The scary but true tale of how I paid for Christmas
I came home from work at midnight on Halloween.
My husband had called the office a few hours earlier to report that the large, loud party at the house across the street might leave me with nowhere to park, but I pulled up to find the street quiet and empty. I rolled to a stop in front of my house and opened the door to the truck.
A man was suddenly on me, grabbing and hitting. He tried to drag me out of the truck, but I held on to the steering wheel and started kicking furiously at him and screaming. As we struggled, he got my shoe off my foot and hit me in the face with it while I twisted and kicked. Eventually a couple of his friends noticed what he was doing. They came staggering across the street and pulled him off me.
"He’s drunk," they said as I ran screaming past them to my house. "He’s just drunk."
The police came and arrested him and filled out reports. I sat wide-eyed on the couch into the wee hours. My face was sore where he hit me with my shoe. My back was a little twisted from kicking. I was all right, though.
"My God, what would he have done if they hadn’t been there to stop him?" my mother wondered aloud the next day. "What if he’d had a weapon?"
Let’s not dwell on this too much. The story isn’t over.
On Dec. 18 we went to court. My father, a very large and grouchy retired assistant district attorney, planted himself between me and everyone else in the room at all times. I am embarrassed by how much I needed him to do that, and I will always be grateful to him for doing it.
The guy who attacked me turned out to be a 20-year-old from somewhere in upper East Tennessee who spent his Halloween mixing Wild Turkey and methamphetamine while he partied in my neighborhood. The party had shut down by the time I pulled up, but he was still hanging around in the yard across the street. I don’t know why he attacked me, and he probably doesn’t, either.
He pleaded guilty to assault, made an anemic apology in my general direction (I was standing behind my father) and was sentenced to five days in the workhouse and a year of probation. He also agreed to go for assessment at a substance abuse treatment center.
Before we went before the judge, my dad leaned over and whispered to me the details of the deal that had been worked out with the guy’s attorney. He told me about the jail time, the probation. Then he smiled at me.
"I got you restitution," he said.
"He has to pay you $500."
"Nope. His attorney will cut you a check in the next 30 days."
Now, I don’t want to sound flippant about a genuinely terrifying event. My mother is right about how much worse it could have been. My husband sits up late at night, waiting, watching for me to get home from work. I’m still both absolutely furious and a little bit skittish.
But it’s been nearly two months. I no longer break into a cold sweat every time I open the door to get out of the truck. I’ve overcome the urge to sell our house and move to the suburbs. I survived the dreaded courtroom ordeal. The man who attacked me began serving his time at Silverdale on Friday. The post-Christmas sales are in full swing, and the check is in the mail.
Life is short, and occasionally just too darn weird to be believed. I’m going shopping.