A Secret Grave 34: Slasher

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Of course I wouldn’t tell anyone. By now it was about six-thirty and the studio yard was filled with shadows. I’d left the screen door to the deck open and we could hear the distant sounds of traffic and smell the cool late afternoon scent of plants relaxing after the tight daily grip of the sun. Even in mid-October it’s hot in Austin. Seated across from me, Alicia looked tense and she seemed to be taking her time figuring out just which words to use. I kept quiet. Finally she said, “There was a man at your party, Garrett Dragon something or other.”

“Gharith, yes.”

“He was in a crazy-assed costume. I don’t know what he was trying to be, but it took awhile for me to take him seriously because he looked so bizarre.”

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Gharith

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“Anyway, once I started listening I realized he had this really kind voice…” Her own voice got a little choked up and she had to stop for a moment, fingers digging deeper into Vincent’s fur. I handed her a glass of water and she took a sip. “He told me straight off the bat that I’d come a long way and was doing really well after the trauma I’d endured. For a moment I didn’t know what he was talking about. I mean here he was, a perfect stranger, a man I’d never met before, bringing up details of my life no one knows anything about.”

Trauma? What trauma? I was dying to know.

“When I was twenty-three, just after college, I lived in a crappy neighborhood in New York and this guy attacked me. It was pretty brutal. Like something from one of those crime programs on TV.”

Here’s the story as she told it to me. She was a girl from Brooklyn, daughter of an upholsterer and a high school teacher. She went to Goucher College and when she graduated she took an apartment in lower Manhattan with two girlfriends. She’d studied business and psychology, but didn’t really have a clear idea yet what she wanted to do with her life. Through an acquaintance of her father she got an entry level position with a PR firm that seemed to suit her quite well at the time. She was happy, life was exciting especially without her parents breathing down her neck and she loved where she lived: a third floor walk-up in a small building on east 12th Street. One evening she came home late from a party and tiptoed into the apartment so as not to wake anybody. When she opened the door to her bedroom, which faced out over a courtyard in the back, she suddenly had a funny feeling. It was dark, but she sensed someone was in there. All the hairs on her body stood up. She opened her mouth to scream, but before she could get a sound out, a hand grabbed her and flung her on the bed, shoving her face into the pillows. She fought as hard as she could, but he had a knife and he told her he’d use it if she didn’t shut up and hold still. To make sure she understood, he slashed her across the thighs. Then he started saying things to her, horrible things, like he’d been watching her for months and she belonged to him now, she would be his forever. With his hand over her mouth, he raped her. She tried to bite into his hand, but his grasp was too strong and when she tried to kick him with the stilettos that were still on her feet, he slashed her again. It seemed to go on forever. She thought she was a dead girl and started saying silent goodbyes to her mother and father and everyone she’d ever loved. And then from the street outside there was the scream of police sirens. Her attacker slashed her a final time, jumped from the bed and was out the window and down the fire escape – gone, as if he’d never been there except for her broken body and the blood all over the sheets. She never caught sight of his face, but she saw from his fleeing back that he was a white male, about five foot ten, late twenties, in a baseball cap.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ Light (Brooklyn) & Dark (Manhattan) after Sandy, Tanenhaus, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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