Can you imagine for even a moment that you are the victim of an angry, drunken policeman? No? Try again.
Try again to imagine the policeman repeatedly slamming his club into your jaw, laughing with each stroke, and asking you a question: “You sure you left your stuff at the 81st street stop?”
Now, imagine the cop is wearing a white motorcycle helmet with a black visor. The gold epaulettes on the shoulders of his blue uniform shirt shudder violently each time his club strikes your face.
You smell his breath with every word he screams at you. It is sweet and foul, the scent a mixture of bourbon and onions. And then, for a fraction of a second, you look down at his black trousers, just as you feel the dark wooden baton smash into the right side of your head, above the ear.
You wake up to godawful pain in your cheeks and jaw. You try to open your eyes, but only one responds; touching the side of your head, you feel dried blood and a huge lump around your right eye, so swollen it will not open. You are leaning against the wall of a cell. On three sides, concrete cinder blocks form walls; the entire fourth side consists of a door made of black metal bars spaced four inches apart.
The backpack you left at the 81st street station is resting against the wall eight feet across from the cell that is your home. Taped to the wall above the backpack, a picture of your daughter, Sarah, looks at you with pleading eyes.