I was watching a documentary about the Mad Bomber. They were talking about his childhood. There had been an accident with one of the first bombs he had ever made. His grandfather, who had taught the boy how to make bombs, made a mistake with some of the dangerous chemicals they were working with. The mixture had exploded in his face. The narration explaining all this was intercut with grainy 8mm footage from the family’s home movies, as well a dramatic re-enactment of the accident. The grandfather’s muffled screams could be heard coming from another room of the cramped, dark little apartment, while a little boy cowered in a corner of the hallway, pressing his hands as tight as he could over his ears.
The grandfather refused to see a doctor after the incident, fearing that their bomb-making activities would be discovered. He had been left with deep, disfiguring gashes on his face, and he had been nearly blinded by the chemicals that had gotten into his eyes. Thereafter he used a pair of antique pocket binoculars to see, the kind where the lenses fold back and the thin little case snaps shut. Sepia-toned photographs showed him standing in the sun, filmy cataracts over his eyes and his face spotted with black scars. He was a disturbing sight.