When the rape van approaches…

Sometimes, the creeps you find are burned into memory like a bad bout of food poisoning. You’ll never forget the face or their mannerisms, and once they show up again– BAM!– reminders of their previous disturbing behavior comes flooding back.



Close to ten years ago, I was graced with the presence of a very distressing man at a Starbucks. I was still in my “HOLY CRAP PEOPLE NO! TOO DAMN SHY!” mode, so talking to anyone was enough to make me panic. I spent most of my time writing or drawing pictures after making sure to remove any extraneous chairs from my table. This didn’t deter everyone, sadly. One such fellow (we’ll call him Steve, since I don’t remember his name) decided that he must know me, and what I was writing. Every day.


Thus far, all I knew of this guy went as follows: He was in his 50s. He wore see-through mesh shirts and tweaked his nipples when he spoke to you. He owned and basically lived in a huge white van with no windows, and he never wanted anyone to see in the back. One Halloween, he was kicked out for wearing shorts so tiny all of his manly bits decided to flop out at the kids coming in. It wasn’t until later that I figured he probably intended that.


So, after he kept peering at my writing, he eventually decided I had to see his screenplay. Now, this was a Starbucks– it’s not like he was the only guy writing one there. He was, however, one of the first to ask me to edit it. After he gave me a long description of this and offered to pay me, I said I’d look at it. Holy shit. Vagina. Rape. Vagina. Also, vagina.
It was all about a serial killer that got off by tying women down and eating them, while they were alive, from the genitals up. It went on like this from page to page, in horrible spelling and confusion interludes that involved a puppy or some crap. I didn’t know what to make of this… thing. To top it off, his actions made me wonder if this was less screenplay and more autobiography.


It was around this time that he started trying to date a fifteen year old that worked at the now-defunct Wild Oats store. He wrote her long, rambling love letters and spoke of marrying her. The mother of this girl worked there as well, and somehow didn’t make him go away BEFORE the stalking began. It was well before this point that I couldn’t really handle him anymore, and told him I would be unable to assist with this manifesto of rape. He seemed utterly bewildered as to why, but accepted it. That was until I started working for the Starbucks down the road.


He found me there one day, and seemingly never left. On and on he spoke of his screenplay and how it “would be seriously helpful if you could assist me in this most important matter.”
That sounded awful.
So due to circumstances I can’t possibly recall, the police showed up one day. Nobody knew if it was because of his love for the young girl, his actions or his special writings– but he was hauled away on the spot after a search of his van. It was an odd moment all around.


So today I came to the other shop. I wander inside, as usual, and what do I see before me but good old nipple man, alone in a corner and creeping people out. There was an odd sense of wonder and nervousness in me at that moment, seeing this deviant so near me. I carefully and quietly skulked past him, hoping he wouldn’t notice. If he did, he never said anything, which was fine by me. I came back out to regale my companions with the story of how I met such a fascinating creature, when he magically removed himself from his seat and slid out the door to his van before I could notice.


At this point he simply looks like a slightly broken old man gazing at porno in a coffee shop. Nothing new there, they do it all the time. This one is special, though. This one is insane.


So remember, kids… sometimes that weird old guy that wants to talk to you about your feet actually hopes you’re fifteen and willing to be a snack in the back of a van on Alligator Alley.
It always amazes me what some people really are underneath it all, and that no matter how long they hide, SOMEONE remembers what they’ve done.
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