I knew I had to make a decision on whether to be with The Punjabi or start hiding. But I feared going back to being broke. I didn’t want that life back. But I didn’t want this life either.
My decision came rather easily the day one of his store managers propositioned me.
“You do for me what you do for Punjabi,” he said.
“And what is that?” I shot back.
“You know.” He said, waiting for me to ‘catch on.’ “The money for the sex??”
My jaw dropped.
“Punjabi has gotten NO sex from me and neither will you. What the fuck is wrong with you people!?” I stormed out of the store.
Why would he tell people that? Why was he even telling people about me?
Because he needed to, in order to get information on me.
Suddenly, knew all the person details I’d gone to such great lengths to hide.
He would drive past the house I was staying at. He made no attempt to hide it. People started to wonder what was going on, but I just played dumb. Like we’d never even met.
He would show up at my job unannounced with random friends and family to introduce me to. He would show up alone with money and drugs and a plea for me to call. Or he would call me and ask, “Who is that you were talking to in the parking lot?” I started looking around the lots of surrounding stores as a precaution but never saw any of his vehicles. I figured he must have someone else watching me.
Then I started seeing his “friends” when I’d go out. At restaurants, bars, stores, parks – wherever I was – one of them was there, too.
One day when he called my work, I told him, “Don’t call me here anymore. This is my job and I don’t want to lose it because you keep calling me.”
“Why you care about that stupid job?” He said, “I take care of you.”
“I can take care of myself!” I said, “I don’t need you and I don’t want you to call me anymore!”
He stopped calling, but his friends didn’t. I got a call from a Pakistani girl telling me how stupid it was to blow him off. Then I started seeing his truck pointed directly at my work in a neighboring lot. I thought about calling the police, but he hadn’t really done anything wrong. I was just some hoodrat and he was a local businessman. My case didn’t seem viable enough to risk retaliation. So instead of fighting, I just took to hiding better.
While I didn’t quit my job, I changed up my schedule a bit. I read about stalking cases and adopted habits to help me get through.
I triple-checked every lock.
I screened my cell phone calls.
I always parked in well-lit areas.
I carried a knife.
My coworkers knew my schedule was never to be released and would give me rides when they could.
I was never “there” when I got a phone call.
I parked blocks away from where I really was.
I took roundabout ways and backstreets everywhere I went.
I watched my back every second of every day.
Even if I didn’t feel threatened, I was suspicious of everyone I met – wondering if they were a spy.
There were a few occasions that he’d see me driving down the road and he’d do whatever it took to follow me. Cutting people off, running red lights – whatever it took. Twice I lost him without any problems. Once he almost caught me.
After that chase, I concluded that he’d see me dead if he could. So I switched to a different store. I moved back in with my mom. I stayed far, FAR away from any store he might possibly own or have a connection to. I didn’t put anything in my name for a long time for fear that he would have a connection to find me.
Even after I’d settled down with The Man, I watched for him. When I was pregnant, I feared running into him even more, though it had been years since I had. He’d given me so many reasons to think he’d hurt me and very few to think he wouldn’t.
But I will always wonder in the back of my mind, Was he really a psycho – would he really have hurt me? Or was he just a sad old man, so infatuated that he didn’t know when to stop?
I’ll never know the answer to that, because he’ll never get close enough to tell me.
Better a thousand times careful than once dead. ~Proverb