Youth itself made D____ uncomfortable, more because he coveted the ancient scene of his own lost happiness than for the faint, barely flickering spark of lust it kindled in him. Always the threat of his strong hands – that was what he meant to me. He'd bare his clenched teeth and clamp his iron fingers around my arms as if he meant to squeeze them off, or sometimes, with a joke as camouflage, he'd grab my neck and shake me, his fingers carefully squeezing my throat. In those days my neck was skinny enough so that with the thumb and index finger of one hand alone he could almost encircle it. He always squeezed a little too hard, just past the point where it began to hurt. He wasn't satisfied until he saw in my eyes that he'd reached that point.


Violence was uncharacteristic of D____, though – in fact totally absent from his dealings with anyone besides children.