Tuesday, February 05, 2008

ridgeway

When I was in my 20's I lived in Seattle, on Capitol Hill, with my baby daughter and a growing sense of disillusionment with the system.

The neiborhood was pretty typical for downtown; you had to be careful, but your next door neighbor might be a tech millionaire. It depended on the building you lived in and how willing you were to be a victim.

I was not willing to be a victim. I was newly done with that bullshit. Irregardless of which I realized that I was a perfect candidate-single, baby, poor, no family, few friends. I did what I could to remedy that...mainly, I got serious about making connections, who I knew and who I didn't allow in. Completely new experience for me, being choosy and careful. But as time went on, it proved itself and I felt pretty damn pleased with myself for finally getting the hang of the whole 'hear me roar' thing. Well that and the fact that the ill-intentioned in my life were pretty easy to spot.

With the exception of one.

This really starts back in Portland, and I'm riding on the #30 bus, reading the newspaper. The headline is 'Son of Sam Killer Claims Another'. Theres a conversation going on around me about 'these hippies' in regards to the article; I guess the association between them and anything 'far out' was being made. Meanwhile I'm reading the statement made by a police officer about how the Son of Sam seems to prefer pretty brunettes with long hair parted down the middle. We were crossing the bridge and the note coming from the tires changed; I looked out the window absently to see the river and instead caught my own reflection. A pretty brunette with long hair, parted down the middle. It was one of those quiet, odd moments that stay with you.

Seattle in the 80's was not a good place to be a single woman down on her luck. We were being hunted and killed like any other prey species, one after another after another. The waysides and riverbanks and forests were graveyards.

In the beginning, it was pretty brunettes, with hair parted in the middle.

I cut my hair drastically, changed the style and still woke up in the night thinking about the possibility that someone out there was looking for a girl like me with a very specific purpose in mind. Meanwhile people murmured in the hallway outside my door all night long, slipped along the walls in the dark, climbed up the fire escape outside my window.

By the time Gary Ridgeway started taking a second look at the women he passed each day on his way to work Ted Bundy was spreading like a plague into other places, taking victims as the notion lead. Ridgeway took up where Bundy left off without a break in the flow of blood.

I carried my baby with me on the bus downtown, sat in the welfare office with her, surrounded with people as desperate as I was, used food stamps in that signalled to anyone who cared to look that I was someone with very limited resources and more than likely no backup to speak of. Every few days I'd pick up a copy of the newspaper and read that another woman had been discovered in the brush along the Green River.

I made a point of sitting through the televised sentencing. Ridgeway sat slouched in his chair, and if he was uncomfortable it was because he'd been sitting there for quite a number of hours by then. I listened to the statements made by the family members and friends. Their statements were delivered and simply fell into silence and dissipated. It was very disturbing to watch, and I turned it off after 45 minutes.

Last night I happened to look up and see Dave Reichert. Turned out to be a special, a rather regrettably arty one, about the Green River task force, as it was called, kind of an overview of that whole time.

There were long segments of footage cut from Ridgeways' interrogations.
At first I was struck by the mans' total ordinariness, as I've always been. This is the same not terribly bright face you see hundreds of times a day, share hundreds of fleeting, minor interactions with. The type of person who fills out a crowd, never has much to say, smiles uncertainly at jokes.

The only time I have ever seen Ridgeway present anything like a personality was during the course of these interviews. He sits in an armchair next to Reichert. Reichert is leaning toward him, of course, impinging on his space, and Ridgeway is settled back in his chair away from the man. But after the first question, something comes over him.
Hes not being questioned by the police, or at least not according to his demeanor.
He's being interviewed.
The guy is smiling. Pleasantly. Yes, you caught me. Yup, it was me.
I continued to watch this mans face, and I watched it minutely.
He blinks. He speaks softly, matter of factly. No, I really can't think of anything else that I've left out...I was busy selling Amway and going to church with my wife at the time you're talking about so I didn't have much time for killing.

All of that passed through this mans lips with the exact same effect.

I'd have never seen him coming.

12 comments:

  1. duh-nuh.

    duh-nuh.

    duh-nuh Duh-nuh Duh-nuh Duh-Nuh!


    creeeeepy.

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  2. shit, that IS scary.

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  3. Dang!!! It's those dashdang charming ones who turn out to be the biggest psychopaths. Imma thinking I should date weirdos from now on. The nice ones always have skeletons. Literally.

    *waves* HEY FN!! Missed YA!

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  4. so would you like to for a nice quite walk along the beach?


    while reading your post i some how had the sound track to mr. rodgers in the back of my head.

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  5. I road the bus with a kid who grew up to be a murderer. He was just a goofy skinny little kid. Ordinary.
    When I was single I hung out at the bar, I had a lot of people watching my back. I think I was very lucky...yeah that was it.

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  6. with all the weird people i've hung around and all the weird places i've worked and lived, i'm honestly surprised nothing bad ever happened to me. what with all the bi-polar, schizophrenic, drug-addicted, tranny-wanna-be freaks traversing in and out of my life it's a wonder i turned out with few scars. someone close to me once said i'm a freak magnet.

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  7. You can never tell whats lurking behind a bland exterior . Could be good , could be real bad. Its a bit shocking to realise that real evil can be disguised as something so unremarkable
    ***eyes co workers suspiciously***

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  8. Really creepy people are often really ordinary Did you see any photos yet of the guy accused of killing six prostitutes in Ipswich (UK)? He looks completely sane and normal... very worrying.

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  9. Yeah, it seems to be the case over and over - watch the quiet ones.

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  10. Chilling post. It gave me the willies AND the heebie-jeebies, let alone the creeps. Thank you, FN, we needed that...

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  11. this is such a good piece of writing...I pass it along often. I was in California then but the times come back. Hope you're doing well. xxx rock

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