Bill flashes back to a battle about twenty miles north, in which "the Federals" outnumbered the good guys five-to-one, and had better guns, and everybody was dying. And this kid was lying injured, out in the field, under the sun, fourteen or younger, calling to him and this guy's Glorious Dead Ancestor, all day long. This was back before Bill's short-bus haircut, back when he was totally hot and had really great hair. So anyway, Bill thought about how probably he should shoot the kid, to put him out of his misery, but Ancestor Tolliver told him that was murder, not war. It wasn't that the kid was beyond help so much as the fact that they couldn't get to him, across that open space, and bring him back to their location. Tolliver looked across that field and saw The Boy; he got a message from God to get him. Bill pled with him not to do it, specifically offering, note, what would hold him personally back, the thing he loves and misses most, his family. But the thing that animated Bill is not what animated Tolliver, and Tolliver headed out to do his duty to God and the boy. He died instantly, of course, just as he reached the kid, and blood went everywhere.
"And then, after a while, the boy started screaming again." The boy is Jason. Lost in the wilderness and bullshit that keeps us apart, under the sunny sky. Screaming, alone. It's not that he's beyond help so much as the fact that they won't be able to get to him, across that open space, when it's time; that they won't be able to get him home in one piece, once he starts wandering. Or probably he's just all fucked up on drugs.
"What happened to the boy?" Maxine asks, in the silence. She's a mother. The boy lived. She is moved, and across the aisle Terry Bellefleur starts to freak out a little bit, because war is like a gin and tonic: pretty much the same no matter where you drink it. The rednecks are unimpressed by this boring story about the boy, but everybody else is all over Bill's jock at this point. Mayor Norris hobbles up and hands Bill an old tintype from the archives that says Mr. W.T. Compton and family on the back. The question Mayor Norris wants to ask is whether this is a picture of Bill, because if so, that is extremely fucked up because Bill is standing right there. Bill's voice cracks. "This... This is a remarkable photograph. I remember the day we gathered to have this taken." Sookie's touched by the depth of feeling he's hiding. She can't hear his thoughts but she knows him better than anybody in this room; she probably knows his face better than any other face because of all the skills she's had to use with him, it follows, for the first time.