"Exploded Heads"

Dad lying in his bed at the VA hospital,  dying and daydreaming of exploded heads with brains like scrambled eggs.  The young kamikaze pilot crashed onto his destroyer in the South Pacific.  Dad was the first on the scene of the flaming wreckage.  He led the fire brigade, a bronze star’s worth of bravery.  His young son, head smashed like a pumpkin on the dashboard of his drunken buddy’s truck.  It was too much to remember and he drifted into sleep where he dreamed of heads he smashed in the boxing rings up the Hood River  in a dozen lumber camps when he was sixteen and in the rings on the decks of his fleet aircraft carriers then to his daughters when they were very young girls in grade school and again when they were in high school and were sassy. He “lowered the boom” on strangers in bars who approached his fifth beautiful wife and he “cold-cocked” a recalcitrant cat-skinner on his construction site on the Alaska pipeline.  Like most Highland Scotsmen, he was hard-wired for violence.  Maybe it was PTSD.  He drove my mother crazy and after her third suicide attempt in a season in 1955 (pills, wrists, bridge) they took her away for a few years.  Maybe it was the five babies in six years, one of which wasn‘t his, Post-Partum blues.  She always said the last straw was when my dad went out for ice cream for her hot apple pie and came back with blueberry flavor.  “How could I have married a man so stupid?”