting, has special meaning for him.

At the altar, the priest smiled and hugged him. Father Schaffer was sending a message to the other parishioners, and Ric was grateful for the gesture.

"Peace be with you," the priest told the congregation a few minutes later, after the last of the bread and wine had passed their lips.

"And also with you," they answered.
After the service, Ric stopped in the anteroom to light his candles and pick up several palm fronds to weave a cross for Danny's crypt. Outside, the snow was still falling. Feeling the flakes on his face, Ric looked up and said thanks.

end of part 2

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