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as if I were her friend, because she thought I was an

inoffensive little seventh grader and so that was okay, only

it was with her that I felt for the first time that now it was

not okay and everything had changed and it was for me to

love a woman, really to love, because that repulsive,

unnatural, knowing distinction between love and lust only

came later.

“There’s something wrong with me,” I told El perhaps a year

ago. “I’m dreaming whores and corpses.”

He couldn’t say “Bollocks” to that and acknowledged the

seriousness of the situation.

“When I was training,” El began, although he is not usually

one for long stories, “I dreamed about shooting, and there

was no fantasy about it, it was completely real, in

completely natural surroundings with all the details of a

specific shooting range, your breathing the same, the recoil,

the shot sucking you into itself, all for real, taking just as

much concentration and energy. Damn it, I was trying to

sleep! I want to rest when I’m asleep!” A short pause. “Now

I’ve packed all that in the dreams have stopped.”

We both guffawed, fully aware of the absurdity of thinking

we could “pack it in” in our situation. No regrets. An over-

sensitive conscience has been the ruin of many a man, the

cause of much suffering, and we did not do suffering, just