How we cite our quotes:
"The boy could not take his eyes off the glove. The old man could not take his eyes off the boy. The record player finished the 'Christmas Polka' and clicked off, and for a long time there was silence." (31.13)
We all know that kids need family. But older folk need families too, and Grayson was just as lonely as Maniac was, and he benefits from their little family just as much as Maniac does. Think about that next time you pass a retirement home.
"Dreams pursued memories, courted and danced and coupled with them and they became one, and the gaunt, beseeching phantoms that called to him had the rag-wrapped feet of Washington's regulars, and the faces of his mother and father and Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan and the Beales and Earl Grayson. In that bedeviled army there would be no more recruits. No one else would orphan him." (33.11)
It's not all Cup-o-Soup and polka dancing. When you really love and trust someone, it hurts to lose them. A lot. And at this point, Maniac is afraid to love anyone, because he's afraid to be hurt.
"Oh, he prodded and persuaded and inspired and bribed the boys to do right, but he never forced them, never commanded, never shouted. Because to do so would be parental, and he was not yet ready for that. How could he act as a father to these boys when he himself ached to be somebody's son?" (39.11)
As much as we'd like Russell and Piper to get a firm talking to, and maybe a little "scared straight" it's also good to know that Maniac is smart enough to hold back. He knows he's too young to be a father figure, because he has too much left to learn as someone's son.