Ok, my title is a bit of an embellishment, as writers love to do - that is part one of my disclaimer, as the inmate is actually not on death row (but is in prison for life and then some). Second, I'm not disclosing the inmate, not to protect him but just to try and disassociate myself from the story...even though I am telling it...
I knew someone who made national headlines for raping and killing. A friend of mine dated him for a while, and he was part of our group of friends. I had been to his home once, many parties with him there, and we knew each other by name, so I'd say we were acquaintances.
I recalled, before he even made national headlines, a very vivid experience from high school, overshadowing the nicer memories of him.
I always felt this weird feeling in my gut around him, but everyone adored him, so while I knew my feeling was strong and meant something, I just kind of pushed it down and decided not to judge.
One day, we were hanging out in the band room and he said "want to play chicken?" I hadn't a clue what it meant but I did not even have time to decide before he put his hand on my knee. Then an inch up my thigh. And another. And another.
That feeling that always was in my gut got stronger. I cannot explain it, except, I KNEW that SOMETHING was wrong, very WRONG. I had had boys grab my boobs, still a form of sexual harassment for sure, and hadn't had this feeling. It was this feeling of panic and fear and death and flashing ringing alarms. I felt frozen and speechless, yet, I knew I could not sit still. I grabbed his rather large hand (he was a large, tall, muscular guy plus the whole crazy part; I was maybe 110 lbs) and told him to F*** off (or go the F*** away, something with the F-bomb) and I quickly darted away.
Lucky, I darted away with my life, my virginity, my well-being.
I mourn for the women he raped and killed, because I only had the most minute touch of what awfulness they experienced, and it was more than enough. Somehow, the funny, docile, big-brother meets-oaf of a guy everyone loved was not such a person and I saw it. I knew it. But I never told. And I feel sad that I hadn't ever told, because I figured he was just a jerk guy and that I was over-reacting. But now I know better.