“So how ’bout it?  Would you like to take a ride?”

And Denny’s smile is returned.  Whatever business he had with Sissy Walker could wait, and Sissy knows this, shaking her head at the whole situation, at Bethany and Jeremy’s fight over her and what she is about to do, maybe remembering Wishbone and Warren Bloodwood, her own silly passions and past lovers–an old woman now beyond being sentimental about it, not wondering what it all meant, but that simply it happened.  Just as simply as Jeremy Bloodwood walking away, to find another partner to hold his hand, maybe, to come into his heart and stay for a while.  She didn’t play mother because she’d never had the role of a mother, but she could imagine what a father would feel.  What maybe Robert Labeau would say about the whole thing.  That thing a man realizes when he knows a woman he lusts after is also someone’s daughter.

“You kids go on now.  I’ve had enough stuff goin’ on in my garden for one day–he, he!  Lord knows!  Here boy, take this for your ride.”  And Sissy opens her bible and tosses him one from inside.

Sometimes you think you’re smart.  Deceiving someone.  At least you think you’re smarter than the one you deceived because you deceived them.  And you pride yourself if they’re dumb to it.  Even if they find out later.  But that’s not really intelligence.  Deception doesn’t make you smarter than someone.  Even if you think you know something they don’t.  You’re deceived by your own deception.  And even if doesn’t happen to you, if you pride yourself in never being deceived, it still all comes around…  Bethany began a deception when she got in Denny’s car.   When she took that ride that began her love affair with him in the spring of 1942.  She was fooling her fiancee.  The boy she promised to marry the previous summer before he went off to his enlistment in Biloxi, the timing of this possibly allowing him to run into David Threnody and Johnny Tribout and their love entanglements happening at that time.  And maybe she was fooling her own past.  Her grandmother Bridgette’s past with the Bloodwood’s and Sissy and Wishbone Walker, Bridgette’s son William now with a habit passed on to her–pills and laudenum and a strong love affair with cough syrup–Denny arranging for William to be a mule, making trips across the Sabine for him in exchange for free junk.  Oxycodone his fancy–first synthesized by the Germans in 1916.  The funny thing about it all, Bethany’s fiancee became a bit of a junkie himself.  At about the same time William Bloodwood began his arrangement with Denny and Bethany got into his car, he was fighting in Greece, and in Thessaly he was wounded in the leg, which initiated his morphine habit–a habit he brought back state-side and into his marriage with Bethany.

You see there’s a whole world out there outside your deceptions, your disconnected heartaches and sentimental self-involved troubles.  Pete Southhouse (that was her fiancee’s name) had seen atrocities you can’t even name or put into words.   Massacres of civilians–women and children–witnessing their mass burials.   He’d seen the aftermath of Kalavryta, in which Wehrmacht troops carried out the extermination of the entire male population and the subsequent total destruction of the town.  And though his own leg wasn’t amputated, he had the memory of holding a buddy down while a medic used a knife to saw away what was left after stepping on a mine, only the leather strap of Pete’s belt for him to bite down on and stifle his screams…  There’s a whole world of invisible wounds out there, what veterans coming home from war are diagnosed with now, the name we’ve decided to give to it–PTSD–post-traumatic stress disorder, and if you could see what they have seen your own consuming problems would seem small and petty in comparison.  And maybe even your deceptions would seem trivial…