Thursday, April 10, 2014
Wandering Into Trouble
In 1996 I was sorta flailing, working for a company unloading 18 wheelers at a grocery store warehouse and getting over a bad breakup. Because I worked from 6 until all the trailers were unloaded (usually around 11pm), and because I was always kind of a night owl, I would typically stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning and sleep 'til noon. Gas was cheap back then and I often spent a couple of nights a week just driving aimlessly. It wasn't unusual for me to cover a couple hundred miles on back roads, just thinking and listening to music, although my trips were typically shorter.
One night I got on the highway and eventually ended up at a local lake at about 2ish. I decided I'd had enough and wanted to go home, but I've always hated going back the same way I got somewhere. I knew there was a cutoff that led back to a country road that I could take to get home, so I started looking for it. I was cruising along pretty slowly looking for the road, and as I passed under a big mercury vapor light I noticed a truck sitting under a tree on the side of the road. I missed the road and had to make a U-turn, so I wasn't paying attention to the truck, but when I got a couple hundred yards down the road I saw a pair of headlights fall in behind me.
I didn't think too much of it at first, but I function at a high base level of paranoia, so I kept an eye on the lights. I wasn't going too fast, so when the vehicle came up behind me going quite a faster than I was, I slowed down and eased over to the right a little. And they just sat there about a car length off my bumper. At that point my paranoia kicked into high gear, and I sped up to about 80 and then slowed back down. The truck stayed with me no matter what I did. When I got to the ranch road I had the choice of going right and heading toward home or going straight and making a loop through a mostly empty community that would take me back to the road I needed to be on. Of course I went straight, and the vehicle stayed with me, although it dropped back a little bit.
I knew at that point that whoever it was was waaaaaaaaaaaay too committed to screwing with me, so as soon as I hit the main road I took off and went as fast as I could. Unfortunately, my anemic little Ford Tempo wasn't that fast, and the truck that was following me was a lot faster. When the driver caught up again, he started flashing his lights at me and got so close that I couldn't see the indicator lights on the truck. At that point I was truly pissed off, so I started tapping my brakes to get him to back off. When I did that, the truck whipped up beside me and I could see the driver waving frantically.
I knew I wasn't gonna have this SOB chase me all the way home, so I pulled over at the first clear spot I saw (yeah, I know) and rolled down my window. The truck pulled up beside me and I could see that it was a greenish late-80s Chevy and the driver rolled the window down. I was really taken aback because the driver was wearing a long, curly, ratty blonde wig and Jackie O sunglasses, but it was clearly a man. And when he spoke, it was in a really high, creepy falsetto.
Me: Man, why in the HELL are you following me?
Weird guy: I just wanted to tell you that when you turned onto the road back there, I saw sparks coming from under your car, like by the brakes.
Me: ... Riiiiiiiight. Thanks, but I got it.
And then I rolled up my window and took off. As I did, he whipped his truck around and tore off back the way we'd come. Weird and creepy, but I didn't think a whole lot of it.
A couple of years later I was managing a restaurant in the town where I went to college, and those of us who worked there were prone, after we closed, to send someone to the liquor store across the street so that we could sit under the shade trees and decompress for a while before going home. One afternoon we were all trading stories and I told my creepy falsetto weirdo story. One of the waitresses turned white as a ghost and said, "That happened to me."
She was coming home late one night from visiting her parents, who lived about a hundred miles away. She picked the truck up passing the cutoff where I'd rejoined the main road, and he followed her the same way he did me until she pulled over. And then he told her the EXACT same thing he'd told me, but that she thought the truck was blue, and he was wearing a different wig. She said she considered getting out for a split second, but then common sense kicked in and she tore off down the road. Instead of turning around like he with me, he kept following her and even pulled up beside her and tried to run her off the road. Fortunately he wasn't able to intimidate her into swerving, and as soon as she hit the city limits he laid on the brakes and went back the way he'd come.
There was a certain amount of half-drunk planning to bait the guy into following again, but it never came to anything, and I don't think she ever filed a police report. I know I never did.