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.

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