My third novel, The Trion Syndrome, came out in 2015. Unlike No-Accounts, it grew directly out my experience in Vietnam. It is the story of a Vietnam veteran, Dave, who can’t find peace. He has nightmares and flashbacks, but he can’t remember the event that’s causing them. For reasons he doesn’t understand, he’s fascinated by the myth of Trion, a Greek demi-god who disemboweled his own son to demonstrate his ferocity. As a punishment, Aphrodite cursed him—he could never know love. The Eucharides, three female monsters, trapped him and drowned him.
The book starts with Dave’s failed attempt to drown himself. He excoriates himself for his involuntary reflexes that saved him. Over time, he finally remembers his crime: he inadvertently killed a child.
In telling Dave’s story, I was really telling my own. Just like Dave, I had to struggle to bring into conscious memory the events I participated in and witnessed on the battlefield in Vietnam. To find peace, I had to force myself to face my unspeakable remembrances.
When Dave remembers what he did, he runs away. He is finally helped to cope with his unbearable past by a young man who turns out to be an illegitimate son he didn’t know he had.
I wasn’t so lucky. I had to cope on my own. I turned to writing as a way to unburden my psyche. The greatest help was telling Dave’s story. It forced me to face my own past and my attempts to deal with it. Dave finds an imperfect peace in the long term. So did I.