A true story by Molly Noble Bull
I was standing at the curb in front of my elementary school. I don’t know the day, the month, the year or whether I was in the second or third grade. But I remember the gray sedan parked across the street. I’d never seen a car parked there before, and a sense of danger swept through me. Maybe I should go home a different way except I didn’t know another way. When the light changed, I crossed like I always did.
It’s amazing what details a child can recall at times like this. I have no idea what had gone on at school that day, but I remember that the sidewalk was about two feet from the street. Green grass, recently mowed, connected the sidewalk to the curb. The man had parked his car as close to the curb as he could get it, and I saw him looking at me in his rearview mirror as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk.
He had black hair, and looking at the back of his head, I noticed that his cheeks were puffed out at the sides like he was grinning or maybe laughing at me. As I moved closer, I saw a tan blazer draped over the back of the seat on the passenger side. The window closest to me was rolled down.
“Would you like a ride, little girl?”
My heart pulled into a hard knot. He had a pleasant sounding voice. But somehow, I knew I needed to run.
“No!” I started running.
My mother had told me never to ride with strangers or even talk to them. As I raced down the sidewalk in the direction of our garage apartment, I tried to understand what was happening.
Mama never told me what to do after I refused the offer of a ride. I had assumed the stranger would say something like, “you don’t want a ride? Well, okay. Goodbye.” Then he would drive off.
But he wheeled as close to that curb as he could, braking his gray sedan to a crawl. He kept pace with me as I sprinted down the sidewalk. My heart pounded.
I didn’t stop at the first intersection. I ran across the street without looking for oncoming cars. As I approached the second intersection, I considered turning right after I crossed the street instead of continuing down the sidewalk. I could walk between houses until I reached the ally and then run down the ally until I got home.
A voice in my head said, “No, Molly. Just keep running down the sidewalk.”
I did exactly as the voice said and kept going. However, I soon realized that I needed to slow-down or I’d dash right by our apartment. I reduced my speed, hurrying across the three driveways in front of our house. The man must have noticed that I was walking fast instead of running. He stopped his car about forty feet ahead of me next to the tall grass.
There was a vacant lot next to our garage apartment, and the grass on the lot and the grass between the sidewalk and the street hadn’t been cut in a long time. My head and shoulders barely showed above the weeds when I walked down that sidewalk.
A stairway to the side of the garage apartment had a landing about three or four steps up. I climbed the stairs two at a time without looking back. At the landing, the stairs went up the back of the building to a porch where the doors were located. I grabbed the handle on the screen door and pulled as hard as I could, but the door wouldn’t open. How could I have forgotten? Mama always kept the door locked
“Mama,” I shouted. “Let me in! A man is after me.”
In the time it took for her to open the door, I looked down. The man stood on the landing, peering up at me. Fear devoured me.
He wore a short-sleeved white shirt and dark trousers, and he had dark eyes and a black mustache. I couldn’t define that look he sent me then. Now I know it was pure lust.
My mother opened the door, and I raced inside.
Mama went out on the porch—perhaps to find out what was going on.
“I just wanted to tell you, lady, what a cute little girl you have.”
“Thank you,” she said. “We think so, too.”
Then the man turned, got in his car and roared off.
At the time, Mama didn’t know what happened earlier. Therefore, she didn’t even try to get his license plate number. However, she walked me to and from school after that.
# # #
I’ve heard it said that events like this hardly bother children at all. Not true. I had disturbing dreams for years and years, and the affects of this encounter didn’t end there.
My best friend in high school liked guys who were tall, dark and handsome. But boys I admired had to have either blue or green eyes and brown or blond hair, like my dad. My favorite movie actors were Paul Newman and later Mel Gibson instead of a dark Cary Grant type, and I thought this was a personal choice like liking chocolate ice cream and hating red beets. I just wasn’t attracted to boys with dark eyes and black hair, and if a young man with a mustache looked in my direction, forget it.
What happened that day changed my life. Yet I can’t stop wondering what my life would have been like if the man with the black mustache had been successful. I am married, and we have three grown sons and six grandchildren. Would I ever have married if things had turned out differently? Would I be writing this very true story? Or would I be in a mental institution or a cemetery somewhere?
Evil men capture some children while others manage to escape. I have no idea the why this is so. I only know that God spoke to me that day so long ago and told me what to do as He walked me home from school. He protected me from all harm, and I praise Him for it. I am glad I obeyed my mother that day and didn’t ride with a stranger, and I am thankful that I listened to what I believe was the voice of the Lord.