I live in a quiet neighborhood where we know and help each other. I was born here, went to school here, graduated, went away to college, and returned to remain in my hometown for the rest of my life. I’m not one of those people who could hardly wait to leave their home and set out into the world on their own. I was content here. I like that I know my neighbors and they know me. Oh yes, there are some drawbacks like even thinking about a clandestine meeting will have the preacher and city council on your doorstep. But for the most part, I was happy and didn’t plan to leave. However, last fall things changed for me.
The phone woke me and I turned groggily to look at the clock. It said 1:13 a.m. Who would be calling me at this hour? "Hello?" I said in a daze.
"Joan, you looked pretty today. That was a good color for you."
"Who is this?" I was now awake and in hyper-alert mode.
"You don’t know who I am?"
"No I don’t know who you are and if you don’t tell me, I’m going to call the police."
"What are you going to tell them? That somebody called you? Don’t worry Joan; I just want to get to know you more."
"What do you mean?"
"Like a relationship. Wouldn’t that be nice? I think we could make beautiful music together. We are perfect for each other."
"Who is this?" Immediately I started looking around the room as if he was standing there. I made sure the blinds were closed and then went into the living room to check the entry door. It was locked. Intellectually I knew I was safe. Emotionally I was terrified. "Don’t ever call me again." I yelled as I slammed the phone down.
In less than a minute, the phone rang again. I picked it up and yelled, "If you call me again, I’m going to call the police."
"How can you do that? You don’t know who I am." And the line went dead. I realized that he was staying under the time for the call to be traced. I was absolutely at a loss for what to do next.
I called my friend, Debra and asked her to come over for the rest of the night. She is such a good friend that she didn’t even asked why. She just said, "I’ll be right there."
By the time she got to my house, I had made tea and set out a fruit tray. She sat down on my couch and started picking at the fruit. "What’s up?"
"I had a phone call tonight. Some guy claims that he’s been watching me and he wants to get to know me better."
"Did he leave a name?"
"We need to report this to the police."
"That seems a little drastic, don’t you think?"
"No, Joan. You don’t know what kind of psycho you are dealing with. We need to report this."
"They can’t do anything."
"Joan," Debra said in a stern voice. "Either we report this or I go home. Now what’s it going to be?"
"Then I guess we report it. Can I wait until daylight?"
"Yes. Right now let’s get some more sleep. You go back to bed and I’ll lie down on the couch. We can go by the police station on the way to work."
I went back to bed, but there was no way I could sleep. Even with Debra in the house, I worried that any minute the caller would come busting through my front door.
At 7:00 a.m. I decided to cook breakfast for Debra. After we ate, Debra drove me to the police station. I walked up to the front desk and opened my mouth to tell the sergeant about the experience. To my horror nothing came out of my mouth. I just stood there with my mouth open like fly trap. Luckily Debra stepped up for me. "She had an obscene phone call last night."
"Really, did he say something obscene?"
By that time I had regained my composure. "No, he just said he was watching me."
"Let’s fill out the report and we will see what happens."
Completing the report was depressing because it became quickly apparent that I didn’t have enough information for the police to follow up. The sergeant was sympathetic, but he agreed that there was little he could do until we got more information. He gave me instructions on collecting data and sent us on our way.
Entering my office, I looked at every man who worked there. Could it be Ralph? I didn’t think so. He was a pain in the neck, but he didn’t look like a stalker. Then there was Stephen. He seemed normal until you got to know him. Then you could see the cracks in the pot. He was a little paranoid about several things. For instance after he ate, he neatly folded the wrapping from his sandwich and placed them neatly back in his lunch kit. We always wanted to asked what he did with the neatly folded trash in his kit.
Then there was Roger. How does one describe Roger? He dressed well. Apparently most of his salary went to clothing. He insisted that everyone leave his desk alone. If a pencil was moved, he’d know it and the staff would pay for it.
It was beginning to appear that I would never know the name of my stalker.
I finished my workday and headed home. I wasn’t looking forward to it like I usually did. I had bought my condo two years ago and absolutely enjoyed being there. It was my pride and joy. Now it was my dread. I feared seeing my bedroom again.
As I stepped on the bus, the driver said, "Oh you look so nice today. That is a beautiful dress." My heart stopped and my skin became clammy. I forced myself to look at him. His eyes were kind and tender. Immediately I felt better.
When I opened my front door, I scanned the room to see if anything had been moved. Then I went through the condo checking every closet and under every bed. Finally I was satisfied that I was alone and safe—for the moment.
When bedtime came, I prepared more than usual. I changed my sheets because fresh sheets always relax me. I soaked in a bubble bath, put on my silk pajamas, and settled down with Chamomile tea. Despite my careful preparation, I was still awake when the phone rang at 2:09 a.m.
"Hello, beautiful. Did you have a good day?"
"Please leave me alone."
"Oh I’m afraid I can’t do that. My life won’t be complete until you are in it."
"I don’t know you."
"You will. Don’t worry, you will." His laugh was scary.
I hung up the phone with as much force as I could. I knew sleep wasn’t going to come that night.
The next day, I went about my errands constantly watching over my shoulder. I watched every man and mistrusted each one. When I finished my errands, I hurried home as quickly as possible, locked my doors, and pulled down my blinds. I grabbed my blanket and curled up on the couch. There was no sound in my house except my breathing.
About 8:30 p.m. I became sick and tired of being afraid. I couldn’t live like this anymore. I decided to take control and wrote a plan. Then I waited to take action.
As I predicted, the phone call came about midnight.
"Oh hello. I’ve been waiting for your call."
"Really?" He said excitedly.
"Yes, I missed you today."
"Oh, I was just a little down and needed some compliments. You always compliment me when you call."
"Of course I’m going to compliment you. You’re beautiful." He was even more excited.
"Can I meet you?" I asked in my most appealing voice.
"Sure. Where would you like to meet?"
"Let’s meet at the coffee shop at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow."
"I’ll be there."
"How will I know you?"
"I’ll bring you a rose."
"Great, I’ll see you tomorrow."
The next day at 5:00 p.m. he was at the coffee shop with rose in hand. However, I wasn’t. The police were though. They swooped down on the caller and in less than 30 seconds had him handcuffed and in the backseat of the police car. One officer called and asked me to come down to the police station and file a complaint.
I walked in the police station with some trepidation. The officer escorted me into a room where I could look at the caller through a window. Imagine my surprise when I saw the 16 year old stock boy at the grocery story.