My sister and I must’ve been really hot prepubescent girls because not only were obscenities shouted at us on our way to school, we also were stalked once. It’s possible he just couldn’t help himself as he caught a glimpse of the training bra through my blouse – whatever the case, it was a pretty freaky afternoon.
Sister, friend, and I giggled and skipped down the boardwalk, stopping at kiosks to look at cheap jewelry and stolen watches up for re-sale, when one of us (not me, that’s for sure) noticed a creepy, sweaty, moustached guy on our trail. We sped up and he did too. We stopped, and he stopped. We knew we couldn’t let him get close; if he had a gun or knife, we’d be forced to stay quiet and no one would notice anything abnormal. So we went into a record store. Our girl friend was shaking, but she was to keep guard as my sister and I asked a clerk for help. I held on to her hand and kept looking back at the creep; he also came into the store, though he stayed near the door pretending to sift through records while watching us.
Hi, can you please help us? We’re walking home from school and that guy – that one over there – is following us and he came in here too, we’re really scared, can you help?
My sister’s frightened tone is what actually scared me; up until then I’d been more curious than anything.
The guy realized what was happening and fled. We stayed inside the store for some time, then sprinted home.
These strange, scary situations taught me to be observant, I think. If I’m paying attention, I’m not caught by surprise – but if I pay too much attention, I might get a little paranoid, as I did at the library last night.
I dragged my sleep deprived zombie body to the computer station for a search on titles to take home. When I got up for a pencil, I noticed a tall outdoorsy type dude in a semi-hidden spot, checking out some girl’s pictures on Facebook. I went back to my computer, wrote down my call numbers, and headed to the magazines section. As I sat on the comfy, elderly-scented armchair reading The Paris Review, outdoorsy dude showed up. I realized he was a ginger – a tanned one – sporting very baggy mustard-colored corduroys, a windbreaker, and work boots. He picked up a newspaper and sat across from me. I chuckled out loud as I read funny bits of a Ray Bradbury interview, and I could feel his gaze on me each time. I looked up to confirm this and, while he tried to be smooth, he was a little slow in looking away. Haha, you think I’m cute, I thought.
[Unintelligible] Mount Ida?
I’m sorry, what? I asked, as we were the only two people in the sitting area.
Is Mount Ida nearby?… near here?
You mean the college?
Umm, yeah, it’s in Newton. About ten minutes away.
Oh, you are creepy, my friend, I thought. He stared intently yet expressionless, with his mouth open long after his words were spoken. His pupils looked unnaturally large.
I’d just gone back to the magazine pages when he said, Is that where you go to college? You go to school at Mount Ida?
I… am flattered. But no, I’m no longer a student. I’m 27. [Fuck, fuck! He tricked me! Why did I tell him my age?!]
I mumbled something to myself, gave him a smile and went to the reference desk to inquire about borrowing the magazines. While the librarian searched for information, I looked to the couch section; he was staring at me, mouth open, his whole face in a psychotic, catatonic state. Not good. Must go, I thought. Turned out the ‘zines were the latest issues and I couldn’t borrow, so I had to put them back. I knew that would give him time to leave the couches unsuspectingly (or so he thought) to resume following me. Sure enough, when I got to the lobby, he was pacing back and forth, cell phone in hand. I went up the stairs and looked back; he was looking at me. I internally freaked out a bit and ran up the stairs to the third floor. I’ve been having a few too many cigarettes and not enough treadmill time, so it was disconcerting to acknowledge how screwed I‘d be if it came down to a chase situation. So I weaved in and out of aisles, back to the second floor, peered down at the lobby between columns – sniper style – and finally went back to book hunting, reassuring myself I’d lost him.
I hurried through check out and walked briskly to my car, with no sighting of the Ginger Stalker. I’m hitting the gym tonight, and maybe buying a keychain knife.