She jumped when the phone rang.

It rang again. She looked at it with fear.

She didn’t want to answer it. It was him. She knew it was him.

She looked at the caller ID. It said “out of area.” Maybe it was her mother.

She answered.

“Are you naked?” It was him. She hung up.

The phone rang again. She unplugged it and went to bed, but she didn’t sleep.

The next morning, she called the phone company. Please change the phone number. . .again.

The calls started seven months ago. He acted like he knew her, but she didn’t recognize the voice.

He knew her name and used it often. He always wanted to know what she was wearing. He wanted to know a lot more.

She reported it to the police. They put a trace on her line and advised her to get a caller ID. The calls always came from a phone booth. He always seemed to know just when to hang up and leave before the police car arrived.

Sometimes the phone booth was in Virginia, sometimes in the District, sometimes in Maryland. The cops said there was no pattern. He’d call at different times, from different places.

She changed her phone number and the calls stopped for a few days. Then, somehow, he got her new number and started calling again.

She changed the number again. Two days later, he called. How did he keep getting the number?

The cops said they didn’t know. She didn’t give the number to anyone except her mother and the police. So how did he get the number? The cops shrugged.

The phone company programmed her phone so the number wouldn’t show up on other Caller IDs and changed the phone number again.

Two days later, he called.

“You can’t get away from me,” he said. “I know who you are, where you are and everything there is to know about you.”

She tried using an answering machine to screen the calls, but couldn’t stand the messages he left, messages which described, in graphic detail, just what he would do with her when “we finally get together.”

She bought a gun and took shooting lessons at the National Rifle Association firing range in Fairfax. Her instructor called her a fast learner.

The cop who worked her case worried about the gun. What if she panicked and took out a stranger who made the mistake of knocking on the wrong door? She worried more about whether or not she would have the guts to pull the trigger.

One night, she came home to find a cocktail dress and her sexiest bra and panties laid out on the bed, along with a garter belt and hose and a note saying “I bet you look ravishing in these.”

She freaked. He had been in her house, going through her clothes. The police checked out the note. It was ordinary copy paper and printed on a laser printer. No prints. No evidence.

The police intensified their investigation. Three ex-boyfriends called her at work, angry about being questioned by the cops. Funny, he never called her at work. Just at home.

She changed the locks and installed an alarm system. Three days later, she came home and found an envelope on the bed. Inside were five pages of graphic depiction of her having sex with her torturer. Again, the cops found nothing usable on the paper.

How did he keep getting in the house? Nobody could answer. The security company suggested video cameras. She couldn’t afford that.

Two nights later, the phone rang. She didn’t answer it. Then she heard someone trying the front door. She took the Glock 9mm out of the drawer next to her bed, walked downstairs, and stood in front of the door.

“Is anybody there?”

The knob jiggled. Why didn’t the alarm go off?

“Please go away or I’ll shoot.”

The knob turned again.

She took careful aim at the door and fired: once, twice, three times. The knob turned again. She emptied the clip into the door. The turning stopped.

A neighbor heard the shots and called the cops. They arrived within 10 minutes to find a bullet-riddled door and her crying in the entrance hall.

They found nothing else.

The next day, she came home to find a box of 9mm shells and a note on her bed.

“You should learn to shoot better,” the note read. “Here’s some more shells for when I come back.”

She sat on the bed and loaded the cartridges into the clip, inserted it into the Glock, pulled back the slide to load one into the chamber, then stuck the barrel into her mouth and pulled the trigger.

He wouldn’t bother her again.

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC