just an example




Who knows

Two checks arrived from Walter O’Shea shortly after Jimmy entered jail. They were Sistine Chapels of checks, works of art, larger than life, Queen Elizabeth II in a diadem, tropical flowers, palm trees, an arc of bank-letters that spelled Castle Bank and Trust, British Crown Colony of Bahama, so dazzling Cathy did not see her name neatly printed on one and Movement Liberation Front on the other, or the surreal amounts, $500 US each, the grandest sum on the grandest check ever seen.

“An old war buddy,” Walter explained on the phone, “ I haven’t heard from in years. He called to ask if I’d pass on a contribution from a friend of his who admires your activity but doesn’t want his name connected to radicals. I figured you could use the help. Nice surprise, huh?” Walter thought Cathy a swell girl, really great. “And more to come.”

“Wow. Through you?”

“No. Straight from the bank. He wanted me to send these personally so you’d know they’re real.”

“They look suitable for framing.”

“How’s my boy?”

“ Strong. I saw him Saturday. We’re working hard to get him out. He’ll be fine. Don’t worry, Walter. Really. And thank you.”

“Thank you, Cathy. I appreciate it. Please keep in touch.”

The world-enormous body of facts we don’t tell our parents. The map of our lives with its great vacant spaces marked Fine Fine Fine and embellished by Hallmark. Or more to the point of Jimmy’s life, the dot-encircled voids on highway maps marked ‘Weapons Training Center’ and no roads or features drawn inside. Civilian entry forbidden. Terror Incognito.

Were there equivalent unmarked zones in the lives of our mothers and fathers? The subject never came up. Our parents were too familiar. We spent our childhoods studying them, we thought, What is there not to know?