- Marcia Jacobs
11 | My Rape / Why We Don't Go To The Police | 1963 | Part 2 - I Don't Want To Make A Fuss
I feel gratitude and relief. No need to get into a car with a total stranger. I’ll be with someone who is a local businessman. My backpack lightens a bit, and my tension and fatigue ease. Home is now a visible light at the end of the tunnel. I have time to use the restroom, drink a coke, and read a magazine, A few minutes after 10pm we are in his car heading towards Baltimore. He introduces himself as Larry. Though he doesn’t say much at first, he seems quite relaxed, whistling and humming along with the radio. He invites me to roll down my window and feel the fresh evening air. We’ve only been driving for a few minutes when he pulls into the parking lot of a roadside tavern. “Just picking up some beer, be right back.”
A small alarm goes off inside me as I sit in the car.
Why is he buying beer? Is it just his normal way of winding down after work? Should I be getting out of the car and making my way alone? But the alarm doesn’t sound loud enough for me to make the choice to exit the car in an unknown town in the night. So, I stay put. He drinks a beer as we continue our drive. I don’t remember if he offers me a beer or has another himself. I know I don’t have one.
His tongue loosens as he drinks, beginning with “you can’t trust nobody, especially women.” Then he starts on his story. He doesn’t seem to be talking to me, but to himself, muttering and gesturing, getting more worked up. He’s beginning to sound crazed. I try to remain calm, but I'm flooded with fear. I feel my stomach in a tight ball, my hands clenched in fists.
He rambles on about how, when he returned home after serving in the Korean War, he found his wife in bed with his best friend. How the bitch ruined his life. It seems to me that it would have happened at least a decade ago, but he’s talking as though it was yesterday. He’s still furious at his friend, and even more at his ex-wife. I don’t know why he’s telling me this, or how to respond. I just sit, tensely quiet. The more he talks about his ex-wife the angrier he becomes, directing it all at the absent “her,” not at me. Sometimes he doesn’t make sense, talking into the air at I-don’t-know-who. He seems barely in control, banging the empty beer can on the steering wheel.
I’m really scared now. Am I with a violent crazy man? Will he turn his rage on me? I try to calm myself with the hope that we will be at the bus station soon.
It seems to me that we should be there already. At least, I tell myself, we are still on the highway heading to Baltimore. Minutes later he pulls into a strip mall. Cigarettes this time. There's a Maryland State Patrol car parked in front of the convenience store. Two uniformed policemen lean against the car. Just a warm summer night; they’re having a smoke in the still air. My heart leaps. Here is safety. They can help me out of whatever mess I’m in, or at least think I’m in. While he’s inside getting his smokes, I think seriously about taking my bag, leaving the car, and approaching the officers. But I’m confused and scared and filled with self doubt. Am I exaggerating the danger? And what would I say to them? Can you give me a ride to the bus station? Can you get me away from this dangerous guy? But why, really? Because he seems unhinged and angry! Because I’m scared and need some help!
I want to bolt, to change the whole scene. Get out of this car, this strip mall, this town. But I override my instincts; it’s late, and I’m tired and close to the end of my journey. And I don’t want to make a fuss. So, I do nothing but sit there, say nothing, and wait for him to return. I could have gotten out of the car then, but I don’t. I tell myself everything’s ok.
As we leave the mall and continue, I’m in a psycho dream world. I don’t know what’s going on, or how to behave. I've never been up close to a person like this before; someone who isn’t making sense, who's verbally spewing forth violent thoughts and feelings, mostly about women.
After a few more minutes, another alarm goes off, this time louder. He’s turned off the highway, and the roads we’re now travelling are looking much more “country.” Oh my god, he’s abducting me. Now my heart is pounding, and I feel a chill up my spine. I feel so small, so alone. Somehow, I know it’s vitally important to remain calm and keep my wits about me.
“Where are we going?”
“Don’t we need to stay on the highway to get to Baltimore?”
He pulls down a narrow road, pavement quickly giving way to dirt. We stay on that dirt road for what seems like forever. It’s more likely a few minutes later when we stop abruptly. The road has dead ended. He turns off the car. In front of us is a huge yawning blackness. The faintest hint of lights twinkle on the far side, maybe a mile or so away. A black desolation creeps over me. “Where have you taken me? Why are we here?” I’m reaching for the door handle, thinking of which way I can run, when he pulls a knife out of the glove box. He slowly and deliberately opens it and places it on the dashboard in front of him. He looks over at me with an ugly sneer. “That out there is the city dump. There’s nobody around for miles. That young guy who was working with me tonight, he lives way over where those lights are. I already told him that if anyone ever asks, he didn’t see you get in my car. He knows that I’ll kill him if he ever says anything different from that to anyone, and no one would take his word over mine.