I look in my duffle bag and see the sparring gloves Colonel Posey lent to me yesterday He had looked tired to me, like a man defeated from grief but who was still trying to stand up straight. His hair was Graying, and his eyes had lines at the corners like a map of a busy town. But his kindness sat on my chest like Pa’s and Ike’s kindness, stayed there perched like a redbird.
I thought about when Colonel Posey’s little daughter had died six months back from some disease the doctors didn’t know how to cure. I thought about Ervin Clay Carter and Gene Davis, them being dead and how hard it was on their parents and, maybe, how hard it was on me. They were just kids and life had sucked the air out of them easier than sucking a chocolate malt through a thin straw. Then I thought about Private Henderson.
After I’d told Colonel Posey about sparring with my father he said, “You know, whatever picture you’ve formed in your head about sparring with your father might not be what really happens.”
I knew what he was talking about. I thought of other pictures I’d made up in my head that didn’t match the truth, like working on that pipeline. That picture wasn’t anything like what happened. I thought of more pictures from long ago, like me owning my own guitar, or having a real conversation with my dad, or being able to reach my .22.