Dear Ed,

Since you were imprisoned the house seems emptier than it did before. Even though you'd already moved out, when you were arrested, I really felt your absence more strongly, thinking of you under lock and key -- and of course Judith's having left made the house all the more empty. Somehow the emptiness has stayed here in the house even now that you've been released and are starting off in New York and doing so well.

I suppose after 18 years of your coming in and out, trying to sneak in and out in the middle of the night and all that, in my sleep I must attribute to you a lot of those strange noises that the house makes. Perhaps, with part of my sleeping mind, I am still hearing you sneaking in and out, from years and years ago. And now, these furtive noises, that I remember, also remind me that were in prison. And then I wake up, ears straining to discern what the night is saying.

Last night I was having a very vivid dream about Vietnam, so intricate but I can still remember almost every detail. I was in an Air America C-47, with some sort of cargo in the back I was not supposed to look at. Next to me was Dr. Noah Stephens -- our marriage counselor, rather, our former marriage counselor, that is, to be precise, our former marriage's counselor -- only he was a sleeping soldier, and I understood somehow that he was seriously wounded. The pilot was leaning back to shout at me orders I could not understand. He had no upper front teeth and his stubble was orange in patches. The plane was shaking badly, I could not move.

When I looked again at Dr. Stephens, his body was eviscerated, as if the jiggling of the plane had caused the weight of his intestines to open his wounds, and his entrails sagged forward between the orange legs of his flight suit, slithering off his lap to pool in glistening coils between his boots. The pilot kept shouting, wrestling with something in the cockpit.

Then something else happened, I don't know what, maybe the dream just shifted without any event, and the windshield went black, and then lit up. It had become a sort of video screen, and the sky had been replaced by blackness with slowly moving vectors and blips. The pilot was concentrating now as if the windshield were offering him some sort of enhanced picture of the position of the plane relative to a safe landing location. The plane stopped shaking. And then, I don't know how to say this, the windshield seemed to cut to a commercial -- an image of Mickey Mouse, or more than one Mickey Mouse dancing beside a hamburger in this horrible jerky and grainy animation. The pilot was screaming and pounding at the windshield to make the commercial go away, and the plane began to convulse.

I came awake in the bed sweating, and I reached over and of course your mother wasn't there. I was in full panic. I had become wrapped in the sheet in what must have been vigorous thrashing, and could not move one of my arms. After I got loose, I sat on the edge of the bed gasping, and I heard the sound of distant gunfire. Distant television gunfire.

It was 3 in the morning. I went downstairs and Bobby was watching a war movie on television. It being well past his bedtime, and I being somewhat agitated, I shouted at him. I don't remember what I shouted, I've seldom done anything like that. And he didn't even twitch. His eyes never left the screen and he didn't blink. Stunned -- you know how responsive he normally is -- I spoke his name. He didn't move. I realized with a shock that he was asleep, he was sleepwatching, sleepwatching television.

I believe that might have been when all of this started. Bobby can't speak normally. He can't, he just seems to have lost most of his vocabulary -- he still understands me and he's acting pretty normal, but ... I am really, deeply concerned about it and the pediatrician doesn't have any idea, and I don't know what to write about it. I'll get on the phone with you, but I had to put it down on paper first to let you know, maybe it will be easier to explain it all this way. Basically, I would like it if you would look after Bobby for awhile. Emotionally and mentally, I am deteriorating, and I don't think Bobby will be able to recover here, living with me, I think one of us or both us will end up being taken somewhere else for treatment, it isn't going to work out well, maybe we can talk about this and I can get myself together.

   Love, Dad