Only a year ago Mary’s brother Dennis died in our house, died dreadfully, of an infection of the thyroid that forced the juices of fear through him so that he was violent and terrified and fierce. His kindly Irish horse-face grew bestial. I helped to hold him down, to pacify and reassure him in his death-dreaming, and it went on for a week, before his lungs began to fill. I didn’t want Mary to see him die. She had never seen death, and this one, I knew, might wipe out her sweet memory of a kindly man who was her brother. Then, as I sat waiting by his bed, a monster swam up out of my dark water. I hated him. I wanted to kill him, to bite out his throat. My jaw muscles tightened and I think my lips fleered back like a wolf’s at the kill.
   When it was over, in panic guilt I confessed what I had felt to old Doc Peele, who signed the death certificate.
   “I don’t think it’s unusual,” he said. “I’ve seen it on people’s faces, but few admit it.”
   “But what causes it? I liked him.”
   “Maybe an old memory,” he said. “Maybe a return to the time of the pack when a sick or hurt member was a danger. Some animals and most fish tear down and eat a weakened brother.”
   “But I’m not an animal – or a fish.”
   “No, you’re not. And perhaps that’s why you find it foreign. But it’s there. It’s all there.”
   He’s a good man, Doc Peele, a tired old man. He’s birthed and buried us for fifty years.

from The Winter of our Discontent – John Steinbeck

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