It was a crisp fall afternoon, late 90's. I was following my typical route. I would cut across the end of Riverdale Road around 36th street in Ogden, and walk along Washington until I reached 25th street. I would stop at the city park, walk around, look at the Ten Commandments, stare at the people waiting for the many buses, and finally would make my way up to the Library on Jefferson. I particularly liked the library because it was quiet, and at the time I really needed quiet. (Plus I was writing my first novel. ;) )
So following my same path a man pulled up in this huge car, I can't say I remember what it was, but if you can think of a typical old man car of the time, I am sure you will get an accurate picture. He asked the usual question, "Do you want a ride?" But as usual I heard, "Would you like a ride little girl," followed by a wicked laugh. I must say I was tired this day, and he was old, like 70, so I took the ride.
Mother's everywhere shutter right now....A fifteen year old girl, getting into a car with a trunk large enough to hold a human body...what was she thinking?
I will tell you...I was thinking I am invincible, nothing bad will happen to me. And in this case I was right. The old man was very nice, we drove around and talked...really talked. I am happy to say this time it ended up alright. I made a very good friend who I could share all my secrets. It was very therapeutic...BUT...it set me up to further think I was invisible...and I was not
Arrive to BAD DAY: Two years later, and possible 100's of rides later we come to my 17th year. Now you may ask yourself. Why in the hell doesn't she have a car, I didn't even have a license. I was a full on city bus kid with a monthly pass and all.
I really had met some great people by taking rides, and as of this date only one pervert, who offered me 50.00 to...well use your imagination. The creeper, but this, this was different...and what a fool I was.
For those not familiar with the streets and parks of Ogden. Washington Blvd. is a typical city street, with a few big buildings scattered along a few miles stretch. There is a side road, I believe either it is 20th, but it could be closer to 18th street which turns up toward the mountains. This road has a long pathway which is next to a small river, and has many trees. The path leads to Lorrin Farr Park, but you first have to walk up along the winding path for about 5 city blocks...there is a river on one side, and a large hill on the other, so once you commit to walking up the street you are stuck until you reach the top of the road where a bridge is.
So I am walking from 26th street to my father's store on 17th street and Washington. I am presently on 23rd and Washington when he pulls up.
Even now I can picture his face, see his mannerisms...and I kick myself for being so stupid, I would blame youth, but really I knew better.
He had long blond hair, feathered back, and was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, blue with red flowers. His license plate was from California and he did look truly lost.
"Could you please tell me where Adam's is?" He asked.
I stepped off the curb, leaned down, and from the passenger side answered him, "You only have to turn up, it is about 2 blocks above Washington, which is the street we are on."
"Oh, okay, thank-you," Then he pretends like he is going to pull away.
I turn when he yells out, "Do you want a ride?"
I look down the block, "I am only going straight ahead 6 blocks, I think I can manage."
"It’s no trouble." He insists.
I sigh, I am kind of tired, so I tell myself, and jump in. "Just drive straight 6 blocks."
I settle in, and do what us women too often do, I do not listen to my gut, that is until he takes that ever fateful right hand turn up along the old Lorrin Farr path.
"Um, no you just need to go straight." My heart has already sunk, I know this isn't right, and I fear the worse.
"It’s okay, it’s okay." He says softly.
I begin squirming in my seat, my mind is on overdrive as adrenaline skyrockets my pulse and my stomach aches.
He pulls to the deserted side of the road and pulls behind a large concrete slab, effectively hiding us from the world.
Stupid girl! Stupid, stupid girl! My mind shrieks.
He turns off the car and slides closer to me, "I thought we could get to know each other better."
What to do, what to do...my mother's words come to my head...thank you mother for telling me about your young impetuous youth of hitchhiking.
I do the only thing I can think of.
Though my heart and stomach wanted to stab my brain for the suggestion, my brain was in charge. I lean into him. I smile, and then my hand is placed on his leg and slowly slides upward.
"Not in here, I know a better place, let's get out, it will be nicer by the river."
He gets excited and jumps out of the car and walks around to grab me. We slowly begin walking up next to the river and all the bushes and thick trees. My eyes are desperately searching out for someone, anyone to call out to, and yet there is no one, not a single soul. We walk maybe a few yards, he is anxious and has a death grip on my arm.
"Let's go." He snarls after we have walked too far and starts pulling me toward a large bush.
I spot someone. "Oh no, that is my cousin, oh God, no, no, if he tells my boyfriend."
This causes him to pause for a moment, and a moment is all I need. His hand slightly goes limp and I bolt.
I run, he swirls around and races back toward his car. I still have more than a block to reach the bridge, if I can make it to the bridge I can get to the park and either hide, or hopefully find someone, anyone in the crowd to help me.
I reach the bridge just as he gets to his car and drives toward me. I run faster than I ever have or ever will again across the bridge and hit the park.
Not a soul...not one person,...where in the hell are all the people.
His car rumbles across the bridge. I cut through the park, skinny behind a house, jump over a fence and race down the back half of 17th street until I reach my father's store.
I have never been so happy to see someone as I was to see my father (which is ironic in a way) than in that moment. I literally collapse in his arms and start crying.
Good point: My father, for one moment in his life, sees how someone can fear another...and for a moment, even for the slightest moment in time.
We called the cops, and come to find out I had stepped into the car of a serial rapist. Now one can say this was a good day...I mean I didn't get rapped, I won...but it was a bad day. It created a new fear in me, one that was very hard to reset.
Moral of the story: Don't fear, don't reject life's experiences, but when your gut tells you not to get into the car...Don't get into the damn car, seriously...a ride is not worth it.