Wigger. The way black guys moved, Mac watched them. White wannabe a nigger. He practiced shaking hands in the mirror with his left out, turned, curved backward to match the imaginary offered right. Two or three times he'd seen that. Enough to know that was the way it was done sometimes, but definitely not all the time. Enough that it meant something in particular. What it meant, or what it pointed to--that tortured him. Not to know, be in the know.

Like when the right hand was holding a cigarette, and rather than risk disturbing the ash, the left hand was used. But he'd seen it done with no cig, no reason at all.

No reason known to him. Him as him, or him as white guy. He didn't know which stung more. That was the big hole, not to know.

The shoulders, walking. More black guys walked than white guys walked. The whole body, up and down, like a bubble in slow motion through the surface of water and back. Mac couldn't do it. White men can't jump.

His little sister in high school yelling at him down the halls, "Wigger!"

Something fluid about their entire existence, no resistance, water around rocks, water through a sieve. That was what the deal was with white girls getting with black guys, he thought.

Not that there had to be a deal. He wasn't one of those who.

Their language, the sounds like words but not, sounds that used to be words, only with a different meaning.

The rudeness. Shoving, bad-talking, the making you feel dumb and stupid and weak and entirely inadequate. The penis shoved up against your butt in junior high gym. Limp, swollen, not erect, and somehow more humiliating for that.

The deal with sports, enough said. You didn't want to play any sports with them, that is, against them. The humiliation did not have to be explained.