This is how, in chapter two of Walter Mosley's The Man in My Basement, the narrator explains his habit of taunting a childhood friend:
I did some things better than Clarance. I was good at sports. But he wouldn't compete with me there. He said I was better than him but I couldn't get a scholarship or anything. And he was right. Like my uncle Brent was always happy to say, 'He could win the race, be he cain't beat the clock.'
So I tortured Clarance now and then, angry at him for my inadequacies.
And here, at the end of the same chapter, are his feelings about how he used to swear at the irritating uncle Brent and run away:
That night in my house, wandering completely naked through the half-dark rooms, I thought about how much fun it was to torture my mean old uncle.
In seventy pages' time, a visitor will ask this narrator to lock him in a steel cage. How do you think their relationship will develop?
[The Man in My Basement, by Walter Mosley, Serpent's Tail, 2004. In fact, the whole power of the novel is in Mosley's refusal to go off the implied deep end. He builds slowly to quieter power games. Still a diagram, as they say, rather than a painting, but the drawing is cool and deliberate.]