Edited by Anne Goddard
Copyright 2021 by Lew Goddard
old car gave up just as I reached the western outskirts of a very
isn’t really my car but that was the only way that I could
escape my abusive husband. Now, I believed that I was at least a
thousand miles from him, so why did I keep looking over my shoulder.
He couldn’t know where I was. In fact, I didn’t know
where I was.
the old Toyota just stopped running, I thought I was out of gasoline.
No, it showed that there was still nearly a quarter tank. I turned
the key and it turned over, turned over, turned over but wouldn’t
start. The tank had been filled three times on my journey and if a
tank of gas was enough to travel four hundred miles, then I was over
a thousand miles from him.
out of the car, I noted that the hood was extremely hot and a blue
vapor rose from under it. When I thought of it, this old vehicle with
more than two hundred thousand miles on it, has been amazing. I
patted the left fender and thanked it out loud. A valiant service
beyond the call of duty.
seemed to be close to a mile, I could see a motel sign. It was lit up
because darkness was not far away. The words were blurred because of
key was left in the ignition after I collected my meagre belongings,
a large hard sided suitcase which thankfully had wheels on the
bottom. My purse contained some money that I had stashed away over
the last six months or so. I could afford a motel. It was very
difficult sleeping in the driver’s seat leaned back as far as
it would go but sleep came in increments between hearing noises and
my fear that he had found me and he was pounding on the door.
legs began to pain before I could reach the motel. It was a Super 8,
and being familiar with the name, I knew it wouldn’t cost me an
arm and a leg. The big glass doors at the entrance were shining and
very clean, as was the floor and front desk as I entered.
the counter a well-dressed young man with a suit and tie, smiled and
asked me if I wanted a room and did I have a reservation?
I said, “I would like a room for this evening.”
passed me a card about half of a full sheet of paper and he asked me
to fill it out and record my car license number as well.
car is broken down about twenty blocks to the west, I walked here,
and will see what to do with it tomorrow.”
you like to call a tow truck and they could take it to a repair
garage or park it here until morning?”
just leave it. If someone should happen to steal it, they won’t
find much value with it, thanks though.”
was professional and polite but he had a hard time keeping his eye of
my multicolored left eye and the stitches in my lower lip. He never
seemed like he wanted to ask. He couldn’t see the bruises on my
arms and chest.
room was like a castle to me. A double bed, white sheets and a cover.
And the shower! It has been a very long time when I had a proper
shower all to myself.
dimmed the light; I always do when I got into bed to sleep. Maybe,
I’ll turn it off. Noooo! I can’t see anything and I will
keep the light.
bed felt soft and solid and I drew the covers right up to my neck and
closed my eyes. Immediately, I opened them and stared at the room and
the lock on the door.
I guess I had drifted off when I woke with a start because I could
see him. Thank goodness, it’s a dream. The rest of the night, I
slept until eight broken by fear and dreams.
at eight like I have for last number of years. Get up early and start
something in the house just after Lester went to work. Those hours
were my saviors, until he came home. I use to think that it would be
a good time to run away but, never seemed to summon the courage until
now. This was a good start to a better life. I felt luxurious in the
shower again, dressed, packed my suitcase and went down stairs.
was a different person at the counter, a woman. She saw me and said
that there was a message on my card about your car.
just a minute, I’ll be back,” and went outside to the
front sidewalk and looked east to where I had left the car. There
were other cars along Telford Drive where the motel was located but,
I was pretty sure that my car was still there.
the counter, I said, “I guess I should get a tow truck and see
what I can do with my old car.”
get you the number and you can call on your cell phone”
I said, and then stopped, “uh, my phone is not working.”
first, I was going to say I didn’t have one. Everyone does but
I didn’t want to use it in the event that my husband might be
able to track my signal.
I’ll call the number and you can talk with the driver, is that
all right?” she asked.
answered in the affirmative and she was making the call and when
someone answered she gave me the telephone.
a man replied, what can I do for you?”
told him the approximate location of the car and asked him to bring
it down to the motel and I would meet the driver out front.
hesitated for a moment, “Sure, we’ll be there in about
car looked very decrepit behind the truck with the front end up on a
hitch. A man with a long dark beard stepped out of his truck and
asked if I was Emily.
showed him my driver’s license and he asked what I wanted to do
with the car? He walked back and opened the driver’s door and
the rear door to see what it looked like inside. He turned back to me
and asked about the four speakers that were mounted in the sides of
my husband squandered his money on a two-thousand-dollar stereo
system a couple of years ago and I must admit that it has a wonderful
sound.” I stood there and looked at him.
it run?” he asked.
stalled where you found it but, it wouldn’t start, so I walked
raised his eyebrows and offered, “that is quite a walk. In the
there looking at me I knew he was thinking of something and he
proceeded to walk around the car and look underneath.
then stretched his arm up to the ignition and turned the key. It
turned over five or six times emitting a growling sound, until it
stopped and the starter wouldn’t do anything.
familiar with cars and have for many years, it is very likely that
the motor is seized.”
totally dead then?” I questioned.
nodded. “Tell you what, if you don’t need it and in fact,
I don’t think it’s worth the money to fix it, I’ll
take it off your hands as is and we’ll call it even.”
really didn’t negotiate with him; I just gave him back the key
gathered that he knew how much he could get for the stereo system and
the after-market mags that Lester had installed last year. More power
went behind the car and did something. came back to me with the
license plate and said I could throw it away if I wanted
some reason, the plate stayed with me as I walked back into the
motel. The girl, name tag, Melissa, looked at the plate and watched
the tow truck leave the premises.
you know if there is an apartment or something like that close so I
can walk to it?”
thought for a while, I think Derek would probably know, so I’ll
a few moments, a well-dressed man in a dark blue suit jacket with
light colored khakikhaki
pants, walked behind the counter and Melissa said that I was looking
for a place to live.
looked me up and down, smiled and asked, “Do you have a job?”
I just arrived last evening and stayed the night here. My car broke
down and it’s been disposed of, other than that. I have
my name is Derek and you are?”
you mind if I ask a personal question?”
depends what it is. If it’s about my black eye that is my
enough. all I wished to know that you would be physically capable to
accept a job here as a House Keeper.?
yes, you need a housekeeper?”
we usually have three but one is taking maternity leave. You could
have her shift which is Monday to Thursday and every three shifts you
would be asked to work your regular during the
and also Saturday and Sunday. Wages start at minimum for new staff
but if you receive a good evaluation the first month, you would
receive a 10% raise.”
I could handle that but need a place to live.”
have a friend who has a second floor one bedroom apartment a block
and a half west of here. I could arrange it for you to meet him
there. Do you have enough for the first month rent and the same
believe I could handle that but won’t have much left. When do I
which is Tuesday and you would work until Thursday.”
first thing you will do is shadow our current house keeper and work
shook his hand and thanked him. I was again off to a great start.
were made to rent the apartment and I moved in. The kitchen was
suitably equipped with two chairs and a table. The bed was one of
those that is referred to as a chestabed,
It was home.
the first and second weeks, I became acquainted with the two other
housekeepers. Peggy, who was a dark-skinned woman with a smile that
showed her perfectly white teeth. She was a good worker who had been
here for nine years. Joyce, a white younger woman was quiet and
didn’t talk about many things. She, however, was friendly and
an end to one of my shifts and Peggy’s as well, she asked me if
I wanted to go for a drink to unwind. This hasn’t been in my
life for years and I accepted. We arrived at a bar on Tedford street
with an entrance door that opened automatically.
followed Peggy to a table by the back wall and a young man came to
serve us. I really didn’t know what to order so I stuck to a
Margareta. I wasn’t disappointed.
long after we sat there, a large rough looking man came up and sat
down with no invitation. He called Peggy, Honey, and looked at me and
said, “Introduce me to this gorgeous lady here.”
didn’t smile but she politely introduced me. He held out his
hand and took mine and held on far too long. Not only that he shifted
his chair so close that his knee touched mine. I moved away. Then he
put his arm on my shoulder. I must have shivered because he laughed.
scowled and stood up, “We are just leaving, ” and she
prompted me to go with her. I did not resist and was halfway to the
door and the guy was right beside me.
me, Peggy gave him a shove and said loudly enough for the bartender
to hear, “Lay off Jerry, you can be such an idiot!”
she said “that I had to be firm with him, he is so obnoxious
sometimes, I just have to leave. He’s also married but you
wouldn’t know it.”
gave her a hug and said, “thank you.”
week or so later I was near finishing on the second floor standing at
the end of the hall. Room 212 there needed to be cleaned. It wasn’t
eleven yet so I guess I would have to come back later.
door opened and the same guy, Jerry, stood there in his undershorts.
“Well, look who’s here,” he said with that silly
grin of his and kept coming toward me.
quickly backed up. He was feeling himself and it was quite evident
what he had in mind, so I hollered for one of my partners.
cam running up the stairs and Jerry retreated.
told her that it was Jerry and he was making a sexual advance.
asked, “did you see the woman?”
doesn’t have his wife in there according to the front desk.
couple of hours later, I went into room 212 and commenced cleaning.
My routine is to pick up garbage, clean the bathroom, strip the bed
and leave towels and shampoo and leave a carnation on the pillows.
With sheets and blanket off, the bed appeared to be quite damp in the
centre. Plus, a couple of tiny red spots that looked like blood. I
removed the mattress cover with a waterproof material on the bottom
and determined that the mattress was not soiled. It left me feeling
sick to my stomach. The thought crossed my mind that, that the
peculiar odor was sex.
next weekend was my turn to work for the usual eight hours. I left
promptly at four and went out to the parking lot to walk home.
pickup suddenly drove up close to the curb facing the wrong
direction. The driver asked if I would like a ride and I looked at
him. It was Jerry. I kept walking then stopped because he would
probably follow me home. I stopped and turned back to the motel and
told him I was going to call the cops.
was not I wanted to do in my circumstances but he thought that I
would. I still tried to keep a low profile should someone see me and
put me in the spotlight. This just compounded my fear and watching
over my shoulder.
was at the counter and I told him what had just happened
said, “I’m calling the cops.”
don’t do that, I’ll check to see if he’s gone and
go out the back door and walk down the alley.”
in the alley so I quickly ran home.
I do every day when I arrive home, I found that I liked calling it
made sure that the door was securely locked. I have yet to buy one of
those devices that you flip over and doesn’t allow a person to
open the door all the way. Then I check the living room/kitchen and
the bedroom windows. The two small ones have the turn around locks
and can easily be used to get out I have not and probably will not
stop looking over my shoulder and watch out for every man.
didn’t appear for about ten days. When my shift was over, I
still went out the back door and walked home in the alley. One day, I
was at the rear of my building and I heard a motor roar and in a
second a truck came skidding to a stop beside me. Jerry again. He
jumped out and ran around to me and grabbed me by the arm.
Instinctively I poked him with my right hand where I always had my
key between two fingers and struck him near his neck. He jumped and
cursed, “A bit of a bitch, aren’t you!” While he
was slightly off balance, I ran the twenty feet to my building, then
decided to go around front and give myself a little more time to get
in. I made it and slapped my door and locked it.
heart was raging and I was out of breath. I looked out the side
window and waited. I guess he left. I couldn’t see out to the
rear of the building and I sure wasn’t going out to take a
was a long almost sleepless night. I went to work before eight and
tried to forget the night before.
Alan came in the afternoon, I told him what happened and again, he
immediately wanted to call the police. I said no, but I needed to
have someone drive me home after my shift.
said that he could work this out until the problem with Jerry
it turned out, Alan was able to have one of the housekeepers stand in
for him while he drove me home. It was only a matter of five minutes.
home I followed my security program and sat down on the toilet with
my head in my hands. As I rose, I pulled the flush lever, and nothing
happened, it just flipped up and down. Now what can I do, I don’t
know anything about plumbing. I couldn’t do without the biffy
so; I called the owner. He was polite and said he would send his
repair man right over.
never told me his name but he quickly had the flush working. He
showed me that the lever that went down to the flapper valve at the
bottom of the tank had slipped off the hook. In addition, he told me
that this type of problem was very rare.
and a couple of weeks passed, no Jerry and Alan still gave me a ride
I entered the front door of the apartment building, there was no
light there and none down the corridor. I stepped down a few steps to
the lower floor and saw that the lights were on there. It wasn’t
totally dark but with no window there, it was difficult to open my
door. More difficult because my hand was shaking.
time, I didn’t call the owner, someone else could. Why would
two lights be out.? I knew it was an old building and the ceiling
lights were not fluorescent. Still, I worried me.
morning a few days later, I got up a bit late and had to rush. I
skipped my usual small breakfast and went into the bedroom to the
closet to get my white work uniform. I reached in beside the folding
door as usual and it wasn’t hanging there, at least where it
always is. Looking to the far left, there it was between my sweat
pants and an old T shirt I often wore.
was sure that I had put it away in the same place for convenience.
dressed I loped down the front street after careful scrutiny. No one
misplacement of my uniform stuck with me all day.
God, No. These things that have happened in succession is something
that Lester would devise. He knew it would drive me around the bend.
I searched my mind and tried to remember if I had seen anyone
suspicious in my rides and walks. Nothing!
asked Alan, Melissa, Joyce and Peggy to please keep an eye out for a
man around the motel who shouldn’t be there. I described my
estranged husband and in particular the tattoo of a colorful snake
around his neck. It made me feel better but not much.
when I get home, I conduct a detailed inspection of everything and
made notes of what I find each day. I was becoming mentally and
physically exhausted. No sleep and high anxiety.
week I’m on the extra weekend days so, I was actually glad that
I had connection with my friends. Six days went by and nothing seemed
out of order. Peggy and I had become quite close and I filled her in
right up to date of my problems and suspicions.
came to me one day and told me that he knew some of my problems and I
needed to stop this crazy turmoil. One of the staff must have told
him, very likely Alan.
was reluctant to tell Derek the whole story but I did refer to Lester
as being a person that no one would want to know. He listened to my
suspicions and fears, and if these episodes did not stop, he knew
someone who could help me.
I went home, I naturally completed a detailed inspection and report.
The windows could not be raised, the door was locked and my clothes
were in the proper place since I just took them off. Perhaps I should
find another apartment or ask the landlord for more protection. The
stress has worn me down so much that my vision was hazy and I
couldn’t think of anything else.
usual, when preparing to go to sleep I cleaned my face of makeup and
brushed my hair, and sat down on the toilet.
screamed, Oh my God, Oh my God! Half of the toilet paper roll was on
the floor! I screamed some more and wept until I couldn’t move.
someone has been in my apartment perhaps many times, maybe even when
I was sleeping. He knows everything about me. Lester you bastard, how
could you do this to me? How do you get in without someone seeing you
or how do you stay invisible to me?”
very next day I asked if I could speak with Derek. The latest
misadventure was high on the list when I talked with him.
you have a couple hundred dollars to spare,” he asked.
seemed to be a weird response but I answered that, indeed, I did have
that kind of money.
I’ll call a lawyer friend of mine who often works with the
police and set up an appointment for you.”
lawyer that Derek referred me to, advised that he could see me within
Swanson invited me into his splendid office and I sat down on a well
upholstered white chair. It was something that I had never seen
before. It was mesmerizing.
listened intently for more than thirty minutes. His advice was to
contact the police, not just any policeman but a Detective that he
knew quite well and he would keep me out of the spotlight when he
decided what to do.
Sturgis arranged to have one of his forensic people scan my apartment
for finger prints other than mine. When that was completed, they had
numerous prints belonging to a male as forensics reported.
a further meeting with Sturgis, he asked me for a list of all the
people that I had been in contact with in the last few months. That
was easy, because I had very few contacts. This took a few days and
there was no match to the people on my list.
detective asked me if I had any other person that I could remember
even if I didn’t know them but did have some contact.
and staff were aware of the proceedings and Alan mentioned Jerry.
course, I had forgotten about him since he hadn’t bothered me
for some time. The search began but we didn’t have a last name
and no idea where he lived, the investigation stalled.
reminded me that Jerry often went to the bar a short distance from
the motel. Sturgis was contacted and somehow, they managed to get
Jerry’s prints. Probably from his truck, I was told.
any delay after his prints were matched to my apartment, and since it
was evening, I rushed down to the bar. Jerry was there. I strode over
to his table, he looked up, “You son of a bitch”, and I
swung my purse containing a full can of soda and various other
things, against his left temple and he toppled backward onto the
floor and I followed. I hit him again.
bouncer grabbed me.
was a few people clapping their hands together. The bar was packed.
spread around the district and Emily received several calls at the
motel, she had no phone and no E Mail but there seemed to be an army
of support for her.
occupation was a Property Manager and he had managed her apartment
building in the past and kept a master key. That was why it was so
easy for him to enter her apartment’
is currently awaiting trial for many offences.
stayed for a few more months and she disappeared.
decision was to keep running.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story list and biography
Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher