When I was a young woman during my college days (around 20 years old), I lived just off campus one summer in an old, beat-up trailer. It was significantly cheaper and less nice than living in a dorm room, but money was tight and living frugally was necessary. Despite the cockroaches and holes in the screens that allowed bees and mosquitoes to come in, it was nice having a place all to myself.
I had no car in those days. Public transportation didn’t exist in the little town of Morehead, Kentucky. I walked everywhere which was OK because it was a small town and nothing necessary was more than a few miles from my trailer. I had a good steady job working as a waitress in one of the best restaurants in town at that time – a sit-down diner that also served Kentucky Fried Chicken. I almost always worked evening shift – 4PM to closing. The restaurant closed at 10PM, but we stayed late to get things ready for the next morning and to clean up.
Back then, little Morehead was a pleasant place for a midnight walk. It was like the whole town went to sleep because there were no bars or other businesses open late. Even the movie theater closed by 11 PM on weekends.
Around mid-summer, I began to notice a man driving a red truck who was stalking me. I never got a good enough look at him to recognize his face, but I would see his truck multiple times (never very close) when I was walking home. Even when I changed my route, his truck was here and there. He was circling around and passing me time and again. Creepy guy.
My boyfriend at the time (who later became my first husband) loaned me a gun, urged me to carry it to work, and to keep it handy at the trailer. He was not living in Morehead that summer. It was a gigantic 357 magnum revolver, a pretty scary thing. It was way too big to fit into my purse, so I wrapped it in a towel, and carried it to work with me in a large brown grocery bag. Thinking back, it was probably illegal to carry a concealed weapon like that…not sure when that became a law. Nobody but me and my boyfriend knew I had it.
One night, I was very tired and took the shorter route (back road) to my trailer. The red truck was nowhere to be seen when I left work, and I had my trusty protection with me (the equalizer, as my first husband referred to it). Before taking the back road, I looked around one more time – no truck. Just as I crested the hill,a truck pulled up about 100 yards away and parked. Oh shit!! The street light gave enough light to inform me it was him. I looked around - this was the worst possible place. Woods on the right, and a large, dark, locked building on the left. Nobody around. The asshole planned it this way. I was screwed. PANIC.
I froze; my heart pounded. He got out of his truck, walked around to the front, and leaned against the hood. He was waiting.
I stood ground. Finally, with meanest look I could muster, I shouted to him, “What do you want with me?”
I lifted the bag, unrolled the top, and put my hand inside…quickly realizing I would have to pull the towel out and unwrap the gun before I could even get the safety off. How could I have been so stupid? I kept my eyes on him and my hand in the bag on the towel waiting for his next move.
And then....he walked back around, opened his door, got in his truck, backed around and drove away. A heavy sigh of relief from me as I stood there a few more minutes listening and watching for him to return. I never saw that truck again. Perhaps he only wanted to meet me, but he scared the crap out of me. If I could have put my hand on that revolver easily that night, things might have turned out very differently.