Story — From the August 2013 issue

The Way Things Are Going

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Gwen was the one who had insisted that Ma and I move to America. Sooner or later, she’d said, it would happen again, it was only a matter of time. And I suppose she was right. But really it was all my fault; I should have known better than to let them in. I did know better. How many times had I read of people tied up, beaten, robbed, raped, or killed by men pretending to be the police? Or by the real police? What was the difference, once they were tying you up? And what stupidity had had me sliding off the door chain if not my infuriating habit of consideration for others?

So if anything were to blame, it was that — the manners we’d been saddled with right from the start. Even on the plane, with the aging pharmacist talking me through the history of the national parks of America, and me nodding — oh yes? oh really? — wishing him struck down right there by a stroke, even then I was thinking, I’ll never be free of this, never.

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’s memoir “Keeping Watch” appeared in the January 2011 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

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