Face to Face with Fear

When I was fifteen I was almost abducted.   Last week I spoke to a reporter who was doing a short piece on me for the Jackson Free Press.  The article starts with a brief description of an incident that happened when I was fifteen. http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/jfp_person_of_the_day_katrina_byrd_061110/

On one hot afternoon I left my summer job at the Pharish St. YMCA.  I was on Monument St walking toward Palmyra St.  A blue and white truck stopped and a man asked me if I’d like a ride.  When I refused he continued to follow me.  “Come on, baby,” he said.  “I can make you feel good.” 

I ignored him and kept walking.  He continued making comments.  Then he started making threats.  “If you don’t get in I’m gonna kill ya,” he said.  “Nobody will find your body.”

I was shaking when I made it to Palmyra St.  The man stopped the truck and got out.  Everything happened so fast.  I started running but my legs were shaking so bad and my heart beat quickened.  He caught my arm and turned me so that I was facing him. “You’re gonna get into this damn truck,” he said. Then he snatched my glasses from face.  

I started screaming and ran toward the house where I lived when I was younger.  Johnny Griffin and his wife lived there now. Johnny Griffin heard my screams.  He ran out of his house.  Johnny had made it into his front yard.  We were moving quickly toward each other.  When the guy in the truck saw Johnny he ran to his truck and sped off with my glasses. 

I remember feeling so scared that I could barely breathe.  Johnny’s wife held me in her arms while Johnny called my parents.  “It’s an emergency!” he said into the phone.  We heard a loud engine and a shrill screech.  The guy in the truck was back.  Johnny handed the phone to his wife and ran out of the front door.  I remember thinking that I didn’t want the guy in the truck to hurt Johnny.  Then I heard the truck engine roar as the truck sped off again.  When Johnny returned he was very angry.

“He threw her glasses in the yard,” Johnny said and handed me my glasses.  “The sorry bastard!”

In a few minutes my parents were there.  They took me home and told me to stay there but I had band practice at 3 pm.  My dad couldn’t take me.  He was at work.  I was terrified to go by myself and I didn’t want to disobey my parents.  I was scared. 

I was scared that I’d never be able to live without fear again if I didn’t face my fears of being abducted immediately.  I gathered my things and went to the front door of our house.  I stood there thirty minutes crying and agonizing over whether I should go to band practice or not.  I played in the band at Lanier High School.  I would have to walk down Maple St and it was mid afternoon, a time when the streets were quiet.  What if the man in the truck returned and there was no one to help me? 

I took a deep breath and made a decision.  I am going to live my life if I have to die to do it.  I left the house and walked to and from band practice without incident.

I’m often awed by the people and experience that shape a person’s life.


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