“Most of this I've told before, or at least hinted at, but what I have never told is the full truth. How I cracked. How at work one morning, standing on the pig line, I felt something break open in my chest. I don't know what it was. I'll never know. But it was real, I know that much, it was a physical rapture--a cracking-leaking-popping feeling. I remember dropping my water gun. Quickly, almost without thought, I took off my apron and walked out of the plant and drove home. It was midmorning, I remember, and the house was empty. Down in my chest there was still that leaking sensation, something very warm and precious spilling out, and I was covered with blood and hog-stink, and for a long while I just concentrated on holding myself together.”
“They did not submit to the obvious alternative, which was simply to close the eyes and fall. So easy, really. Go limp and tumble to the ground and let the muscles unwind and not speak and not budge until your buddies picked you up and lifted you into the chopper that would roar and dip its nose and carry you off to the world. A mere matter of falling, yet no one ever fell. It was not courage, exactly; the object was not valor. Rather, they were too frightened to be cowards.”
“Kiowa who saw it happen said it was like watching a rock fall, or a big sandbag or something-Just Boom-then down. Not like in the movies where the dead guy rolls around and does fancy spins and goes ass over teakettle-not like that. Kiowa said. The bastard just flat fuck fell. Boom down. Nothing else.”
“What stories can do, I guess, is make things present. I can look at things I never looked at. I can attach faces to grief and love and pity and God. I can be brave. I can make myself feel again. 'Daddy, tell the truth, 'Kathleen can say, 'did you ever kill anybody?' And I can say, honest, 'Of course not. 'Or I can say, honestly, 'Yes.”
“Linda was nine then, as I was, but we were in love. And it was real. When I write about her...
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