In 1980 I was living with a female roommate in a two bedroom apartment. Our second floor apartment, complete with a balcony facing the woods in the back, was situated in a nice suburban area of Baltimore, Maryland called Randallstown.
Though the same area is crime ridden today, during the time I lived there it was only mildly so. On evenings and weekends when the weather was nice I would sit on the front steps of my apartment building and chat with my neighbor, a woman who was in her late fifties.
In the summer when our complex’s outdoor swimming pool was open I occasionally went there on the weekends. At twenty-one years young I had a figure to be proud of. I would put on my bikini without a cover-up and take the short walk over there. The pool was just two buildings away from mine.
My roommate spent most of her free time with her boyfriend in his apartment on the first floor of our building. She rarely went to the pool with me or sat outside on the front steps as I did.
I never worried about my safety at the apartment complex. The door to our apartment had a deadbolt lock so I felt secure inside my living space. Once outside, awareness of my surroundings was the least of my concerns. If I was focused on anything it was spotting cute guys.
Had I been more alert I might possibly have noticed that a stranger was watching me. I do not know how long he stalked me before deciding to act or what the impetus was that drove him to do what he did. I only know that he devised a sinister plan and carried it out.
My roommate often spent the night at her boyfriend’s apartment. Fortunately for her she was not there on the hellish night that is burnt into my memory forever.
In the early hours of one particular morning, two weeks before my twenty-second birthday, I was awoken out of my sleep by disconcerting sounds in my room. My bird Civet, who had been sleeping in his cage on my dresser, was hissing loudly and I heard the squishing sound of footsteps, a noise that the padding underneath the carpeting in my bedroom made when it was walked on.
I had closed my bedroom door before going to sleep—now I could see the glow from the hall nightlight shining in. It provided only a dim light—the room was still very dark. Without the eyeglasses I completely depended on I could barely make out the large dark image lurking near Civet’s cage.
Panic-stricken, praying that the intruder was someone I knew, I nervously called out, “Who’s there?” Suddenly a knife was at my throat. A man climbed on top of me and pinned me down. Distressed by my uncontrollable trembling and breathless sobbing, the man callously ordered me to calm down. I tried my best to comply knowing that my hysteria would only provoke more aggression in him.
He asked me where my mother was. Thoughts went running through my head. Did he think I was someone else? Did he break into the wrong apartment? I never answered the question.
Survival being my only goal I managed to calm myself down to pacify him. I asked him to move the knife away from my neck, telling him that I would cooperate with him if he did. He complied—he took the knife off my throat, and then reached over and put it on the dresser behind him.
Not knowing what his exact intentions were or if I would live to see another day my mind scrambled for a survival strategy. Screaming was not an option—it would have been a death sentence for me. The only weapon I had at my disposal was psychology, a well practiced skill from childhood that I had often used to calm down my chaotic family. I would redirect his focus by digging deep into his psyche.
I began talking to him like a friend. I asked him how he got into my apartment. Seemingly proud of his accomplishment he explained that he stood on the picnic table that my downstairs neighbors kept on their patio beneath my balcony, reached up and grabbed the balcony railing, and then hoisted his body up and over it. Once he was on my balcony he shook the sliding glass doors loose until they opened and walked into the living room.
Hearing his calculated plan made my skin crawl.
He seemed willing to talk to me so I continued asking questions, trying to determine whether he possessed a shred of empathy or was a cold, callous psychopath. His answers indicated an empathetic nature so I knew I had some emotional leverage to work with.
I had kept my eyes closed up until this point to protect my mind from registering a terrifying vision that I knew would haunt me if I survived. I made a point of telling him that I was keeping them closed so he could be sure that I would never be able to identify him after the fact. To emphasize my promise even further I put a pillow over my face.
My strategies worked well in the regard that I survived the night. But he had come to rape me and he was not going to leave until he fulfilled his ultimate intention. I could not fight him so I gritted my teeth behind the pillow and cooperated, praying that he would not kill me afterward.
When he was done he just stood up and told me he was leaving. He said that he would throw a rock at my window once he got safely outside to signal me that he had escaped—then I could call for help.
He never threw a rock and I never heard any signal.
Uncertain that he had truly left I lay there for a few minutes trying to listen for sounds. I heard none. Once I was fairly convinced that he was gone I reached over to my nightstand, picked up the telephone receiver, and called my roommate at her boyfriend’s apartment downstairs to tell her what had happened.
Continues in Never Say Never, Part Two
“Woman Holding a Sign” © Katn1999 | Dreamstime.com
“Woman With Head in Hands” © Designpics… | Dreamstime.com
“Stalker” by DeusXFlorida On Foter – Some Rights Reserved
“Nuvit on the Balcony” by Kel Patolog – On Foter – Some Rights Reserved