The idea, then, was Judd’s, but the implementation has the mark of Waterford upon it. Who else among the Sons of Jacob Think-Tankers would have come up with the notion that the Aunts should take names derived from commercial products available to women in the immediate pre-Gilead period, and thus familiar and reassuring to them – the names of cosmetic lines, cake mixes, frozen desserts, and even medicinal remedies? It was a brilliant stroke, and confirms us in our opinion that Waterford was, in his prime, a man of considerable ingenuity. So, in his own way, was Judd.
Both of these gentlemen were known to have been childless, and thus eligible for a succession of Handmaids. Professor Wade and I have speculated in our joint paper, “The Notion of ‘Seed’ in Early Gilead,” that both – like many of the Commanders – had come in contact with a sterility-causing virus that was developed by secret pre-Gilead gene-splicing experiments with mumps, and which was intended for insertion into the supply of caviar used by top officials in Moscow. (The experiment was abandoned after the Spheres of Influence Accord, because the virus was considered too uncontrollable and therefore too dangerous by many, although some wished to sprinkle it over India.)
However, neither Judd nor Waterford was married to a woman who was or ever had been known either as “Pam” or as “Serena Joy.” This latter appears to have been a somewhat malicious invention by our author. Judd’s wife’s name was Bambi Mae, and Waterford’s was Thelma. The latter had, however, once worked as a television personality of the type described. We know this from Limpkin, who makes several snide remarks about it. The regime itself took pains to cover up such former lapses from orthodoxy by the spouses of its elite.
The evidence on the whole favours Waterford. We know, for instance, that he met his end, probably soon after the events our author describes, in one of the earliest purges; he was accused of liberal tendencies, of being in possession of a substantial and unauthorized collection of heretical pictorial and literary materials, and of harbouring a subversive. This was before the regime began holding its trials in secret and was still televising them, so the events were recorded in England via satellite and are on videotape deposit in our Archives. The shots of Waterford are not good, but they are clear enough to establish that his hair was indeed grey.
As for the subversive Waterford was accused of harbouring, this could have been “Offred” herself, as her flight would have placed her in this category. More likely it was “Nick,” who, by the evidence of the very existence of the tapes, must have helped “Offred” to escape. The way in which he was able to do this marks him as a member of the shadowy Mayday underground, which was not identical with the Underground Femaleroad but had connections with it. The latter was purely a rescue operation, the former quasi-military. A number of Mayday operatives are known to have infiltrated the Gileadean power structure at the highest levels, and the placement of one of their members as chauffeur to Waterford would certainly have been a coup; a double coup, as “Nick” must have been at the same time a member of the Eyes, as such chauffeurs and personal servants often were. Waterford would, of course, have been aware of this, but as all high-level Commanders were automatically directors of the Eyes, he would not have paid a great deal of attention to it and would not have let it interfere with his infraction of what he considered to be minor rules. Like most early Gilead Commanders who were later purged, he considered his position to be above attack. The style of Middle Gilead was more cautious.