My first stalker

When I was fifteen I got my first job washing dishes at a yacht club. I got about 30 hours a week and they took advantage of me. I moved to another restaurant, also washing dishes, along with various other kitchen duties, but working with much nicer people. When I was sixteen, I got a job full time, working 4-12 after school. The job was at a convenience store/deli in town. After school I would take the bus to the trailer park behind the mall. From there I’d cut through the mall, then across the highway and past the gas station and bank to the store. To get home I hitch-hiked. This was my routine five days a week. I should probably note now that I have always been too naive for my own good. I know better, but I tend to want to believe what people tell me, even though I have no reason to.

The mall is an outdoor affair, with individual stores crowded around in a circle of parking lot where seagulls wait for dropped french fries. I used to buy an order of fries and hold them up through my car window, one by one, as the seagulls came and took them from my fingers. It was exhilarating and a little bit frightening when the entire flock would surround my car, or when one would nip my hand. Anyway, walking through this mall on my way to work was part of my routine at sixteen, and it was noticed. I have no idea how long the guy watched me before I noticed him, but I eventually became aware of a middle aged guy in an SUV that would do slow drive-bys as he stared at me, then circle around and come back for another look. In my teenage eloquence I dubbed him Creepy. Creepy graduated to stopping and talking to me. I was brought up to be polite, and when an adult asks you something you answer. So when he first started talking to me I answered, politely, and excused myself for work to get out of the conversation. His next step was to offer me a ride to work. I refused, of course. After I crossed the highway, there was a bank I walked by before getting to my job. Creepy began popping out from behind the bank like some fucked up, horny jack-in-the-box. I began to get concerned.

One day on my way to work, he did his stalker rounds and tried to talk to me like he had many times before. I had quit stopping at this point and would just keep walking while he would try to chat me up. But this day the pervert tried to grab my arm to pull me into his stalker-mobile while ordering me into his vehicle. Luckily, he was not subtle and I was on alert. I pulled away from him and ran through the mall. This was probably about 3:30 in the afternoon when I went through the mall, btw, but apparently no one was paying attention to the creepy dude trying to pull a girl into his SUV. I figured he would show up at the bank again, and sure enough he did. But I was young, wary and quick, and did not give him the chance to try it again. I remember fearing that he would be waiting when I got off work, but he never was. My guess is that he was married and creeping on me while the wife was away.

So, Creepy had upped the ante. Why didn’t I tell an adult, you ask. I didn’t tell adults shit. The last time I had trusted an adult was when I had just turned eleven and tried to talk to my guidance counselor about my mother’s death. She called my father, which of course was the correct, responsible thing to do, and absolutely the worst thing for me. So that was the end of trusting adults. Plus, I was working to save money to get out of my house asap, and they did not know I was hitch-hiking to do so. Adult intervention was out, but this dude was becoming a real problem. I had asked him to leave me alone, I had refused all offers from him, and he was just getting bolder. I talked to a guy friend of mine from school about it. He and several other guys I was friends with decided they were going to handle it. The next day they had me walk to work like normal, but they walked with me. Like clockwork, Creepy came cruising by slowly, and seeing my company he drove off. My guy pals ran off to watch from an alley between stores as Creepy circled around and came back for his second pass. Seeing me alone, Creepy stopped his truck to try to talk to (or grab) me. My guys came running out threatening to kick his ass up behind his ears for him and Creepy drove off in a snit. I had told them about his jack-in-the-box impersonation at the bank, so they went there next. A couple of them were riding bicycles, so honestly, I’m not sure how threatening they were, but there were five or six of them ranging from 14-16. Creepy was waiting behind the bank, and started to drive over to me when my guys pounced. Rocks were thrown and threats were made. Accusations of pedophilia flew thick. And I loved it. Creepy drove off and my friends escorted me to work for a long time after that. This was my first stalker. If it hadn’t been for my friends it may have ended badly.

Hitch-hiking put me in a lot of dangerous situations, more dangerous than some pervert trying to pull me into his creeper-mobile. But the bright spark of fear when he tried to pull me into his truck stayed with me. The belonging I felt when my friends defended me stayed with me too. They were ready to battle for me and it meant everything to me. We lived in a twilight world unseen by adults and we watched out for each other. I would have, and did, go to bat for my friends the way they did for me. We were fearless and immortal and I miss having those kinds of friends. I don’t know if you can get them as an adult.

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Story, dialog and Martians

“So in reality, we aren’t walking down this road together,” Rena continued. “In reality, we are in the Martian’s laboratory and they’re just projecting the images we’re seeing.” She had been telling Dawn about the Ray Bradbury story she had just read. They had met up at the clearing in the woods known as “The Place”. They often went there to get away from the prying eyes of adults, to smoke cigarettes and whatever weed they had been able to score, and to tell each other their secrets. Later, they had decided to walk down to the little store for sodas. It was a beautiful Saturday in June and school would be out in a week.
“But I can feel my feet on the road” Dawn said doubtfully.
“Ah, you think you can because they pulled that sensation out of your memory with their telepathic abilities. Actually, we’re walking on the surface of Mars, and it’s like 15 feet lower than we think we are now.”

“So we’re walking in mid-air,” Skeptical now.

“No, we’re walking on Mars, across the Martian desert, but we think we’re walking up this hill on this road in Maryland. We think we see those houses over there, and these trees, and we think we hear those birds, but it’s all an illusion pulled from our memories. In reality, on Mars, it’s completely flat, no hills, and we’re walking across this red plain, but we think we’re on this road going up and down.” Dawn looked around doubtfully.

“But I can feel it,” she said, bending over and touching the pavement. She was high and was a bit wobbly standing back up, grabbing Rena for support and sending the two girls into giggles.

“Pulled from your memories. They perfectly replicated what you would expect to see, feel and hear so you have no reason to suspect that you’re really on Mars.”

“But why?”

“I think it’s an experiment.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They abducted us and now they’re running tests on their pet humans. They lull us into complacency so we think that we’re just living our lives like normal, but the whole time they’re observing us, so act like you don’t know.” Rena was really getting into it now because she could see her friend was starting to get a little freaked out.

“They’re watching us? Well what are they going to do when they’re finished studying us?” Dawn was getting more anxious by the minute.

“In the story they killed them.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They took them back to what they thought were their homes, because it looked just like their homes. The Martians were disguised as their family, people they know, and there was no way to tell.” Dawn had started crying, setting Rena off into another round of giggles.

“Why are you laughing? They’re going to kill us!” It took a herculean effort for Rena to get her giggles down to snickers.

“When we go home we should act like we don’t know. Act like they’re your real family and that everything is normal.”

“We should run,” Dawn whispered. The two girls looked at each other and suddenly sprinted down the rural road, past the disapproving glare of Mrs. Beckerson where she stood in her front yard watering her garden.

“Martian!” Dawn screamed as she ran past the old lady. At that they both burst into laughter, laughing so hard they had to stop outside the store to catch their breath.

They walked into the store under the watchful eyes of Mr. Patel. The friends exchanged glances and smirked. After they paid for their sodas the girls slowly started back. The subject changed to school and their love lives and the girls made plans to meet up again the following day.

“Watch out for Martians!” Rena yelled, walking backwards down the lane. Dawn waved as she headed for home.

 

 

Story

She sat in her room staring at her AC/DC blacklight poster, waiting for the inevitable. Her disassociation was wearing off, letting the sheer panic seep in to her consciousness. She had been caught smoking pot in the school bathroom and her father had picked her up at school. It hadn’t seemed real, sitting in the office with the silence broken by Dawn’s crying. She had worried more about Dawn than herself, and had taken all of the blame, telling them that it was hers and asking them to let Dawn go. In reality, Dawn had come to her at lunch in the school smoking lounge and asked her to get her high. That didn’t absolve her guilt, but Dawn was far from innocent. Regan had always been her best friend’s protector though, and she so had tried her hardest to protect her even then. Her father’s appearance in the principal’s office was like one of her night terrors, her altered consciousness trying to make sense of him in this setting, where he had never been and did not belong. Her mind tried to go away to shield her self and for a little while it worked. The drive home had been silent, Regan staring out the window as she dissociated further, none of it seeming to be real. It was 1986 and she had just started 11th grade. She wasn’t sure she’d make it to the 12th.

The front door slammed, shaking the house, and he came running up the stairs. As she stood and started backing up he shoved the bedroom door open and came for her.

“I am sick of this shit! You are going to straighten up. You are going to go to school and back and that is it, IF you don’t get expelled. ” Regan had backed up against the wall as he advanced. Her father cleared her desk with one angry swipe, strewing her things across the room.

“I am tired of all the black clothes and moody lights and the crap on the walls.” Regan had her room decorated in black light posters and psycho lights above her record player. She felt a pang but knew better than to speak. “You are going to get rid of all of it. You’re a fat slob and all this shit is going to go.” His voice had been rising to where he was almost screaming. Regan had seen this before, many times. He would start off angry and work himself up to violent fury.

When she had come in, she had dropped her belt on the floor. It was her favorite and she had saved up from her job washing dishes to buy it. It was thick leather with a double row of spikes, and the front of it hooked together with a pair of working handcuffs. He picked it up off the floor and doubled it. “You’re going to get rid of this bondage crap too! You’d better not let me catch you smoking cigarettes, let alone pot!” Never mind that he had smoked pot for as long as she could remember.

He advanced on her, beating her with the belt. The metal cuffs struck her arm as she tried to block him, making it go numb. Then he threw them at her, striking her in the chest before descending upon her.

He tossed her to the bedroom floor as she screamed, hitting her with his fists. Her world became broken snapshots of pain and terror as he grabbed her by the throat. Now he was on top of her and she wasn’t sure how exactly that happened, but he was strangling her, his fingers digging into her throat as she tried desperately to pull his hands away so she could breathe, terror infusing every part of her, no longer able to scream as tears ran down her face into her sweaty hair and she couldn’t breathe, eyes wide, the face of her father huge above her as he choked the life out of her.

He released one hand from her throat, but it didn’t help. She still could not breathe and now things were going black and her struggles had lost all strength. Her hands weakly fluttered at his iron grip on her throat, fingers digging into the soft flesh of her neck. He held his fist back, about to punch her in the face before she died, his fist shaking, face red, and suddenly her bladder let go. She was sixteen and she would later be mortified, but she was losing consciousness and she had no control over it.

He released her. She rolled over, choking, gasping for air, instinctively rolling into the fetal position before he could kick her. He did kick her, but it landed on her leg instead of her stomach. She was gulping air, harsh against her bruised throat, but so sweet. Her eyes closed as she sobbed, rolled into a ball on her bedroom floor with her father standing over her. She heard him leave.

“If I don’t get out of here he’s really going to kill me,” she thought as she crawled across the floor, shaking, beaten and in fear for her life.

 

Being a teenager

It’s hard to be a teenager. You have hormones surging through your body, wreaking havoc on your emotions. You’re caught in between childhood and adulthood and the future seems unimaginable and so very far away. You are a slave to your passions, and you follow your heart, stepping off the precipice again and again, believing you will be caught. You try to keep most of your life a mystery to adults, sometimes by necessity. You have your own mind working against you at times, you have school, family and drama with friends. Sometimes it gets overwhelming.

┬áThat’s for the normal teen, if there is such an animal. But if you’re a teenager who has been traumatized, it can be so much worse. Your friends don’t understand your oddities so you’re the weird one. You embrace it and wear it like a badge of honor. But it’s all a smokescreen for what’s really inside and what you want is for someone to care enough to see past the disguise. You are something wild and you feel your savagery in your bones. Sometimes this makes you prey for those who hunt the wounded, compounding the confusion you already bathe in daily.

When people get older, they often forget precisely how it feels to be a teenager. They forget the fierce joy you feel at being out at night, the warm breeze riffling your hair as you scream defiantly. They forget the heady seduction of danger, and of breaking the rules. They forgot about how it felt the night they swam naked in a storm at night, the waves tossing them about like so much flotsam.

They forget they were once awake, fully awake, feeling excitement tingling in every cell of their bodies, not afraid to experience it all. Or maybe they were never awake and don’t understand what I’m writing about at all. Perhaps they think this is just a sort of psycho-babble that sets one apart in some way.

You believed in magic. You were part of the mystery and you knew things you had no way of knowing. The games changed, but still you played. Always play. I think when you quit playing, when you are afraid of the absurd and start to feel you are ‘too old for such things’, that’s when you actually do get old.

The mystery is still there, but it’s harder to get it back than it is to maintain it.