Later, on one of those dark, lonely, sleepless nights you are having so often now, when your mind takes over, as though it has a will of its own, and forces you back into that moment…you will realize that you did not hear or see him coming. You walked to the parking ramp from the restaurant, laughing with your wife about something funny that one of your friends had said, or perhaps at a joke from the waiter who made you all feel so at home all evening. You rode the elevator to your floor of the parking ramp and walked across the ramp deck to your car, the click of your wife’s heels echoing in the empty space. You were lucky to find that parking place earlier, with so many drivers cruising around, looking for open spots. But now, the area was empty, and your car was standing alone. You hit the unlock button on your remote, and the thunk of the electronic lock echoed across the empty parking deck. You glanced across the top of the car at your wife, as you shifted the keys, so you could operate the door latch. Instantly, you recognized that your wife was looking behind you, to your left, and suddenly her eyes flew open, as wide as you have ever seen them. Her mouth dropped open, and you realized that she was trying to scream.
Without thinking, you spun to your right, away from the unknown threat, just as your self-defense trainer had taught you, over and over, in awareness drills. As you came around, you suddenly saw him, the dark figure coming at you, his eyes burning into you, his mouth pulled back in a snarl, and you saw the knife in his hand, its blade catching reflections from the overhead ramp lights. Without thinking again, using a quick underhand motion, you tossed your keys directly into his face. It slowed him only briefly, but it was enough for you to draw the gun holstered on your hip, under your coat. It came up, slowly, agonizingly slowly, and suddenly your hands were wrapped around that gun and you fired directly into center mass, once, twice, again, again, you lost track, and it became one thunderous roar, and somewhere inside it all, you could hear the sound of someone screaming, from somewhere, a high-pitched, anguished unintelligible cry.
He was suddenly gone from your view. You lowered your weapon, moving your head, forcing yourself to break your focus and quickly look around. As you did, you heard your instructor’s voice loud inside your head. “WAKE UP! LOOK AROUND! ARE THERE OTHER THREATS? THIS IS NOT OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER!” The attacker was slumped on the ground, he was still, and the knife had fallen from his hand. One leg was splayed out away from his body and he seemed to be laying over his other leg, folded underneath him. You saw what you realized was probably blood beginning to seep out onto the concrete from some wound that you could not see. You looked around quickly again, there was no one else in the area. You were alone, but for your wife. You suddenly remembered her, and you turned to look at her. She was backed up against the concrete wall. Her mouth still open, and she was looking in your direction. But, you realized that she did not even see you. You glanced back at the figure on the floor. He had looked so big, and now, seconds later, he appeared to be so small, and so still.
In a state of shock, you walked to your wife. As you reached for her arm, she recoiled away from you. Her face was a bloodless white mask, her eyes filled with tears. Quietly you said, “Why don’t you sit down in the car.” Without a glance at you, she walked unsteadily that short distance and slumped into the car, staring wordlessly out the windshield. You took a deep breath and realized you needed to call the police. Do I have service in here?” “What the hell am I gonna say?” You looked around again, “Jesus, we are all alone! No one saw this, no one heard this, what are the cops going to say?” You leaned against the trunk of your car. You glanced again at the motionless, shapeless form on the ground. That dark pool had gotten much larger now. You took another deep breath. It was time to make that 911 call. “God, I hope this is gonna turn out alright. What the hell was I supposed to do? He came out of nowhere. I didn’t have any choice!”
You have survived the attack. Frankly, you got real lucky. If you had not reacted to what you saw in your wife’s eyes, he could have shoved that knife clear to the hilt in your back. God knows what he would have done to your wife. Was she what he was after? A rape? A robbery? You are never going to know…ever. But you did what you had to do, you defended yourself, and you defended your wife. But now, the second phase of that battle is about to begin. The phase where you have to fight for your future, your good name, and the well-being of your family. The phase for which you can never really practice.
The phase we call “Aftermath” . . .
This book is written for those survivors, of the first fight, as an aid and a tool, to help them survive the second fight. It is not meant to be a book containing all the answers. It cannot even deal with all the questions. It does, however, cover a number of common issues that have arisen time and time again for survivors. And, we need to start at the beginning, at a point about ten seconds after the guns stop going off.