Here’s the opening paragraphs of Benjamin Markovits’s “Another Sad, Bizarre Chapter in Human History,” first published in the Fall 2008 Paris Review:
I used to be friendly with a kid called Sam Bamburger, whose mother was the first woman I ever heard of to get divorced. Sam was about nine at the time and up to that point something of an all-American kid, except maybe shorter and paler. He had fair hair and a small nose and the kind of face that looked either innocent or cruel. Sam played shortstop on my Little League team and had the reputation among the fathers of being a prospect—if he grew, that is. He never grew much.
Hard to say how we became friends. He lived not far from me, just the other side of Speedway, in a small corner house that overlooked a park. The park had the nearest swimming pool—nearest, I mean, to me. I used to bike there in the summer and lock my wheels against the chain-link fence that surrounded the pool. Afterwards, when I was tired of swimming, I looked around for kids to play basketball with on the court next door. Sam’s house was close enough that we could run back for a ball if no one was playing, but that can hardly be how I got to know him in the first place. I remember feeling that I didn’t have much choice in the matter—in our friendship. Maybe he took me in a game of pickup, and together we held court for an afternoon. (I was already about a head taller than Sam.) Sam liked leading; I liked winning.