Since then, she has been much more careful not to get caught. Not that she has never gotten caught. Once or twice, her husband and kids discovered that she was missing. She gave the excuse that she only went out for a drive, and she apologized for not telling them she was going.
A police car races down the street, lights flashing, siren blaring.
One time, shortly after her sweet sixteen, she returned to find a police car stopped outside her house and her mother sobbing inside. When she had turned up missing, Mom had assumed worse than the worst. She loved her mother and was very sorry for causing such anxiety and grief.
A man catcalls at her, and she beams but otherwise pretends to ignore him. He follows her, and she continues on, step by step. She accelerates her pace; he, likewise. Her heart races with suspense and enthusiasm and pleasure. She spies a shop just up ahead. She can enter and be safe. Then, a loud ringing, a sharp pain on the back of her head, and everything goes dark.
She awakes in the hospital, and her first thought is, How am I going to explain how this happened? She begins to think up a suitable story. Maybe she was in a car accident. No, that wouldn’t work. Maybe she was the victim of a freak car hijacking. Yes, that could work, if she can think of some reason for the hijacker to attack her and leave her laying on the side of the road. Maybe he just wanted to bring her to a remote place where he thought it would be safe for him to rape her.
It was nice of the shop owner to call the ambulance. Oh no: maybe he witnessed the attack. No, it’s okay. She can still make her story work. She tried to escape, and he clubbed her, presumably to prevent her from getting away.
This is the story she tells the police. The poor degenerate, they will find no evidence that he was ever in her car. Only the aggravated sexual assault charge will be upheld against him.
Her next outing will be even more exciting than this one.
Why do I put myself through it? That’s a good question. I mean, why venture out on that stage? Just to tell jokes? I don’t think so. Yeah, there are all the standard reasons—and I’ve even told myself a few—about how laughter is healing, and people need me, and I help them, and a chuckle is worth a thousand tears, and on and on. But that’s just posturing. Let me tell you the real reason why I go out on that stage, and under those stage lights, and make an idiot of myself, just to get a few laughs.