May/June 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 3 NonfictionMay 3, 2021 |

Gilead

As I crossed over the freeway to the south side of Columbus, I passed boys chasing each other on electric scooters and chappals meeting their needle-fine ends against the skyline. On David’s street, businesses flew German flags, and brick roads bled through asphalt. It was a beautiful neighborhood, and it seemed to promise great things. He lived in a brick bungalow squatting near the curb, and when I arrived, he was already standing on the corner, a dog’s leash coiled around his palm. For our first date, we had gone to a bar in my part of town. Now, he wanted to show me where he lived. We spent the day walking through a bookstore that was once a mansion—its sublevels and labyrinthine halls narrowed and insulated by rows of yellowing pages—and letting his Great Dane chase and hump other dogs in a swell of dust from a baseball diamond at a nearby park. While couples held hands and pushed strollers, he put his hand on my lower back and something hot cut through me, down the kn

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