It was as if the argument earlier today had grown legs and followed me to my rusty red probe. The callous words leaping and reverberating around the entrails of the safe confines of my sanctuary were horrifying. One and a half hours to travel home, craving that egocentric time. I turned the radio up even higher, listening to Maneater by Hall and Oates, which was quickly becoming one of my favorite tunes. Finally, I got into the groove and left work behind me.
The road was a straight stretch, and I often drove carelessly. After three speeding tickets, every cop that worked on the nuclear reservation knew my name. During my early morning drive, I would often hold a scone with one hand and a cup of coffee with the other. I used my right knee to steer.
Seldom stopping at the grocery store on a Thursday night, I was craving a steak, which meant potatoes and salad. Twenty minutes from home, it was unusually dark with a quarter moon, I remember contemplating as I turned off the ignition. It was strange for the parking lot to be so barren, and I explicitly remember the sound – electricity humming above me somewhere. My mind immediately recalled a story my husband had told me the year before. A now mentally broken farmer whose four-year-old boy had climbed the fence of a large relay station and touched something that was not grounded. His skin liquefied right off his tiny bones, leaving traces of his skin all over the concrete pad. My attention returned to getting home to my family.
Even my daughter would eat steak, and I was excited to spend time with her this evening. Her innocence was contagious, and her school stories were a valuable gift at the end of my long day.
Walking with a giddy-up in my step, I noticed that it was odd that there was only one person on five available registers. Still, I knew her and smiled and said, “How ya doing this evening?”
“It has been slow the last few weeks, so I am by myself tonight, and time is dragging.” Her voice trailed off as I felt like I was in a scene from an old western. My imagination took over. The town was empty because a gun-slinging outlaw was there looking for trouble. He would enter the salon, hand on his ten-gallon-hat and a three-day scruff on his face. Some busty vixen of the evening would mosey over, tits in his face, and offer up her company for the evening.
I put my hand on a can of corn, clicking it off the running grocery list in my head. I also had to pee, and I still had twenty minutes to drive. Unexpectedly, I felt a chill run up my spine!
I felt something hard and long pressing against my lower back. I knew what it was from the chairs I had been pulled into by random drunken strangers in our house when I was little. It was some pervert sticking his cock up against me. Sensing his hot breath before even feeling it swirling around my neck and shoulders.
Smells of cigarettes and cheap cologne were invading every uncovered pore of my skin that this stranger had now defiled. I heard his deep voice and the five words that were thick and slow, “Well, how’d you like it?”
My mind was racing, and I just knew he had a knife. In all the years that I had been abused and molested, I had never been so scared. I had a daughter and a husband to get home to, which perhaps made the difference.
Beginning to shake, the can of corn fell from my hand, and I waited for the cut to come, so sharp, I wouldn’t even feel it. There would be blood, the warmth of it running down my chest and the front of my favorite tan suit. As he pushed me harder against the shelving, I could not scream, move, or even breathe. Then, I did not feel him anymore, and fortunately, I was still alive and standing. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity before turning around. I was sure if he saw me, he would kill me. But he wasn’t there. I ran straight to the woman at the register.
I didn’t cry. Still shaking, my anger escalated as I told the cashier what had happened. She looked at me and told me she was sorry. I asked her why she was not calling the police.
“It won’t do any good. This is the third time this month that this has happened to some poor lady. We called them the first time, and they said without any evidence or identification of the perp, there was nothing they could do.”
I told her to watch me walk to my car and dial 911 if she saw anything unusual. I made it and locked the doors, managing somehow to get home.
The following week, I was listening to the local news on my long drive home. There was a story about a couple working the same shift at a small-town grocery store. On Thursday nights, a cashier and her boyfriend, who was a sales associate, conspired to terrorize women. The cashier became sexually aroused knowing her boyfriend was rubbing up against lone unsuspecting female shoppers. One night a male shopper heard them talking about it when they hadn’t noticed him standing close by.
Note from the writer: A true story except for the part about the perpetrator working with the lone cashier: as far as I know, they never caught the man who had done this to several women, including me.
Joni’s blog is Rum and Robots, where she has published poetry, photography, and short stories. Take a look at Joni’s work in Spillwords Press NYC, Vita Brevis Press, The Finest Example, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, I Write Her – The Short of it, and MasticadoresUSA. Joni’s work was included in the following anthologies: The Sound of Brilliance (The Short of It Publishing, Volume 1 2020), Inner Eye (Poets Choice, 2021), and It’s Not Easy (Poets Choice 2021). Her blog is an effort to give back – she is a surviving Adult Child of Alcoholics. Joni is a retired nurse and paralegal.
We would love to read your work. Interested? Please READ our SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.