4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

California in My Rearview Mirror

I was leaving California, and NOT looking back. Yet, every mile, my eyes returned to the rearview mirror. This was not out of some feeling of nostalgia — it was out of fear.

Was he out there? Had he found me? Was he following me? Was his “friend” out there, following me, perhaps? And who was this mysterious “friend,” with whom he had been talking on the phone lately? He had never given me a name or reason for the calls, but every time he received a call from this “friend,” he quickly took the phone out onto the back porch so I couldn’t hear his conversations.

I looked at my speedometer. Slow down, Christi. The last thing you need right now is a ticket.

My mind wandered back to the events that precipitated this mad dash for the California border, on a trip to North Carolina — as far away as I could get. How had it all begun?

Perhaps, little changes in timeworn habits were the first red flags. The morning shower that doubled into an evening shower upon returning — late, then later — from work; the “old friend” (a male) that started calling, followed by quick retreats to the back porch. Knowing his background, any “old friend” was bad news. Then there were the lies. “I’ve joined the softball team at work — they’ve been after me forever to do it.” This was coming from the biggest couch potato I had ever met.

Oh, yes! Then there was that first night, after practice, when he made an almost-formal announcement that he was too tired to have sex. Every other time he’d been too tired for his roll in the sack (we’d been together for ten years), he’d simply hit the sheets and gone to sleep. And what of the practices, lasting later and later, each followed by a night when he was too tired?

As the red flags multiplied, I became more suspicious. Finally, only half in a desire to support him, and more, perhaps, out of curiosity as to whether he was indeed playing softball, rather than something else, I told him I wanted to attend one of his games. He responded that he didn’t want me to come because of all the drinking and stuff that went on. He was afraid he’d worry about me and lose his concentration.

More curious than ever, I checked online and found where the team was playing, and saw the notice, bold and clear: “No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed.” Yes, the many lies mounted. I was beginning to see it grow. In my suspicion, I did more checking on him.

He had begun to stay out late an additional night of the week, to “give guitar lessons” to another “friend” with whom he was working. So, one morning, I flattened one of the strings on his guitar while he was showering. When he returned that evening, I checked the guitar while he showered (again), and it was still flat. The case had not been opened.

There was also his special “voice.” Once in a while, somebody would call, and the “voice” would come out of him. He had used it in conversations with me, when we were courting. It was smooth, sexy and alluring. Now he was using it with somebody else.

Another voice was changing at an alarming rate — the one inside me. It started out softly and then screamed in my head, Get out! Don’t wait! Get out, NOW!

One morning, when we were in the car, he asked if I’d ever been to Death Valley. Replying that I’d never been there, I asked why he wanted to know. He said that there was a hiking trail that went from the desert up into the mountains, where there was actually snow. He thought I might be “just crazy enough to like to do something like that.” A chill went through me. I was still recovering from a motorcycle accident, and though I had loved hiking in the past, I was barely able to complete a mile at this point in my recovery. Another red flag! Up until my accident, he had been a complete couch potato. He never wanting to go hiking, much less to the desert — he hated the heat, couldn’t stand it.

My own inner voice was now cautioning me incessantly. Was I being too suspicious? I did some research and found no such hiking path.

Finally, one triple-digit hot day, he suggested that we go out to Borrego Springs. (“Much closer,” he had mentioned.) I exclaimed that I really didn’t think the desert was a good idea. This was a man who hated the heat. And he was suggesting we go to the hottest part of the county. After some discussion, we settled on Laguna Mountain — higher and cooler.

On the drive up the mountain, he took out a map of Borrego, saying, “This is where we’re going to go tomorrow.”

I reminded him of the heat, to which he said, “Yeah, but we’re tough — we can take it!” Nothing like this statement had never come out of his mouth before. I suggested that if he really wanted to go to Borrego, he could leave me at the mountain and drive down himself. He must have felt my edginess or heard it in my voice. He backpedaled, said that no one was going to force me to go anywhere I didn’t want to go.

As he drove, one hand developed an extremely noticeable nervous twitch. Earlier, prior to our leaving the house, he’d overheard me talking with my girlfriend, telling her about our trip, and he’d become visibly upset. “What? Are you telling her where we’re going?” I tried to be as nonchalant as possible in my reply that, yes, I was telling her where we were going.

And now I was twitching. I started to make plans to get out of there.

On the day I finally left, I called to have a sheriff come out to “keep peace,” as they say. I also had my girlfriend Bonnie and her significant other, Jesse, there to help me. The first thing I had the police remove from the house was a gun, kept by his side of the bed. Inside the pouch, along with the gun, was a typed 23rd Psalm. One of the policemen said, “That’s a suicide note.”

The note was typed and unsigned. Had it been only for himself? If so, why go to the trouble to type it? If not, why hadn’t he signed it? Or had he planned to take both our lives? But if he wanted to take both our lives, he could have done that at any time. Why go all the way out to the desert? It didn’t make sense.

There were, however, the dual insurance policies. These he’d insisted on taking out six months previously. The policies were specified nonpayable in the event of suicide, if it happened within six months of inception. When I asked why we needed insurance, after having lived together for so long without it, he’d responded that, should something happen to me, he didn’t want to have to wait for my family to take care of the arrangements.

Upon our arrival at Laguna Mountain, as I stepped out of the cabin, he immediately made a phone call — again, something he’d never done on any of our many trips before. Was he again calling his mysterious friend? Was this friend waiting in the desert to bring my husband back up to the mountain after leaving my truck, the suicide note, and me down in the desert? That would explain the nervous twitch in his hand when I declined to go. I suspected then — and still do — that this was the case.

As I drove on, leaving California, I thought about that gun pouch given to the police. There’d been extra ammo in a caliber different from the 22 I’d always known about. Where was this other gun? And why hadn’t he told me about it?

So many things were beginning to add up. Too many. I shuddered. An 18-wheeler passed, and the car swerved in the draft. I was driving too slowly now.

Was any of this proof of intent, on his part, to harm me? No, but the only real proof would have been my body, down there in the desert. That was an unacceptable option. My girlfriend said: “If it walks like a duck, and if it quacks like a duck, and if it has wings like a duck — it’s a duck!” Well, he had been walking and talking and quacking and flapping, a duck up to no good.

In the end, I had to look at it this way: If I leave, and I’m wrong, I have lost the man I have loved for ten years. If I stay, and I’m wrong, I have lost my life. Not a fun decision, but not a hard one, either.

The town of Barstow loomed before me — right turn on 40, coming up. North Carolina, here I come! I tried to cry, but couldn’t. There would be time for that later. When I got to North Carolina, there would be legal business to take care of, not the least of which was to close out that insurance policy. The last light of day — along with the last ten years of my life — was fading in the west.

I took one more look in the rearview mirror to make sure nobody was following me.
Christi Johnson

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

How do La Jolla Boulevard roundabouts rate?

“Even a bad roundabout is going to function better than a good signal intersection.”
Next Article

Celluloid staycations: Where The Boys Are and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation

If you’re the type that demands more, you’ve come to the wrong place.

I was leaving California, and NOT looking back. Yet, every mile, my eyes returned to the rearview mirror. This was not out of some feeling of nostalgia — it was out of fear.

Was he out there? Had he found me? Was he following me? Was his “friend” out there, following me, perhaps? And who was this mysterious “friend,” with whom he had been talking on the phone lately? He had never given me a name or reason for the calls, but every time he received a call from this “friend,” he quickly took the phone out onto the back porch so I couldn’t hear his conversations.

I looked at my speedometer. Slow down, Christi. The last thing you need right now is a ticket.

My mind wandered back to the events that precipitated this mad dash for the California border, on a trip to North Carolina — as far away as I could get. How had it all begun?

Perhaps, little changes in timeworn habits were the first red flags. The morning shower that doubled into an evening shower upon returning — late, then later — from work; the “old friend” (a male) that started calling, followed by quick retreats to the back porch. Knowing his background, any “old friend” was bad news. Then there were the lies. “I’ve joined the softball team at work — they’ve been after me forever to do it.” This was coming from the biggest couch potato I had ever met.

Oh, yes! Then there was that first night, after practice, when he made an almost-formal announcement that he was too tired to have sex. Every other time he’d been too tired for his roll in the sack (we’d been together for ten years), he’d simply hit the sheets and gone to sleep. And what of the practices, lasting later and later, each followed by a night when he was too tired?

As the red flags multiplied, I became more suspicious. Finally, only half in a desire to support him, and more, perhaps, out of curiosity as to whether he was indeed playing softball, rather than something else, I told him I wanted to attend one of his games. He responded that he didn’t want me to come because of all the drinking and stuff that went on. He was afraid he’d worry about me and lose his concentration.

More curious than ever, I checked online and found where the team was playing, and saw the notice, bold and clear: “No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed.” Yes, the many lies mounted. I was beginning to see it grow. In my suspicion, I did more checking on him.

He had begun to stay out late an additional night of the week, to “give guitar lessons” to another “friend” with whom he was working. So, one morning, I flattened one of the strings on his guitar while he was showering. When he returned that evening, I checked the guitar while he showered (again), and it was still flat. The case had not been opened.

There was also his special “voice.” Once in a while, somebody would call, and the “voice” would come out of him. He had used it in conversations with me, when we were courting. It was smooth, sexy and alluring. Now he was using it with somebody else.

Another voice was changing at an alarming rate — the one inside me. It started out softly and then screamed in my head, Get out! Don’t wait! Get out, NOW!

One morning, when we were in the car, he asked if I’d ever been to Death Valley. Replying that I’d never been there, I asked why he wanted to know. He said that there was a hiking trail that went from the desert up into the mountains, where there was actually snow. He thought I might be “just crazy enough to like to do something like that.” A chill went through me. I was still recovering from a motorcycle accident, and though I had loved hiking in the past, I was barely able to complete a mile at this point in my recovery. Another red flag! Up until my accident, he had been a complete couch potato. He never wanting to go hiking, much less to the desert — he hated the heat, couldn’t stand it.

My own inner voice was now cautioning me incessantly. Was I being too suspicious? I did some research and found no such hiking path.

Finally, one triple-digit hot day, he suggested that we go out to Borrego Springs. (“Much closer,” he had mentioned.) I exclaimed that I really didn’t think the desert was a good idea. This was a man who hated the heat. And he was suggesting we go to the hottest part of the county. After some discussion, we settled on Laguna Mountain — higher and cooler.

On the drive up the mountain, he took out a map of Borrego, saying, “This is where we’re going to go tomorrow.”

I reminded him of the heat, to which he said, “Yeah, but we’re tough — we can take it!” Nothing like this statement had never come out of his mouth before. I suggested that if he really wanted to go to Borrego, he could leave me at the mountain and drive down himself. He must have felt my edginess or heard it in my voice. He backpedaled, said that no one was going to force me to go anywhere I didn’t want to go.

As he drove, one hand developed an extremely noticeable nervous twitch. Earlier, prior to our leaving the house, he’d overheard me talking with my girlfriend, telling her about our trip, and he’d become visibly upset. “What? Are you telling her where we’re going?” I tried to be as nonchalant as possible in my reply that, yes, I was telling her where we were going.

And now I was twitching. I started to make plans to get out of there.

On the day I finally left, I called to have a sheriff come out to “keep peace,” as they say. I also had my girlfriend Bonnie and her significant other, Jesse, there to help me. The first thing I had the police remove from the house was a gun, kept by his side of the bed. Inside the pouch, along with the gun, was a typed 23rd Psalm. One of the policemen said, “That’s a suicide note.”

The note was typed and unsigned. Had it been only for himself? If so, why go to the trouble to type it? If not, why hadn’t he signed it? Or had he planned to take both our lives? But if he wanted to take both our lives, he could have done that at any time. Why go all the way out to the desert? It didn’t make sense.

There were, however, the dual insurance policies. These he’d insisted on taking out six months previously. The policies were specified nonpayable in the event of suicide, if it happened within six months of inception. When I asked why we needed insurance, after having lived together for so long without it, he’d responded that, should something happen to me, he didn’t want to have to wait for my family to take care of the arrangements.

Upon our arrival at Laguna Mountain, as I stepped out of the cabin, he immediately made a phone call — again, something he’d never done on any of our many trips before. Was he again calling his mysterious friend? Was this friend waiting in the desert to bring my husband back up to the mountain after leaving my truck, the suicide note, and me down in the desert? That would explain the nervous twitch in his hand when I declined to go. I suspected then — and still do — that this was the case.

As I drove on, leaving California, I thought about that gun pouch given to the police. There’d been extra ammo in a caliber different from the 22 I’d always known about. Where was this other gun? And why hadn’t he told me about it?

So many things were beginning to add up. Too many. I shuddered. An 18-wheeler passed, and the car swerved in the draft. I was driving too slowly now.

Was any of this proof of intent, on his part, to harm me? No, but the only real proof would have been my body, down there in the desert. That was an unacceptable option. My girlfriend said: “If it walks like a duck, and if it quacks like a duck, and if it has wings like a duck — it’s a duck!” Well, he had been walking and talking and quacking and flapping, a duck up to no good.

In the end, I had to look at it this way: If I leave, and I’m wrong, I have lost the man I have loved for ten years. If I stay, and I’m wrong, I have lost my life. Not a fun decision, but not a hard one, either.

The town of Barstow loomed before me — right turn on 40, coming up. North Carolina, here I come! I tried to cry, but couldn’t. There would be time for that later. When I got to North Carolina, there would be legal business to take care of, not the least of which was to close out that insurance policy. The last light of day — along with the last ten years of my life — was fading in the west.

I took one more look in the rearview mirror to make sure nobody was following me.
Christi Johnson

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Drones over Encinitas capture a good omen

Summer Years, Spice Pistols, Elektric Voodoo, New Regime, DJ Pnutz
Next Article

Drive further north on I-5, Ian Anderson

Lies about Anza-Borrego
Comments
5

This story would have been a lot more interesting if you had talked about what is up with you, that you are so scared of this guy, or so lacking in self-esteem, that you can't simply confront him and ask him what's going on? You don't have to wonder "If I leave, and I’m wrong, I have lost the man I have loved for ten years. If I stay, and I’m wrong, I have lost my life." This isn't hard to get to the bottom of. So I ask again, "what's up with you?"

Sept. 30, 2009

HuWHAT?!?!?

Rickeysays, you're just plain nuts. Only a moron would suggest that a woman actually cause the situation to escalate like that, as if Mr. Honesty would tell the truth when asked about it anyway. "This isn't hard to get to the bottom of." Duh.

You're a chick, aren't ya, Rickey? A chick who's been in / is in a similar situation and is in denial about it. That reaction just smacks too much of somebody's own ego defenses. In addition, females have that lovely little trait of automatically turning each other anytime men are involved.

Either that, or a dude who's been wrongly accused. I think it's the first one.

Nice story, Christi. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that it's factual, since that's not always the case with these blogs. If not, still a nice job.

Oct. 1, 2009

This story would have been a lot more interesting if you had talked about what is up with you, that you are so scared of this guy, or so lacking in self-esteem, that you can't simply confront him and ask him what's going on? You don't have to wonder "If I leave, and I’m wrong, I have lost the man I have loved for ten years. If I stay, and I’m wrong, I have lost my life." This isn't hard to get to the bottom of. So I ask again, "what's up with you?"

By rickeysays

For once I agree with Rickeysays-what is up with this chick????

Hey sweety-grow a backbone and ask your 10 year BF who the hell he is talking to -who the hell he is hanging out with, who the hell he is giving "guitar lessons" to.

If the guy shines you on then you need to wake up and smell the coffee............

I'm sorry, but a bunch of wild, totallyu unsupported, speculation about being murdered with NO basis for it whatsoever is just plain off the wall.

Yes, your BF was probably cheating, but the wild claim that he may have been tyring to kill you is just weird.

Oct. 1, 2009

I think her suspicion of him trying to kill her was right on. But I agree with the other posts. Once you find out one lie, you confront.

How hard would it be, for her to casually sip some lemonade on the porch, while he's talking to his friend? He'd obviously, move to another area. And she can follow. When he snaps at her (which he would), she could say "Why do you care if I overhear some of your conversation with your old friend Bob?"

She let the stuff go on way longer than it needed to. I give her credit for catching EVERY SIGN in the book...the late night excuses, the proclamations about no sex, etc etc. But for letting it go by one day after her first noticing this, was silly.

And this is why women end up with guys that kill them. It's like they just let it happen.

Oct. 1, 2009

Something about this story just doesn't add up... Why did you run all the way to North Carolina when California was your home and you'd had this relationship for 10 years? Why did you confront him on the lies?

Why did you feel you had to leave the state when you could have just left him? Why didn't you cancel the insurance policy? There are many more logical things you could have done than just run from the state with all of these questions unanswered.

It makes me wonder if this story is even legit. In fact, there's many more unanswered questions about this story than there about your own life... Why would he take you to the desert to make it look like suicide? What would make you think that? Logically it doesn't make sense. If you were going to commit suicide you'd do it at home or near your home. Especially considering you were nursing injuries from an accident, why would you drive to the remote desert to kill yourself? Was your boyfriend that stupid? What does that say about your thought process in this? I mean where is the logic in thinking he was going to take you to the desert to kill you?

Also, was his lying behavior suddenly new after 10 years of a relationship? Or was he always a liar? Seems to me that that wouldn't just happen suddenly after 10 years.

I dunno, something's just not right about this story...

Oct. 7, 2009

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close