I remember taking refuge in the sensation of pain. It was overwhelming and I consciously let it overwhelm me. From the outside there was a cooling breeze, coming from the shore. Soothing sounds of waves somewhere in the dusk that encapsulated the beech now. The pain originated in my shoulder but as I let it, it would stream hot into my back and neck and from there would fill my guts and thighs. I was comfortable with it because it was so familiar and so close to me. How can pain ever be anything but very close to me?
We were some sort of allurement and attracted quite a crowd. It was a busy early Friday night. Lovely warm Spring weather and the clubbers strolling on the Boulevard could do with some distraction. The police officer brought me right back to where I dropped the WalkMan to the pavement. A colleague of his was standing there, waiting. Once back at the spot with the rubble of the broken WalkMan he let go of my arm. But not my neck.
“Now then.” said the officer. “Do you by any chance see a trash can nearby?” That was a surprise question. I needed some time. I looked. Not two feet from where the WalkMan lay broken on the pavement there was a trash can. “Yes, sir.” I replied. “Oh, do you now. Where exactly?” I pointed at it. “And do you know what it is used for, in general, say?” I sighed. O, good God, a lecture. The crowd that gathered around us, was amused by the little show and laughed. “Yes, officer, I do.” I replied. “Well, please enlighten us.” he said. “What is it used for?” “It is there so one can throw away stuff one does not need any more.” I said. “Stuff?” he said. “Rubble. Garbage. Trash.” I replied. “Ah, so you do know.” the officer said.
He pulled me close to the broken WalkMan on the pavement and bent me over it with force, my face really down to the rubble. “What is this?” he asked. “That is a mistake, sir.” I replied. “I am sorry.” He let go of my neck. “Clean it up.” he said. And so I did. I picked up the pieces and threw them in the trash can. The crowd lost interest and was moving on.
I thought this was it. I counted my blessings and I started to make my way. But then the officer got hold of my arm again. “Hold on.” he said. “We are not done yet.” I froze. I had been here before. I knew what was coming. I could hear it in his voice. “I told you not to make me run after you.” He lifted his arm. I could not believe this. I saw some awe in the face of a girl in the crowd. She could not believe it either. But much to my horror I heard some voices cheering. It was then I realised I was no longer one of them. To them I was just as much trash as what was in that bin I was standing next to.
The police officer slapped me in my face with his full hand and with all of his might. What is this? Do I go around carrying a sign that says “slap me”? “This is for the first one hundred yards.” He lifted his arm again, across his chest. He found pleasure in what he was doing here. I wanted to move out of the way of what was coming, but he was holding on to me and he was strong and fast and he slapped me a second time, hard again. This time with the back of his hand. “This is for the second one hundred yards.” He pulled me sideways and kicked my butt. Not very hard, but humiliating. People laughed. “And this is for the rest of the stretch. I hate running.”
He let go of my arm. Finally. I jumped and took some distance from the man. “Now leave.” the officer said. “I do not want to see you again this night. Go home.”
I turned away from the man and walked off. The crowd made way. My neck bent, my cheeks burned from the slaps and from shame. My hands were down in my pockets, fists again. Go home… Go home…
Fuck the bastard! Fuck them all.