One of my first memories: My mother slapping me hard across the face. I was probably three or four. She’d been wiping my mouth with a wet washcloth that had grown cold, and I’d tried to knock her hand away. Don’t you ever hit a woman, she hissed. She’d been a teacher, and the slap was a lesson: See how things are.
One day, three or four years before I joined the army, she was angry about some trash on the carport. I bent over to pick it up but smart-mouthed her, and she beat my back with her belt. I stood up, taller now than she was, and laughed in her face. She burst into tears. See how things are.