“They call her kid ‘half-breed.’” Samson was reading Crazy Eddie’s journals. He had gone to Vietnam and come back, still living at his mother’s house. It was obvious he was dealing with PTSD, but there had been no words for that except shellshock back then. The poor guy was dealing with it on his own, the best he could. His writing wandered in and out of coherence, but this entry was of a haunting clarity. “I think I have a good one. Want me to read it out loud?”
He felt a jolt of joy seeing Kit Kat on the other side of his couch, reading a different journal. She looked up and smiled at him. “Sure.” Samson hadn’t read the entry through, but it sounded interesting. Sometimes Crazy Eddie would start writing with a bang, but the entry would dissolve into a muddled mess. Sometimes, he would write with such striking honesty that Samson was floored.
He read aloud:
April 7, 1979: They call her kid ‘half-breed.’ He showed up on my doorstep today, selling Scout-A-Rama tickets. He had an air of the military about him and I worried that the little guy would just start barking orders at me. I fully expected him to demand that I drop and give him twenty, just like in boot camp.
The tickets were only $1.45, but I didn’t have any money in my wallet, so I pulled out my change jar and counted out the nickels and dimes for him. He was just so serious, watching me count out the money. He handed me the Scout-A-Rama ticket, tearing it from the pad and explaining the coupons to me.
I just felt so bad for him because those other kids call him ‘half-breed.’ I thought that if she had married me, he would be happier. He wouldn’t have had to suffer like he was now. I looked at him like he was my own son, but then my vision got blurry. It was as if he and I WERE related because we loved the same woman. He loved his momma and I loved her, too. It was like he was my boy, but he started to disappear.
I couldn’t see him anymore and I realized that he didn’t exist, because if his momma had married me, I would have been in Vietnam when it was time to make him. He dissolved right before my eyes. My boy, who I loved so much, was gone.
Then he said, “Thank you very much, Mr. Equid.” The little boy came back into focus and nodded at me before he turned around and left my porch. No one’s called me Mr. Equid in my whole life. I’ve been Crazy Eddie for so long that I barely recognized my own name.
In his place, I saw the boy that she would have given me, ashamed at his own father, yet fighting the same demons that I do at the same time. Hating my crazy and hating his own crazy so much so that the hatred for himself is just as strong as mine is for me.
It was a good thing she didn’t marry me.
The entry ended there and Samson couldn’t think of what to say because it was so sad and so self-aware. Far more self-aware than Eddie’s entries had been before. He felt the tears threatening to fill his eyes and he tilted his head back so they would retreat.
Kit Kat, however, didn’t try to hide her tears. She sniffled loudly and whispered, “That was Roscoe.” She pulled the neck of her t-shirt over her eyes and let it sop up the wetness. “We all called him ‘half-breed’ for a long time.” She emerged from the neck and nudged his feet. Samson wanted to slide over and hug her fiercely to dispel the sadness lingering over those journals from the past century, but he was fearful of overwhelming her the way he had always done with Mira.
“I really want a hug right now,” she burst out, crying again. Samson rushed to her side and took her in his arms while she blubbered out, “I forgot. I forgot how mean we were.” He rocked her gently and enjoyed the scent of her shampoo, tickling his nostrils. He felt a strange guilt for delighting in her closeness when he should be thinking about poor Crazy Eddie and even poor little Roscoe.
He could feel sympathy for Eddie, but the revelation that Roscoe was that little boy scout seemed so very natural. Everything he had ever known about Roscoe crystalized into one solid diamond of a man: the vicious slap of the ski pole alongside the face of that kid from Emigration, the veiled threat to John’s safety after the fight at Wildwood, even the irrational anger at Crazy Eddie’s death. It all came together like a perfectly formed crystal.