MISS MOOX + time


When I was nine years old I was nearly abducted.

I am writing about this not because it has been on my mind, but because there is a backlog of items written previously that I want to publish one at a time. I realize the darkness of some of my posts could be construed as garnering sympathy. I assure you it is none of that. What I think about, I write about. This one is a particularly persistent memory from my childhood that makes a rather interesting story. So here you go.

I was outside playing alone in my front yard on an overcast spring day. A car pulled up and stopped at the side of the road just in front of me. I clearly remember the look of it: long, older-model, dark brown, rather battered. A man leaned out of the open window. "Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to Such-and-Such cider vinegar factory?"

"Just down the street about a mile on the left," I replied briefly. It was a completely pedestrian request and as normally happens I expected him to thank me and be gone.

But he didn't go away. He didn't say thanks, and drive his car away to find the vinegar factory. Instead he looked at me for a long moment. Then he opened the door, got out of his car, and stood there. He was tallish and lean and wore a dark brown suit to match his car and dark sunglasses that totally hid the expression on his face. He looked like an FBI agent. I couldn't see his eyes, and the way he was looking at me was eerie. What was he doing?

He started walking toward me, silent, purposeful, menacing steps. I backed away several corresponding steps. As far as I could. I was pinned up against the front wall of my house and there was no door into which I could escape if he decided to rush and grab me. I was not terrified, only wary. With the internal sense that victims have I knew I was prey. I had heard about strangers who approached children in cars, and all my danger-sensors were sounding off on this man.

As I backed away, he stopped and gave me a long, appraising look. My heart pounded for a moment that seemed like eternity. We stared each other down while my fate was being decided. If I think about it I can still place myself exactly in that moment: see his face, his suited body, feel my tension to escape and mounting realization that I could not. I was a completely helpless mouse before a hungry cat, my survival dependent on his whim. It was a moment from a nightmare: the bad guy is coming, I am frozen here, I cannot run.

Finally he turned, got back into his car, closed the door, and pulled away down the road. I breathed a sigh of relief. I think I went into the house then, but I never told a soul.

Thinking about it later (I was of a detective turn of mind, an avid Nancy Drew reader), several things struck me as odd: one, he'd used the old name for the vinegar factory, one nobody had used for a couple of years; two, that he'd stopped to ask at all. The factory was just down the road and "everybody" who lived nearby knew where it was. Thirdly, of course, the dark sunglasses and stepping out of the car to make an approach at me. I knew, with the instinctive knowledge that children have, what his dark intentions were. There was no doubt that only my wariness saved me. He didn't consider it worth the risk to venture further and chance me screaming or running.

It all took place within a few moments, yet it was a few moments which could have changed my life. I guess I'll never know who he was, or what he wanted, or what might have happened. All I know is that I'm thankful I had the sense to back away, and that was enough to put him off. I hope he never went on to terrorize other little girls. I pray he never did. And I won't forget the day that darkness touched my life so nearly.

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