Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stalker, part 7: One Last Chase Scene

Since our previous installment here, St- broke into my apartment two more times and stole more things. Fearing for my safety, I gave up my apartment (losing the deposit) and temporarily moved into a studio apartment of some friends of E-'s which he had arranged for me to rent from them in a month-by-month arrangement. My roommate Sh- went and moved in with someone else.

Monday, Feb. 1 - Saturday, Feb. 13, 1999

At one point St- somehow got a hold of the number of my cell phone. This was less of a nuisance than you might expect because I kept it turned off almost all of the time anyway, so all he could do was leave me messages. And since I never did figure out how to work the message service on that phone to retrieve my messages, I didn't even have the bother of having to listen to them. Of course I eventually had the number changed.

Even though I knew that I would soon be leaving, I was still worried that St- would find my new address and harass me there and possibly damage the C-s' apartment. The biggest risk was that St- knew where I worked, and there was always a danger that he might follow me home.

Since he insisted that I call him regularly, the system we hit upon was for me to call him from the subway station immediately after work. That way he was happy because he had my attention long enough to recite to me over and over his distorted vision of what had happened between us, and I was happy because I knew that if he answered the phone in Montrouge, that meant that he wasn't there in the subway station intending to follow me home.

He told me over the phone that he felt bad about the fact that he still had a suitcase full of my things (which he had stolen the last time he had broken into my apartment) and wanted to return them to me. I told him that he could drop it off with G- or with the police, and I would pick it up from there. He refused, saying that he wanted to give it to me in person because he wanted a chance to try to rebuild our friendship, and he wanted to show me that we could get together without anything bad happening.

After everything that he did, I was still concerned about him, and I wanted to believe that he could get better. So when he suggested that we meet at the Mustang Café for a beer, and promised that he just wanted to use this as an opportunity to show me that all of those bad things he did were in the past, I thought to myself "It's a public place, full of people -- I won't be in any danger, and maybe it will help him, as he says."

The attentive reader is probably wondering at this point how many times this poor gullible woman can fall for this psycho's promises before she finally catches on. Read on, and you will see that this time was definitively the last time.

So, one evening I foolishly walked into the Mustang Café to meet St-. Of course he hadn't brought the suitcase. He explained that since we're friends now there would be plenty of opportunities for me to get it from him in the future. (Translation: I hate to give up my hostage so easily if there's potential to continue to use it as bait.)

I sincerely tried to carry out my new role as friend (in part because I felt bad for him that he had essentially no other friends), but it was difficult because he was at least as creepy as ever. He tried to pressure me into agreeing that all of the bad things that he had done weren't really as bad as all of that, and that he had just had a bad reaction to the terrible way I had left him.

Then, to demonstrate to me that he was getting on with his life and even had new romantic prospects, he told me a rather disturbing anecdote. There were couple of people (boyfriend and girlfriend) who were living in the other apartment on the same floor of St-'s building while I was living there with him. St- told me that they had just recently broken up, and the woman had gone off to live with her new boyfriend. Then, the other day, St- ran into the woman on the street and said "bonjour." She didn't respond, but as soon as she had passed him he turned to look back at her, and he noticed that she had turned to look back at him as well. Then they each walked a little bit farther in their respective directions, and he looked back again and noticed that she had again turned for another look. When he reached the end of the block, he turned and looked back a third time, and noticed that she turned to look a third time as well.

Now, I'm almost positive that she was there on the night that I was screaming "He's threatening to kill me with a knife, somebody please call the police!" (or at least she would have heard about it later) so my immediate interpretation of her behavior was that she was keeping an eye on him out of apprehension, or perhaps she was curious to look at what kind of a person would do such a thing. St-'s interpretation, however -- and this really amazed me -- was that she was looking back at him because she was interested in him and was checking him out! When he told me that that was what he thought, it was all I could do to keep from exclaiming "Are you crazy?!?"

I restrained myself because I knew that the correct response was that, yes, he is crazy, so to avoid upsetting him, I acted as if his little story were perfectly reasonable. But to myself I was thinking, "Yeah, I'm sure that most women find it to be a big turn on when they hear that a guy locked up his ex-girlfriend in his apartment and attempted to kill her."

After the outing had gone on for a reasonable length of time, St- surprisingly demonstrated his improved behavior by being willing to end the evening and go our separate ways without a fight. I was so impressed that I even agreed to a future outing of the same type. I walked with him to the Gare Montparnasse (Montparnasse train station) and escorted him to his subway platform and said goodbye.

He peacefully got into the subway car, and then at the last minute, as the tone was sounding for the doors to close, he made the fateful, horrible decision to get back off. He then accused me of seeing him off like that so that I could make sure that he wasn't following me. I didn't deny it, but I couldn't very well be blamed for it either. I tried to remain calm, and told him that it was okay, that he could get on the next one, but as the next subway train came and went, he refused to get on that one as well.

What followed was a frightening chase through the halls of the Gare Montparnasse. I ran through the various tunnels in a vain attempt to get away from him, and he chased right after me. I knew that if I could just get on the subway -- any subway in any direction -- without him getting on the same train, I could escape him. I ran to a couple of different subway lines to try to take one, but each time I got on a train, he would just get on the same one, and it was impossible to stop him.

In the subway station of the Gare Montparnasse, there's a large tunnel connecting various subway lines that is so long that it has rolling conveyor-belt sidewalks in it, and our chase from one subway platform to another involved following this passageway back and forth a couple of times. There I experienced another astonishing example of how little you can count on the aid of strangers. This passageway is huge, and it was absolutely packed with people. I was yelling (in French) "help, this person won't stop following me!" as he followed me onto the conveyor belt and was grabbing me to keep me from getting away.

I violently tried to push him away, screaming "dégage !" (get away from me!) and "au secours !" (help!). The people in the tunnel just kept a certain distance and watched. I have a very vivid image of seeing the people on the opposite conveyor belt staring blankly at the scene as they went by, as if they were watching something taking place on television. It was absolutely terrifying to see that I could be attacked in a well-lighted, crowded place and that no one would lift a finger to help me. Even today, sometimes when I'm in that passageway the image comes back to me.

At one point I managed to slip away from St- by going outside of the subway area and into the train station. (I had a monthly transportation card, so I could go in and out of the subway as much as I wanted without running out of tickets.) I went upstairs to a small bookshop and read magazines for about ten or fifteen minutes, waiting for him to go away.

Figuring I had waited a reasonable length of time, I stepped out of the bookstore and received a call on my cell phone. It was St-, and he told me that he was still in the Gare Montparnasse. I didn't tell him where I was (obviously) because I didn't know if he knew that I was still there too or if he thought perhaps that I had gotten on the subway.

I was in the main hall of the train station where there's a large open area, several stories high, criss-crossed with escalators. I looked down and saw him on the floor below me, talking to me on his cell phone. It was almost surreal -- I felt like I was in some sort of action movie. He didn't see me, and I was careful to stay outside of his line of vision, but I was trapped there because I couldn't go up or down the escalator without risking being seen, and he had positioned himself in such a way as to have a clear view of both the entrance to the subway area and the main doors of the building.

I was petrified and didn't know what to do. All the while on the phone he was telling me that he could tell that I was upset, and he wanted to talk to me and make it okay again. It was crazy of him to imagine that anything other than his leaving me alone could possibly make things okay. I told him that all I wanted was for him to go home peacefully and let me do the same.

Finally, when I thought he was sufficiently far from the gate to the subway area for me to possibly get past without being seen, I tried to slip back in unnoticed, but he saw me, and the chase resumed in full force. I searched everywhere for a security or police officer who could be counted on to keep St- in custody for just fifteen minutes so that I could get on the subway unmolested, but when you really need a cop, they can be hard to find. After what seemed like an hour (but was probably more like fifteen minutes) of this horrible pursuit, I was completely hysterical with fear and rage. I pushed him away and ran out of the subway area again, and this time I ran outside and got on a bus. He didn't follow me outside of the building, probably because he figured that I would wait around and make another attempt to get on the subway.

On the bus, everything was peaceful and calm, and I was able to easily verify that St- did not get on the same bus with me. After riding along for a certain distance, I noticed to my chagrin that this bus I had so cleverly chosen was going straight towards Porte d'Orleans -- St-'s subway stop -- and that that was the end of the line where everyone had to get off! As soon as I noticed this, I got off the bus immediately. I then consulted the maps on the street and walked toward the nearest subway station that wasn't for line number four (St-'s line). I'm pretty sure I ended up taking the RER B at Cité Universitaire. I remember thinking how much safer I felt walking alone down the dark streets of Paris than I had felt in any situation that involved St-.

Even after this last horrible incident, I continued to talk to St- on the phone, but I no longer felt the slightest responsibility towards helping him. The only reason I even maintained phone contact was that when he lost contact with me completely, he would start making harassing phone calls to G-, So-, and my parents, and I figured that this was my problem and not theirs.

He continued his insane, deluded monologue, and I basically non-committally went along with anything he said that didn't involve telling him where I was living or agreeing to see him again under any circumstances. I figured that it didn't really matter what I said to him at this point because he was so deluded that whatever it was he would twist it up in some bizarre way in his deranged mind anyway.

One of the things he took to repeating was that we needed to both forgive each other and become friends again. I knew that there was no point in taking anything he said seriously, but I was disgusted that he continued to believe (apparently sincerely) that although he had done some bad things, it was really that we had both done bad things to each other, and, in fact, what I had done to him was probably even a bit worse than what he had done to me because I started it.

I'm sorry, but let's take a short visit to reality universe here.

Occasionally it happens that you're in a relationship that doesn't work out, and your partner leaves you for someone else: that's life. And to respond by terrorizing the person (and her friends and family) with repeated harassment, thefts, and violence is not even in the same universe with an appropriate response.

He also would tell me that he really wanted to give me back the remaining suitcase of my things that he had stolen from me (although he always carefully avoided the word stolen). I told him that there was nothing of value in the suitcase, so he might as well just throw it away. He said that he felt bad just throwing it away, but after everything he had done to me, I didn't care in the least if he felt a pang of remorse while throwing away things he had stolen from me.

So in the end, I decided it wasn't worth it to try to continue my little dream of living in Paris, so I quit my job and got on a plane bound for the U.S...

I then lived in New Jersey for two years before moving back to France.



Joseph's Left One said...

That guy should be in a rubber room somewhere.

I've had experiences like that (though not anywhere to that extent) where I've just given up on something I wanted to do rather than deal with the people involved. Kind of sucks, doesn't it?

What a gripping story.

Tom C said...

Geezuz girl - that's one hellatiously gnarly stalker story. What a psycho that guy was. I'd have left the country too. Yowsers.

Anonymous said...

0I think you are almost as fucked up as he is. Why on earth would you even have considered having anything to do with him after the FIRST incident!!! And then at the end, you agree to still take phone calls? It may have been annoying for friends and family, but sometimes it is a bit more important to consider yourself first. ANY contact with him is still playing into his psychotic game... I felt bad for you the first night. And had you followed that night by doing everything you could to stop communication, I would have still felt bad for you... But you did no such thing... you continued to meet with him - even after he stalked you and threatened to kill you...

At that time, you probably need just as much psychological help as he did. You were the enabler to his dysfunction. I can't believe no one else is saying this. --or did you just delete their comments to remain in your own victim role rather than facing the fact that you allowed this shit to continue.

alley rat said...


You sound like St-, blaming her like that. Or any number of people who blame the victim. I can see why you chose to remain anonymous. It's a shameful thing to blame someone for their own stalking the way you have here.

smartalek said...

How miserable that you had to learn the hard way that people won't interfere when someone is being assaulted -- even killed (see Genovese, Kitty).
While I hope that nothing like this ever happens to you again, if it does -- or happens to anyone reading this -- it's exactly because of this that the cops now often suggest, if you are in this kind of danger, to yell "FIRE." THAT tends to get people to actually do something, or at least call the authorities -- presumably because now THEY feel threatened.

Blake (Bear) said...

I cant say that I agree with cheating, but that guys friggen nuts. It was a great recount and youre a very talented writer. Keep up the good work.

ginmar said...

And why am I not surprised that the anonymous comment is an assholish one? People underestimate the lure of the familiar, the knowledge women have that when a relationship goes wrong, the woman will get blamed.

I'm glad you got to move back to France. I'm looking for a house myself.

greenconsciousness said...

Do you think it is typical of the FRENCH not to help when someone else is being oppressed?

The women's movement has changed things a few inches in the US but in most of the rest of the world, despite the propaganda we are fed by the left, women are blatantly considered the property of men. And this is true in the so called advanced European cultures as well as the third world.

greenconsciousness said...

I am thinking of Natalie Holloway and her rape and murder in Aruba. .....The comments I heard that she asked for it because she went with 3 men, even though it was obvious that she had been drugged. I was thinking about how the native women must be treated when they are raped. The cops acted as though they had never actually taken the crime of rape seriously before and did not know what to do even in terms of gathering evidence. I remembered how raped women were treated in the US in the 1970-1980s and I think our attitudes as they have developed in the US are not shared by other cultures including the French.

RunLuluRun said...

It is easy to critize someone for being so "stupid" as to continue to spend time with someone so crazy. I would have been just as confused by these stories if this had not also happened to me at the age of 34.

One night he came to my window at 4am and said, "Lu, you really didn't need to change the locks."

Wow. Yes, I did, or he wouldn't have been saying that from outside, but standing in my bedroom.

I'm glad that you survived this nightmare. It is brave to share your story. Maybe other men and women will recognize that those behaviors (by St) are NOT normal and NOT acceptable and flee sooner rather than later.

Jae said...

Holy cow.
What a story. The mentality that we don't respond to those yelling help is true. I know to be conditoned against it now. There was once where I saw a woman running away from a man and I could have helped but didn't. I'm haunted still.

Frequently women in the US still get treated like shit while reporting rapes, BTW.

Melissa said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry that you had to go through such an awful, frightening series of events. I am sure that many people have and will benefit from learning of your experiences. It's so hard sometimes to deal rationally and compassionately with the irrational and unwell.

Leni said...

Actually, I found the fact that no one would help you more disturbing than the stalker behavior. I'd expect irrational, creepy behavior from mentally ill abusive boyfriends.

I don't epect it from random people on the street. Most of whom are probably very nice, law abiding people who otherwise (perhaps wrongly) see themselves as helpful do-gooders.

It's a terrifying thought that these same people would be willing to stand by while someone is attacked or murdered without doing orsaying anything. That is unbelievably weird and horrible.

So, I made a conscious decision while reading this to not be afraid to help someone who needs it.

To just step in say something. I'm betting all it takes is one person, and that people who would otherwise second-guess themselves and think "It's not my business, someone else will help" would instead think "What's going on?" and at the very least stop to see what the fuss is about.

Anyway, I'm glad you eventually got away from the creep. And I do empathize. It seems to me like your biggest crime was having hope he'd stop acting insane and would make good on his promises, which is naive but I don't think it is anything like what old anonymous said up there.

The mistake you made is really common. I've made it, probably at some point we all have. The only difference is that when you made it, it was with someone a happened to be genuinely disturbed.

In any case, I imagine many of us have had (for example) an alcoholic or drug-abusing friend or family member on whom we have placed similarly naive hopes. I think your mistake was entirely human and understandable. Oh and that anonymous up there is a callous dink :)

INTJ Mom said...

I'm a bit late to the posts here, but sadly I could relate to your stalker story. I had an ex that was obsessive and didn't want to let go as well. Even once I was married and pregnant and he was supposedly engaged to some other woman he'd met online he was still sending love letter emails to my then work address. It was really creepy.

When I quit my job when the baby was born, I told the company I didn't want to have my email autoforwarded because I didn't want to keep getting this guy's emails. It was amazing, the more I would ignore his emails, the more emails he would send. Fortunately he had to move out of state to be with this other woman.

I think I know where you were coming from. On the one hand you want to get out, on the other hand you feel bad for the guy and maybe more than that - you just don't want to be the "bad guy". You're the "bad guy" for ending the relationship. And in a way it's also flattering that they want you to stay so badly, that they desire you so much.

Only later do you realize that it wasn't "you" specifically that they really wanted or desired, it was simply more of a control issue for them. You were an object he wanted to control.

Anonymous said...

Oh Myy Goshh! That Guyy Needs A Straight Jackett He Scrares Me Thats Intense;; W0w!<3;[Im Really
S0rry Yuh Had T0 G0 Thr0ugh That If That Wre Me Id Be Dead Outta Fright!;[Weell G00d Thing Yuh Were A Smart Pers0n &&G0t Out Of That Situati0n!;[

Anonymous said...

No one helped you because:

You lived in the building before and they KNEW your drama queen/victim routine....I wouldn't have helped you either.

Here's a REAL FEMINIST viewpoint.

Have some personal accountability for this whole mess. You're as responsible as he is for this situation (if its even true). You wrote it to put yourself in the best light and still come off looking like an instigator.

Wonder how it was in real life.

"I still felt bad for him..."

That is insanity and you need help.

Or better fiction skills.

kallie said...

Thank you so much for this interesting and frightening story. I think that stories like this are really good for girls to read, because often we are not being careful enough. Bad stuff does happen, and we need to know about it!
Thank you very much!