My name is Samantha. I'm 17 years old, and this is the first piece of English written homework I've ever even attempted.
I'm supposed to write about anything I want. Myself, what I like doing, something that's happened to me recently, something I feel strongly about, something I've found out which might help others. I didn't know which to choose, so this is going to be a mix of all of them. Certainly I hope it will make you think if you ever find yourself in the situation I was in.
You'll have to excuse the style. Like I said, I've never actually done this before - writing, I mean. I'm not exactly doing it now. I've signed up for this class for dyslexics who somehow got missed at school and never really learnt to read and write in the first place. Our teacher says there's a difference between being able to write and being able to spell and do grammar, so we're taking it in turns to borrow this computer with speech recognition and talking our essays into it. Then we're supposed to check it picked up what we meant to say. That's the hard bit. It can spell, but it can't tell if it's saying the right thing. The idea is to show us that we can say the right thing even if we can't spell. I think. In any case, it's weird seeing my own words on a page for the first time. But it's a lot easier reading stuff when you know what it says. Maybe that's the idea too. And I'm sorry the names and places aren't specific - our teacher says we should make sure nobody could track us down from reading this. Goodness knows I've found out the hard way that you have to be careful.
Anyway, call me Sam. All my friends do. I live in a trailer on the park behind the racetrack. Yes, I know I'm too young, but it's all been cleared, so get off my back. And I'm going to be a motor mechanic. I'm an apprentice with the ISO racing team. If you ever see a shot of them working on TV, I'm the female one frantically running about fetching stuff for the older guys. There aren't a whole lot of girl mechanics. My friends all think I'm nuts. My stepdad - well let's just say that's why I live in the trailer.
So, I have an ancient trailer to live in, and I drive an almost as ancient Ford. That's where my problems started. I'd been to a birthday party of one of my school girlfriends ("hey Sam, I thought you were going to be a beautician", "Mechanic? Don't you get all dirty doing that", "How many drivers you slept with so far" and so on). It was late, the roads were pretty deserted, and as I came round a roundabout this guy pulled straight out into my front wing. Took out the whole light cluster and cracked the radiator. Apparently I indicated one way and went the other. I didn't think so, but I wasn't sure enough to argue.
Well, he was pretty nice about it. It was obvious my car wasn't driveable and I've never had the money to join any of the organisations that come and tow you home. He offered right away to drive me back to the track. I figured they wouldn't mind me borrowing the truck - I've hooked up enough shunted race cars that I was pretty sure I could do it alone. And I knew I had to come out and get it soon - if I left it till the morning it would have gone. So I stuck a note in the window explaining what had happened and went off with the guy. Todd, he said his name was. Like I said, he seemed real friendly. We chatted all the way back, he asked me how old I was, who I lived with, whether I had a boyfriend, that sort of stuff. I felt quite comfortable talking to him. It never occurred to me what I was telling him. Why he was asking if there'd be anyone there when he got me home.
There wasn't anyone at the garage, so Todd drove round to the trailer park. It was pretty quiet there too. I know what you're thinking about trailer parks, but this one isn't like that, not even on a Friday night. It's mostly guys who work at the track, and you don't get blind drunk the night before race day. And nobody takes kindly to being kept awake till all hours if they've got to work early next morning. Most nights it's as silent as it was then.
Todd pulled up where I asked him. He said he'd wait while I got the garage key, then drive me back round, because he was worried about me on my own in the dark. I can't believe I swallowed it - I mean, I walk round there in the dark on my own all the time. I guess I was a bit shocked though. I'd never had an accident before, and I can tell you even at 20 mph it's still scary. Especially afterwards. I'd hate to have a smash at any speed. I don't know how the racers do it.
Anyway, I unlocked my trailer, stepped inside and was just reaching for the key when he came in and shut the door behind him. I was about to ask him what he was doing - I hadn't switched the light on, and now I couldn't see anything - when he grabbed me by both wrists and threw me on the floor. Pinned my hands above my head with one of his hands, and ripped my shirt open with the other. He had a knife, he was way taller than me and weighed about twice as much. I squeaked once, then I didn't dare make any more noise. All I could think was that I'd already passed the point where I should have tried the self-defence I know, which isn't much, but a stiletto heel into his foot might have worked if I'd done it straight away. It was far too late for that now. I just hoped he didn't kill me when he'd finished.
The next thing I knew, the door opened again. I saw this flash of a second man, and thought, oh no, he had a friend, and then Todd wasn't holding me down any more, I heard the knife slide across the floor, and something heavy hit the ground real hard outside the trailer door. I curled up in a ball and shook. Next minute there was the sound of an engine starting up and driving off. I remember thinking he was going much faster than you're supposed to in the park, but he wouldn't exactly have cared, would he.
The light went on, and a voice which I recognised asked me if I was hurt. Jason, the ISO team driver who has the trailer next to mine. He's not there all the time, hadn't been all week. I guessed he'd been off doing the more serious side of his job. Most everyone except me on the ISO racing team also works for ISO proper - there's a real high turnover as they get reassigned, and we rarely have the same drivers two weeks running, not like the other teams. I'm sure they only took me because the track's pretty strict on equal opportunities, and giving every job to someone already in your parent organisation doesn't exactly count.
I told him I wasn't hurt - at least he hadn't asked if I was OK - and got off up the floor. Bruised, maybe. Definitely shocked. I couldn't think straight. All I could think about at that moment was losing my car. No way was I fit to drive the truck now.
Luckily for me, Jason's a car person - not all drivers are, for some it's just a tool and they'll swap the minute something trendier comes along. When you see a racing driver with a Nissan Skyline older than they are, you know they're a car person. He understood why I was more worried about the car than myself. Especially when I told him where it was.
"Shit - you'll be lucky if it's still there now." He looked at me critically. "You up to talking to the police?"
I cringed. "I really don't want to. They're never going to believe I didn't lead him on. He didn't actually do anything. And I don't have his full name, or his car number, or anything."
"You call threatening you with a knife in your own home and ripping your clothes to shreds not doing anything? The knife's over there, there'll be fingerprints. I got his numberplate . And I saw him threatening you. We need to help them get this guy, Sam. The next girl he tries it on may not have someone to rescue her. Oh, and the police'll see nothing bad happens to your car, since they'll want it for evidence."
"OK." I rescued my mobile from the bag on the floor and stared at it, with no idea what number to dial. You wouldn't think 911 was something you'd forget, would you? Well, believe me, it happens.
Jason held out his hand. "Let me. You remember how to boil a kettle? Make yourself a cup of tea with a lot of sugar in it."
I gave him the phone in complete embarrassment and did as he said. And I know the hot sweet tea thing's a bit of a cliché, but it does actually work. I felt a lot better for it. And sufficiently more self-aware to realise my shirt no longer hid anything. I grabbed some fresh clothes out of a drawer and headed for the tiny bathroom to change, but Jason stopped me. "Stay as you are. The police'll appreciate seeing exactly what he did. Stick a blanket round you if you're cold."
I was more embarrassed than cold, but since he'd had a full view for the last fifteen minutes there didn't seem much point in being modest now. I pulled a blanket round me and suddenly realised what he'd said. "You mean the police are coming out here now? I thought they'd ask to see me for a statement in about a week!"
"I told you they'd take this seriously."
They certainly did - the police were there within twenty minutes. The man cast a not entirely professional eye over my lack of outfit and what it wasn't hiding, and left me to his female colleague to take some pictures I never want to see again and take a statement, while he talked to Jason. Surprisingly, we were finished first, and once the male police officer had scanned my statement the tone at the other end of the trailer got rather less friendly.
"So let me get this straight. You were asleep in your trailer, that one over there."
"And you heard sounds of a struggle in here. Which the young lady says there wasn't."
"I heard her gasp and hit the floor."
"While you were asleep. Through two sets of walls."
Jason glared at him. "Maybe I wasn't that asleep. And I have good hearing."
"OK. Next, you opened the door, and there's a man on top of her on the floor. A big man with a knife. She says you threw him out the door and the knife went over there where we found it."
"Now I have a problem with that bit. You're what - six foot? Not that big. He's estimated at six-four and heavily built. Now I'm guessing you stuck a gun in his ribs or something to get him to run off like that. I can't blame you, but you have to tell this straight or it'll be thrown out of court, even assuming we can find this guy."
Jason looked decidedly unimpressed. "Give me a break - I've got better things to do than lie to you." He dug in his pocket and produced a card - I could see his picture and the ISO crest, but nothing else.
The officer scanned it, looked Jason up and down, and shook his head. "ISO sure do take them young. You work for ISO Security? Field officer? I've heard about you guys. I should be complaining you didn't present me with him, giftwrapped ."
"I thought he'd knifed Sam. I got him out of the way while I checked she wasn't bleeding to death. Shame I didn't break his neck."
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that." He turned to his colleague. "Are we done here?"
She agreed, they assured me the car would be OK and I'd hear when I could get it back the next day, and they left.
I stared at Jason. "You're a security operative? I thought you were just a driver!"
"Watch it with the `just'." He suddenly looked very tired. "Look, Sam, are you going to be OK on your own now? I just got back from working three days straight, and I'm shattered." He grinned. "I'll still hear if anyone tries to break in."
I nodded. "I'm fine. And thank you."
I didn't think I'd sleep, but I did, and when I woke up it was to the phone ringing. The police telling me they had my car, needed the damaged front wing with the bits of his car's paintwork on (that was fine, I had to replace it anyway) and I could have the rest of the car back the following day. They'd even deliver it here for me.
And Todd? They caught him. I pulled him out of a lineup no problem, and I'm going to stand up in court and identify him. From things they carefully didn't say, I guess he had done it before, but they'd never had enough evidence to prosecute. This time he's going down.
So what should you learn from all this? Don't go off in a car with someone you don't know. Ever. I got lucky. You might not have a Jason next door.