Chapters 17-18 Summary

In great detail, Milo recalls a frightening home invasion near the end of his college career. Three thieves, perhaps believing the apartment to be empty, broke in late at night. While two of them searched the rooms for valuables, the third thief—whom Milo would dub Bat Guy because he brandished a large aluminum bat—corralled the residents in the living room.

Bat Guy’s primary function appeared to be to intimidate the residents while the others looted the place. He broke things with his bat and slammed Billy Raskov’s head into a table. Eventually, Bat Guy took out a gun, set his sights on Constance, and seemed on the verge of initiating some kind of sexual assault.

Out of the corner of his eye, Milo saw Purdy and Michael Florinda emerge from behind the couch. They approached Bat Guy from behind, but he did not turn around because he thought they were the other two invaders.

The two attacked Bat Guy and Purdy got the gun away from him. Bat Guy began choking Michael, so the bat was tossed to Constance (an expert softball player), who beat him until Michael could free himself and pin Bat Guy down. Purdy allowed the other two thieves to leave before the police arrived.

Bat Guy was killed by the police in another altercation a year later, but the fear of the invasion stays with Milo. To this day, he still considers himself a coward because of his inaction.

Milo remembers his father and their limited relationship in his dysfunctional household. Milo’s father sold movie projectors, traveled a lot, and had lots of affairs. All of this made Claudia, Milo’s mother, monumentally unhappy. Claudia and Roger (Milo’s dad) often would have huge fights in which Claudia would break things in frustration.

Thinking back, Milo recalls that maybe some of his most memorable moments with his father were artificial, but even artificial bonding was something he craved and clung to. One evening, his father called Milo in for a chat, which was rare. In addition to telling Milo it was okay if he was gay, Roger tried to break it to him that he and Claudia were on the verge of breaking up. He noted that Milo was a good boy who wants to be a bad boy but can’t quite commit to it.

Milo is haunted when he hears himself uttering phrases to Bernie that his father used to say to him. Pushing aside these memories (or trying to), Milo researches Todd Wilkes, another wounded vet given to speechifying about positive thinking. Milo first heard of Todd from Don, who hates the fake positivity he represents. Reading of Todd’s accomplishments, it occurs to him that Don may envy him.