Some of you may know that the sinking of the Titanic was caused by a sequence of events, and that if one of those had been changed, the story of that doomed ship would not be known today.
A sequence of events began for me on Friday, March 24, when, at work, my left leg slipped backwards, down a few steps on a staircase. It caused a rush of pain, but only if I bent it backwards.
I could stand perfectly well, without any discomfort, and I simply assumed that I had badly strained a leg muscle or two. By Monday, I was feeling much better, but I did not put any unusual strain on my leg.
By Tuesday, March 28, my leg felt so good that I considered riding my bike to work, so I rode it up and down a few blocks. There was no pain, yet I wondered: “Should I ride to work, or take the bus?”
Deciding to give my leg as much rest as possible, I took the bus.
I felt little discomfort that day. I took the bus home, getting off at the corners of LaGrange Road and Ogden Avenue. I could either walk up and then down on the Ogden Avenue bridge, over the Indiana Harbor Belt tracks, or I could just walk down along Ogden Avenue, past the YMCA building, and across the Y field, a level area. That way my leg could be spared any additional stress. That seemed a better idea.
At the southwest corner of the Y field, I looked around, to see if anyone was there. I saw nobody, and headed diagonally for the open fence gate at the northeast corner. People cut across this field all the time. Darkness had settled completely a half hour before, and the only light came from the Y field parking lot.
A couple hundred feet in, I noticed a man jogging at the eastern boundary of the field, right back of the YMCA. I wasn’t unduly concerned. I’d seen persons jogging around the field many times. Yet, I kept my eye on this person, for as long as I could.
Closer I came to the fence gate, with nothing happening. Yet I still looked around, now and then. I was being as aware of my surroundings as possible.
Just after stepping on the sandy surface of the ball field on the northeast side of the Y field, WHAM! I felt something heavy suddenly slam into me. At first, I didn’t know what’d happened.
I was thrown forward, and then I realized that someone was on my back. Later I realized that this must’ve been the “jogger” I’d seen. I was stunned and barely had time to think. The man on my back had his arm around my throat and said, “Gimme your money!”
I remember thinking: “This is all a bad dream! Wake up! Wake up!”
Yet nothing changed, and I then knew it was all too horribly real.
When I started calling out, “Help, help!” he ordered me to “Shut up!” and choked me. He seemed to enjoy the power he had over me, applying brutal force from his first body slam to his choke holds.
A few times, he completely closed off my throat, and I couldn’t breathe. I truly thought that my life was just about over, that I was soon to die, and that would be it for this life. All he had to do was choke me long enough or twist my neck wrong, and I’d be dead.
I offered my wallet to him, from my back pocket, and he’d said it wasn’t there. I said to him, “What do you mean it’s not there? It has to be! What happened to it? What did you do with it?”
I guess he looked around, hoping to spot it in the darkness, but he never found it. There wasn’t any money in it anyway, not a single dollar.
So my attacker had picked just about the worst possible person to rob. All I had on me was a small cloth bag containing $3 to $4 in change. I still wonder what that guy would have done to me if he’d found my wallet so empty. He never got the wallet, but he must’ve found the change bag, since the police never located it.
Just as suddenly as he’d knocked me to the ground, he got off me and ran away. I was surprised that he did, and stumbled off, dirty and bleeding, across the rest of the Y field, over the Indiana Harbor Belt tracks and to the temporary location of the LaGrange Public Library, that I’d planned to stop at, before I was attacked.
I located the door, hoping the library wasn’t closed, and went in, surprising the people at the circulation desk. They called the police, the paramedics, and let me splash some water on myself at a sink. The dirty water was stained with blood.
I was asked the same questions over and over. Within minutes, I was in the emergency room at the LaGrange Memorial Hospital. I was finally released late Friday afternoon, March 31, and life slowly took on more normal overtones.
If only one thing had been different, my attack would never have happened. If I hadn’t hurt my leg, nothing would’ve happened. If I’d decided to ride my bike to work that day, or if I’d decided to walk on the Ogden Avenue bridge, well, no attack. If, when I’d seen that “jogger,” I’d turned and gone back to the Y building, and then over the bridge, you wouldn’t be reading this.
But who knew? So that’s my story, and it’s taught me a lesson. Stay out of dark places. You never know what’s lurking therein.