So Close

I was 15 and working at a gift shop in a charming restored early 19th century village. I often worked alone and when business was slow, I hopped next door to waitress at the Peppermint Stick, where I’d cheerfully spill coffee on strangers and get ice cream orders all wrong.



One Sunday afternoon, I sat behind the gift store counter after spending several minutes straightening theme tees and dreaming of Nick, the Peppermint Stick ice cream barista, who was about to go back to college and finish his literature degree. I felt sure he’d see something in me, forgo the nine years that separated us, and take me as his child bride.


So I sat. Dreaming, mooning, planning, and math-challengedly miscounting the coin drawer, when I looked up to find a cute twenty-something man crowding me at the sales counter. He gazed into my eyes with a weirdly intense but inpenetrable stare and asked what I was doing.


I couldn’t answer. He bowled me over with his good looks and freaky demeanor, a personal turn-on that would later bite me in the ass.


Crazy in the Head


I remember thinking at the time that his stare and closeness invaded my personal space, but he was so darn hot that it didn’t matter. Sandy blonde hair a la Mr. Mister, cornflower eyes, long, lean, the works. All my favorite things. Still, he made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t to have a “real” boyfriend until my early 20s, so at that time, penises made me nervous.


As I struggled for something witty or at the very least, audible, to say, I noticed that two long-haired, twitchy girls had accompanied him into the store. They hung back behind the counter, but their feral energy put me on high alert. I felt danger. I didn’t believe they were there to rob the store, but they had a dark purpose, of that I was sure.



The guy continued to lock eyes with me, yet now I knew he was using his magnetism to throw me off balance. But why?


He asked me about my home life, if I were happy in school, and did I have friends? He tried to connect, did his best to act concerned, but something rang my alarm. Something lay under his questions, some subtext I couldn’t translate. And even though his questions were innocuous enough, his intentions weren’t. Something wasn’t right. Then one of the girls, who looked like a Manson follower, asked me if we sold t-shirts with goats on them.


Of course, as any self-respecting geeky horror novel reader like myself knew, goats meant Satanic worship. Maybe I was to be their next virgin sacrifice? Or less worrisome, perhaps they were just evil Pan worshippers? I mumbled out a “no,” and tried to close down the conversation. But I still couldn’t string coherent sentences together, and a kind of hypnotic trance descended over me.


The serial killer girls soon joined their “leader” and surrounded the sales desk. They asked if I wanted to come to their place and join their group. They told me they offered support and fellowship to people looking for friends and a family. I was aghast. Although I was a big huge dork on the inside, I had plenty of friends, you could even call me popular, so what gave? Was my geek showing? Also, I shrunk from the questions about my family. We were close, my mom and dad provided love and guidance, so I resented the implication that they’d somehow neglected me.




In the end, the assumption that I was a loser rattled me enough to close down the conversation once and for all. I think they understood that they’d lost me, but the guy tried one final intense-eye-gaze mind meld, and when he saw that he no longer controlled my emotions, he gave up. But not before he wrote his number on a piece of paper and slipped it into my palm, with the request that I give him a call for next week’s “meeting.”


One last penetrating gaze, and he and the addled girls left. I clutched the paper in my hand. My entire body thrummed and shook, goosepimples peppered my skin, my neck itched. It felt as if an intruder had entered my home at night, stood over my bed until I awoke, then decided at the last minute to leave me alive. My escape was narrow.


I later called the number just to see who answered. As one of the girls picked up on the first ring and breathed a “hello,” I hung up. But used to be, in my head, I’d say “hello” back to see what happened next. And I wondered about the other 15-year-old girls like me, who might have been a bit more lonely, who might have fallen more readily into his eyes.


With two daughters of my own now, I hope all of it was a figment of my imagination. That he was just a guy, that the girls were just girls, that they just really liked goats. But if not, I pray my kids, all kids, can sense the wicked when it comes.



17 Responses to “So Close”

  1. Holy wow, Deb. You’ve done it again. I’m breathless.

  2. I’m getting pretty cynical in my old age. After the Moonies, Krishnas, Scientologists, Jim Jones, Branch Dividians, I’ve adopted the Groucho Marx philosophy of being suspicious of any group that would have some one like me as a member.

  3. Willies. Just gives me the willies. You poor Bunny Rabbit. You’ve been through too damn much – or at least gotten closer than most.

    BUT! Look at you now! You’re a gorgeous, loving, smart, wife and mother. Yay!

  4. we_be_toys says:

    “By the pricking in my thumb, something wicked this way comes.”

    Damn girl! Talk about your freaky experiences – that one is a doozie! They sound like they were either some kind of cult or a cult front for prostitution. It is one of those things you worry about when you have kids – whether or not they’ll be able to detect the false note, the bad seed, the evil intention. And be able to act upon that.
    Shudder…now THAT creeps me out!
    Great story! It totally sucked me in.

  5. That is a really scary story. I love the telling of it. I was sitting on the edge of my chair. And that photo of stalker boy just added to the fright factor.

  6. You have had some freaky stuff come your way. I’m glad you weren’t drawn in.

  7. g says:

    Wow. just wow. The stalking story is frightening. I recently heard that LAPD has the only Anti-Stalking unit in the country – so sorry they didn’t have it back then.

    the group that came into the story – that blatant predatory-ness is creepy.

    Brave you – how glad I am that you persevered through all that.

  8. Holy Moley! That was so very creepy. It reminded me of a time in my life when I associated with some very strange people…and I truly didn’t understand just how strange they were until years later. (shiver)

    I’m confused, though…couldn’t find a link to the end of the story…when he was standing at the end of your bed after reducing your door to splinters.

  9. Steph says:

    I hate it when something is so good I can’t even think of one witty thing to say.

    This? Was that good.

  10. Amanda says:

    I am with Cactus I never read the end of the story with the guy at the end of the bed and I always wondered. Did I miss it??

    Gosh, good job not giving in. Your story made them sound really freaky.

  11. MichelleB says:

    scary story! Speaking of baristas, My hubby was an ice cream barista/bartender.

    I actually came in all the time to buy sundae’s from him. One day we sat down and shared an ice cream together. 10 dates later he proposed to me with a gorgeous diamond engagement ring from

    so for me it wasnt a scary movie, it was more like a real life fairy tale.

  12. Ferd says:

    Wow, Deb! I read this, and the 3 part story about the Borderline who stalked you, and am still shaking inside. Those were TERRIBLE life experiences. And I share your fear about the kids. I have three girls, now all young adults, and I worried a lot as they were growing up. Indeed, they had some narrow escapes, and they may be just the ones I am aware of!

    I didn’t see a part 4 of the Borderline story. Did I miss the ending somewhere? I’m assuming it’s long over. I sure hope so!

    I had a very similar experience myself, during my medical residency. A young woman in a psych ward somehow became attached to me, and for many months terrorized me and my wife, and we had two babies at the time. I was in the hospital every third night, and had to reluctantly leave my family home alone. My wife was a wreck! Police intervention did not help. A formal restraint order was useless. We felt we had no rights as victims and were sure that would be the case until something bad happened. She did eventually become violent, crashing her car into our house one night at 3 AM. She was finally arrested and jailed in a high security prison and she would bite and kick her jailers. During all that time, I would receive 12 page handwritten letters, as I know you understand, alternating between love letters and murderous ones. Borderline Personality Disorder. She eventually quit, probably becoming attached to someone else. I had nightmares for years.

  13. i think it’s not only about sensing the wicked, i think it’s also about fending off the wicked. hear me out – there are those of us who are perceived as easy targets to predators, and there are those of us predators don’t even mess with. i think you were in-between at the tender age of 15. also, i think if “the wicked” senses that you are vulnerable to their advances, they will give you a try. if The Wicked senses that you are not worth it, i.e., not susceptible, they won’t even bother.

    i, too hope that your daughters (and my daughter!) are aware of these types and know to stay the f away from them. i’m sure you’re doing a great job so far. :)

  14. San Diego Momma says:

    Here’s where the stalker story continues!

  15. Holy Jeepers Deb! You’ve had your fair share of creep factor experiences. Sorry it happened to you but I really love the way you tell a story.

  16. Cascia says:

    Wow, Deb. Again another crazy story. This one gave me the chills. You tell them so vividly too. Did this really happen? You know you should put all of your stories together into a book. You are a very talented writer and I enjoy reading your blog.

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