The advance guard which came down the street consisted of a number of Jeeps, being driven with a certain restraint…. I thought the Jeeps looked noticeably uncomfortable from all the power they were not being allowed to use. There is no stage you comprehend better than the one you have just left, and as I watched the Jeeps… they reminded me, in a comical and a poignant way, of adolescents.
None of them ever accused me of being responsible for what had happened to Phineas, either because they could not believe it or else because they could not understand it. I would have talked about that, but they would not, and I would not talk about Phineas in any other way.
“You want to serve, that’s all. It’s your greatest moment, greatest privilege, to serve your country. We’re all darn proud of you, and we’re all—old guys like me—we’re all darn jealous of you too.”
During the time I was with him, Phineas created an atmosphere in which I continued now to live, a way of sizing up the world with erratic and entirely personal reservations, letting its rocklike facts sift through and be accepted only a little at a time, only as much as he could assimilate without a sense of chaos and loss.