from thinking for himself and went to hell.)nThe Spartans were the worst of all the Greeks;nthey beat their children, killed slaves, lived like sheiksnand abused their wives. Bullies, braggarts, liars,nthey ran like dogs when they saw King Darius.nRepeat this after me: the Athenians, goodnin general, were bad in owning slaves and shouldnhave freed their women and let aliens vote.nBoys and girls, we learn these things by rotenuntil we get them right.”nIt all came back,nthe way they put the question, cranked the racknuntil you learned never to cast out ninesnas mother taught. “Crayon inside the lines.”nI’d dreamed I had escaped, they’d won at last:nHere I am, an exile in my own past—nmy one last refuge from the Cosmopole,ntorn down to build this prison of the soulnthey call democracy: the party statenof bought elections, the engineered debatenon how to mow the artificial lawnnthat stretches to a quiet grave, a yawnnafter history’s harsh barbaric sex.nI’m outnthe door, back on the street to see our house,nwhich someone’s painted dirty shades of brown.nThe same delinquent tore the lilacs downnand stuck, where lilies of the valley grew,na K-Mart swingset and a barbecue.nI watched them watching television, throughnthe window, talking back to Donahuenas to a man. Turning my way, Philntransfixed me with a look I knew would kill —n”Is it life or death?” he asked the audience,n”Dial 1-900, vote for fifty cents” —nunless I dropped my eyes and made a break.nI see my feet running out to the lakenacross a sodden field of strawberriesnand sweet clover that once had stained our knees,nto the stone-stubbled hill, where we’d built a shacknto hide out from our parents, smoke cigars,ndivide up into armies and wage warsnthat always ended in an apple feast,nwith medals and promotions for the bestneye-punchers and rock-slingers in the shamncombat. And Bill, who died in Vietnamn(I called in ’69, just passing through.nHis sister said, “Bill’s dead. I thought you knew.”nAnd I remembered how he’d loved John Waynenin Sands of Iwo ]ima. “How much pain?”nhe used to ask, was there when you got shot.)nHe was about the best of our bad lot,nwho believed the things he didn’t learn in school.nHe loved our camp, this shack, the poolnwe swung from the elm tree over, reckless boys,nTrojans and skin-kneed Greeks who built their Troysnand toppled them in the course of a summer’s dayntill September came and took them all away.nnnSEPTEMBER 1991/15n