a few days after i wrote that last post full of good intentions to throw myself back into the web, something happened that, while not necessarily keeping me from doing so, made the idea of writing entertaining anecdotes less appealing. i’ve been debating whether or not to share it, and have decided i will, to get [the majority of] it outside of me. it is long. and not very pleasant. plan accordingly.

thursday, october 13th was a complexly thrilling day, filled with the kind of beauty that forces one to come face to face with the goodness that is in the world. i was overcome.

friday, october 14th i was still soaring on the wonder of the day before. i wasn’t supposed to have any guests that evening, but there were a few funerals saturday, and they always brings a bit of an odd, unexpected influx into town. i received a call from the captain’s choice motel across the street asking if i had a single room available for two nights, as they had filled up (which is saying something). the trouble was that i couldn’t really understand the girl when she called and thought it was someone from the visitor’s center. so when someone showed up in less than a minute i was a little taken aback. i was more taken aback by the fact that it was a man, a few years older than i, probably part tlingit, whose dress and mannerisms can best be described as “thuggish”: very large baggy pants which failed to cover even larger tennis shoes, white waffle long sleeve tee (stained in front) over a wife beater, and a camouflage print hat. not the typical bed and breakfast guest. he carried himself in that trademark way of simultaneously slouching and flailing his limbs clumsily around. i tentatively asked, “what can i do for you?” failing to realize i had already given him a room.

he won’t stay here, once he realizes it’s not a hotel and we don’t have television. don’t worry.

he replied, “i was just across the street and they sent me over here.”

comprehension. i smiled, introduced myself, and shook his hand.

he doesn’t even have any bags, but somehow his presence is going to permeate the inn for two days. i have to not be here as much as possible.

as i verified his desired stay, accepted payment in large quantities of cash (he didn’t notice he was about to give me an extra one hundred dollars), and showed him to his room, i learned such jewels of information like: he had grown up in haines, was here for a relative’s funeral, wanted to “get away from everything” while he was here, had just turned 29, and was high. if he wasn’t high, he had gotten stoned so many times in his life that he had sustained permanent brain damage which made it seem as if he always was. proof?

“oh, j—- used to live here! you know her?”

okay, he was friends with an old innkeeper, this can’t be TOO bad.

“not in person, there’s been three innkeepers between us, but i’ve spoken to her on the phone, she seemed nice.”

“she was great. like one of my best friends here.”

hopefully doubtful.

2 MINUTES LATER

“do you know j—- who used to live here? she was really cool.”

kidding. he has to be kidding.

[incredulous look] “no… i’ve talked to her on the phone though…?”

“too bad, she was really cool.”

he’s not kidding. he’s definitely on drugs.

i have almost finished showing him around, which includes pointing out the side door which is kept unlocked because haines is a safe town, and he offers me a tip. a twenty dollar tip. that is a very large tip. and i never get tips before checkout. that’s just not normal.

“hey, you’re really nice. here’s a tip.”

“oh! thanks… you really don’t have to do that…”

“nah, i’m in logging now in juneau and i make a lot of money. i’m rich. well, not really, but i have a lot of money.” AKA wads of large bills in his pockets.

okay, he’s a drug dealer. logging must be a cover for pedaling pot. no, coke. meth. probably just pot.

back to the kitchen: “do you have a paper towel or something so i can clean up? my niece spilled spaghetti sauce on me on the ferry. i’m meeting my sister at the p-bar and i don’t want to look like a mess.”

who would let him near children? and yeah, your “sister,” AKA someone you’re selling drugs to!

on the way out to the bar: “so, you don’t need any other information from me?”

“nope, i’ve got your phone number. that’s all i really need from a walk-in. we’re pretty relaxed around here. haines is a safe town.”

“you’re sure? nothing else?”

“nope…? you’re all set.”

“really? okay, thanks.”

“no problem.”

oh my goodness. why does he care so much? does he have some alter ego the details of which he’s prepared to dish out? is he expecting me to ask for his social security number or something? why does he look nervous/happy/relieved? should we be doing background checks? how do you do background checks?

i had two more referrals from the captain’s choice. middle-aged greek-canadian brothers in town for some fishing. at least i wouldn’t be alone in the house with him.

he returns about half an hour later. he wasn’t going to the bar for food. he reeks of alcohol. IT’S ONE IN THE AFTERNOON.

okay, he’s high and drunk. oh no, here he comes.

he walks into the office (also my room): “can you help me find someone? i can pay you.”

he’s trying to pay me off?! for what, harboring him? locating someone who owes him money? no, i won’t even think that other thing. NO. GET OUT OF MY ROOM.

“that’s okay. here’s a phonebook, and a phone you can use to call locally. come this way, out to the kitchen.”

“do you know l— h—-?”

“uhhh, no. try the phonebook.”

“hey! do you know j—-? she was really chill. you’re really chill too.”

NO I’M NOT.

“no, she’s been gone for quite a while. i’ve talked to her on the phone though.”

“aw, too bad.”

PROOF

what is going on?!

i go back into my room, closing the door. hear some walking around and phone dialing. he leaves and comes back, brings the phone out to the porch (i know because there’s a bell on the front door). from what i can hear he is screaming a very angry and colorful version of “hey, where are you?” into someone’s voicemail.

he’s an angry drunk.

he takes off again, and it is at this point that i decide to leave.

now, let me take a quick pause to explain a few things. like why i was trying to downplay his behavior.

1) yes, i do have the right to refuse service to someone who makes me uncomfortable. the trouble with this situation is that i had already agreed to take him in before i saw him. i couldn’t easily do the “oops, sorry! forgot to flip the “vacancy” sign,” thing. also, i didn’t realize how bad it was until after he had paid and had a key to his room. would you risk his anger at being asked to leave?

2) i have been working a lot lately on being more accepting, loving, generous, and all manner of good things towards people. this is why i tried to be friendly, helpful, nonchalant with him.

3) i have personal issues with alcohol. the older i get, the further i seem to move from a strictly neutral position. however, i try to be aware of this (see #2), and i did not want my private objections to influence my behavior. i thought my instincts were flaring up against the intoxication, not against him. i see now it was both.

hopefully that makes my behavior a bit more understandable.

i thought that i would just go to the library for a few hours, avoiding as much interaction as possible.

another short interlude: i happened to bring my cell phone to the library with me. i rarely have my cell phone on, or on my person for that matter, and had just put a bunch more minutes on it a few days before. small miracles.

while sitting reading, my phone rang, an even rarer occurrence. it was a local number.

i whispered, “hello?”

“is this hannah roberts?”

“yes, what can i do for you?”

“i’m calling from the haines police dispatcher. we’re trying to locate a mister g—– b—– you have staying with you. the officers need to get into the inn, but the door is locked.”

“i’m at the library, i’ll be right there to let them in. he was at the pioneer bar earlier.”

“thank you.”

first reaction? panic mixed with relief. hopefully he’s not holding someone hostage in the inn, but at least they’ll take him away, right?

on the 5 minute walk back, i get a call from the owners. this explains how the cops got my number. “yep, i’m headed there now. he was weird. i’ll keep you posted.”

i get back to the inn. no cops. call the dispatcher, “i’m here. i don’t want to open the door without them here.”

“they’re on their way.”

yes, i see the marked vehicles a block and a half down the street at the bar.

they pull up. my neighbor drives by and i smile and give a thumbs up, waving him along, “i’m fine. fill you in later.”

i meet my first haines cop, let him in, tell him which room, and provide an extra key in case the door’s locked. he’s not here. he has no belongings in the room.

two local police and one state trooper gather and ask me to describe his appearance. their appearances attest to the fact that haines doesn’t get much action. i mention the stain on the shirt.

chubby, baby face state trooper: “did it look like blood?”

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, DID IT LOOK LIKE BLOOD?! WHAT DID HE DO?! STAB SOMEONE ON THE FERRY?! DID YOU KNOW THAT SINGLE QUESTION HAS STRUCK MORE FEAR INTO MY BONES THAN ANYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR?! IS HE ON A KILLING SPREE IN TOWN?!

but, no, it didn’t look like blood. but the fact that he asked that put every fiber in my body on high alert.

“no, he said his niece spilled sauce on him on the ferry. it wasn’t really that red. oh, and he was trying to call l— h—-, if that helps.”

“thanks.”

“so, um, i mean, he was going to stay here two nights and i’m not very comfortable…i don’t know if you just need to talk to him and he’ll be coming back here or-”

“oh no, he’ll be staying with us, ma’am.”

they start to leave.

“is okay for me to be here, i mean, will he try coming back? am i safe here?” because YOU asked about blood and now i’m terrified!

they look at each other. “yes, you should be fine. we don’t think he’ll try to get back here. just give us a call if anything happens.”

thanks for the confidence, fellas. where’s the cop who lead the D.A.R.E. program when i was in 6th grade? HE would make sure i was safe.

commence denial. i go tell my neighbor what’s going on, generally, and while getting his cell number in case of emergency, my neighbor across the street yells, “hannah? hannah, you know you can call [the local fireman/town hero we attend church with] for anything, right?”

“yes, i know. thanks!” but i’m not the one who called the cops. THEY called ME. i have good neighbors. extra eyes. breathe.

inside, i lock all the doors once my fisherman guests are back in the house. they’re a bit baffled as to the police presence, but i assure them it’s no big deal. don’t freak out. haines is a safe town. they don’t seem to need the reassurance as much as i do.

oh! i have his phone number. call the dispatcher. “would this be helpful?”

“great, thank you!”

sorry that i don’t have the crap load of other information he felt i should have asked for…

time passes. i pace in my locked room, ducking out occasionally to turn off lights and go to the bathroom. drinking water is becoming a nervous tick. knock on the door.

it’s the cops. i get a quizzical look from head cop. “didn’t you call 911?”

“what? no.” (the dispatcher is the station, not the emergency line)

“you sure? we received a 911 call from the summer inn.”

“the only phones here are in my room and the kitchen, and i didn’t call.”

“i’m going to check upstairs.”

how is this possible?! he snuck in, stole the cordless phone and is hiding upstairs calling 911? what does this mean?

“the door is locked.”

“i locked the doors to all the empty rooms. here’s a key.”

“he’s not here,” shouted downstairs.

other cop gives me puzzled look and radios the dispatcher, “are you sure that call came from the summer inn?”

“[very strange response i only half understand, to which the officer makes a face as if she’s speaking code he doesn’t understand.]”

again, how encouraging. they don’t even use the same code words.

other officer radios, “are we sure that call came from the summer inn?”

“no. i’ve got AP&T coming to trace the call.”

small chuckle from cop, “so someone could actually be having an emergency right now? we just assumed it was you. sorry about that.”

God save us.

“no problem…”

a bit of time passes and i call the dispatcher again, “hi, this is hannah at the summer inn. he’s not here. i was wondering if you could call me when you have him in custody so i don’t have to be on guard anymore.”

“sure, no problem.”

hours pass.

phone calls with owners and parents.

a friend stops by to see if i’m alright. i reassure her, “they don’t think he’ll come back here. i’m just waiting to hear.”

no phone call from the police.

it gets dark.

i try to be calm. i don’t even remember what i spent that time doing.

9 pm

knock on the front door. the doorbell would be the natural choice. i try to look out my spy hole to see who it is, but i’ve turned off all the lights and can’t tell. it might be the cops. or someone who wants a room even though i unplugged the glowing OPEN sign.

i unlock my door and walk half the distance.

it’s him, peering in the glass, probably waving his key, confused as to why all the doors are locked. “it’s me…”

i hold up my index finger. translation: “just a minute. i’ll be right with you.”

i walk back to my room, lock the door. dial.

“it’s hannah. he’s here. he’s trying to get in.”

away from the receiver: “he’s at the summer inn!” to me: “they’re on their way.”

he wasn’t supposed to try to get come back here! doesn’t he know they’re looking for him? or does he think i don’t know that? or that i wouldn’t turn him in? he’s got to be extremely stupid or drunk to not run for it the minute i went back into my room.

lights flash through my windows, blinds, curtains. all is see is black and red and blue through the fish eye glass. i hear voices. authoritative. angry.

my phone rings. it’s the owners. “can i call you back in a few minutes?” my voices sounds shaky.

the voices don’t sound like they’re coming from the front of the house anymore. they sound like they’re getting closer to my room.

i hear struggling. his name. things get quiet. stay quiet.

why aren’t they calling me? did he run off and they’re still chasing him? is he about to smash in my window? my lights are all off. why aren’t they calling?

i call the owners back.

“hi, sorry, you called literally 5 minutes after he tried to get back in here. i called the cops and they were here and now i’m waiting for them to call and say they got him. i don’t know what’s taking so long.”

“hannah, they got him.”

“what?”

“they just called us, i thought they called you.”

no, they did not call me.”

“they told us they got him. maybe they thought we’d tell you?”

“i’m calling them.”

i call them. “hi, it’s hannah at the summer inn. do you have him in custody?”

“yes! we thought you knew.”

“how would i know?”

“well, it happened right at your place.”

“well, i was locked in my room and heard things, but for all i knew he took off and they were still chasing him.”

“oh, i’m sorry! i should have called you. we have him in custody.”

damn right, you should have called me! you know what happens when you assume? “okay, i have a few questions. i want to refund his money, and he still has a room key…”

“let me put an officer on.”

officer: “hi hannah, thank you so much for all your help. i don’t know how much you heard but he was a real pain in the ass. we had to wrestle him to the ground outside.”

“officer, he’s paid for two nights, and i don’t want to have to worry about him coming back here so can i just bring his money to the station and you give it to him?”

“well, this is one of those situations where you have to decide if you want to do the right thing or take the money and party.”

“we don’t care about the money. i want nothing more to do with it.”

“okay, just come on down to the station tomorrow and we can talk. i get on at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon.”

“okay, thank you.”

it’s 9:30 pm. i have eight hours of adrenaline and half an hour of pure fear running through my veins. i get anxious about a variety of things, but it has been a long time since i was truly afraid. confusing the two emotions happens far too often. from the moment i saw it was him trying to get back in until i was assured he was in custody, i was consumed by fear. deep mortal fear in the pit of my gut. i had no idea what this man had done or was capable of doing. he was nearby, intoxicated and angry. and i turned him in. and i was alone. i gripped my cell phone in one hand and my pocket knife in the other, pacing, crouching, fighting off tears.

it took hours for the shaking and crying to empty the chemicals from my system. it was a dark sleep.

saturday.

in the morning i made breakfast for the two fishermen, playing it calm and cheerful.

after they left, i realized how far away 4:30 was. i had all day to sit and panic about what i may have just barely avoided. a serial rapist and murderer? the imagination is toxic.

a phone call.

his sister: “hi, my brother was staying there before he was picked up by the police last night. and the one thing he wanted me to do was get his money back?”

are you kidding me?! i was going to refund it, but he actually cares about that with all the wads of cash he has? the nerve! but he does actually have a sister… did she know they were looking for him? was she hiding him?

“i’ve actually already talked to the police about that and i’m going to run the money down to the station this afternoon.”

“oh, okay. thanks.”

“mhm.”

i go for a walk. burn off some steam. but my hiking boots are too small and my heels start to bleed. i limp home as it drizzles.

i go to the grocery store. i need a pint of ben & jerry’s. i’m not having any guests tonight. i want to sit in my room (though i was going crazy yesterday not being able to leave it), eat ice cream, and try to distract myself until i can go to the station.

i walk into the grocery store and there is a guy regaling some tale for a group of shoppers and cashiers near the checkout: “haha, it took every cop in town to track him down…”

i am in shock. i avoid eye contact and walk to the freezer isle. i desperately need not to and to hear him. he’s gone when i go up to pay.

he has friends. of course. he grew up here. people who weren’t turning him in. people who he can tell that i turned him in. that we leave our side door unlocked. that i am a young woman alone here. that i called the cops on him. they will be angry. they will be capable.

i almost went mad.

a phone call. it’s another officer who is asking about the refund. i explain that i thought i was supposed to wait til 4:30. but i could go right then, get it over with.

it’s raining as i walk to the station. they are friendly and a female officer almost sings my name when i arrive. i hand over an envelope with cash. they write a receipt.

i ask: “can i ask what he was wanted for? i mean, i live alone at the inn. will people in town be mad that i called him in?”

“it’s not a town thing. he violated, well, every term of his parole. he got into a dispute with a partner on the ferry. we’re just doing a service for the juneau department, picking him up. it’s a courtesy. he won’t be released in haines. he does have one buddy in town whose been talking with us,” he rolls his eyes, “but he shouldn’t be a problem. you just give us a call if you feel threatened or anything. there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.”

i breathe a sigh of… slight relief.

when i get home i realize i didn’t ask about the key. he still has one of our room keys. i call the dispatcher and leave a message for an officer, requesting that if they find it on his person they let me know.

okay, so the jolly officer doesn’t think i was or will be in any real danger. the problem is that i don’t actually know what he was on parole for. but, closure. mostly.

later, i log into facebook to see a post informing the online world that a kid i went to elementary school with was arrested on charges of sexual assault.

never mind. the world is horrible.

a few hours later the doorbell rings.

a woman and two young girls are on the porch.

“hi! what can i do for you?” i’m not accepting guests tonight! can’t you see the OPEN sign is unplugged.

she’s holding the room key.

“hi, i was just down at the station visiting my brother and they asked if i could run this up to you.”

oh. wow. sister. nieces. they look related.

“oh, thank you! i really appreciate it.”

“also, he was wondering if he left his phone here?”

“hmm, i can check.” i go check. “i didn’t see anything in his room. i didn’t think he had a phone because he borrowed ours to make some local calls.”

younger girl: “that’s because he has a ### number like mine. it works in juneau, but not here.”

“oh! okay.” she is WAY too young to have a cell phone. seriously, 8 at the oldest. “well, i’ll let you know if i find it.” except i have no way of contacting you and i know i won’t find it.

older girl: “are you hannah?”

…oh…my…gosh…

“yep.” smile at the girls. “i like your hats.” they chatter a bit as mom pulls them away. they’re actually really sweet. and one of them spilled her food on him. i wonder how much they know. what they think of their uncle. did he tell them i was “chill”? does he not realize i called him in?

this did it. this moment with the family took the utter depravity my thoughts were conjuring and replaced it with the knowledge that, whatever he had done, he had family who still associated with him, little nieces who weren’t terrified of him, a sister who helped him when he probably didn’t deserve it. this took the edge off. this was the turning point in my reaction to the situation.

all that was in the police report for friday, oct. 14 about it was, “a caller reported an assault after a man head-butted a woman aboard a ferry. officers responded and arrested the man.” all that did was gloss over all i know and raise more questions.

this was over two weeks ago. i just wrote most of this out in one sitting and i feel a bit shaken thinking it all over again as a whole, yet relieved. a few of you already know some of this, none of you know all of it. if you read this far, thank you for witnessing to this experience of mine. i think it will be healthy for me to have it out and complete.

what have i been doing to recuperate? reading augusten burrough’s memoirs and baking. and while doing these things i have been working towards positive conclusions:

1) this was a good reality check for me, i suppose. it is most truthful to appreciate in the goodness and beauty in the world while admitting that it is not all such. i have more faith in my instincts.

2) perhaps having him at the inn was the best way for justice to be served. the fact that i would know when he was trying to get back in, and definitely would call him in, are what made the arrest possible. if he were staying at a motel with some room in the back, the chances of the police catching him may have been slighter.

3) in the few days following, i vacillated between two reactions. either, i could declare the environment dangerous and unfit, and attempt escape as soon as possible, breaching my contract OR i could realize that i actually saw the professed safety of haines in action, in fact contributed to it. if i made it through this situation level headedly, anything approaching the likes of which has never occurred in the 25 years the summer inn has been in operation, then chances are i can handle anything else that is likely to arise.

i’m really trying to boost my confidence with that final point, though it may just be a psychological defense mechanism (DENIAL).

happy halloween!

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