was today. Two men in a maroon older mustang stalked me in a car at 5:40 am this morning as I was out walking Rascal. No cell phone. No ID. No whistle or weapon. Just my wussy dog - who appeared fierce for a moment when he attacked 'Mean Kitty' two blocks from my house.
I'm not kidding. Every fiber of my being had warning bells going off...
I was walking Rascal - and the car came toward me, going really slow -- the young kid on the passenger side (mid-twenties I would guess, hispanic, red t-shirt) looked at me long and slow - I put my generic pleasant face on, feeling uneasy. When the car drove two houses past me and then t u r n e d a r o u n d I knew they weren't just coming home drunk. Now the driver (looked younger than the passenger, also hispanic, light t-shirt. Both had very short/shaven hair) takes his turn to look, and if possible the car is driving even slower. At that point Rascal attacks mean kitty - and barked and looked a bit like scary pit bull -- I have to slow down a bit and pull him away and I keep walking. The car oh-so-very-slowly drives past me and the whole time I'm thinking "Oh God... please... show me where to go - what I can do. Please God... Oh My God" and can't breathe. Thought my heart was going to come out of my chest. I couldn't catch my breath. All I kept thinking was "Please God. No. I'm not this stupid!!! the unaware woman who doesn't have any way to call for help." I'm feeling anger, but it is overwhelmed by the fear.
yeah. I don't judge anymore. Not now. Not again. And I didn't think I judged before... but how I was talking to myself at this point wasn't very nice, and wasn't reducing the panic or helping me find an escape.
I lose sight of the car and really start walking fast, because I instinctively know that they're coming back. This particular area in my neighborhood is hard to describe -- there is an island, so to speak, of houses, with a street that runs a triangle sort of circle around them, and has like 3 different street names, depending on which direction the street goes. Really easy to make a lap and come up behind me again. I cross the street of a cul-de-sac that is built in to this triangle/circle of houses, and walk past two more houses and there is a walking alley between houses. I walk quickly into this narrow alley, not a clue where it leads, just knowing a car can't follow me in there. [We have large open alleys behind houses in older neighborhoods where the garbage trucks used to go to pick up the garbage cans] I quickly realize that the alley doesn't lead out the way I was hoping, and have an instinct that I'm just supposed to hide and wait.
I run past 4 or 5 back yards, not sure if I can be seen from where I entered the alley. Now I'm even more panicked, more out of breath (if that is even possible), more scared out of my mind and thinking "I'm only two blocks from home. Oh God. Please No."
I kid you not, I hear the car circling this circle/triangle of houses. It is quiet at 5:40 in the morning. We've had lots of rain, and it is a gray morning and even the birds aren't making a lot of noise. If they'd been from this neighborhood or belonged anywhere on this street, they would have known a car could have come into the alley where I was. I prayed, "God. I'm going to stay here until I receive a SURE, UNMISTAKABLE sign from you that I am okay. That I will be safe. If I have to stay here for an hour or two or whatever. I'm not leaving until You say okay." I pull Rascal closer to me and scoot into a large open grassy corner (think gnats and bugs) where two back yard fences/walls meet. Meanwhile, Rascal is having a field day in the grass and goodies that are found in early morning alleys that are full of mud, rain and stuff generally found in desert alleys.
About 10 or 15 minutes later, the latch of the back yard gate directly across from me opens. A medium built skinny man, probably in his 50's, glasses, shoes, a watch and a short nightgown-ey thing comes out -- doesn't see me and turns to his right. I say "Thank You God." I approach slowly and say, "Excuse me sir...." and then start to cry. And gasp. And I'm shaking. I can't believe this is happening, and as I write this now, at 9:17 pm the same day... I still can't believe this kind of fear and this situation was one I found myself in. He says he needs to get his cat off the wall -- he walks over to check to see if the cat is there (hello - I've got a dog who loves to find cats... no cat around)
The man looks unafraid, and I'm babbling about "I'm sorry, I can't talk" - my name is - I was walking (point) over there, this car... stalking, following... can I come in and use your phone... I just live at the corner of This and That --- (point)... breathe. Gather my thoughts. Do you have a phone I could use? I don't need to come in. He says, "do you want to come through the yard to the front of the house and I'll get the phone." Thank you, I say. Rascal isn't barking... he's licking the guy's hand.
I try to call himself, afraid that he's in the shower, I think - he can just deal and come pick me up -- I'm only two freakin' blocks away. Oh no... he won't hear the phone -- he's in the shower. And sure enough... he didn't pick up. I ask the guy his name - he tells me, (I'll call him Clyde) I say - I'm really sorry... I've never been in a situation like this, I've never done this -- thank you so much. I look at the watch on his wrist, see that is is almost 6am and say -- I think I'm okay to go home... he says, "are you sure you're okay to get home?" and I tell him I think there are more people out at 6am than 5:30 and that I should be okay.
I walk home. Of course, on the way Rascal has to poop. Pick up the poop.
"Thank you God. Oh. My. God. Thank You." That's all that is going through my head.
I get inside our yard. In the house. Lock the door. Feed the dog. Then I collapse at the table and just sob - heaving. Such a release and a relief. I'm still in a state of shock and disbelief that I'm this scared.
I sit there for about 5 minutes or so, then head to the back of the house where himself is just finishing getting dressed and I just sort of barge into his chest and wail -- loud sobs. I manage to say "I'm okay. Nothing happened. Hang on...." and cry some more. Then I tell him what happened and he's angry, scared, helpless and concerned. We go outside so he can smoke (! duh !) and I can't stop crying for very long to be overly coherent.
I stop crying for a few minutes and then it all comes back and I start again. And I'm thanking God this whole entire time. I'm also asking "what is my lesson?" besides the obvious 'take your cell phone you naive woman!' How am I to use this? Thank You God. Asking Him what is the point I'm supposed to take away from this? I'm praying for the two men in the car. Though I must admit I didn't pray for them until hours later.
Now that I'm somewhat calmer I think about calling the police. Himself says if I'm this freaked out, then yes, I should call. I don't. Himself says from now on I keep to the main street. I don't disagree. I go take a shower. Himself says he's calling in to work to just stay with me until I'm safely off. (which touched me more than anything. that made me feel so much better) I head to the shower for today is check in day for the first day of camp for the chorus and I'm to be there at 7:30 am.
I'm in the shower thinking... this only happened an hour ago. An hour ago I was feeling stalked and terrorized and hiding in an alley praying that I wasn't going to be raped, beaten, taken in a car... who knows what trouble these men were cruising for. I cry in the shower.
As I'm getting ready for work, himself comes in and gives me a hug and says, "I'll be going with you on walks. I can use a walk in the mornings." This more than anything helps the anxiety of walking the dog tomorrow morning and the morning after that and after that... go away. More relief floods through me, and again I start to cry.
I leave for work after saying I'll call himself at home to let him know I get to work okay. I call around 9:50 am and he says my mom called and he let her in on the situation. About 5 minutes after we hang up she calls and I tell her -- and I cry some more. Adding details like why I didn't leave a message.... there is nothing I could say on a machine that would be helpful.."Honey, I'm at 5555 S. Main - you know, where that shortcut I take around the block in this neighborhood that you've only lived in for a year and don't know well at all... well that shortcut that you hate... well, I'm here with Clyde, a nice man in a nightshirt who've I just created a lasting memory for: of a large, red, tear-stained face and bed-head woman babbling about being stalked and her wussy dog. .. Please come pick me up."
I half laugh on the phone in this part of the story. But it isn't funny. I'm deflecting. And I told himself this morning that the rule in our house now is if the wife is out of the house and phone rings and it is before 7am, he better really try to get to the phone.
Mom says I need to call the police. I go to work and naturally have to tell the story, (didn't tell the moms and daughters at camp checkin -- tried to act normal, and normal helped)... and they say call the police.
1pm and I'm drained. The adrenaline from the morning has wiped me out. I leave at 2:30. Call the closest police office non-emergency number and the very nice female officer advises me to call 911 and have an officer come out and make a report. I call 911 -- get transferred to another police office and the female officer chastised me for not calling from the guy's house when it happened. My phone lost the connection and I didn't call back.
But I had to put it here. What if I see the car again.
Had to get this out. Don't be unaware. Take a cell phone always. A whistle.