Saturday, May 26, 2012

How to lose a serial killer

Chicken Grrrl and I drove up to a city north of here for a party tonight. A friend of ours realized his dream of learning to play guitar in the past year or two, and he'd put together a band. They wanted to play a show for their friends and family in an old mill that's been made into a venue for  bands to play on Saturday nights. The invitation said to bring a guitar if you play, so I stuck one of my electric guitars in the van, but didn't take it in with me.

The band played a good long set, and then they asked if other people would come up and play or jam with them. I had thought maybe Chicken Grrrl and I would get up and play and sing a couple of songs, but it was pretty much a boys' rock 'n roll jam. Nevertheless, I allowed myself to be talked into getting my guitar and eventually getting on stage.

I totally faked it up there. I didn't know most of the songs they were playing, but they had some lead sheets and it was all pretty disorganized at that point, so I didn't stand out one way or another. I was OK standing up there playing and being the surrogate guitar player for all women everywhere.

I've been on stage with a guitar in my hands a lot now. I wasn't uncomfortable even though we probably sounded like a beginner garage band on a few songs. People were drinking and talking and probably not paying much attention to us anyway.

After I dropped off Chicken Grrl though, something happened that did make me uncomfortable. I was driving through downtown in the right lane when a huge pickup next to me swerved over into my lane. I had nowhere to go, so I hit my brakes, swerved as far as I could and tapped my horn to let him know I was there. He moved back into the left lane.

The truck looked something like this, except it was all tricked out.
I slowed to let him into my lane, but he didn't move over. OK, I thought, he didn't want to change lanes, so there's a possibility he's drunk and that's why he swerved. Damn that was a big fucking pickup. It was silver and customized with what looked like missiles or turrets sicking out of the back and the big front grill. I stayed back just in case he decided to occupy my lane again, but he slowed down and I finally just passed him and made a right turn. I crossed all the way to the left lane of three, and as I did, I noticed the pickup was behind me, in the lane to the right of me. He was too big to miss. That was weird. He hadn't been in the right turn lane when I turned.

I had such a huge crush on Rutger Hauer.
We both stopped at a stop light and he pulled up beside me. His truck had one of those hemi engines that sound like a low, loud, dangerous purr. I could feel him staring so I turned and looked. He was bald, in his 30's, and he looked angry. I'm not sure how I'd know his angry look, but something about the sound of his powerful engine and the cold stare reminded of Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher. It was 95 degrees here today, and I suddenly felt ice up my back when I met his eyes. Oh, please, I thought. What a drama queen. I looked away, but my peripheral vision told me he was still staring. Creepy.

I continued through downtown, as did he in the lane beside me. I passed other cars so he was a few back when I left downtown and drove across the bridge. At a red light just over the bridge, I pulled into the left turn lane. I noticed the truck was still in the straight lane, one car back. Good, I thought. I'm just imagining things. He's not following me.

I turned and headed down a dark, bumpy street toward home. The levy rose up on one side and a small isolated neighborhood of only a few blocks was on the right. About a block down the street I glanced up and saw the big grill and headlights of the silver pickup in my rear view mirror. He'd evidently turned left from the wrong lane. That was the second time he'd done that. Now I was afraid he was following me.

I considered my options. The street was going to come to a T soon. I could turn toward home and see if he still followed. Or I could turn left and head back toward the city and just drive around. I tried to think where the nearest police station was, but I couldn't remember.

I decided to stop being so fucking paranoid and turned right toward my home. Half a block later, the pickup swung around the corner behind me. Shit. Probably just somebody who was going home too, but for some reason I had the creeps and I don't get the creeps very often.

I needed to decide what to do fast. My next turn was a left into my neighborhood and the one after that was a left onto my street .... which has a big locked gate at the end. Very effective for stopping high speed chases and drive-by shootings. Not so great if I'm being followed by serial killer in a giant silver truck after midnight.

I had one other choice -- besides driving around until he wasn't behind me any more. Go to the emergency room of the hospital just up the street. I slowed so I could catch a green light, then sped up and turned into the hospital parking lot. I knew there was not only an emergency room but also lots of cops patrolling there.

I pulled to the front of the lot, stopped and hid beside a pickup, killed my lights and watched. The truck didn't follow me into the lot, but I didn't see him go by. He could have passed while I was pulling through the lot though. I waited. Another car went by. Then a cop car.

Now what? I wondered if I should send my kids a text telling them goodbye and that I loved them. But, no. You can't get a text back once you send it and if I was OK in the morning that could be embarrassing.

Shit. Now I didn't know where he was. He could have just pulled over to wait and see if I'd come back out. Finally I pulled down the driveway to the street and looked for him. Nothing. Another cop car cruised down the street toward me and turned into the parking lot. I considered stopping him, but what would I say? A pickup truck was behind me and ..... Silly me.

I turned right, away from home, and then right again at the light. Nobody behind me. I drove through the neighborhood and out to a main road. Still nothing. Finally I took another way home and came into my neighborhood from the other side.

You know how your imagination goes wild when something scary happens? I did not want to turn down my own street toward that gate. I imagined doing it and then looking up to see that giant grill and headlights rumbling behind me, blocking my way out because that's exactly what would happen in the movie. Serial killers are always one step ahead of their victims ..... I did it anyway.

And nothing happened. I unloaded my guitar, unlocked my door, and stepped into my nice, cool house.

I'm going to stop taking my imagination with me when I go out. And I hope I never see that silver truck again .... unless Rutger Hauer is driving it.

I'd be chopped up and rotting in a shallow grave by now if Rutger Hauer had been driving that truck.


  1. Don't think you should stop taking your imagination with you. You sound like you're trying to talk yourself out of believing that guy was following you, but it certainly sounds like he was.
    He may not have been a serial killer but at the least he was trying to scare you. I would've stopped that cop and described that truck to him.

    1. I did consider stopping the cop, but there wasn't much I could tell him. I hope I don't see that truck again though.

  2. I have read that serial killers attempt to be charming rather than menacing but there is always that one exception. If he had pulled up beside you, rolled down his window, and said "Excuse me,your left rear tire is almost flat. I have a pump that plugs into your car lighter if you would like to use it" with a warm and welcoming smile, only for you to look in your side mirror and clearly see that your tire was not almost flat, then I would think serial killer. Sounds like this guy got pissed when you beeped at him and he decided to intimidate you for it. Either way, I'm glad nothing more than shaken nerves came of it. If you ever do see this truck again be sure to get its license plate number,you never know.

    1. Oh great. Now I have to be careful of charming men as well! I suppose I should already learned that lesson. ;-)

      I will definitely get the license number if I see him again.

  3. Trust your instincts, and call 911 if you're ever being followed or threatened or road raged or just feeling like something is *wrong*. It's amazing how quickly testosterone poisoning can develop when someone in a big hopped-up truck thinks someone's dissing them.

    1. Testosterone poisoning is a good way to put it, I guess. I'm not sure what his problem was. I was just glad to see the police cars at the hospital. It's a good place to lure the testosterone challenged. ;-)