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Naivete is bullshit
I should have seen it coming, but my inclinations reject assumptions. My gut told me be careful, but my politics insisted I not jump to conclusions. My friend told me to trust my intuition, but I, like my terrier, am a blockhead.
For reference, I had recently gotten a divorce, but was still in residence with my ex. Civility is my mode of conduct. I kept my position neutral, sleeping on the couch as had become the norm the past year of my discontent. He still cooked my dinner, I still did the rest. We cohabited as out-of-necessity roommates.
The apartment was ideal, renovated, with original, dark hardwood floors, two-bedrooms; one assigned as my painting studio, I was set to start my new life. Every small treasure moved, alone, the confines of my little Miata, expanded to full capacity, each trip consuming an hour drive-time, I learned the art of making each second count toward my independence. The remaining furniture would involve purchasing the time and bodies of professional movers.
My choice cemented, the date scheduled, I was laid off. One more hurdle that left me reeling, adrenaline coursing, my panic reeking havoc on my ability to see straight, I somehow had to get myself in my car and home in the appropriately driving rain. The morning of my surprise, I grabbed my painting "on loan" at my now former workplace and medications taken during each day of the last seven years of my thirteen employed at my "home away from home", and dutifully, but absently, returned goodbye hugs to those that approached me in my hysterical state, as I repeatedly muttered, "what am I going to do?" One co-worker, a woman of absolutes, said "you have to go on with your plans". She was right.
Relaying my news via phone on the rainy ride home, crying without disguise or apology, I called my friend in Florida, my mom and my ex. Their shock mirrored my own. The following few days, I drank too much, became morose, my blathering turned dark. My ex threatened calling "the men in white coats", sobering me up. My life needed no more complications.
Moving day dawned blistering hot. The moving truck arrived at the bottom of the long, steep driveway, spilling out three men; two Bosnians and one of Asian descent. I had organized the furniture for easy access, facilitating the most effortless transport from my exile into the truck. The whole round trip ticket took only 2-1/2 hours of sweat and tears. My precarious emotional state, heightened by the fear of my impending financial state, drove my tears as I explained my recent unemployment to the young, charismatic, Bosnian handling my personal belongings. With his handsome head down, he was silent, and when he spoke, softly, kindly, with his Bosnian accent, he said, "I am very sorry". A stranger conveyed understanding, sincerity, empathy and exactly what I needed at that moment. The worse was yet to come.
The unspoken deal
Goin' with my gut
Upon arrival at my new digs, the older Bosnian, who spoke little English, and the Asian, did most of the laborious task of bringing my furniture from the truck into my new home. It did not go unnoticed, either by myself of the other two movers, that Mr. Hollywood spent a good deal of his time "hanging out", smoking a few of my cigarettes on the back stoop, employing his well practiced smile and assuring me "You no worry, you get job...a better job", that I did not look my age and that my body gave him hope in growing older. He was the man with the contract, the one I paid. He made mention that he would put my queen-sized, brass bed together at no cost because "You not working". Word on the street convinced me that the Bosnian community here was comprised of "good, hard-working people" so I squelched my suspicions and chalked up his offer to the sentiment I'd heard from so many. My phone number in tow on the contract he mislaid, necessitating a suspicious, about-face return to my apartment, left me uneasy. He looked disappointed when I told him I could manage the bed...no need to take the time from his busy work filled days.
One afternoon, roughly two weeks after my move, there was a knock on the door. The building I now call home has a security system. The outer doors lock automatically, necessitating the use of a phone system and a code located front and center in the courtyard for entry. I assumed the landlord was at my door, but rather, upon opening the door, noticed that one of the residents had jammed a hefty newspaper under the door to secure it open for personal convenience, allowing anyone to enter unencumbered. I was surprised to see Mr. Hollywood, looking innocent and sweaty from the day's hard work. He said he was a man of his word and wanted to help me put the bed together. I had already accomplished that feat, alone, but did not have the wrench I needed to fully secure the headboard to the foot-board. He said he would check it and tighten the bolts to stabilize the frame, which he did in short order. I thanked him and assured him I appreciated his expertise, although I'd accomplished the difficult part on my own.
He came across to the opposite side of the bed where I stood facing the bed. In an instant, before I could realize his intent, he shoved me face down on the bed, pulled up my skirt. pulled down my pantyhose and attempted to rape me. I wrenched away slightly so he could not enter me, started crying and begged him to stop. I could not tell you my exact words; something to the effect that I had just gotten divorced, lost my job and could not handle any more negatives. He stopped and said, "What the big deal, only once". He did not rape me. Instead, he presented another agenda. He said we could be good business friends. He explained that he has many friends trapped in Bosnia under horrific conditions. I could be a ticket out for some of them if I would consent to marriage "in name only" in exchange for $10,000 cash. In six months, I could divorce this phantom husband and go on to marry another for another deposit in my account. At this point, I just wanted him gone. I did not mention reservations about federal laws and imprisonment. Right then, I was a prisoner in my home and I wanted freedom from him on the other side of the door.
I pacified the Bosnian by telling him I needed time to get my house in order and would let him know about his business proposition. He called me several times thereafter, and I ignored the calls when Caller ID announced his intrusion. I chose to not involve the police as I have no more faith in them than any stranger.
I am a grown up now. Naivete is just another word for stupid. If I must err, it will be on the side of caution. When I consider the possibilities of what might have happen, rape is not the worst. If he had snapped my neck, alone as I was, it would have been the smell of decomp that would have announced my fate. So, fuck the auto pilot, Miss Manner's etiquette that allows a stranger to stand too close or become too familiar too soon. I'm goin' with my gut.
And so it goes....