JULIAN BOND IS HAVING LUNCH WITH HIS BROTHER,

James, at the Creekside Cafe in downtown Atlanta. It is one of those glass and wood and green-plants-everywhere restaurants where lawyers, women in tennis whites and local media stars mix comfortably.

The brothers are talking about being hounded by reporters. Seven weeks earlier, in April, a local TV station said that Julian's wife had told police he used cocaine daily. Then it was reported that he was seeing Carmen Lopez, a woman under indictment for cocaine trafficking. As the story attracted more attention, The Atlanta Constitution said that Alice Bond had accused Lopez of assaulting her in March, and that Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young had called Alice Bond minutes before she was to meet with FBI and police to talk about drug use among Atlanta's black elite and counseled her against "passing rumors".

The press has not let up, and Julian Bond is enraged. He says an Atlanta Constitution reporter called a female friend in Washington and asked if she sleeps with Julian when he is in Washington. A New York Times correspondent, he says, called a well-known Atlanta prostitute to ask if Bond had been a customer. One day a woman reporter chased after him to ask if he was sleeping with Lopez.

James turns to me. He says an editor at The Constitution told him only a guilty plea and a trip to the Betty Ford Center would satisfy the press. "What difference does it make if Julian is putting white stuff up his nose?" James says. "He doesn't have his finger on the button. He isn't running for office."

Julian nods, but says nothing. (Whenever he is asked specifically if he uses drugs, Bond always says no.)

"For argument's sake," Julian says later in the lunch, "what good would it do for me to concede that I use drugs? It's not illegal to use cocaine; maybe it's immoral to some people. But you say, 'I use cocaine,' and then there are innuendoes that you are an addict."

"Gary Hart had to answer questions," he says. "I'm in a different category. I'm not asking anyone to vote for me. So don't come {messing} around in my life."

JULIAN BOND WAS PRACTICALLY BORN TO BE THE PRINCE OF

black American politics, the son of Horace Mann Bond, the former president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania who brought such leading intellectuals as W.E.B. Du Bois, Albert Einstein and E. Franklin Frazier home for dinner. Bond's parents were world travelers; their son went to a Quaker prep school.

In the 1960s, Bond was the young face, the fast wit and the radical voice of southern black students. At Morehouse College he helped to found the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights, which led a triumphant three-year fight to desegregate parks, theaters and restaurants in Atlanta. When a group of southern black students organized the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, they named Bond to be SNCC's national communications director. The New York Times labeled him "leader of the new politics."

At 25, he began a promising political career by winning a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. When his fellow representatives refused to seat him because of his opposition to the war in Vietnam, it only served to draw more attention to him. A few years later he became co-chair of the Georgia Loyal National Delegation to the 1968 Democratic convention and successfully challenged segregationist Gov. Lester Maddox's delegation for the right to represent the state. Interest in Bond was so strong at the time that his name was put in nomination for vice president. He had to withdraw because he was too young.

In retrospect, the convention marked the zenith of Bond's life, although at the time his star still seemed to be on the rise. In 1970, when he was 30, a poll showed Julian Bond was the first choice of black Americans for president. His closest competitor was the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, who had succeeded the slain Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. But he was never able to capitalize on his national reputation to achieve the position of prominence that had been forecast for him. In 1977, a colleague in the Georgia statehouse described him as "the most ineffective legislator we have down here." At the time, he responded: "I guess I'm a little lazy . . . I've not had the self-discipline to be a better legislator."

He was unable to get the job of executive director of the NAACP, a position he had always wanted. He was also unsuccessful in pursuing a top job with the American Civil Liberties Union. He deferred mounting a campaign for Congress until last year, and then he was upset by former SNCC colleague John Lewis.

Shortly after Bond lost to Lewis, Atlanta political analyst Claibourne Darden Jr. told the Los Angeles Times: "Julian Bond was once a golden boy, so to speak, among black politicians. But it has come to the point now of being painfully obvious that he hit his peak early and has been descending ever since."

JULIAN BOND COMES TO WASHINGTON FREQUENTLY TO TAPE his own TV show, "America's Black Forum." But now, in mid-May, he arrives early to participate in another TV show: "Nightline." He sits on a stage at George Mason University waiting for the program to begin. To his right are host Ted Koppel and Kevin Sweeney, Gary Hart's press secretary. Barbara Walters is across the stage sitting next to a reporter from The Miami Herald.

Bond is here to discuss his current favorite topic -- the media's right to inspect a politician's private life. He is quick to point out that he is not a politician anymore. "I'm not running for president . . . I've got a right to a private life." Some people in the audience remark quietly that he looks very thin and that his skin appears sallow.

Comments about Bond's weight loss and haggard face have followed him everywhere since his wife's allegations of drug use. The talk irritates him, because he has always been concerned with his appearance and takes considerable pride in being attractive. He is also physically irritated by a plague on his body. He has been fighting it since he lost the congressional race last September. "Want to see something disgusting?" he asks in his hotel room, pulling up a trouser leg. He reveals scaly patches of psoriasis spreading across his calf. It is on his back, his buttocks, his arms, he says. Small patches of it can be seen on his hands and ears.

The psoriasis is caused by stress, he explains. His weight loss, he adds impishly, "could be evidence of AIDS, some form of pneumonia or it could be evidence of good health. I'd like to believe it is the latter. In fact, I know it's the latter."

After the "Nightline" show, Bond heads for the Bistro Franc ais in Georgetown to have dinner. It is 2 a.m. when he arrives, but the restaurant still has customers. Heads turn, people stare. After being seated, Bond sticks his neck up and peers back at people watching him from across the room. "I stare right back. I like to stare them down."

Soon, a tall man with a southern accent walks over: "Mr. Bond, I want to congratulate you on your career. What a wonderful career you've had."

"It's not over, is it?" Bond quips. No one laughs.

The comment from the stranger touched a nerve. Bond says later that he has heard someone say his career was over five times in the last 20 years. But the pace has quickened. He has heard it from a national chorus twice in six months: when he lost the congressional race and this spring in the midst of the drug scandal. He is troubled because there is more at stake than career and reputation -- there is money.

For many years, Bond has made a good living giving speeches, showing up as a guest of honor at conferences, being something of a celebrity. After the drug charges hit the papers, he lost an opportunity to narrate the introduction of a new film, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," though the film company paid him his $7,500 fee anyway. Producers of the TV show "Headlines on Trial" canceled an invitation for him to argue civil rights issues with Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds. Bond says he was told the Justice Department didn't want Reynolds appearing publicly with a person who might someday be the target of a federal investigation. No speeches have been canceled, Bond says, but "it's the offers you never hear about that worry me."

The stress in Bond's life has become overwhelming. He has not lived at home with his wife and family for six months. Relations with his five children are strained. He has had to give up credit cards because the bills got too big. He owes $150,000 in campaign debts. He has had a lien put on his house by the Internal Revenue Service.

He is asked why he doesn't just give up and go to a drug treatment center, if only for the rest. He says he cannot "afford it."

The money?

"No," he says. "I can't afford to be out of circulation for six weeks."

What would happen?

"I don't want to find out."

THE NEXT AFTERNOON, BOND COMES DOWN FROM HIS ROOM at the Madison hotel. He is wearing yet another beautiful Pierre Cardin suit. As part of his arrangement for hosting "America's Black Forum," Bond receives eight free suits a year. Walking through the lobby, he is accompanied by the Madison's owner, Marshall Coyne, who offers Bond his card.

Bond is in a good mood. He says that when his agent called to rehash the "Nightline" show, Bond put his hand halfway over the receiver and said, "Barbara, don't do that. I'm on the phone." The agent asked if Barbara Walters was with him.

He likes to joke around with people, and he has a good, though often bawdy, sense of humor. He makes up short witty verses. A favorite two-liner is aimed at people who ask why all blacks can't be as articulate and intelligent as Bond. "Look at that girl shake that thing," Bond will reply. "We can't all be Martin Luther King."

Given his current difficulties, Bond's constant joking can be unsettling. Sometimes it seems as if he is using humor to straight-arm reality.

At the Washington Hilton, while searching for the camera crew for his TV show, Bond approaches a crowded meeting room. A placard outside the door reads "Substance Abuse Seminar." "There's my subject," he jokes. Nevertheless, he asks someone else to look inside for the camera crew. "I'm not walking in there," he says. "I have a good sense of humor, but not that good."

The humor, the tall, suave appearance and the aura of fame that surrounds him make Bond a very popular man. People want to be friendly with him. They want to be seen with him, to hang out and party with him. As we walk and drive through Washington, people wave, honk car horns and yell hello. He is asked what his friends say about his problems.

"I have had people come up to me and say, 'We don't care if you are using cocaine; you're still our guy. But most people come up to me and say, 'I don't believe any of those things I've read about you. You know those damn papers don't tell the truth.' "

Later he says he doesn't have any friends close enough to reveal all of himself to. "When you start to depend on people, that's when you get in trouble." Some friends, Bond says, abandoned him after he lost his congressional race. During the campaign, John Lewis repeatedly called for Bond to take a drug test. Now that the drug charges are in the open, Bond says, some former friends look at him strangely. On a recent flight, he met Eleanor Holmes Norton, the former head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. "She looked at me like she wanted to say, 'I thought you were dead.' A lot of people looked at me that way after the election. A lot of people look at me that way now. What they're saying is, 'Shouldn't you be dead?' "

One friend who has not abandoned Bond is Marion Barry. The D.C. mayor has worked to help Bond find donations to pay off his campaign debt. Barry, as the head of the black mayors convention, personally decided to give Bond an award at the convention in mid-April after the drug allegations were made public. Now, as Bond fights the swirl of scandal, Barry fights a federal investigation into corruption in his administration.

"It doesn't matter what Marion does," Bond says. "People will cover for him. We had a saying in SNCC {Barry was the first head of SNCC}: 'A band of brothers, a circle of trust . . .' I would have done anything for Ivanhoe {Donaldson, another former SNCC member and Barry's former deputy mayor, now serving a prison sentence for theft of government funds}."

That night, Bond is invited to a party at the Embassy of Togo, but he is told Andrew Young may attend. He decides not to go. "We shouldn't be seen together," he says, alluding to a grand jury investigation of Young in connection with Alice Bond's allegations.

Later, in his hotel room, the psoriasis begins to bother him. He scratches incessantly. He takes a pill, Benadryl, to help alleviate the itch. He is asked what his plans will be for the evening.

Suddenly he seems sad. "I'll go see some friends. If they'll have me."

JULIAN BOND'S HOME TOWN, ATLANTA, is a unique place for blacks in America, a city with a large black elite, many of whom became known in the civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King Jr. This is where Bond's parents settled in 1957, where their son went to college, where he worked as the spokesman for SNCC, where he served 22 years as a state legislator. This is where Julian and Alice met. This is where they raised their children.

Atlanta is also where Alice Bond, the day after she says her face was bloodied and bruised by Carmen Lopez, told police that her husband and other prominent black Atlantans had been using cocaine. According to a police report, Alice Bond said on March 19 that her husband has used cocaine since 1983 and at times used it "at least every two hours on a daily basis." Among the people she said she saw using cocaine, according to the police report, were Atlanta policemen. She said, the report states, that she was told Andrew Young used cocaine. (Young has denied using cocaine, and Alice Bond has recanted her statements to the press, but not to police.)

Clearly, Atlanta has changed for Julian Bond. His days here are unstructured now, aimless and chaotic, something that will become clearer in the next 48 hours.

Bond has been hired by singer Paul Simon to promote a concert tour. Money from the concerts will go to charities, and Bond has picked the United Negro College Fund as one of the beneficiaries. Bond says his job is to "colorize" audiences for Simon's tour. Blacks have not been appreciative of Simon's top-selling album "Graceland," which features music from South Africa. Some have castigated Simon for "stealing" South African music. To get blacks involved, Bond, on this day in late May, is checking on arrangements for local black organizations to sell tickets.

On his way to the local branch of the NAACP, Bond points to two boys crossing the street. "My sons," he says, and calls to them. Manny, 22, and Jeffrey, 20, seem sullen and indifferent as they amble across the street to say hello to their father. Bond has been president of the Atlanta NAACP for six years. His brother, James, heads the Atlanta Media Project, which is funded by the NAACP to monitor media coverage of minorities. Bond's sons are visiting the Atlanta NAACP today because Jondelle Johnson, executive director, has found jobs for them. But the boys were to have reported at 9 a.m., and it is almost noon. Johnson says Jeffrey must arrive on time tomorrow: "You don't be like your daddy. You better be here at 9." Johnson tells Manny she has found him a job with a messenger service and wants him there, on time, tomorrow.

After lunch Bond agrees to take a photographer and a reporter on a tour of his Atlanta. The first stop will be the location of his former congressional campaign office. There is nothing there but a parking lot. "After we lost," he says bitterly, "they razed the building and covered the earth with salt so nothing could grow for 100 years."

Next, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. Bond suddenly seems shy. He is reluctant to tell the receptionist he would like to see Coretta Scott King. But he sees a friend from the 1960s, Bernard Lafayette, visiting from Arkansas. Lafayette will take him up to King.

Upstairs Bond and King hug. "I hope you're doing fine," she says. "You haven't been here in so long." As they hug again for the photographer, there is a commotion behind them. Jesse Hill, the city's premier black businessman, who heads a commission investigating whether the mayor interfered with Alice Bond and the police department's probe into drug use, sees the photographer and breaks into a sprint to avoid being part of the Bond-King photo.

Later, as Bond leaves the downstairs lobby, Hill comes running down the stairs. He pulls Bond into a back room. Bond says Hill told him, " 'You know I'm with you. You know I'm with you. But I didn't know who that photographer was . . .' "

As he walks out the door, a young woman named Theresa Bird asks Bond for, and receives, a kiss. As he moves away, she turns to her mother and says, "I'm never going to wash." Beni Ivey, King's special assistant, walks with Bond down Auburn Avenue, once called the richest black street in America but now somewhat rundown. She says the black leadership in Atlanta is supporting Bond.

"For the first two weeks everyone was saying, 'Isn't this juicy?' But after a month, 'Stop, isn't this too much?' They are jumping all over the man. He lost the election, but he got 60 percent of the black vote. Black people like Julian Bond. I think whites see him as an uppity nigger. Julian can't be controlled. Whites are uncomfortable with a black man when they don't know how to get to him."

Are Atlanta's blacks opening themselves to charges of ignoring a problem in their rush to protect Bond?

"There's nothing wrong with protecting one of our own," Ivey says. "It's a natural instinct."

Carl McCalop, a kick-boxer and construction worker, pulls his truck over and leaps out to shake hands with Bond. "It'll all come to pass," he says. "Women do these things to hurt you. People hate to see other people on top."

A block later, a young man walks up to Bond with the same message. "How's that case?" he asks. "I hear they're setting you up."

Two blocks down the road, Bond walks into the SCLC headquarters. The Rev. Joseph Lowery is immediately called from a meeting. He pumps Bond's arm and hugs him. "You doing okay?" Julian nods and smiles. A TV reporter comes in, and Bond agrees to do a quick interview on the history of Auburn Avenue.

Lowery says he has heard talk about Bond and drugs for a long time, but he considers it a personal matter. He has not talked to Bond about it. "If I had the opportunity, I'd say, 'Julian, if you are on drugs, get help.' " He says he is sorry Alice Bond's charges were made public, and he feels it was right for Mayor Young to call her when he heard she was talking to the police. But he grimaces at the mention of Bond's visiting Carmen Lopez at the jailhouse. "I don't know why Julian went to visit that woman in jail. There's a drug problem there. It was bad judgment. Bad. It's like Gary Hart. Bad judgment. Maybe he was influenced by Gary Hart."

The next stop in Julian Bond's Atlanta is his mother's home, across the street from Spelman College. We park next to the house in the lot where Alice Bond told police she was attacked by Carmen Lopez.

Julian Bond will not comment about the incident and Lopez could not be reached in jail. Her attorney Darel Mitchell also refused to comment on any charges pending against Lopez. Lopez has been charged with simple battery in connection with the incident but has not plead. Lopez is alsocharged with violating probation for a 1981 conviction for credit card theft and forgery. And she has been indicted for cocaine trafficking, possesion with intent to distribute cocaine and a misdemeanor marijuana charge.

Alice Bond told police she was passing her mother-in-law's house when she noticed Lopez's white car, which she says her husband had been driving. She wanted to talk to him because he had not paid the phone bill. "I couldn't believe he would take that woman to his mother's house," she said.

When she pushed open her car door, she said, it hit the white car. Out came Carmen Lopez, cursing at Alice Bond. Acoording to her statement to police, Lopez hit her repeatedly with a high-heeled shoe, cutting through her nose. Her husband sat in the car during the scuffle, she said, then drove off with Lopez. The next day, Alice Bond told police that Lopez had been supplying her husband and others with cocaine. In the last four years, she has called police between six and 12 times with information that Lopez was dealing drugs, according to police reports.

Next to the parking lot is Bond's office, a basement room in his mother's house. It is filled with clothes laid here and there, piles of books and papers, a broken chair, small hills of mail. Bond is nervous about bringing a photographer into his messy office. But he offers a caption: "Julian Bond surrounded by the detritus of his life." The detritus includes a huge blowup of the cover of the May 1969 edition of Ebony magazine. The picture is of a smooth-faced, 29-year-old Bond. The cover headline reads: "Julian Bond -- The Reluctant Politician."

Upstairs, 78-year-old Julia Bond sits on a couch, a black cord holding her glasses on. She peers over at a magazine her oldest son brings out -- the August 26, 1971, issue of Jet -- with his picture on the cover. The cover headline reads: "The Man Blacks Prefer As Candidate for U.S. President." The cover article reveals Julian Bond has the support of 30 percent of blacks polled; Jesse Jackson gets 2 percent.

Julia Bond says she is feeling "a lot of pressure. This is the crisis of a lifetime. I never thought anything like this would happen. So many people say, 'Don't worry, everything will come out all right.' It's sort of humiliating, embarrassing. I hope what people say is true, that everything will come out all right."

There have been other crises. Julian was the first black student to integrate the schools in the town of Lincoln University, Pa. He scored high on his intelligence tests, but then "wouldn't open a book." He went away to a prep school at 12 and became one of two blacks there. "A mama's boy," according to his brother, he was constantly homesick. He dropped out of Morehouse, disappointing his parents, who had hoped Julian would become an academic. At 21, he eloped with 18-year-old Alice, and the couple came to live with the Bonds because they had no place else to go. When he was refused seating in the Georgia legislature at age 25, a neighbor asked her if he was a communist.

Julia Bond's grandsons don't come by as often as they used to; she thinks they feel "conflicted" by what is going on between their parents. And, of course, part of the crisis is that she cannot talk with her daughter-in-law about what is going on. "She knows what I think of her."

And what does she think about the charges that her son uses drugs?

"They are very devastating. I hope they are not true."

Has she asked her son, who is sitting next to her?

"I haven't questioned him at all. I feel if he wanted to tell me, wanted me to know, he would tell me."

Has she asked her son about the alleged fight between his wife and Carmen Lopez?

"It frightens me, because it is horrible. I love him the same, though. I love him whatever he does. His life is his own responsibility. People are human. People make mistakes. But he would still be my son, and I love him."

Her other son James has had his own troubles. While he was a city councilman, his car was burglarized and a policeman was sent to the scene. The officer found nine marijuana cigarette butts and an unsmoked marijuana cigarette. The police chief decided not to press charges, saying the thief probably placed the marijuana in the car. An Atlanta columnist suggested it wasn't James Bond or the thief who sat in the car and consumed all that marijuana but "the dreaded drug fairy who skulks around planting illegal substances and getting famous people like Julian and James Bond into embarrassing situations."

NEXT MORNING, THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION REPORTS

that Andrew Young's top aide has been questioned by police about possible city hall interference in the police investigation of Alice Bond's allegations. The story repeats that Alice Bond had told police her husband was a frequent user of cocaine. In a telephone interview that day, she says she is furious about the article. She had not gone to the police to talk about her husband, she says. She wanted the police to arrest the people that were selling drugs to her husband. She says she loves her husband and wants the best for him. "I want you to tell people I didn't go to the police about my husband." Then she doesn't want to talk anymore. "Call my lawyer."

A few minutes later she calls to offer the lawyer's number. Will she allow a photographer to take her picture? No, she says her face looks "beat up." She says a keloid bump has formed where Lopez hit her. She says she also doesn't look good enough for a picture because in the last month she has gone from a Size 10 dress to a Size 6. She says she has been sleeping a lot, taking Vitamin B6 and cod liver oil, shopping and visiting her grandmother. She says she still likes to roller-skate on the porch. She likes to dance.

Every few minutes, she says, "I can't talk to you." She will not comment about her own claims that her husband used drugs. She says the phone might be bugged. She will not testify against her husband, she says; she has spousal immunity that protects her from government inquiries about her husband.

"I didn't set out on a campaign to hurt or smear Julian," she says. "I was manipulated by the cops. The police said, 'Trust us. What is the relationship between Julian and Carmen?' Finally, after 15 minutes, I broke down and I did it, I told them."

She begins to cry. It is hard to "look in the mirror and see a 50-year-old woman," she says. "That's what I'll be in five years." She asks how "any man could trust me and believe in me after what they are saying I'm doing to Julian."

She says, "I really hate and despise Julian for it," when asked if her husband had discouraged her from starting a career of her own. She says she has no profession aside from raising the children. She tried to sell real estate, to become a fashion consultant, to start a school, but in every venture Julian would not give her the money she needed to get going.

She says nothing she has said can be used. Will she agree to a face-to-face interview on an off-the-record basis? She says no. Then she keeps talking.

She grows angry and hangs up the phone.

THAT NIGHT JULIAN BOND IS SIX HOURS LATE FOR A 3:30

p.m. photograph session and interview. When he arrives, he has his daughter Cookie, 17, with him. "As pretty as her mother," he says of her later.

How is she dealing with the family problems? "We don't talk about it. I stay in my room and keep the door shut."

Her father takes her home around midnight. The Bond house is in a middle-class neighborhood, two doors down from Coretta Scott King's home.

Bond and the photographer begin to search for a late-night scene to shoot a portrait. Bond stops in a neighborhood bar, but he doesn't want a picture taken there. The photographer suggests a punk club in downtown Atlanta. No, Bond says, "people will see that and say, 'I always thought he was a punk.' "

At 4 a.m., the photo session is over and the sit-down, talk-it-out interview begins, slowly, with Bond's anger at the press for printing his love note to Carmen Lopez. Dear Sweet, 10/24, yes. New Year's, yes. Divorce, yes. Written next to a brown spot was This is blood, J.B. "This is not a dead president's letter," he says. The media has no right to focus on his private life when he has not been charged with any crime, he says. No grand jury has contacted him; he has not had any conversations about drug use with any county, state or federal officials. Nevertheless, the press continues to hound him.

An example?

When he took his wife to his daughter's debutante ball, The Atlanta Constitution wrote that Alice Bond had a frozen smile on her face. What does that mean, he asks. It could be the way she normally smiles. "My relationship with my wife and anyone else I know is my private life.

"I think there are people on the newspaper," he says, "who say, 'These black people are just screwing up this city. When white people had it, it ran like a clock. {Now black people have} affirmative action, set-asides, women doing things. They've screwed up the police force. Let's get them.' "

He has enemies outside the press as well. "They're not going to say, 'He opposed the war in Vietnam and I supported it.' They're not going to say, 'He stood up for a majority black Fifth Congressional District and I opposed it.' They're not going to say, 'This guy is smarter than I am and I resent it.' Are they? They are not going to say, 'This guy looks like he makes money just by waking up in the morning and I have to slave till 5.' They're not going to say that, so what are they going to say? 'He's arrogant. He's aloof.' Well, I'm not in a personality contest with these people.

"Just in the last couple of days I've come to realize that by their definition, yes, I am arrogant. I'm smart. I know it. I'm good at what I do and I know it."

He is told that a number of his friends and political allies, almost everyone interviewed for this article, say they think Julian Bond uses cocaine, though not every two hours. Some of his friends and allies say they find it incredible that in the one major interview he has granted since the drug controversy in April, he told reporters he had never, ever, used cocaine.

"I find many things incredible," he says, "but they are quite true. If I had something to ask forgiveness for, I would do it. There's no need for me to go to Betty Ford. In fact, that's one of the most preposterous statements people have made."

Why did he visit Carmen Lopez in jail?

"What would you do if you had a friend in jail?"

Does he realize that people, because of his association with Lopez, doubt his denial that he uses drugs?

"Does knowing her become a crime?"

How did he feel when he read in the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, before the drug scandals, that "Bond fits even more sharply the description given of him 10 years ago by Washington political columnists Jack Germond and Jules Witcover -- 'a kind of political bonus baby of great potential who never has quite fulfilled the promise as a national leader that many of his admirers had once envisioned' "?

He shrugs. "I've been self-employed for 20 years. I have earned a better-than-decent living for my family. I've tried to give them the best in life. I've worked harder than most people I know." He cites 60 bills he says he introduced and pushed through the Georgia legislature, his chairmanship of the Fulton County delegation to the legislature, his six years as the local NAACP president, his work to create a black-majority congressional district, his opposition to the Vietnam war and the "five beautiful children my wife and I have raised."

Did he take some wrong turns? Make some bad decisions?

"Everybody says that to themselves many, many times in the course of a life. But having said that, what do you do? Remake the decision? Do you recall history? Do you say, 'If I hadn't turned left there, my car wouldn't have struck that child, and therefore when I drive down that street again I won't turn left'? You can't go back and get that child. You say in the future I'll do better, but you can't go back and get that child. That's done."

There is a strong sense of a long-suffering man in Julian Bond. He says he wanted to be a writer but didn't think he could make money at it. He wanted to be an actor but decided he couldn't act. He tried to go into business and ended up losing money. He has never achieved a leadership role in the civil rights movement, and now he is out of politics altogether. At 47, Bond seems tired. He just wants time to be himself. A friend says, "When I look at Julian's behavior over the last few years, I decide Julian is tired of being Julian. He wants out."

And if he is indicted?

"If I get indicted, presumably I'll go to trial. If I go to trial, I'll be declared guilty or innocent. If I'm declared innocent, I'll go on with my life. If I'm guilty, then I'll go to jail. If I get out of jail, then I'll go on with my life."

How soon will it all be over?

"I think this is going to go on for a long, long time, and the prosecutor is going to make this last for as long as he can. It's going to go on for months and months. It's just my feeling."

Does he like any Paul Simon songs?

"Yeah. 'Crazy After All These Years.' "

How does that go?

"My favorite part is the last verse, 'After all that I've been through, I would not be indicted by a jury of my peers. Still crazy after all these years, still crazy after all these years.' " ::

Juan Williams is a staff writer for The Magazine and author of Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years. The foreword to the book was written by Julian Bond.