ONE AFTERNOON, WHEN I was buying a pair of shoes, I flirted with a cute shoe salesman. Slight of build, with blond hair and deep dimples, he seemed funny and engaging. After he insisted that I try on nearly every pair of shoes in the store, I finally left with a pair of shoes I could afford and a date that very evening. We both loved to jitterbug and there was a great band that night at a local nightclub. He was to pick me up, and dancing we would go.
My date rang the doorbell promptly at eight. He was a perfect gentleman in opening the car door for me and being attentive throughout the evening. We had such fun as we danced the night away. Both a little drunk, we left one club and decided that we would drop into a similar dance club nearby. First, he wanted to stop by his apartment to pick up his sport jacket. Fortified with alcohol, and without a care in the world, I followed him up to his apartment when he insisted I see the new and unusual fish he had just purchased. I wasn’t into fish, but what the hell? I giggled a little sloppily as I stepped into his apartment.
Once inside, the fear I felt was instant and surprising—almost sobering—when I heard the locks click shut on his door. I heard three loud clicks, which immediately registered in my brain as odd since we were supposed to leave after fish-gazing and jacket-fetching.
Before I knew what was happening, I was body slammed against the wall. My head snapped back against the wall, then bounced forward into his face, which made him angry.
“You filthy slut!”
“Wa . . . wa . . . wait a minute.”
“Shut your goddamn mouth, you whore!”
“Wait, please, what are you doing?” I said as he kissed—no, bit—into my lips.
Then I heard my skirt rip as he pushed and pulled me into the bedroom, slugging me in my arms, back and stomach. I was terrified by the sudden change in this man—from a regular guy into an animal. I couldn’t make any sense of what was happening. I had difficulty deciding what would be my best course of action under the circumstances. By now, he had pulled and torn most of my clothes off and slammed me on his bed, which smelled like a filthy gym bag. I tried not to gag. I tried to think. I begged.
“Please stop. Please, you don’t have to do this.”
“I told you to shut your mouth, you cunt!” He slapped me hard across the face, then punched me in the stomach, but much harder this time.
“Keep fighting me, you little bastard, and I’ll show you who’s in charge here.”
Once I fully realized that he would increase his violence the more I struggled, I stopped resisting and started focusing on how to get through what was happening. If I knew anything in life by now, I knew how to “just get through.”
Then, silence and fucking. Hard, angry, brutal fucking. His sweat and gym bag smell dripping on my face.
“Please, please just finish.”
“Shut up, you worthless piece of trash.” It seemed that hours passed. Finally, unable to have an orgasm, he rolled off me and with contempt ordered, “Get dressed, slut.”
I could hardly move, I was so sore, but I managed to piece together my torn clothes while a thick, blessed fog began to engulf me.
Just beneath the thick fog in my head was a scorching shame. I wondered how he could have known about my past and my recent experimentation, having just met me. I had known some of these truths about myself since forever: the stain of being a bastard child, the condemning words about me when the lady next door saw her husband touching me and shouted to the whole neighborhood what a filthy little slut I was. I felt encased in that proclamation of filth, which in my mind had just been proven true by a stranger. While this connection may seem outlandish, the feeling was overwhelming. The stain on me was indelible.
Finally, beneath the cover of darkness, the rapist dropped me off in front of my building. Reaching across me, he opened the car door and gave me a shove out of his car like I was a bundle of dirty laundry.