The day after my 33rd birthday, I was held up at gunpoint.
After rehearsal on that Tuesday, several of my fellow cast members and I celebrated our end-of-the-summer birthdays at the Cat and Fiddle in Hollywood. We enjoyed bonding over cocktails and several raucous games of darts. Rehearsals for our show, Merrily We Roll Along, had been intense over the past several weeks, and it felt good to blow off some steam.
Before we knew it, we had closed down the bar. As we dispersed to our individual vehicles, my friend Dave offered to walk me to mine. Being the independent woman who I so love to be, I declined his offer.
“Naaah, I’m fine – I’ll be fine. You don’t have to walk me to my car,” I dismissed him, gathering up the mass of birthday balloons by each individual string.
“Les, I’m walking you to your car,” Dave stated, firmly.
“All right! All right!” I conceded. “You can walk me to my car!” I had parked a little far away.
I was not used to kind, gentlemanly offers as such. Later, I’d be more than grateful that Dave insisted upon accompanying me.
Toting my balloons in one hand and my green purse hoisted upon my right shoulder, we made our way across Sunset Boulevard. We talked and laughed up the side street where my car was parked, about a quarter of a mile away.
It was a little past 2:00 a.m.
As we approached my vehicle, I noticed another car drive up, slowly, alongside me. The passenger leaned out the car window and called to me. I couldn’t understand him, but, for some reason, I assumed he was asking for directions. (Because, of course, a man would be asking for directions at 2:00 a.m.)
“I’m sorry, what was that?” I asked. I was happy and always welcome the opportunity to be helpful.
“Gimme your purse,” he demanded, somewhat quietly, as the car slowed down and stopped just in front of mine.
The car stopped, and the man got out. He kept himself backed up against the open passenger door.
“Gimme me your purse,” he demanded, a little louder.
I looked at him for a moment, scrunched up my face, and responded,
“GIMME ME YOUR PURSE!” He gestured with his right hand.
At that moment, I noticed that he was holding a gun. It rested gingerly up against his waist. It was aimed right at me, almost politely.
I sighed. I glanced back at Dave, who was on the other side of the car, standing frozen, with his mouth agape.
I turned back to the guy with the gun.
What came out of my mouth next baffles even me. Contrary to everything I have ever been taught – or shall we say instinct, maybe? – I took a step towards the man and his gun, and got angry.
The “K” sound rolling out of my mouth felt like I was delivering a bullet right back at that stupid guy and his dumbass gun. It felt really good. I gestured dismissively towards the gun, and continued to curse. Loudly.
“Get the FUCK out of here! That’s not even a real gun. I don’t have any money, anyway. FUCKKKKK OFF!“
The guy looked at me briefly, and, in an instant, got back into the car. His driver sped them away.
I watched the car’s tail lights disappear around the corner, opened the rear door and tossed my green purse inside.
I made eye contact with Dave over the roof of my car. His mouth was still agape. I started laughing.
“Do you realize what just happened?” He asked me, in disbelief.
I kept laughing.
We got in the car and I drove him back down the empty street, across Sunset Boulevard, and onto another “much safer” side street where his car was parked.
We sat in silence for a moment, until I burst out laughing again.
“Leslie, do you realize what you did back there?” Dave was shaking his head.
I hadn’t really taken the time to process it. To be totally honest, I am sure the alcohol I had consumed assisted in my “bravery”. I hadn’t had time to think about my word choice, or the consequences of my actions. I most certainly wasn’t representing Jesus very well.
But it was beyond that. I was fed up. I didn’t care if I lived or died at that point. I was in pain. I was tired of people taking from me. I liked my green purse. It was mine. I didn’t feel like giving it away without a fight.
We “debriefed” a little further, making sure each other was okay. We truly wondered if the gun was real or not, but, regardless, Dave thanked me for “saving his life.”
I drove home carefully, replaying the events of the past hour in my mind. As I got home and quietly slipped into bed, it started to sink in.
I just told a guy pointing a gun at me to “fuck off”. What is WRONG with me? At the same time, I’m feeling like a badass! Thank you, God, for protecting me. That situation was in YOUR hands and YOU protected me. Not my own strength, at all.
A few days later, as the endorphins wore off and the Facebook “likes” and attention from my story dwindled, I was able to process a bit further. At the same time, I entered into a brief period of darkness and confusion.
I CAN’T DO THIS, GOD. I CAN’T. I can’t live this life. I can’t do anything without You. I see happy couples, people getting married all around, people with babies, happy marriages. And I am living with Curt and Kathy, unemployed, no one to go to sleep with at night. My husband chose to leave me, time and time again.
I know I didn’t come this far to fall. But I can’t do this. I am a troublemaker. Getting mugged and not even caring. Sometimes I wish I would have been shot and killed that night.
I know you love me, God, I know. But, being honest, I don’t even know how long I can do this. Do not let evil win, do not withhold blessings from me. I cannot see. I cannot understand because my understanding is finite; human. I am scared. I am anxious. I need Your peace. I need guidance. I am utterly, completely dependent upon You. I cannot see the future; I don’t even know what You want for me. How, where?
You haven’t let me down thus far; I KNOW I can trust You. I have to trust You. I want to trust You.
Psalm 39 echoes in my heart. I still wish You would take my life. Just take me home. I am ready.
I cannot do anything. I need You. I am exhausted from trying to be self-sufficient. I know You have plans for me, but what? I must be patient. I must be still.
“Be still and know that I am God”. ~Psalm 46:10