Oh God! I hear voices as they step out of their vehicle and close the doors behind them. If they walk around the building they will see my car, if they haven’t spotted it already. Shit! I left the license plate numbers scribbled in my journal, wide open on the passenger seat! The car is locked but what if they take it upon themselves to bust out a window? I squat down in the bushes separating us and listen intently. They are going to spread out. I can’t hide here because when they walk into the open plot of land they will see me. Without further hesitation, I run across the open plot of land to seek shelter in the thicker shrubbery and trees. I trip on the wet ground beneath me and fall through the crowded plants surrounding me. Only to be ripped apart by blackberry bushes.
The thorns tear through the flesh on my exposed calves. They act as barbed wire, piercing and clawing at my arms. I let out a slight squeal, as the razor-sharp prickles rip through the skin all over my body. There is an immediate intense burning sensation. Like that of a hundred bees stinging me all at once. My clothing is tangled in their vines and I rip holes in my pants as I finally break free from their grasp. God is producing a near waterfall of rain. Soaking me and the wooded area around me. It is hard to hear anything over the constant pitter-patter of the raindrops drumming on the branches and leaves above me. Every step I take crunches and crackles and I take solace in knowing that their footsteps will cause similar noise pollution and won’t likely give away my location.
I can see the field in front of me and I cannot go any deeper into the woods because there is a fence dividing the land. In order for them to find me, they have to come into plain sight by walking into the field or creep through the woods to the right of me that circles all the way back to where I have parked my car. The trees are thick enough with bushes and vines between them that I cannot see through them clearly. SNAP! CRACKLE! SLASH! Crunching noises are emanating from that direction! I hear a male voice elatedly express their joy in being able to use their hatchet. Oh, God! They are hacking through the bushes to avoid the injuries the thorns have already caused me! I turn to my left and run through more bushes until I am now on the front fence line of the street with the roundabout. I am careful to remain within the wooded area so that I am not visible to the street.
Blood is trickling down my ankles from the wounds on my calves. Smears of bright red blood act as sleeves to my tattered tank. I have to pause and catch my breath. I feel surrounded and trapped. Which direction should I watch? To the field where they can grab me quickly? To the roundabout, in search of their cars? I look in the direction I heard the voices and the hatchet shredding the path behind me. I see no one but I can hear two male voices and the ground crunching beneath their feet. I can also hear the black Honda’s exhaust circling the roundabout. I am uncertain as to which vehicle pulled up and parked and who exactly is after me. I heard the hatchet. They are Juggalos. I crouch down behind a large stump, my eyes still focused in that direction. I am face to face with a giant spider just chilling in his web. The rain is trickling through the intricacy of his design. I never realized how strong these webs were before. I can’t believe this torrential downpour has not brought it down.
The cold, consistent downpour has numbed my body, easing the stings from my cuts and scrapes. My hair is long, soaked and plastered to my cheeks. My entire body is shivering from being in both wet and now freezing conditions, as well as the adrenaline pulsating throughout my being. The voices are getting closer and I watch as the bushes move violently back and forth. Leaves and branch pieces are flying through the air and I know the hatchet man is closing in.
Ahead of me, there is a plethora of sticker bushes, trees, and debris. I could run out into the open field and pray to God that I can get into my car and speed off before they catch me, but I fear running into the open. My heart is already pounding in sync with the rain crushing my head. Even so, it increases as I head in a panic through more shrubs. Suddenly, I see a figure in my peripheral vision running towards me from the direction of the open field.
They found me! I run as fast as I can through the jungle before me. Oh my God, I forgot about the spider web and have run face first through it! I swat at my face and shake my head back and forth. With both hands, I brush at my hair and sweep off my shoulders. I know there was a spider in that web, it has to be on me!
Suddenly, someone grabs my hair and I feel it rip from its roots as I pull out of his grasp. Oh God, they grabbed my foot and pulled me down! Something tears into the right side of my neck. I scream and cusp my hand to the incredible sting. I pull my hand away to discover bright, red blood is covering my palm. I’ve been hatcheted! I kick frantically away from my attacker. I can’t see anything and am completely wrapped up in this bush. I break free from his grip leaving him holding my shoe and run towards my car without looking back. My neck is on fire and I have no idea how badly I have been cut. With every step, my shoe-less foot is poked and prickled by the thorns beneath me. I reach the clearing in the fence that faces the roundabout. Without thinking I hurdle the fence and run through traffic towards Isaac’s house. A symphony of horns blare from the street, as I weave in and out of cars on the roundabout. I can’t stop! I can’t pause! I can’t look back. I run up on the porch and bang on the door screaming that it is me and to let me in. Isaac’s demeanor is surprisingly calm as he opens and closes the door behind me. In the Tweaker world, that kind of banging would typically be ostracized, as it is associated with the police.
Isaac is alone. He very calmly sits on the couch while he explains Jenn is in jail for the next 90 days on a burglary charge. He elaborates that I am welcome to stay and asks if I have any poop. Poop is a term for meth. I explain how I had to swallow what I had left and divulged the details of the last 12 hours while pacing back and forth between the couch and the sheet he has hanging for a curtain. I check out the curtain 800 times a minute in search of the cars. I wait to hear footsteps of their approach on the porch but nothing further develops.
My adrenaline has been pumping the entire time, as I revisit creeping in the shadows at the house where this all began, spotting the Honda’s in Marysville, cowering under the wheelchair ramp for hours in the rain and of course, running through the bushes, as the thorns ripped apart my flesh. My wounds! I had been so amped up I had not checked the slice on my neck.
I quickly excuse myself to the bathroom to examine my cut. To my surprise, the cuts on my neck match the ones on my arms and legs. This was the doing of those painful thorns and not a hatchet wound at all. There are pieces of the blackberry bushes and other debris in my hair. Maybe it wasn’t a hatchet man that grabbed me by my hair? Maybe it was the blackberry bush! I stare at myself in the mirror. I have cuts and scrapes all over my body that have blood that is now drying covering them. I lost my shoe. They got my shoe! Didn’t they? Or did I get my foot caught on a branch that ripped it away in my struggle to get out of the thorns? I don’t know anymore. I really don’t know.
I return to the living room and watch Isaac desperately scrape at all of his meth smoking devices. His pupils are so dilated you can hardly see the blue color to his eyes. He licks his lips back and forth and makes a grunting sound as his head bobs up and down while scraping. There is nothing left. He knows it but his Tweaker brain won’t allow him to stop scraping. He grabs the blow torch to clean his pipe, eventually giving up on finding any resin worth smoking.
I inquire as to what he thinks about what I have told him and he shocks me when he insists he knows every word of it is true. He explains he had been solicited by Red concerning the home invasion, but that he always had a spot in his heart for me and couldn’t do it. He continues that he too has a child and understands the predicament I am in. It is for those reasons he refused to be any part of tonight. What the fuck? Didn’t he think perhaps a warning might prove to be sufficient and helpful? I am consumed with anger, fear, and confusion. I speculate that Eric was somehow in on this. Isaac assures me that’s impossible because he has shown up here three times looking for me, on foot and soaking wet. So who else was in on this? What are they going to do now? Why is Isaac so calm? Why are they not pounding on his door? The circles all respect Isaac to a degree I don’t understand. There have not been any details divulged in my presence about why there appears to be admiration and respect concerning him.
Isaac goes on about the details he had heard about the home invasion plan, but will not give names of the parties involved. He confirms for me, however, that the three cars I spoke of belonged to the parties. My car is still parked behind the old fire station, or at least I hope it is. I have to give the license plate numbers to an old friend. A friend I can trust that is not affiliated with the dope scene at all. I fear for my life. I do not want my murder to go unsolved. My family deserves to know what happened to me. My cuts are stinging and I fight back tears as I listen to Isaac insist he won’t let anything like this happen to me again. As I open my mouth to ask about Eric, there is a sudden knock at the door.
John 10:10, 11
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.