Thursday, April 19, 2007

City life just gets stranger and stranger

I found this story in the paper after one of my friends told me that his female co-worker was leaving work the other night and got punched. Totally bizarre.
Stalked by fear of the silent sucker punch
Apr 16, 2007 02:30 AM
Joe Fiorito

There's a guy downtown who sucker-punches women and runs away. No one knows his name or where he lives or what his problem is.

But Jean Rusty is familiar with the guy. She lives near Dundas and Spadina. We were sitting in her apartment the other day.

She was telling me the story. Truth is, I could read it on her face. She still has a shiner, late-stage now, more yellow than blue. There are other effects.

She kept one eye on her TV as we talked. The screen gives her a closed-circuit view of the lobby.

She was watching to see who was coming, who was going, and who was just hanging around. She's nervous about going out. The guy has hit her twice.

"The first time was just before St. Patrick's Day. I was at the doughnut shop, standing outside having a smoke. He came up behind and said something. I turned around to see. He punched me in the nose and took off."

He bloodied her face pretty good. "I went to the walk-in clinic. I called the police. They told me to find his name and tell them. How am I going to do that? He likes hitting and taking off."

What does this guy look like? "He's about 5-4. I think he's Korean. He's got black hair, dirty, shoulder-length." What was he wearing? "To me, he's wearing colours. He's got a red jacket down to here." She made a mid-thigh gesture.

"He was wearing blue sweat pants. His clothes are dirty. I'd say he's between 35 and 42." She remembered something else. "Sometimes he walks normal and sometimes he walks like this."

She got up from the couch and took three little steps forward, did an abrupt about-face, took three little steps back, then stopped and turned and took three steps forward again.

You know that walk; a little duckie in a shooting gallery, an addict on the edge. She said, "If he's doing crack, he doesn't know what he's doing."

The creep hit Jean a second time, this time on St. Patrick's Day; again, outside the doughnut shop. Again, she didn't see it coming.

She had to go to the hospital. The cops took pictures of her face. You don't want to see the pictures. She touched her cheek gingerly. "I found out I have a fractured nose." She pushed her hair aside. "And there's this bump on my head." And she still has headaches.

A couple of days later, while she was on her way home from the drugstore – she'd gone to pick up pain medicine, and some of those depression pills – she spotted the hit-and-runner on the other side of the street. Jean didn't have her phone.

She did the unexpected. She called out to him. "I see you. Do you see what you did to me?"

You or I might have ducked down, turned a corner, kept on walking. Why did she call out? "I wanted to show I'm not afraid. He just looked at me. I kept looking behind to see if he was following."

The guy didn't follow Jean.

Instead, he went over to the doughnut shop, punched a Chinese woman in the face and ran away again. The guys at the doughnut shop called Jean and told her when the guy showed up. They should have called the cops. Jean said she called 911 but by then it was too late.

I said I thought she ought to get a restraining order. She said, "I been beaten up before by a guy. You can't get a peace bond if a guy has no fixed address. I don't know what the law is any more."

Jean hasn't had an easy life, but the hard knocks have made her observant. "I feel like there's something wrong with this guy. He's asking for help."

He's asking for something, I guess. He might not like what he gets when his time comes.

Jean said, "He's asking for help, but I'm the one who's suffering. I don't know if he's living on the street or in a shelter. But if he ends up with the wrong crowd, he'll end up killing someone."

Jean paused. The pause lengthened.

"I'm sorry. I'm reliving the nightmare. That's why I'm on depression pills. I'm trying to be really strong. I'm the victim. Why should I hide? That makes him the winner." And so she takes precautions.

She watches the lobby. She shops during the day. She goes out with a friend and takes no shortcuts. "I stay in the open. I don't want to be found in a laneway."

In the meantime, she said, "You go to sleep at night, it's nightmares over and over. People say forget the past but it sneaks up on you."

Watch your back.

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