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In this continuation of the conversation with Sam DiFranco, the Narrator focuses on Sam’s specific issues, personality traits, and his personal philosophy:

N – Who are you close to right now?
S – Jimmy and Swede, that’s it.
N – What about your parents? Your brothers?
S – I’m not close to them right now. I will be when I get home. If I think about them too much right now, it complicates things too much. I can’t afford it right now. I trust Jimmy. I trust Swede. That’s it. They are my family right now.
N – What about the other guys in the squad?
S – Not so much. Oh, I have to depend on them for support, but I won’t get too close.
N – So, you try to compartmentalize things and people?
S – You mean keep things separate, in their places?
N- Yes.
S – That’s right then. If I’m going to survive this war, I need to be focused.
N – Like when you play poker?
S – Yes, poker is like a little war. Keep things focused and quiet until the showdown, and then give it all you’ve got.
N – So, behind that focused exterior, that impassive, stoic mask there actually lurks a decisive, perhaps violent internal force that you can unleash at will? You’ll be ready to kill when you need to, when you or your family are threatened.
S – Yes, when I need to.
N – You say that without a lot of emotion. Do you feel a little detached from the actions you might have to take?
S – If I don’t maintain that detachment I wouldn’t be able to function the way I need to. Emotions—strong emotions—can get in the way, be a hindrance to what you’re trying to accomplish.
N – And would you say what you’re trying to accomplish could be called your “victory?”
S – Sure, I guess so, like when you win at poker. You gain the victory over the other guys at the table.
N – What will be your victory in this war?
S – Surviving and getting back to my family.
N – At all costs? No matter who else has to get hurt?
S – What kind of dumbshit question is that? Of course at all costs, no matter who else gets hurt.
N – I just wanted to be clear about what you’re willing to do.
S – I think it can be a matter of will whether you survive or not. You might have to have the will to do what the other guy won’t.
N – Do you want to have a family of your own someday?
S – Sure. A wife and kids, you bet.
N – And do you think you’ll try to pass along the values you hold to your children?
S – If they ask me, I’ll tell them. I’m not real big on giving out advice. I think most times most people are going to do what they want to do, advice or no advice.
N – Do you ever get angry?
S – Not very often.
N – I would think you hold a lot of things inside. Is that right?
S – I guess so.
N – You don’t like to express a lot of emotion, but what happens if you get too much built up inside? Do you ever explode? Have you ever let those emotions spill over?
S – A few times I guess.
N – When was the last time?
S – When we were being strafed on the road to Casablanca. I didn’t want to die with my face in the stinking dirt of North Africa, so I got up and started shooting at the enemy planes. I think I actually hit one. I was just so mad. Everybody thought I’d gone crazy. I guess I did a little.
N – In the old Viking days, they had some warriors they called “berserkers.” They would fight with fearless rage and disregard for their own safety. Some people nowadays call it “seeing red.” Is that how you felt on that road?
S – I’d say that’s about right.
N – How do you feel about having that rage within you? That’s different from the stoicism you usually present others, isn’t it?
S – I know that capability is there, but I am usually able to control it.
N – So, would you say that is a “dark side” to your character?
S – I guess so. Sounds like you think I could be a bad guy.
N – Do you think you could be a bad guy?
S – Yes.
N – That sounds pretty definite. Would you want to be a bad guy?
S – Of course not. But I would be if I had to.
N – Does that dark side of your personality have any appeal for you?
S – Yes.
N – Do you think that attraction for the dark side shows a weakness of character?
S – No, I think it shows strength of character, because I recognize its appeal but I don’t let it control me. I control it.
N – So, control is important to you?
S – Yes, extremely important.
(TO BE CONTINUED)