This is really long. If you don’t read it I will not be offended. It is the rough draft of a personal essay I am doing for class. I traded the real name of one person in the story for Creep, because this is the internet and I don’t want Creep to see his real name in print.
Until I was eighteen the effects left on people from horrific situations was foreign to me. I had never been affected to the point of changing any behavior dramatically. I scoffed at the idea that it was real in others. I held this believe loosely until one Roger drove me off a cliff.
One night I was taking up space at me sisters home which she shared with one of our cousins. We then lived in Oroville, a tiny town on the Canadian border in Washington state. They encouraged my visits as it allowed them to cook in their grown up kitchen for guests on a regular basis. On this night my sisters boyfriend Kevin and his cousin Roger were also eating dinner at Rachel‘s house. After the meal was finished I mentioned that I was still interested in learning how to drive a stick shift on Kevin’s jacked-up pickup truck. So, while Rachel and Kevin put the leftovers into the fridge and started a movie on the second hand television, Roger and I took off.
I was doing well. We had unwisely decided to drive out of the valley that Oroville was in the pit of and up Mount Hull. The road was twisty and the grade was steep. So when I decided I had gotten the hang of it enough for the evening, I pulled off into a slow moving vehicle turn-off and gave the keys to Roger. He turned the truck around with ease and sped down the hill. In our small town it was well known that three of his family members had driven off cliffs on this particular country road. I made a joke about how he ought to think about slowing down as I didn’t want us to be the fourth. Just as the words had fallen out of the air we his a patch of gravel and slid. Down the Cliff.
This was the first moment that my brain registered the possibly this was the last moment I would ever live. We were falling so fast and bashing against multiple trees and large rocks along the way. Somehow we ended up vertical with the front tires high up on a bolder. I had my seatbelt on and other than being unsure if I was ever going to regain a normal heart rate I was untouched. Later we found out that the seventy mile an hour fall helped us as the truck had no time to roll over and crush us inside the cab.
Hopping out of that truck was daunting as the ground was not where it should have been, but a few feet below. We were three miles from town and that meant three miles of insane guilt accumulating in our guts. When we got back to my sisters home and told Kevin that his truck was indisposed, I was fearful that screams would follow. Thankfully he was refreshingly lighthearted and seemed to be more concerned with our well being.
Roger then let me know then that we couldn’t call any police or report the accident until the morning as he was convinced his blood alcohol level was over the legal driving limit.
Being naive and not schooled in the fine art of deciphering sobriety, I felt like an idiot. This was a longtime family friend who I had trusted and he drove me down the side of a mountain while drunk.
After that I was scared to be driven. Not every time I was in a car, but every time I felt there was a possibility of a dangerous situation. Mountain roads, city traffic, and if someone decided they need to go one mile over the limit I was a classic anal backseat driver.
I moved out of that town after graduation, got married, had a baby, got divorced .
New Years Eve seven years later and just a few short weeks after my divorce was final I was back in Oroville spending a lazy holiday on my sisters couch in the home she now shared with her husband and two children. I was there with my son who was at that time two. Our kids were snoring on the floor of the living room after a Nemo filled evening. I then had a light bulb flash, “Why don’t we walk up to the Peerless and have a drink, say Happy New year and walk home?” It was about ten o’clock and if we hurried we would cram a nights worth of fun into and hour and a half. She agreed to my proposal, and after minimal primping and wiping the second hand peanut butter off our sweatshirts we walked in the snow up to the bar.
Entering the bar I recognized the local faces and felt comfortable. We joined a few of my high school friends. Roger was one of those friends. He had long since been sober having completed all twelve steps. After saying hello and briefly catching up with everyone at once I ordered a screwdriver and settled at a high table with my sister and a friend of ours named Kindra.
We were chatting about nothing when the only stranger in the bar approached us. He glanced down at the wedding rings Rachel and Kindra donned and then at my newly naked finger. He looked at me directly and said, “Hi I’m Creep are you single?“
“Wow, you are slick,” I thought to myself. “Well” I said. “I am a divorced single mother, if that counts.” I could have been nicer, but there were plenty of girls in that bar that night dressed to suggest they wanted to be approached and I was not one of them. Rachel and Kindra thought the idea of New Guy hitting on me was amusing, so they left me stranded there to explain to new guy that I was flattered, but completely uninterested. But he was unrelentless. I had never before been so aggressively bantered with pick up words from a stranger. I left the table and my drink and walked over to my friends who were snickering in satisfaction ten feet away. When I returned to the table Creep was still there and so was my drink.
I sipped it slowly the next hour. Despite the small amount of alcohol I had consumed felt insanely drunk. I grew angry at myself for not having eaten properly the hours before and I figured if I had I would have been able to have one measly drink without indigestion.
I swayed up to the bar where Misuk was working. She had been tending there for years and I knew her well. I asked for a glass of water. I must have looked as though I needed it because she gave one to me in a enormous plastic diner glass. I drank it without setting it down. I still felt nauseous and asked for another. With all those ounces of water in my belly I knew that I could induce vomiting without much effort.
After purging the liquid in the dimly lit and smoke filled bathroom I walked back out to the lounge. I noticed Creep still was on my heels. At this point I was flat out rude to him I am sure because I stopped acknowledging his questions and comments. No matter what I did, he was still there, right behind me.
I wandered off and found my sister. I told her I was ill and needed to go home. I must have caught something over Christmas, I explained. She went off to call the cab driver. The Oroville taxi was the only form of pay transportation in fifty miles. Essentially, it is just a nice man who strapped a sign to the roof of his compact red sedan and would take you anywhere in town for five bucks.
However, by the time she had turned around to head for the payphone I had forgotten the entire conversation. I turned to Roger who was sipping from his signature brown ceramic mug filled halfway at this point with the bar’s see through coffee modified with extra cream and sugar. “Drive me home Roger, I’m sick” He set the cup down and led me to his car without asking any questions. This was the first time I had allowed him to drive me anywhere since that night of the accident. Had I been in the right state of mind, I would have never allowed it to happen. I was still a control freak when it came to being a passenger. And this was Roger. The ride took all of a hundred seconds. Nothing is far away in Oroville. I hope I thanked him for the ride as I exited and headed to the house.
As I walked up the staircase and down the hallway into the bedroom my body involuntarily was slamming between the walls and the railings. I collapsed onto my three year old nieces bed and my body kept spinning. I stood up feeling as though I was touching the ceiling and then crashed back down, this time to the floor. I had figured that after leaving the noise and commotion of the bar and entering a quiet atmosphere I would regain a level head. It was quickly becoming apparent to me that that screwdriver I had nursed all night was not the cause behind my intoxication.
I crawled, as I didn’t trust me legs, into the living room where my brother in law was sleeping in the easy chair. “Bruce, wake up!” He didn’t move much and I felt horrible for having to wake him as he had been the one to sit at home with the kids while me and my sister went out. “Bruce, wake up I think I was drugged.” He woke up and laughed at me in my intoxicated state. Somehow I formed enough words to convince him I was not drunk and he called an ambulance.
Bruce is a fire fighter and in my sisters home the police scanner is running day and night so that he can hear any calls that will require him to head to the fire station. Every time a call is made to the police or to the fire department and such the calls are streamed right into the speaker sitting on their dining room table. This meant that I could hear the call from the dispatcher to the ambulance. This made for an out of body experience. It was all playing out in front of me and I felt like a character in a bad Lifetime Television movie.
As the exchange was playing over the airwaves my sister entered the house, yelling as she tore up the staircase. “Why did you leave me! I was getting a cab, I couldn’t find you until Roger told me he had taken you home. Oh and your little friend was looking for you as well,” she said slyly
“Rachel, she was slipped something. We’re trying to get her to the hospital.” Bruce explained. Then, it clicked in her head as it had in mine when I was convulsing on her daughters bed.
She ran to the phone and dialed the bar’s number. “Misuk, get Roger on the phone!” After a few moments of silence she screamed “Roger, that little shit gave Kristiane a rape drug. Find him and kill that fucker!” I remember so vividly being appalled at the language she was using.
Her screams woke the kids who were still sleeping on the floor. My two year old son crawled up onto my lap and began crying. He was scared of the commotion. I put my arms around him to hold him tight, but they might as well have been your arms. I was not in control of what my body was doing.
Minutes later the EMTs arrived along with a police officer to take a report. I was in no shape to tell him anything, so my sister explained what had happened. He chuckled and said, “I think it’s just the booze I smell on her breath.” He gave me a breathalyser test, which showed that I was well under the legal limit for driving. He was a bit more attentive at that point and as I was being loaded onto the gurney I leaned over and threw up on his shoes.
The ball dropped that year as I was riding in the back of the ambulance to the nearest hospital over twenty miles away. I, like you, had seen this story before on Dateline. I was desperately trying to remain conscious for I thought if I passed out I might never wake up. I wanted to feel sober again and give my son the tight hug that he had deserved when he’d crawled onto my lap only minutes before. The ride seemed to last only two or three minutes. I must have had trouble staying alert, though I don’t remember passing out.
I was checked into the emergency room and shortly after my initial examination my sister had arrived. She had followed the ambulance down to the hospital. I don’t remember much of anything that happened at that hospital, though I appeared to everyone there to be quite lively. This is what I was told:
As my sister entered the hospital room she screamed because she thought I was having a seizure. I must have been shaking uncontrollably. The doctors in the hospital I was at do not stay there overnight, but are instead called in if need be. So, as I was lying there I was screaming for the doctor like a crazy lady on the street corner, “Hurry up and come fix me now!” When he did arrive I do remember recognizing him as one of the volunteer leaders in our Young Life church group from when I was in high school. I was so ashamed that he was seeing me like that.
I was tested for all sorts of drugs I had never taken and had some I had never heard of. It was determined that I had been given GHB, a tasteless clear liquid used in smaller amounts as a rave drug and in large amounts as a date rape drug. Overdose in the latter is not uncommon.
They held me there until I was stable and fully aware of what was going on. The next morning I woke up late. My sister had allowed me to sleep in and I was grateful for I had a hangover in my entire body. My brother offered me a cup of fresh coffee, “Do you want cream or GHB,” he asked. I could have looked at this as cruel and maybe too soon for a joke about my experience, but knew I was lucky. Yes, I had been violated and it will always effect me, but thankfully Creep had never laid a hand on me. He was there when Rachel left me to call the taxi and if Roger had not answered me so quickly when I had demanded a ride, I might not have had the same night that I did.
Roger called Rachel later that day to see how we were doing. He also had a story of his own to tell. After the police had left my sisters house the night before they went straight over to the Peerless to question Creep about what had happened. Being as they did not find anything on him they could not book him and he was free to go. GHB is usually stored in small plastic bottles similar to travel shampoo bottles and chucking that would have been easy.
Roger overheard what the authorities said and after they were done with their questions Roger and his friends took Creep into the dining room of the Peerless that had been closed for the evening where they then broke his nose.
I will never be an advocate for violence. I would feel better if Creep had served some time in jail. But, as the story was told to me, Creep re-emerged into the bar to find his friend and head home, broken nose and all, and the police had not yet left. They were aware of the entire ordeal. This may be the only time I will ever be happy about the politics of small town living.
Later, I got the chance to thank Roger. I don’t consider that New Years to be a traumatic experience, I really feel as though I was lucky. I am not quite so terrible about being driven now. I’ll even allow people to drive me on the freeway. But, the second time Roger drove me was also the last.