Walking out of a Thai restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica I was hit on the head with a wine bottle. It was night. At the instant of impact, a Santa Monica policewoman was leaving the See’s Candies across the street. I didn’t see the man who attacked me. The policewoman did. I didn’t feel the bottle against my skull, opened my eyes an hour later in the emergency room. In the parking lot behind the restaurant my attacker put his hands behind his head and allowed himself to be handcuffed rather than test the discipline of the policewoman’s finger on the trigger of her black Beretta. Doctors shined small beams of light into my eyes. Bursts of color. I slipped back to sleep. This was fourteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My attacker, an unemployed Russian immigrant, claimed to be a one-time KGB agent, who believed early James Bond movies were documentaries. He decided on the attack when he saw me eating shrimp Pad Thai and talking with Alexis about the New York Review of Books. She was in the restroom when I was struck, held my hand in the ambulance as it carried me through the night. After killing an infamous enemy agent my attacker would return to Russia and find work with one of the many ex-KGB officers running a security company. This was real life, not a movie. The bottle didn’t break. I spent three days in the hospital. After thirteen months in the Los Angeles County Jail my attacker was deported to Russia. I was upset to learn that the crime he was deported for was stealing the wine bottle and not what he did with it.
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