From Medium: Chapter 11, Standing When the Ground Shakes

*This is the 11th chapter of a story that left off here last week.

I woke up today. And showered. And got ready, putting on a pencil skirt and a black, rayon shell. I chose ballet flats and I sent the kids to the neighbor’s house.

I drove to the courthouse. I sat in the courtroom and I watched and listened as his attorney told the prosecutor “he would oppose that.”

I didn’t know what “that” was. I looked right and the advocate sat next to me and told me words that sent a numbness down both of my legs, like that instant buzz from a tequila shot.

“They’re going to trial,” she said.

And I couldn’t feel my legs.

They would argue, with quite a bit of frustration, a request from the prosecutor to change the judge on the case because of a conflict of interest.
It was a blur. I know I have to testify. I know I have to be cross-examined by someone who I’ve known for 15 years, because his attorney is a friend. I will have to face that asshole in open court. I will have my character called into question, no doubt.

I’m thinking my legs knew that before my brain did.

— –

Nothing takes the air out of a relaxing Saturday night than a call from the victim’s line at the county sheriff to let you know that the person who has been terrorizing you is getting out of jail. That night.

It’s been a week. Not a week, as in time passed. But as in a stressful few days.

The week involved a series of bizarre emails from him. A number of threatening ones, also. One in particular that stood out stated, “May God have mercy on your soul.”

Okay. Like, that’s what people say right before you meet your maker. That’s what executioners say. It’s right before you hear the “click.”

So, I phoned that one in. And he said it in response to an email where he asked if our daughter would be called to testify in court in his criminal cases. I told him to call his attorney. He told me to beg for mercy.

I figured he had found out because his attorney told him. But I figured wrong. Here’s how I knew he was wrong. He sent another email after that.

That email addressed me by the name I used on an anonymous blog. One he would have no idea about. And then in the body of the email he quoted back to me my own confidential victim’s statement that I only shared by email with my advocate at the prosecutor’s office.

He quoted my shit back to me.

I alerted my advocate. She was immediately spooked, and she doesn’t spook easy.

“He’s in your computer,” she told me.

And, so we thought that. All day. And I decided I would go to the PD to report the harassing emails and stalking in person, rather than over the phone. And I did. And the officer knew something wasn’t right. He knew. He needed me to walk him through the web, but he knew something was off.

It was the most assertive I’ve ever been with law enforcement. And he was good. Thorough. He was just on it. He decided to file charges. And said he’d go pick him up.

While I was there, I heard from a different officer who also said he decided to file charges on the “May God have mercy on your soul” email.

So, two new charges. I drove home. I met with my neighbors once I got there, exhaled. Thought about going for a run. Decided I needed a snack before that, so I ran inside.

And I screamed.

I screamed to my neighbor who was waiting outside. She came running in with a look on her face that I will never forget. She thought he was in my house by the way I was screaming.

There was glass everywhere. Literally all over my family room. Down the stairs. On the couch. In the kitchen. Down the hall. All the Barbie Malibu Mall shit was messed up, strewn different ways.

He had broken the picture window in my family room. Shattered.

That. Mother. Fucker.

I couldn’t believe it. My neighbor called 911. I called my advocate and left a message. We were both out of our minds. Out. Of. Our. Minds.

I couldn’t believe he did it again. Again! I just. I was pacing and pissed. Pissed in a way I haven’t been before. But also scared. That asshole had my kids. He broke my window and picked up the kids from school.

It gives me goosebumps just reliving it to write it.

The officer who responded was the same one who I met with earlier in the day. Not even an hour prior. He came in and I could tell he couldn’t believe it. He started taking pictures while we combed through the security video footage to see if it caught him on camera.

Please. Please. Please.

I was silently praying to whoever listens to please show us that it caught him on camera. We needed that, so bad. We watched for a while. Nothing. Then the officer showed me where the rock was in the yard after it was thrown, like where it landed.

“See that pile of dog poop, Lisa?”

Yeah. Yeah, I see it, I told the officer. Nice. I guess it was good I didn’t clean the poop? It ended up serving as a marker for where the rock had landed.

“Once that rock comes into view, we will know we’ve got him,” the officer told me.

He was letting me know that the video would catch it. It was within view based on the angle of the camera. We just needed to be patient.

So we watched a while longer as he photographed the scene and collected the baseball-sized rocks from the backyard as evidence.

And then it happened. The video showed his truck pulling up on the road behind my house. It parked behind a massive oleander bush I have growing in the yard. Massive, like 15 feet tall. He got out, a rock in his hand already, and lobbed it at the window. He missed.

He ran back to his car, like the slowest human on the fucking planet, grabbed another rock, and tossed it again. And he watched. And you could see when he knew it hit. He reacted. He jumped in his truck, flipped a U-turn, and drove away.

It was 1 in the afternoon. Broad daylight. And less than two hours later, he would go to the school and pick up our kids for his parenting time.

What goes through someone’s mind like that? I’m serious. What the hell?

I threw my hands up when I saw it on camera. I let out some type of primal reaction, which if I was self conscious enough to know I wouldn’t do in front of the officer, and paced into my daughter’s room, pulling down fists and exhaling loudly knowing we caught that asshole on camera.

The officer did his paperwork and let me know he would be charging him with a felony on this, because of the excessive harassment, and he would be taken to a bigger jail downtown for processing and holding until his initial appearance the following day.

I wanted to hug the officer. He would go get him, and arrest him, and call me to come pick up the kids.

And he did all of those things. And that guy did not go quietly. Before he did, he admitted to the officer that he had accessed my email through our daughter’s phone, which was logged into Google using my password to watch YouTube. Once in, he thumbed through my emails and accessed the confidential correspondence between me and my advocate and likely me and my attorney.

He then gave the officer’s partner a whole shitton of shit, and cursed him out the entire 30-minute drive to the county jail downtown. I only know that because that officer paid me a visit the following day after my oldest suffered a cut on her foot from broken glass, which had sailed probably 30 feet from the window into her bedroom. Way to go, Father of the Year.

When I got the kids, my oldest was a mess. She was crying and running toward me. A ton of other kids were crowded around the police officer’s cruiser and I’m sure she was embarrassed. She felt bad that one officer was being “mean” to her dad, but my son quickly corrected her to let her know that their dad was using the “F” word with that officer. She also thought that people would think he is a horrible person.

I simply told her that he made a bad decision. I left it at that.

I didn’t sleep all that great that night, in part because I was wound up, and in part knowing I would have to face him the following day in court. To be fair, I didn’t HAVE to face him. I knew I needed to. I had the option, and I took it. How else would this new judge, in a new court, in a new jurisdiction, know how dangerous he is?

So I poured a glass of wine and I hand wrote a victim’s statement while sitting in bed. And it was a pretty damn good one, considering the stress, the wine and the number of things I needed to condense into one concise statement.

I got a call at 2:30 a.m. from the jail letting me know that his appearance would be the following day at 11 a.m.

The next morning my friend picked me up and we went to court. I read my statement to her and she told me to add a few things, and I did. We met with an advocate and I provided an “impact statement” to the assistant county attorney, who would advocate for me in court.

And the advocate ushered me and my friend into a room that I can only describe as a “safe room.” It had no windows. The door was solid metal. And the opening to the mass holding area was fogged so that the defendants can’t see in. He would only hear me.

I vividly remember thinking, “Oh, we can do this from this room. No sweat. He won’t see me. I got this.”

When it came time for him to stand in front of the judge, I approached the mic and felt okay. But I quickly melted. My knees began to shake. I know exactly what words tore me up, too.

“He terrorizes us.”

That’s where my voice cracked. I told the judge that his behavior has escalated over the past eight months. I told her that he hijacked my email and quoted me back to me in a way to threaten and intimidate me. I told her that I live in fear of his next move because I am the main witness and victim in his upcoming trial. I told her that he has five criminal cases going to trial, and three more pending.

And then I asked her to consider our future safety.

She told him he could say something if he wanted. He said something completely pompous, suggesting that she could believe me if she wanted, believe my statement, even though it was delivered from behind a wall.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Hold on. That is where our victims address the court from. They don’t have a choice.”

Oh. Man. That was poetic. He like involuntarily let his asshole-ness just hang right out to the entire court, with a female judge and female county attorney sitting driver and shotgun.

What a goddamn idiot. But he couldn’t help himself. And I could think about was fixing my window before I left for my hike to the canyon.