Someone tried to kill me. I didn't know how to talk about it. I still don't.
(This didn't happen recently. Don't worry)
So my phone starts beeping. It’s 4 am in Los Angeles. I’m 22 years old. I live in West Hollywood, and my best friend lives a few blocks away. She has sent me a text which says that her boyfriend has been up all night on meth and is acting crazy, and she wants me to come over and help with it.
I know her boyfriend only through her, but we’ve hung out enough to be considered “friends.” I jump in my car, drive from Melrose & Sweetzer to Sunset & Havenhurst, and race up to the apartment.
Knock knock. She opens up the door with an embarrassed, sheepish look on her face. We both laugh. She lets me in and gestures across the apartment to the living room, where her boyfriend is waving around a butcher knife and talking to himself.
I go over and try to speak to him, but he is lost in his own world. He is not just acting speedy. I’ve never done meth, but I have done cocaine, and I have been around people on meth enough to know that something else is going on here. But I have also been around druggies enough to know that sometimes they act crazy, and it’s sort of useless to try to figure it out in the moment. What he needs to do, I figure, is get it out of his system and eventually fall asleep.
My friend tells me that she’s sure he’ll be fine. This has happened before, but she was worried when he started wielding the knife and wanted me there just in case. I am the easiest and worst person to call in situations like this because I pathologically underestimate the severity of everything. But that’s why she called me, so we go sit in her kitchen to wait it out. We spend the next hour talking about everything but the lunatic in the living room. We will discuss that she needs to break up with him in the future, but that seems like a conversation for another time.
At some point, he gets louder; we ignore it; then louder; ignore it; then so loud that we can’t help but make out some of what he’s saying. “The FBI.” “Bugs.” He thinks the FBI has bugged the apartment. Again, we shake it off.
Eventually, he starts shouting things we can’t ignore: namely, my name. “Ben [something something] fucking BEN [something something].”
“Is he calling me,” I ask her?
“Either that or he’s cursing you,” she says.
We decide we better check on him, walk back through the kitchen, and turn towards the living room. She is standing a few inches behind me but we both have a clear sight of her boyfriend.
What happens next happens very fast.
The first thing is we see that he has long ago stopped just wielding the knife. He has cut up pillows and DVDs and pictures, and he is crouched down in front of the television over the cable box, which he has pried open with the butcher knife and destroyed.
We both realize this is more serious than we understood.
He turns his head towards us. He has a look in his eye that is indescribable but terrifying. The look makes it very clear that he was, in fact, cursing me.
“Oh god,” she says behind me.
And before that’s even out of her mouth, her boyfriend is up, growling my name, and rushing at us; the butcher knife gripped in his hand the way Norman Bates does in Psycho.
Now, in a movie, what would happen is I would have stepped back into the kitchen, grabbed a frying pan, and hit him in the head with it. Or grabbed a knife and told him to stay away. I would have armed myself and fended him off.
This is not a movie, though, so what actually happens is I shout, “Woah woah, calm down” which does not, dear reader, calm him down, and then she and I dart for the front door. She screams his name and begs him to stop, and I shout, “We’re leaving, dude.” My hand reaches the door handle, and he’s still a few feet away. I turn it and pull the door, and it opens a little and then stops…it has the chain lock on it.
I push the door closed and reach for the chain, but by then, he’s there and stabbing at me. I back away into the apartment. And I back away, and he stabs, and I avoid the knife, and I back away, and he stabs, and I avoid it and on and on, and this feels like forever, but it’s actually a few seconds, and then what happens is what never happens in movies but very often happens in real life: I find myself backed into a literal corner.
Now, what you should do in this situation, is tackle the person. You do not have good odds, but it’s better than nothing. Of course, I don’t do this. Instead, I think, “Well, I’m about to get stabbed. I guess I had a good run. Mistakes were made.”
He recognizes the moment and pulls back his hand to launch the fatal blow, and then his girlfriend jumps in front of me. He has already begun to stab forward and tries to divert his knife because he doesn’t want to hurt her but can’t and ends up slicing her arm. She continues to shout and beg for him to stop.
The realization that he has just inadvertently cut her seems to wake him up just enough that he abandons the hunt and runs into the bedroom.
I grab her, unchain the door, and we race down the stairs.
It’s still very early in the morning so there is no one in the parking lot. We say something like “holy shit, holy shit” to each other and get in my car. I start to call the police, and she stops me. He has a son. He’ll lose his son if the police find out! He’ll go to prison! I scoff at her and am like, “he just tried to kill me! You’re bleeding!” She insists that she isn’t bleeding that bad, and it’s true; she isn’t. But she is bleeding. She wraps her arm in a sweatshirt and begs me to drive us to my apartment so she can think.
This drive takes 3 minutes. We pull into my driveway, and I say, “Look, we cannot not report this.” And she agrees and begins to ready herself for the emotional drama to come.
“I’ll do it,” she says.
She reaches for her phone and begins to dial, but while that is happening, it rings. It’s her neighbor. They had heard the commotion, and the neighbor’s boyfriend had gone to check on the situation and is now being held at knifepoint. The police have been called and are on their way.
We drive right back to her building, which is now in chaos. Neighbors are in the parking lot, and there is confusion afoot. The LAPD gets there moments later. My friend and I offer them some details about the situation, but the main detail they want is the layout of the apartment. We are kept down in the parking lot so I don’t know exactly what goes on, but six or seven police run up the stairs and break the door open, and end it peacefully.
Her boyfriend scowls at us as he is brought out in handcuffs, placed into a police car, and zoomed away.
Now this story doesn’t really end here. In fact, it doesn’t really begin with the text message that morning.