by Linda Simeone
“Oh! No! This has got to be a dream, a nightmare!” I thought when a friend of seventeen years took a knife from his belt and rushed toward me.
A million thoughts rushed through my head in as little as five seconds. The one I responded to was DROP TO THE GROUND.
What had led up to the attack is a very long story. I’ll spare you the boring details and cut to the chase, as they say in my business.
I had known Bob for well over seventeen years. We dated, lived together, broke up amiably, and vowed to always remain friends. We did remain good friends helping each other out at times financially, or for moral support when times were down for one another, go out for drinks, or just to talk.
But Bob was ill. He suffered for years from a neurological disorder called Epilepsy. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons his condition had manifested itself into recurring bouts of paranoia, schizophrenia, and psychotic episodes. None were violent – agitation, shouting. He had been hospitalized twice because of these bouts but each time recovered enough to return to school, work part time, and resume normal activities.
Unfortunately, most crime statistics prove that the majority of acts of violence are committed by someone the victim knew relatively well; i.e. spouse, son, brother, etc. I am no exception.
As I write this, I am well over my shock and disbelief. Yet, I feel stupid more than anything. How could I have let this happen to myself I ask over and over?
I am NOT by any means stupid. I am self-educated, work for a major film studio, and also work as a freelance journalist. I read and watch the news daily. I am not ignorant of the crime rate going on about us. We read about and watch television reports about senseless gang violence, innocent bystanders shot or knifed, and while we are perhaps disturbed by all of this, we often think, “Ah.., well, it can’t happen to me. It’s not in my neighborhood. I don’t go to that part of town. I don’t have any gang member associates.”
But it happened to me. By someone I thought I knew well. I made one wrong decision and it nearly cost me my life.
Bob had shown up on my doorstep at 1:30 a.m. Friday morning. He was due at 7:00 p.m. Thursday evening per his telephone call. He sounded high and somewhat agitated. He had been off of his medication for weeks, unbeknownst to me, his family or doctor. He was classified borderline psychotic by his doctor at UCLA-NPI less than 12 hours earlier. But because Bob knew the proper date, time of day, and the President of the United States and that he was living in California on the planet earth, his doctor felt he was in ‘control of all faculties’ and released him from the out-patient clinic in Westwood. Another mistake if you ask me, but we won’t get into that now.
I waited for him to arrive for hours. After 11:00 p.m. I had hoped he had changed his mind and decided to take a bus back to Long Beach where he lived on a 27 ft. sailboat at a local marina. But at 1:30 a.m. I heard a key in the door. He had a pass key to my apartment because, as I said, we were friends.
His mood was spooky. He was definitely not of the right mind and I was very fearful. However, Bob always responded well to me; and I felt it best to let him stay the night and get him either to UCLA in the morning or back to Long Beach where I had hoped he would pull out of this episode. I put him in my bed and moved to the couch. There was something definitely wrong with him. He was rambling and acting very mysterious – like the cat who swallowed the canary. I asked him where the hell he had been for nearly 6 hours and he just smiled strangely and said, “Oh…, just wandering around. I was confused, but here I am …”
The thought of violence occurred to me and so I slept with one eye open the rest of the night. If he got up to use the bathroom, I sat up until he returned to bed.
He had a fear of going back to the hospital. He feared the police. He wasn’t acting violent and so I reasoned as long as he behaved himself, we’d both be okay. My game plan was to drive him back to Long Beach first thing in the morning. If his mood deteriorated, I’d drive him to UCLA.
In the morning he seemed better. He was back on his medication for 12 hours and I made sure he took more when he awoke. We talked. While he did not yet seem 100% himself, I was confident he was manageable. I asked him if he wanted to go to UCLA. He said, “No, he wanted to go back to his boat.” We stopped for coffee briefly. It was Friday morning. Normally I would’ve taken him home Saturday morning, but something told me to be rid of him sooner. I called my office and explained I was helping out a friend and would be in as soon as I could, that this was something I had to do.
We stopped briefly in Santa Monica at an outdoor café where I gave him a good talking to. I told him he was to come to a sorry end that half of his problems stemmed from simply not following his doctor’s orders and not taking the proper medication. He began to cry and told me how much he loved me and how sorry he had been for always being a burden, for always causing me and his family so much trouble. I thought I had reached him.
I was wrong.
I decided the best course of action would be simply to drive him directly to Long Beach. For a bit, I had considered putting him on a bus and letting him fend for himself. But as a last act of kindness and a parting gesture of goodwill, I felt it was my last obligation to him. I had already vowed to put a big distance in seeing him anymore because of these episodes and mood changes. I sadly realized he was deteriorating and any responsibility would have to be by way of his immediate family. Hell, I wasn’t even his girlfriend anymore; I was only a friend.
That gesture of good will almost became my last act of any kind.
I got onto the San Diego Freeway and headed to Long Beach. Bob was silent all of the way. I’d glance over to him and notice his eyes distant and staring and at times caught him talking and laughing to himself as if holding a conversation with a silent partner.
“What’s going on? Are you hearing voices?” I asked. He would only smile strangely at me. I attempted more conversation and it was almost as if he was in a time warp as though my words took years to reach him. He would look at me blankly, blink, and respond with, “What did you say?” I was alarmed at his deteriorating condition and for a moment considered driving back to Westwood. But, would he cooperate? No, I knew he would not.
As we neared the marina I asked about an old friend of his. He responded harshly that this friend had been stealing clothes out of his boat and that he was planning to stab this friend, Tom, the next time he saw him. This shocked me deeply. “What? How dare you talk like that? Who are you going to stab? What’s wrong with you?”! I reprimanded him. I should’ve gotten out of the car at that point and run like hell – or better still – thrown him out. Deep down I was concerned but we knew each other for seventeen years.
As we made our way down the dock to his boat, he began acting very odd. He walked hesitantly. I was in a hurry. It was nearly noon and I promised my office I would return. I was ahead of him walking toward his slip where his boat was moored. I heard him say in a very low, threatening voice, “You were wrong, Lin; you were wrong!” I turned innocently. “Wrong about what?” I asked, annoyed. “About Tom, it’s you I want to stab!” He responded with a maniacal growl that I’ll probably never forget.
He reached under his sweater and it was then that I noticed the leather sheath and the hunting knife he withdrew from it. He unfolded it and charged me. He was less than 6 feet away. I remember my blood going cold. “This can’t be really happening to me. Oh, No! Holy shit!”
With a deep breath, I dropped immediately to the ground. He was out of his mind. He was breathing hard, his eyes wide and staring into nothing. He lunged down at me, missing my left leg by inches. I kicked a good kick at him; he never felt it connect to his groin. I now knew I was in deep, very deep trouble. In his frenzy, he whisked down, literally picked me up around the waist, and attempted to plunge the knife into my stomach – dead center.
I doubled over hard and fast, instinctively putting my hands in the way. The blade hacked into my knuckles and the first blood was drawn; but the blade never connected into my mid-section! Again, I dropped to the ground, taking him with me, and screaming for help on an isolated dock at a live-in marina. It was Friday midday; no one was around.
I made a fist and punched hard again up into his testicles. And still he came with the knife. I wanted to lunge into his eyes with my fingers or down into his windpipe as taught in class; but I couldn’t give up protecting my torso. Three more times he lunged at me and three more times I turned, twisted, and moved just fast enough – a hair away from becoming seriously injured. I continued screaming for help.
In my mind I felt I was the only one able to get myself out of the predicament. Only I had the power to fix the mistake I had walked into. Two more passes with the knife and two more misses. This was insane and as we wrestled, tossed, and turned on the dock I realized I was a goner if I didn’t find a way to stop him hard and fast. I grabbed for the knife, placing my left hand on the blade. It hurt but not as badly as I thought. Better my hand than my heart, I thought. I had a death grip on the blade and with my right hand came down hard on his wrist and hand holding the knife. I twisted it hard. I considered biting his wrist; but should the truth be known I knew it wouldn’t work. I have a partial bridge and knew I’d no doubt lost my dental bridge. Besides, pain did not seem to affect him at all. I kicked him once again. No effect!
Miraculously, he lost his grip on the knife and it clattered to the dock. While still holding onto him hard, I scooted around and kicked the knife off the dock and into the water. He immediately pulled away, stood up, and looked at me with an expression I also will never forget. It said “How dare you throw my knife into the water!” It was a look of disbelief and astonishment and for a brief moment I had to chuckle to myself. He ran to the edge of the dock for the knife which now lay in the shallow end of the jetty in four feet of water. He was going to jump in for the knife. As he did, I pushed him hard into the water, got up screaming for help, and ran up the dock, my left hand streaming blood. A woman emerged from a boat. “What’s wrong?” “He’s gone berserk! Call the police; he has a knife!” I screamed as I passed her at a dead run toward my car up in the parking lot. My intent was to make it to the safety of my car. I had taken only my car keys with me, leaving my personal effects in the car.
The dock master came out of her office, now hearing my screams. “What’s the matter? What’s happened?” she asked alarmed. I flashed up my two bloody hands and yelled, “My friend, Bob, has gone berserk. He tried to kill me with a knife. Call the police and paramedics. I think he stabbed me. I know I’m in shock and don’t know how badly I’ve been injured.”
“Oh my God! Quick, get in here! Hurry! We’ll lock the door,” she said. I glanced over my shoulder. Bob was in the water, wading around, trying to find the knife. I couldn’t believe it. Knowing he would soon be up out of the water looking for me, I immediately ran under the dock master’s desk. My reasoning, perhaps, was that if he did not see me he would stop the attack. I was sure he’d find the knife and try it again. I was shaking like a leaf but forced myself to take deep breaths and, crouched on the floor, carefully began looking over parts of my body, assessing the damage.
I was sure he connected several times but not a scratch. Well, actually, there were two scratches: the dimension of a bad cat scratch on the back of my calf and one on the left hip. My pants were slashed badly in that area. My left hand was sliced up only on thumb and pinky finger and that’s where most of the blood was coming from. I could not believe it. They were glorified razor blade cuts. The paramedics treated me at the scene and told me I wouldn’t even need stitches!
The police and paramedics arrived within moments, even though it seemed like hours. I remember I kept pleading with Joan, the dock master, “Where the hell are they?” “They’re rolling, honey; stay calm. You’re doing fine.”
By now Bob had come out of the water, unable to find the knife, but strolling ominously about the docks. Joan watched him from the window. “He’s clearly out of his mind, that’s for sure.” The police arrived, cornered him upon my identification that he was the one who attacked me. He made no resistance; but still the three policemen held him at bay with guns drawn. At one point he resisted their orders and he went to stand up from a kneeling position. They cocked their weapons and I was certain he would be shot.
As the police and paramedics talked to me, they assured me that I was fine. The first cop to ask questions couldn’t believe that I had survived with little more than a scratch or two. He shook his head as both he and the paramedic told me how lucky I was. “What the hell did you do, lady?” “Model Mugging. I dropped to the ground first thing. I instinctively dropped to the ground. It’s what my instructor told us to do in the case of a serious attack – that you could never fight a man on his terms.”
“That course and your instructor saved your life.” He answered somberly. How right he was. “You seemed to be thinking on your feet. Most victims become paralyzed with fear, freeze, and wind up being stabbed or beaten to death. You seemed to be pretty much in control.” He said. Shaking less now, I smiled at him. “I felt as though I was in control. I remember thinking constantly.” I told him. “I’d pretty much say between your self-defense course and your ability to think on your feet is what got you through this,” the officer concluded.
My attitude is pretty solid. I’m still amazed by what happened. As a precaution I called Victims for Victims and plan to get some professional counseling. I refuse to let the incident throw me. Fortunately I came through it okay. It simply boils down to the fact that I was just another victim of a senseless crime. The difference is that I fought back and won.
I am thoroughly convinced it was training through Model Mugging Self Defense that allowed me a second chance at life. This attack occurred on March 18, 1988 – exactly one year to the date that my written article on Model Mugging ran in The Tolucan. That article, of course, was responsible for several women, including myself, to take the class.
It was a decision that I shall never regret.
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