Kickass, the doorstop dog, joins the keeper and Phyllis in welcoming great-grandchildren into their respective clans; and they watch images of the sweet babies, as the incredibly tragic world news carries items of the maiming and slaughter of Ukraine children.
The keeper is reminded of some of the children of “his” war, when on a patrol in the sprawling no-mans-land along Korea’s 38th parallel, his squad happened upon a village that was supposed to have been vacated, and a half dozen curious children mysteriously emerged from hiding.
During the friendly mingling with the kids, the keeper’s official Army binoculars disappeared, and he was faced with the prospect of an unpleasant confrontation with the company supply sergeant.
Using hand signals and gestures, the keeper communicated to the kids that he would exchange a can of C-ration beans for the return of his binoculars.
It happened: a ragged little boy disappeared briefly and came back with the binoculars; and the keeper cheerfully handed over the can of beans; and—also cheerfully–went without lunch.
It is just a little children-and-war memory that has stuck with the keeper lo these many years; and it somehow helps him acknowledge that while there are those out there who would slaughter the likes of his and Phyllis’s dear great-grandchildren, anyone of those kids would probably trade binoculars for a can of beans; and somewhere in that tangle of convoluted history is the abject horror and wonder of human behavior.