In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Helpless.” Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it? This is the conclusion to a true story that was begun yesterday. I don’t think you want to read the ending without reading the beginning first. To do so, go HERE.
“The One Who Got Away”
Devil #3, Part II
Perhaps if I acted normal, it all would go away–
this little game they’d started that I didn’t want to play.
I said, “Please let me out right here, a friend lives down the block!”
But silence met my pleas, as though they couldn’t hear me talk.
As the three of them kept talking about which way to turn,
the man I’d danced with quickly turned cold and taciturn.
He had said he was a stranger who came from the east coast,
yet he didn’t ask directions of the one who knew the most.
“Which way should we go, man?” He asked the one behind
as though there was a certain road he wanted to find.
Of me they took no notice–as though I wasn’t there.
The driver just looked straight ahead with a hardened stare.
My life’s worst fear had been to be in someone else’s power,
so the thought of what was happening made me want to cower
and beg and plead and scream and cry; but I did none of that,
though I felt like a bird first toyed with by a cruel cat.
My heartbeat raced but my thoughts raced ahead of them to find
escape from what must have been planned by his devious mind.
They took the road past houseless land—a golf course and a farm.
I knew the way led out of town—a cause of much alarm.
“Turn right here,” I said as we approached a lighted junction,
but as he turned left I knew that there would not be any unction.
I won’t go into all the times I pleaded with them to stop.
“My friend lives down this road,” I said, “Just leave me at the top!”
“Are we heading out for Casper?” said the stranger on my right.
I wondered what would happen if I chose this time to fight.
To slug him once and climb over to jump out of the car,
but with three of them I knew that I would not get far.
I also knew the stretch of lonely road from here to there.
The bodies found along that road—and knew how I would fare.
When I had left my house a party had been going strong.
I wondered who would still be there for I’d been gone so long.
Yet it was a plan and there were neighbors who might hear my screams,
so I gave them an alternative to their frightening schemes.
“It’s so far to Casper,” I said in a normal voice,
“Perhaps it would be better if you made another choice.
A good night’s sleep and food and drink is what might serve you best.
I live alone, my house is near. Why don’t you come and rest
and start out again tomorrow for wherever you are going?
If you are strangers here, then you could have no way of knowing
how far it is to Casper with no place to stop for gas.”
My suggestions fell on deaf ears. No one answered me, alas.
Once on the open road I would have no chance to escape,
What would happen next? Would it be Torture? Murder? Rape?
In less than a mile we would reach the Interstate–
the beginning of the ending of this ill-fated date.
I thought of all the stories where women were abducted.
It was a grim sorority into which I’d been inducted.
How would they tell my mother, my sister, my best friend?
Would I be another story for which no one knows an end?
I tried to think how I could end it, but could see no way.
No knife, no gun, no poison to aid me on this day.
I looked at the glove box. Was there a gun inside?
Was there at least one bullet in it? Enough for suicide?
Years ago when I first worried how I’d fare if I were one
of those unfortunate women snatched for a sadist’s fun,
I thought I’d get a capsule of cyanide that fit
on a chain around my neck in case I needed it.
But that seemed so excessive, so improbable and crazy.
Now I chided myself for being too damn lazy
to cover every angle to protect myself for what
I realized was happening –and this was the cruelest cut.
How did I feel? Not panicked, just the deepest sort of dread
of all that they could do to me before they left me dead.
Though I’m brave, I don’t do well with pain, so I have to say
I’ve always known if tortured, I’d give everything away.
There was no chance these men’s intentions were anything but grim,
so I kept my eyes upon the road and never looked at them.
Then I shifted to the dashboard. Was there any help for me
I was overlooking? And then I spied the key.
What if I grabbed the keys out and threw them in the air
into the grass beside the road. I wondered, did I dare?
Then I saw two headlights in the mirror, far back, but coming fast.
At nearly 4 a.m., I knew this chance would be my last.
As the truck got nearer, I reached out for the keys,
ripped them from the ignition, and then fast as you please,
hurled them from the car into the tall grass by the side.
The car came to a rolling stop as the engine died.
The man next to me grabbed out for the handle of the door,
but the driver screamed out to him with a mighty roar.
“Don’t leave the girl,” he said, and then he told the other guy
to hop out and find the keys—and then I knew that I would die
if I didn’t make a move and so I wedged my back and feet
and catapulted from the front right into the back seat.
I rolled over the car’s rear trunk and it was just my luck
that I landed in the road just as the headlights of the truck
came up behind and brakes went on and I went running back,
pursued by all three members of that frightening pack.
The driver of the truck was young—twenty-two or twenty-three
I beat upon his window, saying, “Help me! Please help me!
These men are trying to kidnap me! Please, let me in your truck!”
By then my former “savior” had arrived to try his luck.
“Don’t believe her, she’s a con artist. She’ll hit you in the head
and make away with all your money. Leave you in the ditch for dead!
She tried to do it to us, man. We were trying to find a cop
when she grabbed the keys out of the car and brought us to a stop!”
“My name is Judy Dykstra. I teach English at Central High.
Please don’t leave me with these men, for if you do, I’ll die!”
The driver then called out to him—angry to the core,
“You’re making a mistake, man,” as he opened up the door.
I ran around and climbed inside. The last things we could see
were three backsides in the grass, searching for a key.
We knew they couldn’t follow us, but still he floored the pedal
while I went on and on about how he deserved a medal.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I said three times or more.
Then, “Why did you believe me and open up the door?”
“Because two of those characters looked so low down and crass,
but mainly ‘cause my sister had you last year for a class!”
This story that I’ve told you could have had a different end,
But as it was I spent the night with a longtime friend
who persuaded me that I should never ever tell
what happened on this evening, for it had turned out well.
“Do you know their plate number? Can you describe their car?
Could you tell their face descriptions? Do you know where they are?
And even if they find them, what could you possibly say?
They’ll say that you were just a girl picked up along the way.
They met you in a crowded bar. You asked them for a ride.
They walked you to their car and you chose to get inside.
You asked them all to stay with you, but they all said no.
Then you suddenly got angry and said you had to go.
They didn’t want to let you out and leave you all alone.
They said that they would rather take you safely to your home.
But you were drunk and even though they all said, ‘Lady, please. . . ‘
You reached out and suddenly you grabbed for the keys.
You threw them in the tall grass and jumped out of the car
a totally different person than that lady in the bar!
You convinced some poor kid they were kidnapping you.
And there was nothing else that they could think of they could do!
They didn’t try to stop you or to argue if you please.
They simply went back looking to try to find their keys.
Can you imagine in a trial what they would make of this?
You know you are the sort of person that they love to diss.
A female teacher out at bars who had been heavily drinking,
closing down the barroom. What could you have been thinking?
Your friends all say that when they left, you just didn’t show.
So you left the bar at 3 A.M. with someone you don’t know.
You get into his car with two more men you’ve never seen
For a teacher you appear to be other than squeaky clean.
You could lose your job for this, and your reputation!”
She ended her soliloquy in a state of great frustration.
So tell me please what do you think, was I right or not
In not reporting these three men, so they were never caught?
All I can say is that I wonder to this very day
how many other women died because they got away.