“Jesus, Emil, let’s get out of here, he’s gonna shoot!”
Emil was only too happy to oblige, putting his foot on the gas and accelerating so they flew down the country road past fields of grazing cows and horses, a blur of woods, farm houses, trees, pastures. Finally Emil pulled into a gas station to catch his breath. No one had followed them, but you never knew. In this part of the country, in rural Arkansas where visitors were outsiders, it was easy to be paranoid.
“Did you get his picture?” he gasped. Alicia pulled the photo up on her phone and handed it to him.
“Not bad,” Emil said. “At least we have a viable image of his face.”
“And his license plate,” Alicia noted.
“Do you want to go back? Get some pictures of his house?”
“I want to get the fuck out of here!” She was afraid of the town with its racist signs, its air of quaintness and composure, of the backwoods rawness, the hostility she felt racing down the area’s country roads, and mostly of the man, Ricky, springing out of his old blue Toyota with a pistol.
That gun had been pointed straight at them, at her – Alicia, with her frightened face and beacon of red hair. She was convinced Ricky knew who she was and that he had enough information to find her in Austin. That evening at the hotel, over a good dinner, with civilized people around them, Emil explained that was impossible. “We have info on him, which we’ll give to a lawyer. Not the other way around. He has no idea who we are. All he saw was our rental.”
“He could trace us through that.”
“Very unlikely. He’d need some really good connections – which I doubt he has.”
But Alicia was unconvinced. Ricky had their credit card information. At home in Austin, she became fanatical about locking doors and keeping close track of her daughter, ten-year-old Cecily Rose. In the car she was always hyper-aware of who was behind her. At work she flinched every time the door opened and someone entered the gallery. And so she did two things: she bought a gun, a cute little lady’s pistol which she carried with her everywhere in her Prada bag – “Me! The most anti-gun person you’ll ever meet!” – and she did a little research and acquired a year old mastiff guard dog, whom she named Leo for Lethal Weapon.
“All that in under three weeks,” she told me in her late afternoon visit to my studio.
“And now?” I asked.
“Now?” She laughed a thin, light laugh. “I sweat bullets while we wait to hear what the lawyer has to say. Unless,” she added, “that fucker gets to me first and shoots me.”
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/38529717/the-stalking-victim-who-wants-mental-health-care-for-her-stalker