Well, David had said - it was snowing outside and his voice contained many registers of anger, disgust and wounded justice, I think it's crazy. I'm not going to be a sacrificial lamb.
In Greece sometimes, a friend told me, when she walked on the high road above the sea back to her house from the village in the dark, and the sky seemed immense, the moon terribly bright, she wondered if her life would be a fit gift.
And then there is that poor heifer in the poem by Keats, all decked out in ribbons and flowers, no terror in the eyes, no uncontrollable slobber of mucus at the muzzle, since she didn't understand the festivities.
And years later, after David had quit academic life, he actually bought a ranch in Kentucky near a town called Pleasureville, and began to raise sheep.
When we visited that summer and the ngihts were shrill with crickets and the heat did not let up, we traded stories after dinner and he told us again the story about his first teaching job and the vice-president.
When he bought the place, he had continued his subscriptions to The Guardian and Worker's Vanguard, but they piled up in a corner unread. He had a mortgage to pay. He didn't know a thing about raising animals for slaughter, and so he read The American Sheepman With an intensity of concentration he had never even approximated when he was reading political theory for his Ph. D. orals.
The vice-president of the United States, after his term in office, accepted a position as lecturer in political science at a small college in his home district, where David had just taken his first job. The dean brought Hubert Humphrey around to introduce him to the faculty. When they came to David's office, the vice-president, expensively dressed, immensely hearty, extended his hand and David did not feel he could take it because he believed the man was a war criminal; and not knowing any way to avoid the awkwardness, he said so, which was the beginning of his losing the job at the college.
But that was the dean's doing. The vice-president started to cry. He had the hurt look, David said, of a kicked dog with a long, unblemished record of loyalty and affection, this man who had publicly defended, had praised the terror bombing of villages full of peasants. He seemed to David unimaginably empty of inner life if he could be hurt rather than affronted by a callow young man making a stiffly moral gesture in front of two men his father's age. David said that he never looked at another human being with such icy, wondering detachment, and that he hadn't liked the sensation.
And so in the high-ceilinged kitchen, in the cricket-riddled air drenched with the odor of clover, we remembered Vic Doyno in the snow in Buffalo, in the days when the war went on continuously like a nightmare in our waking and sleeping hours.
Vic had come to work flushed with excitement at an idea he had had in the middle of the night. He had figured out how to end the war. It was a simple plan. Everyone in the country—in the world, certainly a lot of Swedish and English students would go along—who was opposed to the war would simply cut off the little finger on the left hand and send it to the president. Imagine! They would arrive slowly at first, the act of one or two maniacs, but the news would hit newspapers and the next day there would be a few more. And the day after that more. And on the fourth day there would be thousands. And on the fifth day, clinics would be set up—organized by medical students in Madison, San Francisco, Stockholm, Paris—to deal with the surgical procedure safely and on a massive scale. And on the sixth day, the war would stop. It would stop. The helicopters at Bienhoa would sit on the airfields in silence like squads of disciplined mosquitoes. Peasants, worried and curious because peasants are always worried and curious, would stare up curiously into the unfamiliar quiet of a blue, cirrus-drifted sky. And years later we would know each other by those missing fingers. An aging Japanese businessman minus a little finger on his left hand would notice the similarly mutilated hand of his cab driver in Chicago, and they would exchange a fleeting unspoken nod of fellowship.
And it could happen. All we had to do to make it happen—Vic had said, while the water for tea hissed on the hot plate in David's chilly office and the snow came down thick as cotton batting, was to cut off our little fingers right now, take them down to the department secretary, and have her put them in the mail.
In a haze
A stormy haze
I’ll be around
I’ll be loving you
Here I am
And I’ll take my time
Here I am
And I’ll wait in line