Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I still can't believe the way this happened. I've watched horror films my entire life and even while it was happening I couldn't believe how similar it was.

It was 1992, I was 15 (I'm female). The house we lived in was a house built in the 30's with a detached garage in the back yard where the washer and dryer were.  It was CA so the entire back yard was fenced in with a privacy fence, but the back fence/gate (approx 6 feet high) lead to the alley that ran behind all the houses on our street.

It was early evening - not completely dark out but the sun was starting to set. We had a family room right inside the back french doors where my father was sleeping on the couch. I tried NEVER to do laundry at night because walking out the the garage always creeped me out, so I was walking out to the garage to take some of my clothes out of the dryer before it became dark.

When you went into the garage, there was a window right over the washer/dryer facing the portion of our yard where there was a woodshed and the gate that lead out to the alley.
I went in and bent down to take my clothes out of the dryer. When I stood up, a man was standing on the outside of the window looking in at me. He was standing inside our yard and the gate behind him was shut. Because I hadn't heard it shut (it was loud when you shut it) while I was out there, he had already been in the yard and had to have been looking straight at me, practically right in front of me while I was walking to the garage. I was clearly just so oblivious I hadn't noticed. He started to say something to me and all I thought was "I have to get OUT of this garage before he comes around to the door and traps me in here." So I ran out of the garage back into the back yard where he was. It was my only option. He began to walk toward me and the only thing that kept me from going in the house was being afraid he'd get in behind me before I could slam and lock the back door behind me and that he'd trap me in THERE (forgetting my 6'3" father was sleeping on the sofa, but he worked odd hours and was an extremely heavy sleeper so many times when he was sleeping it was like being alone).

I wish I could tell you more about his demeanor or the look on his face, but I was so frantic I was trying to focus more on the fact that this man was physically moving toward me in haste, which no person with innocent intentions has any business doing. My 2 second plan was to run around the side of the house toward the front - stay outside and run so I could go screaming down the street where people could hear me and it would make a scene, but I was so frightened I just stood there like an ass.

Before I could do anything our little Fox Terrier ran outside and started barking at the guy ferociously, so he stopped walking toward me. My father shortly followed and said "Hey, who the fuck are you?". Then he looked at me and said "What the fuck are you doing standing there without a goddamn weapon????!".

The guy became flustered and told him he had seen some garbage cans knocked over in the alley so he stopped to see if they were ours. My Dad, who is 6'3" tall and huge, followed this guy, who was no more than about 5'10", out to the alley where there were NO garbage cans knocked over and his car was parked a few houses down. He basically chased him out of the neighborhood. When my dad returned he hollered at me for a good 5 minutes, showing me all the potential weapons (including a large hatchet and crow bar) that had been hanging in the garage that I should have grabbed on my way back into the yard. We didn't call police which, in hidsight was a huge mistake. I can't stand thinking about what he did after this to anyone else. I still feel incredibly guilty about that.

To this day, I sleep with a giant crow bar under my bed.


Friday, May 4, 2012

The Day I Met a Serial Killer and Lived

I was at a gas station in a small town near Wichita Kansas  filling up my old Mazda one autumn evening several years ago. I'd just finished with the gas and was on my way inside to pay when a car pulled in behind mine, obviously waiting to use the pump.
Inside the gas station, there was a line at the cashier, so I go grab a bag of chips and a Mt. Dew. I head up to the counter, which now has no line, and pay for my gas and snack.  As I'm paying, I glance outside and see the guy from the car that had pulled in behind me is standing outside my car.
I walk outside and head toward my car and the man standing there is giving me the glare of death. I get 10 feet from my car and he starts yelling, "Didn't you see there was someone waiting to use the pump?!" At first I'm too shocked to react. So, he yells, "What are you a fucking retard." That snaps me out of it. I'm an adult, and I behave like an adult, so I held my temper in check and responded calmly, "All I did was go inside to pay for the gas. You have no reason to be upset."  Wrong move on my part.
The man goes crazy. He's screaming about me taking hours to buy snacks, while he's going to be late for work. He breaks down into stuttering swears and spits hateful words at me. By this point I'm starting to get worried and angry. I'm a big man and I'm fairly tough, but you never know when crazy people are carrying guns, and I was completely unarmed. I'm ready to get in my car, but he's blocking my car door. I don't know what to do.
Luckily, I guess another gas station customer said something to the employee at the counter, because he opens the door and yells out, "Do I need to call the cops?!" The irate guy turns his attention on the employee for a second and takes a couple steps forward to yell at him, and I make my move. I slip behind the guy, get in my car, and get the hell out of there.
About a year later Wichita is in the news. Police think they've found the infamous BTK killer. I'm at home with my wife watching the news when I first see a photo of Dennis Rader, the man suspected and later convicted of being BTK. To my shock and horror, it's the same man I argued with at the gas station a year ago. I told my wife, and she asked if I was sure, and I was. It's not every day a crazy person yells at me for no reason. I remembered that day and his face very well, and I think I will until the day I die. It was the day I ran into a serial killer and lived.