Bottoms Up. Lights Out

It was like I had suddenly woken up from a century long slumber. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. It was like a loud mental crack back into reality. My eyes took a while to open for they felt to me as if they were swollen shut and to be quite honest my body felt like a sack of cement. My eyes roamed around but nothing to me looked at all familiar. My surroundings seemed and felt odd. I simply felt completely out of place. I slowly tried to sit up but could only prop myself up onto my elbows, I was feeling extremely groggy. I looked around the room,  a pale blue color covered the walls surrounding me. I was in some sort of hotel room it felt like. The area of the room that I was in was covered in very tacky beach decor with shells and flamingos dancing all over the place. I was on a hard couch and directly in front of me stood a balcony with its doors completely open. The white sheer curtains danced in the breeze and if it wasn’t for the fact that fear was slowly gripping me around my throat, it all would have seemed almost peaceful. I was definitely in a hotel room but who’s? I could faintly hear the ocean roaring in the distance, seagulls adding to nature’s acoustics. The sudden voices coming from behind me made me jerk around to see who and where it was coming from. 

This was my initial reaction to waking up in an unknown place with absolutely no memory of how I got there. Although I had tried to forget about this, it all came rushing back when I was watching the news today.

A good looking couple from California have made headlines after being caught drugging and raping unsuspecting women. The pair would hit the streets in search of victims, charming them, drugging them, and then leading them back to their private office to have their way with them. Over 1,000 videos were found on both of the suspect’s phones allowing authorities to believe that there are many more victims than just the two that have come forward.  The two suspects deny any such allegations and are currently out on bail.

These two were not the couple that drugged and raped me, but they might as well be.

I will never forget the duo who charmed me into inviting them to hang out with my co-workers and I one evening after work. It was about 10 pm and I had just finished my night shift at the restaurant. I had decided to wait for my co-workers at a local bar right in between our place of employment and where I lived. I sat alone at a table for six. The bar was busy with tourists. By this time most seemed drunk and those that weren’t yet would be soon getting there. The live band playing had a crowd on the dance floor and I was soaking up the good vibes while I waited. It wasn’t long before I was approached by a pretty girl and her boyfriend. They were visiting from Ohio, a quick getaway for the couple who wanted a break from their hectic family life. They were both beautiful people. She had shoulder length  shiny, black hair and ice blue eyes. He reminded me of a golden boy, with a gorgeous sun kissed tan, light brown eyes, and short golden locks that framed his face. When she approached me initially she asked if I mined if the two  could sit down at the table with me until my friends arrived and of course, me not wanting to be rude, said yes.

From that point on the entire night was anything but normal. Looking back on it, I should have suspected that something was about to go terribly wrong because of the fact that things weren’t panning out as they normally would have. Back then though, a switch of scene and people added a much needed excitement to my life. I, however, was not prepared for, nor wanted, the kind of excitement that was getting ready to present itself.

As we waited for my friends to get out of work, this girl and I were chatting away. She asked me what it was like living in a touristy spot and about my tattoos. I asked her what sort of hectic life her and her boyfriend were trying to vacation away from. We chatted and it seemed natural. I was pleased to have found company while I waited. Her boyfriend offered to buy us a round of beers. I ordered a Miller Light but for some reason I was not in the mood for too much drinking, so I babysat that bottle until my co-worker’s arrival. Introductions were barely made when the couple asked if there was a strip club in the area. They were looking to spice up their last night out on the beach,

“What a more perfect way to end our vacation than with some ass and titties!” He shouted, overly excited. She seemed a bit embarrassed by his question but there was a slight flicker in her eyes that gave way to her also wanting in on this type of fun. One of my co-workers mentioned the low quality strip joint located right before the bridge before heading out on the island and offered to drive us all if the couple paid for his beers, and just like that, we all ended up piling into his SUV driving out to Fantasy’s.

At this point, I was only one beer in and not really wanting to head to the strip joint. I had been there a coupe times with friends before and it wasn’t anything to write home about. It was small and dingy. The girls are a reminder of sadness and instead of enticing a good time all they stir up in you in an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and pity. I wasn’t motivated but I also didn’t want to go home. I wanted a night out with friends and if that meant heading to Fantasy’s for  bit then I would suck it up and go.  It wasn’t more than 15 mins after arriving at the strip joint that things took a turn, which would then land me in this couple’s hotel room, naked, vulnerable, and with no sense of what had happened to me.

We arrived and immediately everyone headed towards the bar to get their first drink, everyone but me that is. I still wasn’t in the mood to have a drink, which for everyone who knows me that’s not in my normal character. I am not sure why I wasn’t in the mood to drink that night. I’d like to think that maybe my subconscious knew that there was something dangerous lurking right around the corner. No matter the reason, I didn’t heed the warning. My friends questioned why I wasn’t drinking and I remember telling them, “Not yet. In a bit I’ll order something..” I felt like I just wanted to be alert for a little longer. I really wish I would have stood my ground when the couple approached me with a shot.

“Cheers! To the three of us! Here’s is to unexpected new friends and a wild night!” That was his speech and although I found it a bit out there, I took my glass and clinked it with theirs.

“Bottoms up!” She said and from that point on, my night a blur, then ended with lights out.

The rest of the evening I can only recall in small bits and pieces. I do not remember leaving the strip club although I was told that we stayed there for about 45 mins. A co-worker informed me that I didn’t want to leave and had even given a wad of cash to one of the dancing girls after she told me a story about her and her kid “just trying to survive.” My memory only holds a picture of the club and then all of the sudden, we are back at the same bar we had all previously met up at. I vaguely remember feeling extremely tired and wanting to go home. I was told that at this point I had told the others that I was going to the bathroom and that I had gotten up to leave stumbling on my way out and never returning. For my friends, it was not unusual for me to disappear like that. I have always hated good-byes and so when I am ready to go home I make my way out using one excuse or another and simply disappearing. What was unusual for them was the fact that I seemed overly intoxicated even though I had only had a beer and a shot. That was not normal for me. I’ve always been known to handle my alcohol so that did raise  few eyebrows, but not enough for anyone to assume that something was wrong.

A couple minuets after me leaving for the “bathroom” the new couple said their good-byes and disappeared into the night.

I have no idea how things transpired from here on out. Considering I have no memory of even leaving my friends behind at the bar, I for sure have no clue how it was that I ran into this couple while on my journey home. My next snapshot of the night is of me in their hotel room standing out on the balcony but barely able to hold myself up. The next snapshot is of me sitting on the bed and the girl playing with my hair. After that? Nothing.

I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a semi-truck. It took me a few seconds to muster up the energy to sit up and look around and that’s when I discovered the severity of my situation. I was completely naked  barely wrapped up in only a thin bed sheet. I was laying on the couch and when I looked around the room that’s when I saw the couple, each laying on the bed sprawled out and also naked. At that very moment I was overwhelmed with many emotions, embarrassment, violated, bewilderment, sadness, guilt. But before being able to fully ingest all that I was feeling, all I wanted to do was to get out.  I quickly got up and quietly gathered my things. I grabbed my purse, my clothes, my phone and snuck into their bathroom to get dressed. It wasn’t until I put  my shoes on that I felt dread. My work shoes were severely scuffed, the soles of both shoes peeling away  the tops as if I had been dragged.

I left their bathroom and headed towards the door not once looking back. It was as if I just couldn’t bring myself to see the reality of my situation. I exited the room and soon realized I was only two blocks away from my home. I walked the two blocks in a fog. I felt bruised all over. My arms had bruises running from underneath my armpits all the way down to my wrists. My legs felt like lead. I felt soreness on both sides of my rib cage.

Once I arrived at my apartment, completely drained, I collapsed on my bed and slept for hours. It wasn’t until I woke up at almost 5 pm that I really was able to dissect the situation and try to understand what had happened to me. My body felt like a sack of bruised potatoes and that immediately brought tears to my eyes because with how I felt, how could I not remember what had happened to me? I immediately headed to my local walk-in clinic and after explaining what I had gone through got tested on any possible STD out there. The sorrow in the physician’s eyes should have been comforting but instead it made me feel ten times worse. It was at this point, when sitting on the medical table getting swabbed and blood work done, that I looked down and saw on my left wrist a beaded pink bracelet. It was the same bracelet that the girl had on the night before and here I was wearing it, undeniable proof as to what transpired the night before. I still have the bracelet to this day. I’m not sure why I kept it but it is put away in a jewelry box, a small reminder to always stay on alert.

Once I arrived back home from the clinic I messaged my sister and told her somewhat of what happened. I kept out the part of me waking up naked and seeing the couple sprawled out on the bed, also bare. My mother still doesn’t know. I’m sure that soon she will read this and her heart will be broken into a billion little pieces. I was also seriously dating someone at the time and although I did tell him what happened, I also left out the details of how I woke up and what I believed really happened. Do I think they would have negatively judged me? Not really, but I do believe that in their mind I maybe asked for it by putting myself in the situation when befriending the strange couple.

Now that this incident is over a year old, I am ready to talk honestly about the situation and what happened to me where as before I had no strength to do so. The level of guilt and embarrassment one feels when something like this happens to you is something no one is really prepared to talk about. It is almost as if one would rather sew up the lips than to ever utter a detail, and the feeling of reliving it all over again through speech is terrifying.

When I came across the news headline of the couple in California who were going around doing what was done to me to others, ice ran through my veins. All of the emotions I had bottled up and stored away came rushing back and my heart truly went out to the women affected by such trauma.

Sadly, our cases aren’t unique or seldom. What happened to us happens everyday to countless women and men alike. I feel as though one of the biggest mistakes we commit as a society is to cover up any situation that doesn’t seem ideal. We don’t really talk about the dangers that lurk around every corner and if we do, we speak of it as though it could never happen to us, making it that much more difficult to speak about when it does. One shouldn’t feel embarrassed or guilty after going through something like this and it is society that makes us feel this way. Being honest and speaking up over such monumental occurrences is what will allow for healing as well as encouraging awareness. We as a society need to become more aware. We need to start standing up for one another in being protective not only of ourselves but of those around you. Together we are a single unit. When will we start to realize that if one of us hurts, society as a whole hurts? It’s time we become more available to those who need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, without the judgment and give only support needed to overcome the unpleasantries that life sometimes has in store for us.

 

 

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