6 Belong To Me
This happened two years ago, on the day of my 28th birthday.
I was working at a small, double-sided (drive-thru only) coffee stand about 30 minutes outside of Seattle. I'd been working there for about a year at this point, and was always scheduled to work the closing shift during the week and the opening shift on the weekends.
In the 7 years I had worked as a barista at this point, I had never been confronted with a situation that challenged my feeling of security while working alone. And despite having heard numerous stories over the years of other barista in the area who had suffered violent or dangerous interactions with some of their customers, I considered myself fortunate not to have to place myself among them.
Unfortunately, on this day, that would change.
Thursday, November 7th – 6:45pm. I was preparing to close the stand at 7:00pm like usual. It was very rare that I would have customers come through the stand past 6:30, and because of this, I felt myself jump slightly when I looked up from the espresso machine I was cleaning to see a man standing behind the glass of the closed window beside me.
Adding to my alarm was the fact he made no noise whatsoever as he approached the stand, and made no attempt to grab my attention once he got there. Instead, he stood behind the window in complete silence, his mouth awkwardly fixed into an unnatural looking smile.
At first I wasn't even sure he was a customer at all, considering the idea he may be a part of the large group of transients and homeless that were known at that time to reside in the area and who occasionally came up to the stand to ask for free coffee or water.
For safety reasons, I typically refrain from serving walk-up customers after dusk, but because he now knew I had seen him, the rules of good customer service required I at least acknowledge the fact he was there. So, reluctantly.. I decided to serve him.
He introduced himself as Ivan. He was around my age, seemed reasonably well-kept in the sense his clothing and overall appearance looked pretty clean, and despite a slight Eastern-European accent, his English was very good.
His eyes, however, were utterly unnerving. His gaze made my stomach feel uneasy. Immediately my intuition was alerting me that something about this individual was very wrong. EVERY red flag possible was beginning to show in my mind, and I could not shake the deep, almost overwhelming sense darkness that I felt coming from this person. There was an evil in him that I couldn't ignore, though I would soon find out exactly why I was feeling this way.
After greeting him as politely as I could manage despite my growing hesitations, I began preparing my machine to make him a drink. However, he didn't seem to know what he wanted to order, and I asked him twice what I could get started for him before I silently recognized the fact he was very likely not here to place an order.
Eventually, he abandoned ordering all together, and instead directed our interaction toward small talk. He asked me where I was from, how long I'd been working at this stand, etc. I answered each of these questions with short, abrupt answers, hoping my tone and clear lack of engagement would convey the fact I wasn't interested in continuing any further conversation, since he was not a paying customer and because I was about to close.
After a long pause, he asks slowly- "So.. Do you have a boyfriend?"
Annoyed, I replied curtly - "No."
At this point, I was completely ready to end our interaction, so I told him that I needed to finish closing up so that I could go home. Upon hearing this, he walked away from the window he'd been standing at, mentioning in his descent that he is looking forward to seeing me again very soon.
A minute or so passes and he was out of sight. Yet my gut told me that he was not, however, far away. I could feel his dark energy nearby, and I knew he was watching me from somewhere beyond my line of vision.
Cautiously, I closed up the stand, locked the doors and windows, walked to my car, and drove home. By the following day, I had all but forgotten the encounter I'd had with that guy, and went to work as usual.
7pm rolls around and once again. I am just about to end my shift and close the stand. I'm nearly finished closing out the register when a brief moment of movement catches my eye from outside the window on the opposite side of the stand.
I turn my head toward the area in question and there, in full view of both me and the security cameras, stood the guy from yesterday. My stomach sank quicker than I knew previously to be possible, and I was immediately very aware of how cold it was inside of that stand.
He smiled at me with a predatory-like grin, waved, and then proceeded to pull open the closed window in front of him, instead of waiting for me to cross the small distance within the stand that stood between us and open it for him, as I usually would.
And although he didn't present himself aggressively, there was something incredibly threatening about his choosing to do that. It left me feeling helplessly, hopelessly unsafe in that moment, and that was not a feeling I was familiar with or, as I learned, particularly fond of.
Once I was finally able to bring myself back into a present state of mind again, I cleared my throat and told him as firmly as possible that I was off the clock, and wouldn't be able to make anything for him as my machine was already cleaned and my register closed out for the day.
His smile widened further as he replied- "It's okay. I didn't come did the coffee... I came for you."
Upon hearing this, I noticed a shift in the energy building between us. The fear I'd previously been overcome with now made a sudden and jolting transition into a red-lining level of irritation."I don't care what you came for," I told him as sternly as I could manage.
"It's going to have to wait until tomorrow, because I. Am. Fucking. Closed."
At this, he chuckled a bit before finally raising both his hands in an indication of surrender, saying- "Alright, alright.. fair enough."
His smile disappeared.His eyes became even more focused on me, his gaze intensified.
"Then I will see you tomorrow," he said, in a way that felt less like a statement and more like a threat.
I swallowed hard, and once he was out of view, I rushed to the window and slammed it shut, throwing the lock into place. Again, despite not being able to visibly confirm his presence nearby, I knew that he was there, and I could feel his eyes fixated upon me.
I left the stand quickly and got into my car to drive home. This time, however, he remained heavily on my mind for the rest of the night, robbing me entirely of any sleep at all.
The following morning was a Saturday, so per my usual schedule, I got up insanely early to work the 5am opening shift. I arrived at the stand at 10 minutes to 5, and for the first few hours of my shift everything was as it would normally be. 8:30 rolls around and it's now, finally, no longer freezing and dark outside, as the November mornings here tend to be.
The sun had broken through the clouds and was steadily burning them off. As I was admiring the weather out the window of the stand, I noticed a familiar truck approaching. As it neared closer I recognized it as my ex-boyfriend, Jonathan.
I found this exceptionally odd, as he and I were not currently on very friendly terms, due to his cheating that ended our relationship about 6 months earlier. He pulled up slowly to the ledge of the open window I was occupying and I asked him skeptically what he was doing here.
"I'm sure I'm probably not someone you were wanting to see today, I know, but I just wanted to come by and wish you a happy birthday and see how you're doing."
Just as I was about to thank him for the birthday wishes and inform him that no, indeed he ISN'T someone I'd wanted to see that day (I was still pretty hurt from his cheating), I noticed someone about 100 yards away, approaching the stand on foot.
It was Ivan.
I whispered quickly to Jonathan that I needed him to stay here with me, even if another customer pulls in for service behind him, until the guy who just walked up is gone. I could tell he was able to register the fear in my eyes, and he agreed immediately to stay.
I brought as much focus into my demeanor as I could manage at that time and turned to face the window on the opposite side of the stand, just as Ivan approached it. I walked slowly over to him and noticed right away that he'd been crying - his eyes were bloodshot and few tears dripped slowly down his cheeks.
Disregarding his obvious emotional state, I informed him he needed to leave, as I was not going to serve him. Before my statement reached its conclusion however, he cut my words off abruptly - "I don't need this anymore. You can have it."
As he said this, he threw what I later came to recognize as his Russian passport into the stand through the open window.I picked it up, puzzled, and with a mix of both caution and disinterest I asked him why he would no longer be needing it.
"I just won't."
I allowed his words to hang heavily between us while I attempted to make sense in my mind of what a gesture like this might mean, if anything at all, before I felt a strong bite of dread inside my chest. The fear crept slowly into my throat before finally escaping past my lips in an audible gasp, bringing Ivan the confirmation he'd been hoping for that I understood what was about to happen here.
No guest to a foreign country would willingly discard or abandon their passport unless they intended to see to completion an act of absolute finality.
In an effort to sever the non-verbal conversation taking place within the locked gaze Ivan and I currently had on one another, I glanced over my shoulder at Jonathan, who now had a 'what the fuck is going on?' look on his face.
In an instant he recognized the desperate, pleading fear in my eyes. This caused his own expression to quickly change to one of panicked urgency as he attempted to understand what had just taken place between this stranger and myself.
As I turned back to Ivan and noticed immediately that his crying had stopped. His tears were now replaced with a look of what I can only describe as complete and utter insanity. This is the point where the dynamics of our interaction shifted indefinitely.
"God came to me last night in my dreams," he began slowly. "He told me you will be my wife. You are my wife. You are mine. You are for me."
A sickening, sadistic smile curled the corners of his mouth up in such a way it was almost physically painful to witness. My heart began throwing itself violently against the inside of my chest as adrenaline surged through my system.
"You are my wife," he stated again. "You are my wife, and now, you come with me. Right now."
At this, he planted his hands firmly onto the ledge of the window that stood before him and began to lift himself onto it. Realizing now that he was attempting to crawl through the window and into the stand,
I practically threw myself across the small distance between he and I and quickly slammed the window shut, locking it. He pushed his weight back down off the ledge, paused, and then proceeded to give me a look that made me TRULY understand the meaning of having one's blood run cold. I felt the inside of me began to quiver in a way I'd never felt before.
An anxious vibration that was working its way throughout my entire body. This was not over yet, I understood this. At this, Ivan offered me a quick wink, and began to move with obvious purpose toward the back of the stand.
Soon I could hear a faint (but distinguished) beep, beep, beep, beep of buttons being punched on the electronic keypad that secured the lock on the backdoor. Ivan was trying to get through the only actual entrance to the stand.
In my mind, I knew there was no way he would ever manage to guess the 4-number code, and dismissed any arising concern that he would manage to gain entry. 'Not going to be that easy,' I said under my breath, though I was unsure if I truly believed that.
A sudden realization I'd spoken far too soon arrived like a deadweight thrown directly at my gut. The dread that followed what I heard next is something I will never forget. It slammed itself violently into my present state of mind and with so much force it I almost fell back a few steps.
Adrenaline immediately overtook my system in its entirety, and in an instant my vision tunneled itself. As I heard the fateful sound of the electronic keypad indicating a successful code entry, followed by the loud and heavy 'thunk!' of the steel deadbolt retreating quickly back into the door, all I could see was the door in front of me.
Nothing else. It was as if there were a glaring spotlight illuminating that door and the evil that was about to walk through it. All else around me to fell into darkness. Time felt as if it had stopped entirely. I no longer had a sense of it, or of the space around me in which I currently occupied.
As the door began to slowly push open from the outside, I could hear an almost deafening scream resonate powerfully throughout the walls of the stand, expelled solely by a force of fear. As I stood there completely paralyzed, I bore witness to the largest knife I've ever seen enter through the opening door first, followed by Ivan's firmly gripped hand around it.
It was only then that I realized the scream I was hearing was my own. As Ivan passed the remainder of his body through the opening of the back door and into the stand, my scream suddenly silenced itself.
Before I continue any further, let me just say, that until you personally experience a situation that demands you to access your 'fight or flight' response, you have no idea what that response is going to ultimately be.
The type of fear that's required to trigger this defense mechanism in the first place is more than most people ever realize. How you will react to it will be involuntary. In this moment, I recognized the simple fact that regardless of whatever it is this guy has planned for me here today, I intended to survive it.
And not simply survive, but I intended to execute a lesson this guy clearly needed to learn: never underestimate someone's capability to persevere, or the fight that drives them.
Remembering at this that Jonathan was still in his truck on the other side of the stand, I ran to the window and screamed desperately through the now closed and locked panel of glass- "JONATHAN!! HE'S GOT A FUCKING KNIFE!!" Jonathan's eyes grew huge, and he threw open the driver's side door and flew from his truck towards the back to the building.
Then, in the furthest corner of my vision I caught sight of a dark, looming presence enter into the space of the small interior of the stand. Ivan, now standing no further than 10 feet from me, reeked of an evil that overtook every inch of space within this small building we now occupied together.
It made the air so heavy around me that breathing started to become difficult. It felt thick and toxic in my lungs, nearly causing me to choke.
As my struggle to breath increased, Ivan began to close the few feet of space still between us by taking slow, taunting steps in my direction. His knife was gripped firmly in his hand which rested at his side, but the look he had on his face in this moment was so intense that it felt as if it were made of its own blade.
He used his eyes to cut into me, deeply, over and over again, and spoke softly through the visual violence: "You are my wife. You are my wife…"
Ivan ultimately only managed to take a total of three steps toward me before I saw an arm being thrown around his neck from behind. As I stood there in a state of paralysis due to fear, I watched as Jonathan pulled Ivan back by the neck with so much force his feet flew out from beneath him.
Suddenly both Ivan and Jonathan were on the ground right outside the door, with Jonathan securing Ivan in a headlock that proved nearly impossible to break away from. Jonathan yelled strict instructions to Ivan not to move, not a single muscle, or he would "choke the fucking life out of him."
Surprisingly, Ivan remained completely still, never once making any signs of resistance. Jonathan kicked the knife away from his reach and told me to pick it up, secure it, and call the cops. It would feel like hours before the cops arrived, thanks to the massive amount of adrenaline still in my system, though in reality, it was really only a few minutes.
Soon, the entire area was completely overtaken by more law enforcement than I had ever witnessed respond to a single call before. Having moved very little from the place I initially stood since calling 911, I watched as at least 6 cops descended on Ivan at once, relieving the grip Jonathan had around his neck and forcibly (more than necessary, to my silent pleasure) detaining him and carrying him, practically hog-tied, into a waiting cruiser.
Apparently, while speaking with the cops after being securely restrained and unable to flee, Ivan insisted, continually, that I was his "wife".
God had told him, after all, that I was intended for him.
I 'belonged' to him, God said.
He was simply there that morning to collect that which he had been promised.