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I immediately recognized the unexpected rhinoceros on his

T-shirt – from Dürer’s engraving, which made it all the

better (I am a Dürer fan), but Alik was unaware of its

provenance, although he knew plenty about painting – he

stopped me in my tracks with a comment that “Da Vinci

was not drawing people. When I realized that, all those

infants and debilitated Madonnas suddenly became

fantastically beautiful.”

This razor-sharp, independent thinking of his always

attracted me. He used his brain like a dagger. In situations

he would often say, “Steady the pulse rate,” as if setting the

tone, no emotion if you want to hit the target (the self-

control he had learned from his marksmanship).

Dialogue from that piece:

“So, do you want to become the world champion?”

“I want money, now, a lot of it, to satisfy all my desires.”

He was my equal. I felt that as acutely as the joy of hitting

the bullseye.

El had gray eyes, ash-blond curls; he was muscled, well-

proportioned, slightly shorter than me, and had the kind of

white skin that never tans even on an Arabian beach, – he

came back from Egypt as white as when he left.