Sunday, February 23, 2014

Not My Story

I want to tell you a story, and I hesitate, because it is not my story. This story was told to me in confidence and I have never questioned it’s validity since it is not flattering to the teller. It is a story that has stayed with me, it haunts me actually. When I meet someone I often wonder, “What would you do in this situation?” Of course no one knows for certain how they would react in this scenario unless they lived it, but it makes for an insightful discussion. And so I will tell it to you now, without naming names, as it was told to me by a man I was intimate with many years ago.

He wanted to explain to me why he awoke at every creek in the house, at every loud car driving by. His light sleeping pattern was the result of an abduction and rape. The victim was his previous girlfriend and she was abducted from in his own bed. The perpetrator was a “Peeping Tom” who watched the two having sex and decided he wanted the girl for himself. He waited until they fell asleep, then he broke in by breaking the glass in the door and unlocking it from the inside.

He entered the bedroom quickly and the two woke but were confused. They hid. The girl shouted “Just leave, we don’t see you.” I find this odd, but this is what she did. She gave the intruder a chance to change his mind without being seen, but he was not leaving without fulfilling his intentions. He held up a shiny object and ordered the girl out of bed and ordered the man not to look. Then he took her. My friend continued to hide until they were gone, then he called the police. Next he called the girls parents. He had to explain to the girl’s father that she had been abducted. Everyone arrived at the apartment and the boyfriend was questioned, but he did not have a good description, it was dark. He thought the man had a gun, but could not describe it. The girl’s parents were obviously distraught, not knowing if they would ever see their daughter alive again.

She returned several hours later. She just walked in the door. The man did not have a gun, but a knife. He took her to a nearby garage and raped her for hours. When he was done with her, he ordered her to walk back home down the middle of the street and not look back. The girl recovered well, but the boyfriend did not.

Many people were sympathetic to my friend and told him they didn’t know what they would do in that situation. Some, including the girlfriend, even told him he did the right thing. He and the girl bonded over both being victims with no outsider able to understand the situation. But the girl’s family never forgave him. They let him know that they believed he was a coward for allowing this to happen and I sincerely think he believed them.

When I was told this story, I could see how damaged he was by this crime and I felt bad for him. I didn’t ask myself what I would do in that situation. I’m not a man, after all. But it left me unsettled.

I told the story to my husband when we first started dating and he reacted very strongly. I knew these two men were polar opposites, but Jack’s response was more extreme than I expected. I tried to stick up for the other man a bit, saying he didn’t know if it was a gun, that perhaps it could have turned very violent, but Jack would not relent. He asked me “Would you let someone take your child?” I had never thought about it like that, but the answer is “Hell no.” If someone wanted to steal my child I believe I would fight until the death. I’m not a tough chick, this is natural instinct. I doubt any mother would say anything different.

I repeated this to one close girlfriend who disagreed. She said stealing a child is not the same as stealing a girlfriend. “What if we were roommates and someone tried to abduct one of us?” We were only theorizing and there were too many variables. What if he was going to rape her but not kill her? Was it worth trying to fight a man with a weapon? I know some women put up a fight over their purse being snatched and I can’t see myself doing that, but a person? I like to believe that if anyone ever tries to mess with one of my girlfriends I’d go “Thelma and Louise” on their ass, but I’ll never know for sure unless it happens.

Jack couldn’t drop the subject. The story disturbed him and he continued to bring it up for days. I’ve never seen Jack get in a fight since I’ve known him, but he told me, “Donna, there are certain times in a man’s life where if he walks away from a fight, he is not a man.” I could tell Jack believed this. He would rather die fighting than have to live with what that other guy lives with. “Why didn’t he just cut off his balls and hand them to the guy on his way out?”

To say Jack is different from this other man is an understatement. Jack is from Texas. I hope you understand the implications. One night as we slept there was a fantastic wind storm that woke me up. I could hear things blowing around like crazy outside and it was almost exciting, but Jack was sleeping soundly through it all. We had a big umbrella on our patio next to the sliding glass door and the wind kept picking it up and slamming it down. Then in one loud crash, the umbrella fell against the door. Within three seconds Jack was up on his knees with a gun cocked and aimed at the door.

“Don’t shoot honey! It’s the umbrella!” I yelled. And then we laughed. We still laugh about it today “Don’t shoot the umbrella!” Is one of our inside jokes. I would be lying if I told you his reaction to a perceived intruder didn’t turn me on. I feel a deep conviction that my husband would be competent protecting his family. The other guy knew how to pick a good restaurant, he knew how to say the right thing, and he was interesting enough, but I had a deep desire to find a partner I could count on in a post apocalyptic situation. I don’t know if this desire was already in me or if his story changed me. Even though it is not my story, it has become integrated into my mind and I would say it has influenced me deeply.

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