He could swing razors with a comparable degree of competence and he knew how to punch a torso sideways so as to take the wind out of it. This was knowledge that he shared with quite a few of his peers, but that was neither here nor there: For he had extracted himself from the process even before he understood how self-destructive it actually was and how murderous it was of his culture and the bloodlines that were sinking inside of it. He remembered being eighteen and in college, of all places, with salt in his eyes and vinegar in his mouth, always carrying around the feeling of wanting to batter something, walking on marble for the first time. He too had been battered in various ways, some of which he would not disclose, and wished to show as well as describe the sensation of being kicked in the mouth and stomped in the back by eleven or so designer sneakers. He remembered being eighteen and running around with a bunch of other loose youngsters who delighted in smoking bush and drinking vodka, and reciting lyrics to rap masterpieces late into the night. He remembered being eighteen and visiting the young women in the dorm rooms, recounting with much exaggeration the things that had transpired there and cursing, always cursing, loudly or in a murmur, defiantly or in amusement. He remembered being eighteen and roving across the terrain with the other young bulls in college, of all places, picking fights with others and sharing frustration on a plate.
And still he had managed to extract himself before he was fully aware that his was an old feeling, formed out of ingredients that had merged somewhere in the belly of a ship to make an explosion with a big bang. Cultivated over time, it was transplanted from dingy building walls to ivied stone gates, where the unwelcome were greeted with a handshake and a smile and an expectation of a stay that would not outlast the year. There, outside the city limits, the misguided young bulls entangled themselves and stepped hoof-first into every ensnarement that had been carefully laid out for them. It was the nature of the time within which he lived, a period that demanded stealth and quick-wittedness and perseverance and on top of that, called for luck, lots and lots of luck: For he had only missed by pinches the fate that would be doled out to the others – attendees at institutions of a different sort. And now even that unfortunate lot would claim him a success because there was parchment with his name on it, and letters for which he would owe a fee for many years to come. How could he disagree with them? He did not delude himself with any misplaced feelings of self-importance or blindly blame them for their circumstances. He was just in a daze really; sitting at a bar with some comely woman, smelling expensive perfume and the cigar smoke rise, staring blankly at the athletes darting across the plasma screen, hearing the latest hip hop music play, lifting a glass of vodka to take that perfunctory sip, noticing the diamonds shine, and never thinking, refusing to think.