He’d never run afoul of the law (okay, there was that speeding ticket when he was seventeen, but really). He was writing a book, one that touched briefly on the events of 9/11. His reading habits developed a pattern, tracked through new PATRIOT processes.
He was shoved in the back of a van walking back to work after lunch, taken to a warehouse. The room was black until a powerful lamp came on, obscuring his captors. When asked who they were, one of them slapped Bureau ID onto the table, holding his hand over the name and face.
“Your job is over. Your house is forfeit. And everyone knows who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’d do.” He protested. Of course, this is exactly what guilty people would do- innocent ones, too.
“Listen to me you little shit. Your daughter will never have another genuine friend. Your wife will die alone, without even the homeless willing to crawl up her terrorist sperm-catching cunt. You’ll rot in Guantanamo or whatever hole we find to stick bastards in next in whatever shithole country allows us to do the most horrible things to you. You don’t have rights- you don’t have shit. Praise fucking Allah I don’t put a bullet in your child killing eyes.”
Of course, they had no evidence; he had done nothing wrong. But of course, they needed no evidence to ruin him.
They drove him back to his home and threw him out of the van as it rolled. He tried to be limp, and sprained the wrist he landed on, and probably his ankle, although he paid neither any mind, because of the asphalt burn across his cheek.
He wasn’t ten steps towards his door when his boss called his cell, and told him not to come back in. The same man who had happily agreed to hire his daughter as an intern, saying how wonderful it would be to have another of him around the office, couldn’t hide the hatred in his voice as he told him he wouldn’t be allowed to collect his things from the office. If they found anything of monetary value, it would be sent to him in the post.
The next call came from the bank, three steps later: they were calling his home and car loans, and his assets were being frozen indefinitely in connection with a federal investigation. There was more, but he didn’t hear it, because he threw the phone down the street at the van, where it shattered.
The power was already out at his home, the phone, too; if they weren’t, he would have found thirty messages- unpleasant ones- apparently news of his supposed links to terrorism had spread onto the internet, as well as his home number and address.
A neighbor he’d met at a barbecue last summer spider-webbed the window on his front door with a rock as she drove by; he responding by punching a hole through it. Without a job he wasn’t sure how he’d pay for it, and he was bleeding all over the carpet as he watched the world outside his window shrink. It wouldn’t be his home much longer, anyway.
His wife came home three hours later, and by then his eyes were dry. He wondered if he was numbing himself to her, preparing himself for her leaving him when their financial future crumbled- when she couldn’t so much as rent a car, when both she and their daughter were guilty by association. She cradled his hand gently, but he couldn’t feel her touch, and barely registered her concern as she whispered, “What happened?”
His jaw was heavy, and he began to shake; she let his hand fall from her fingers as she kept him from collapsing to his knees, and with tears welling up in his eyes again as he mourned our loss of a land of freedom, he mumbled into her shoulder, “the terrorists won.”