That Time We Almost Got Murdered

So on Sunday, Justin and I were in Des Peres and we stopped by the Walgreens. As we pulled in, we noticed a woman leaning against the back corner. She had bleached frizzy hair with dark roots, a too-short tank top with some muffin top poking out, and jeans that, while I didn’t look too closely, seemed tacky and outdated.

Later, when I saw her up close (just so I can keep all the description stuff together), I noticed she was Latina and probably in her mid-fourties? A little weathered, with some partying in her day for sure.

When we first saw her, I was trying to be polite and not stare because my first initial reaction (and I live in the city and see real ones now, so I can say this) was, “When did we get hookers at Des Peres Walgreens?”* I mean, she was just standing there.

I ran inside to grab a bunch of girly stuff like mascara, while Justin stayed in the car. When I came back out, the lady was rummaging through the passenger side of a large, old, box-y dark green van (though Justin thought it was blue). It was parked a few spaces away from me.

“Excuse me,” she said, approaching me just as I was getting back in my car, “I lost the keys to my van and I need to get home. I live just over in Kirkwood. I’ll give you twenty dollars.” She waved a bill at me.

“… Where in Kirkwood?” I asked, slightly suspicious but also stupidly optimistic because (a) it’s freaking Des Peres, (b) I like being a good Samaritan and (c) woo twenty dollars!

“Ann and Meyer.” She said, which is a street I used to run through. And I definitely had to run around creepy vans parked on that street. “I mean, it’s right down the road.” (Not really.) “I’ll give you twenty dollars.”

“Umm…” I said, glancing at Justin. He flashed me a worried look, then his eyes narrowed and he turned back to her curiously.

“How could you lose the keys to your van?” he asked. “How did you even get here? They have to be here. Did you check inside? Has anyone helped you look in the van?”

“I’ll give you twenty dollars! It’s just down the road. Twenty dollars!”

“Mmmm… no. I don’t think so. Sorry.” He said. I flashed her an apologetic look.

“Twenty dollars!” She shrieked one more time desperately, throwing her hands in the air.

“That was a little too good to be true.” Justin said as she made her way back to the van. “Something wasn’t right.”

So then the lady opens up the passenger side of the van.

And as she’s getting inside…

A man we’ve never seen (and that she never mentioned) opens up the driver side door and climbs inside…

Turns on the van…

And they drive away.

In hindsight I am kicking myself for not following them, grabbing my cameraphone, scribbling down the license plate number, or even taking a better note of the van.

But honestly, we were in shock. And REALLY confused. Because there was no logical explanation for what happened.

The best case scenario was that the lady wanted to get away from that guy. Because she didn’t mention him at all. She kept saying, “My van.” But she seemed more annoyed than scared.

Worst case? He would have followed us, and they would have robbed us or hurt us or lord knows what.

If it was just me, I would say that for sure I almost got mugged and raped and everything. But I mean, Justin was in the car, too! Did she have a knife or gun? Or did she really just want a ride?

Either way, something was absolutely not right. Her story made no sense, she never mentioned that guy, and she never had keys to lose in the first place. It was so strange, and in hindsight, terrifying.

Ever since then, whenever I’m in the county, I drive down that street in the hopes that I’ll see the creepy van. I actually went to the police the next day and told them about it.

“Huh,” said the officer. “That’s… weird. Really weird.”

He said he would keep an eye out and notify the manager. But I wanted you guys to know too. Watch out for a hooker with a old green van, okay pals?

I still can’t figure out what the scam was. Do you have any idea?

And seriously, how sad would it be if this picture was splashed all over CNN?

We are too cute to die!

*For non-STL readers, Des Peres is a mid-class to wealthy upscale suburb. Well maintained. Little crime. Kind of boring. And the Walgreens is at a major intersection with tons of traffic. Not a place where trashy people hang out, and certainly not the prime location for any shady behavior. The whole thing was just SO off.

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10 Comments

Filed under Adventures, Botheration

10 responses to “That Time We Almost Got Murdered

  1. Charles

    I imagine the idea would be that you drive her to some location where no one’s around, the guy in the van pulls up out of nowhere, shoots Justin, drives off with you in his van to some dungeon he made in his basement, and the girl steals the car and sells it to a chop shop.

    Hmm… maybe I watch too many crime shows…

  2. That’s kind of where my brain went too, because I used to fall asleep during Law & Order SVU and now I watch that missing people show (the one with Joe from Empire Records) in the mornings. I will think of the name the second I close this window.

  3. Charles

    Yeah, you told me about the listening to SVU to go to sleep before, made me look at you a little funny when you first said it… actually I think it was one of the first things you said to me. I could sort of see myself able to fall asleep to SVU… I don’t know. I think I’d prefer the non-rape-and-sodomy version of Law and Order if I was trying to get to sleep., with Brisco and Green wisecrackin’ and McCoy sendin’ them to prison.

    Plus I giggle every time I see Ice-T play a cop.

    Of course I listen to stand-up comedy to go to sleep, or the BBC, both of which occasionally bring up sex crimes… just not as often.

  4. The whole show is surprisingly monotone. I had it so low that I couldn’t really hear the plot. But the music and the tones of their voices were really calm, it was nice almost-white noise. Anything hyper or chirpy like The Daily Show or Conan just keeps me awake.

  5. Erin

    This isn’t very WWJD of me, but if I’m approached by anyone who isn’t holding a can with construction paper around it that says the name of a charity? Or something similar, like a fireman’s boot? I keep walking. Also it’s helpful to remember (and repeat) this response: “NO MONEY NO TIME.” (You don’t have to yell it, of course, but it’s best to read it with an assertive tone.)

  6. But she was waving a twenty in my face! That made me want to be her friend!

  7. kevin

    of course now you know if you ever do go missing i will tell the news media outlet that you have a picture all ready to go for such an incident…

  8. Jaime

    scary! baby girl, i’ll give you $20 if you promise not to talk to strangers! you’re right- y’all be way too cute to die.

  9. Jess

    dude… she was probably kidnapped and you were her way out… she’s probably dead now. oh well.

  10. We wondered about that, but she didn’t seem panicked so much as pissed off… and she was standing on the corner for at least 5 minutes. I think anyone would have saved the $20 and RAN the second he went inside.

    Jen has this theory that it was her pimp and it makes the most sense, but like, why would she approach me??? In Des Peres?

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