Brainwashing is a popular subject in old World War Two movies and nineteen-fifties and sixties comic books but not
many people understand how it’s done. Before getting on I’ll give you a condensed form of what I learned as a kid
studying old war books. The subject is put in absolute horrid conditions and treated like less than an animal, more
like a waste of skin. He is abused either physically or emotionally. After the abuse the subject is then isolated for a
time to let the abuse and the hopelessness set in. The interrogator then enters and rather than take an aggressive
attitude with the subject he acts caring, understanding, and nurturing. The subject at this point yearns comfort and
is very responsive to such treatment and very vulnerable to suggestion. These appear to also be the basic
techniques used by the police. Not very long ago I read in an article in The New York Times, that an absolutely
atrocious amount of interrogation evidence and full blown confessions are being thrown out of court and I fully
I was brought into the Norman Police Station in a very aggressive manner. Officer Williams had grabbed the cuffs
around my wrists and jerked them violently all the time he had been leading in and through the halls. I had been
threatened and treated like dung the entire way. Aside from the contact my skull made with car door opening, which
was only enough for a slight swelling, I hadn’t yet been physically abused but the impressions were there. The
station seemed cold, antiseptic. No one seemed human; everyone seemed to have the same foreboding, militaristic
aura. I was put in a small gray room, the door slammed and I heard the clicking of a lock. I was seated in the corner
across from the door with a video camera pointed on me. An old, battered, gray desk and chair were just in front of
me. Across from that in the other corner was another chair. My sore shoulder had been throbbing from the position
of being handcuffed. The left handcuff had just enough pressure on the tape around my sprained wrist to begin
cutting off the circulation. The jerking on the cuffs from Officer Williams had brought back the swelling to matters
The quiet in the room was chilling. All I wanted to do was go home. I closed my eyes for a few minutes, maybe
this wasn’t real, maybe I would open my eyes and it would be gone. No, the reality stayed. I was alone, the entire
world cut off with no feeling of any hope of change.
After an eternity the doorknob jiggled, the lock clicked. In came Williams and, behind him, Detective Lucas. They
took off the cuffs and I felt the pins and needles as the blood rushed into my hand. Lucas, a very big man who
stands about six foot three, sat at the desk and Williams in the chair. Lucas looked at me with a slight smile and
said; “You know why you’re here don’t you.”
“Well, after being followed all weekend after what Chris Philips accused me of I was halfway expecting it.”
“You seem frightened. How come?”
“I knew from the beginning that if Shannon backed what Chris had said I wouldn’t stand a chance. Who in this
state would believe me over her?”
“We will,” he said and smiled, “before we go any further I have to tell you that you don’t have to speak to us.” I
found out later on that this doesn’t qualify as a Miranda reading.
“I don’t have anything to hide.” Having never been in trouble I didn’t know a simple basic in law; NEVER speak to
the police. Any lawyer, no matter what his field or level of competency, will tell you this. The police have already
made up their minds, all it can do in hurt you even if you are totally innocent. I was so scared at that point, I had no
idea really what to do at all.
Detective Lucas started his interrogation very gently, even sympathetically. He asked me to describe my
relationship with Shannon and, stuttering and shaking, I told him how we were friends, basically the same as I told
you since I met her. He asked me if I knew who she was.
“Yeah, but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. To me she was just Shannon.”
He then got a little more direct but still gentle. I thought he was going to ask me about the foil but instead he
asked about something I didn’t expect. He started off by asking me what I did Friday night. I told him I had been off
at a few bars, about my depression that had built over the last week. Then he made a mistake:
“Did you make a bunch of crank calls on Shannon that night?” If he had asked if I had tried to call her that night I
would have said yes and told him all about it. But he blew it, and even as scared as I was I knew this was a major
focus and shouldn’t talk about it. This was a shock, the calls that night were few and innocent. I hadn’t even thought
about them since that very night. I was naïve, but not stupid. I denied ever calling her that night.
“I think what happened was that you were alone and depressed. There was this girl you liked and you wanted to
spend a little time with her.” he said sympathetically. Still, I knew that this is what he wanted and I denied it.
He abandoned that and then got on what I knew he would, the foil. By this time I knew he wasn’t trying to help me
and I denied that as well. I needed help but I didn’t know what to do. I then said to him “I’m going to need an
attorney but I don’t have a whole lot of money. I need to call my parents and see if they can take care of it for me.”
Still trying to be the “nice cop” Lucas consented and took me to the room next door. It was the same except with
a telephone. He dialed my mother’s work number and left the room.
“Mom, I’m in jail.” I said shaking.
“Stalking, I really need a lawyer and I don’t have much time to talk.”
“Okay, tell them you need legal aid. I’ll call your father.”
We hung up and I told Lucas what she had said. “Okay, but that’ll take fifteen days to process and you’ll have to
stay in jail the whole time.” As I found out later that was an out and out lie. They can’t keep you more than seventy-
two hours without counsel. I didn’t know that then and I believed every word. “Why don’t we talk a little more.” That
alone is a violation of the Miranda Rights, at the point I told him I needed legal aid under law he could no longer
speak to me but, as before, I didn’t know this.
He brought me back into the interrogation room and began going over everything again. This time he was
starting to stray away from the sympathetic approach and began to take a more aggressive stance. His voice
became louder and firmer, like a father talking to a disobedient child. He sat closer with his knee right in between
my thighs. This is known by interrogators as “cutting the pie”. The position, understandably, makes you feel very
vulnerable. At this point I was too drained to go on. I was scared, tired, frustrated, and felt trapped. I told Detective
Lucas “I have to talk to a lawyer” he got pretty mad and started yelling.
“I have been more than fair with you! I’ve let you tell your side! I let you call your parents! If you tell me to stop
now I have to but you won’t get anything else here or in the county jail!” He screamed at me with his hands spread
out enveloping my five foot nine, one-hundred fifty-seven pound body with his over six foot-four two hundred and
fifty pound frame.
“I have to talk to a lawyer!” I said again and wiped my hand across my face.
“It isn’t like I’ve taken a rubber hose to you yet!”
“I HAVE TO TALK TO A LAWYER!!”
That looked like the end. I was taken back to the room with the telephone and handed a phone book. Before he
left Detective Lucas stuffed a waiver in my face allowing him to search my apartment. He said, “If you sign this we’ll
just go in and get your aluminum foil and check your caller ID to make sure that she called you like you say. If you
don’t we’ll trash the place.” I was worn and tired. I signed it. I had nothing illegal in my apartment. If they found that
I had things on Shannon in there, so what? I had more stuff on Evander Holyfield and Mark Messier in that
apartment. There’s nothing illegal about being a sports fan. Yeah, I know. Stupid move, but it’s not like I was ever
in that position before.
Lucas left and Williams was closing the door. Before he did I asked, “Can you tell me what kind of lawyer I’m
With complete indifference he said, “I’ve got no idea.” and slammed the door.
With my body shaking and my fingers fumbling over every page I somehow got the book open to the yellow pages
and then “Attorneys: Criminal Defense”. I did what I had taught myself when I was younger and getting my
stuttering under control, I closed my eyes and breathed very deeply for about two minutes. I then I called the first
one I saw, “The Pierce Defense Firm”. I got lucky, Terry Pierce was there and took my call. Later I found out that of
all the attorney’s I could have picked he was about the best around and I did it at random. I told him right off the bat
that I had been accused of stalking Shannon Miller.
“Oh no, If it was anyone else we wouldn’t have a problem. Did you say anything?”
“They interrogated me for a while. They also got me to sign a waiver to search the place.”
“Is there anything to worry about in there?”
“Well, I was a fan of hers and there’s a box of stuff on her in the closet with some of my other sports memorabilia
but it’s a big pile on top of it.”
“Who’s running this.”
“I’ve never known Lucas to be anything but thorough. I’ll be right down, can you get anyone to post bond?”
“My family’s all back on the East Coast. I can give you my mom’s work number.”
He called her and fortunately nowadays lawyers and bail bondsmen take credit cards! He was going to be there
soon so I had to just sit and wait. Before this happened though a detective from homicide gave me a visit. He
showed me a picture of a car and asked, “Have you ever driven a car like this one?”
“No, I haven’t”
He showed me another picture “Do you know this young woman?”
I took a good look at it and said “No sir, I don’t”
“She was an OU dance student who raped and murdered near campus in January of 1996. Where were you at
“I had just moved to Edmond and had no car.” Edmond is a thirty-minute drive to Norman at best.
“Hmm, okay. Would you give some blood so we could match your DNA with a semen sample?”
“Yeah, sure! I didn’t do anything like that!” I had heard about that murder just after I arrived in Oklahoma. I
couldn’t see how they could pick me as a suspect.
He left to get a doctor and just afterwards Terry Pierce arrived. I heard out in the hall a voice say, “Terry Pierce
is here for Joseph Vogt”
The other voice said “Ahh, shit!”
Just after he got there he said “There’s a doctor and a detective out there looking to get some of your blood, did
you agree to that?”
“Yeah, I didn’t see any harm.”
“You never know what they can do to you with DNA. I’ve seen it too many times. Don’t do it.” He then went back
out in the hall. I heard some commotion and then Terry came back in and said, “Okay, they went home.”
I then gave him the whole story, how I was once a fan of Shannon’s, how we became friends, the accident, the
whole ball of wax. Terry took notes, asking me questions and then said, “If this was anyone but Shannon Miller...
this is an election year, normally you wouldn’t be going through this.”
I asked just how bad things were and he said “Well, first let’s just get you out of here. I have a bail bondsman
coming and we should have you out by six or seven. Your mother said you had a credit card with you?”
“Yeah, they took everything but my wallet.” and I handed it to him.
“Okay, don’t worry, you’ll be out soon.”
Terry left and after my fingerprints were taken and an unflattering series of mugshots were taken I was
handcuffed again and a younger officer took me to the county jail for processing. As we walked out into the parking
lot the young cop was joking with me. I guessed he sensed just how ridiculous this whole thing was. As we got to
the car the officer who had pulled me over near the grocery store was nearby talking with a few others. He looked
over and gave me an obnoxious smug smile.
Entering into the county jail was like coming into a large steel and concrete cave. The gray unpainted walls
illuminated by fluorescent lights gave about as low a feeling to the place as possible. At this point I really didn’t
care. I had become an emotional zombie, completely drained. All I wanted now was sleep and a warm bed. As I
came in to the main room my cuffs were taken off and I was told to sit on a concrete bench along with three others.
Two people wearing orange prison uniforms. After the officer handed in the papers and spoke with the guards my
shoes, belt, wallet, and recently recovered backpack were taken and I was put in a ten by six-foot cell with three
On the far side of the cell was a large black man about six three and around two hundred seventy pounds. He
looked very powerful and very unhappy. Across from him was a scrawny guy with curly hair and a moustache. He
was wearing a battered pair of blue sweatpants and a “Harley Davidson” T-shirt. He was clearly coming down from
the effects of a potent drug. Right near the door was a very angry looking cowboy-type who was staring at the
ceiling. I sat down on the concrete bench and did the only thing I could do, wait. I didn’t think about anything, I was
too tired. I have no idea how long I was in the cell as there was no contact to the outside world. There was a very
small sliver of a window up near the ceiling but it let in very little light. After what felt like a week the door opened
and the guard called my name. The bail had been processed and I was on my way out, but first a few things
needed to be done. I was photographed again and brought over for a second set of fingerprints. The female guard
who was taking them looked up at me with my clean-shaven face, neat haircut, nice clothes, and my back pack full
of books and said, “What are YOU in for?”
“They said I was stalking Shannon Miller.” I said as she began taking the prints.
“Did you do it?” She almost whispered.
“No, all this because I was nice to someone.”
Then I realized just how badly I stuck out among the others who were in there on drug charges, robbery, assault,
and the like. It really hit home when I had the same conversation with another prisoner who was also awaiting
release. A ruckus broke out with a couple of guys whom I understood were in on possession of crack but I really didn’
t care. I was out of emotional energy and nothing was going to make me any more scared or miserable.
Finally released I was lead through a hallway out into, I guess, the lobby of the jail. Terry was standing there
waiting for me and it was then that I really realized why this was being done to me. He said “Joe, I didn’t think this
was going to happen this quickly but there are camera crews and reporters all over out there. Don’t say anything.
Don’t pay any attention. Just walk to my office across the street.”
We walked down the steps and onto the sidewalk with camera surrounding me. The lights were blinding and the
reporters were buzzing around me like mosquitoes on warm summer night with the questions coming out of the air;
“Joe, are you obsessed with Shannon?”
“Joe, what’s the appeal of Shannon?”
“Can you say anything Joe?”
“What are you going to do tonight Joe?”
As we left Terry was asked if he could give a statement. “We have to see all the evidence first.”
I was not only in a haze but also in a state of disbelief. Shannon and I were friends; there couldn’t be any denying
that. How could she do this to me? It also seemed very obvious that she wanted this relationship to proceed on a
higher level. She normally sat in class leaning, with her head rested in her hand and more and more she was
leaning in my direction. It got to the point where she was almost leaning against me. Making contact, but not putting
weight on my shoulder. Not like a come-on but a definite sign that she liked having me there. My experience with
girls was very limited and I was very scared, I didn’t expect this. I had developed a true crush on her but at the same
time I didn’t want to do something stupid and lose, who was at the time, my only friend in the area. I was afraid of
being too forward so I tried to set things up so I would see her more. Normally I parked right in front of my building
but as there were apartments on the back of the building with no separate spaces they parked in the same area. If I
left anytime after six I had to park farther away. Usually, because of the setup, the only spaces that were left were
near her apartment on the west side of her building, away from any windows or anything. After ending up there a
number of times I realized I could see her quite a bit more if I parked there on a regular basis. I was just so scared
of asking her out I had no idea how to handle it. I’ve never been the best with girls in terms of confidence anyway. I
called one of my best friends and his wife and they both told me “Joe, take a chance. She obviously likes you and if
she doesn’t want to take it further she’ll still be your friend anyway. If not, so what! If she’s like that you don’t need
While she was away in Hawaii I worked very hard to get up my courage. We had an exam coming up just after
she got back so that week made no sense. I asked her if she wanted to study with me before hand but with a sad
look she said “I have to go to St. Louis this weekend. If I get back in time I’ll call you. I’m sorry.” I understood, she
really was busy and seemed so sincere.
The night before the exam I was having trouble with a certain law we were supposed to know as well as an
equation. I didn’t know when exactly Shannon would be home but I called her and left a message on her machine
letting her know I needed her help. The next morning at a quarter till nine the phone rang “Hi, it’s Shannon. You
wanted something?” I told her the problem and she helped me out. I helped her out as well as she was unclear on
some points. Exactly a week after this phone call I was arrested.
After the exam Shannon and I walked and talked as usual. After about ten minutes of talking about the exam I
asked her how St.Louis was. She said “It was alright, I only had be there on Sunday so Saturday I went and saw
‘Titanic’ with my boyfriend.”
“That’s good, you need to get out and have fun once and a while.” I said but inside I was suddenly very hurt and
disappointed. I also felt some relief, I was scared of losing her as a friend if I asked her out and this took off the
pressure. Still I was confused about the actions she was displaying toward me before hand. Later as we talked she
let me know that she had just started going out with this guy. I simply got beaten to the punch. She was still just as
friendly but seemed a little tired. “She’s still my friend” I thought, “that’s all that matters.” We parted at our usual
point as usual with the same friendly remarks as usual indicating that we’d see each other next class.
Later on I got some terrible news. An old friend had suddenly died in a brutal matter. I very much wanted to go
back east for the funeral but due to my schedule and the fact that I had to budget my expenses that wasn’t
possible. I wasn’t happy anyway, my birthday had come and gone with no notice for the third year straight. I just
had no one around and was flat out alone on that day. I try to stay pretty stoic under such conditions but this time it
just wasn’t having the usual effect, I just couldn’t get these things out of my mind and move on.
After class I was walking with Shannon again. I was trying to let her know what happened with out being pathetic
but she seemed quiet. She was like that the last time we talked but I thought she was just tired. It had been a hard
day what with exams and all but now it was starting to concern me. She was just as friendly just not as talkative. It
seemed something was bothering her.
That night I thought of Shannon’s behavior, she either is just preoccupied or her new boyfriend doesn’t like her
being friends with me, I thought, and may have been getting on her about it making her unsure of opening up in our
conversations as she had done in the past. Or maybe I just did something to make her mad that I didn’t realize. I
needed to talk to her and find out.
After the next, and our last, class together I tried to talk with her about this but a guy who had another class with
her was walking with us and I didn’t want others to hear this so I just talked with the both of them the way I normally
would. Neither one of them told me what was going on so I just walked along hoping to talk to her by myself. There
was a good deal of construction going on on the sidewalk. I was walking on Shannon’s left side with the other guy
on her right. The construction was on my side and I had to drop back when we got to it. In order to stay in the
conversation I had to get up a little closer than just walking behind. We got to the student union and I still didn’t get
the chance to talk to Shannon about what was bothering me. It turned out they had to go to a lecture for extra credit
their history class. After saying goodbye, not having gotten the chance to talk with her alone, I went back and had a
nice long run.
I got back a little over an hour later and saw Shannon’s car parked out in front of her building. I figured I may as
well get this over with and I gave her a call. Just to get things started I asked if I could bring Natasha, the ferret, by
so she could help me trim her nails. We talked of this before and she indicated that she would if she had the time.
She said on the phone “I’m really too busy right now.”
“Shannon, did I do something to offend you?” I came out and asked.
“Well, you’ve just seemed quiet around me the past week. I was just wondering why.”
“I’ve just been really busy, I’m sorry.”
“You’re not mad at me?”
“No, I’m not. I’ve just had a lot on my mind.”
We got off the phone after a little more conversation and I went to studying. I had three exams and a couple of
papers due the next week and I had very little time. I also wanted to get the depression out of my mind. Around
eight o’clock I looked up and realized I hadn’t eaten yet. I went out to go to the store and I saw Shannon and her
new boyfriend getting into his truck. While I thought I had gotten over my disappointment I realized I hadn’t. An
emotional dagger plunged into my heart ripping me up. I got in my car and went to the store and tried to put it out of
my head. It had been a bad enough week.
I got back with a roasted chicken from the deli along with some potato salad. After eating and drinking a left over
bottle of champagne from my birthday (Even though I was alone I had promised my mother I would do something to
celebrate) I thought to myself “I depressed and alone. There’s nothing worse than that and I’ve studied enough for
one night.” I got my keys and my jacket and set out for the bars. I just needed to be around people and enjoy
myself. Things started out fine. I was going from bar to bar talking with the people I knew, watching hockey. I
remember debating the effect Mark Messier’s signing with the Vancouver Canucks had on the Rangers as the
season was going badly. However my mind never got off of the events of the past week. I thought of how pathetic it
was to be alone again on my birthday, I thought of my deceased friend, my mind went back to Shannon. I wasn’t
totally sure that my friend was still there for me. I needed reassurance but I tried not to think about it. That didn’t
help, it just made it worse. I needed the only friend I had in the area. The only person I trusted, whom I could
confide in. It was a little after eleven and I thought that she might be back. I went to a pay phone outside, inserted
some change, and dialed her number. She answered but when I tried to speak the depression and my drinking had
brought on my stutter full. I couldn’t get the words out and when it seemed like maybe I could my throat would
tighten with a lump like a baseball, my eyes began watering, I couldn’t take it and hung up. I went on to another bar,
bought a few people drinks, downed some myself and tried again. The same thing happened. I kept drinking and
kept trying but the pain was too much for me to talk to her as much as I needed to. I think I called maybe three or
four times. It was late but I was a wreck, hopeless, desperate, I needed her but I just couldn’t get out the words
“Shannon, you’re my friend. I need to talk to you.” If I did maybe everything would’ve turned out all right. I don’t
really know what I wanted to talk to her about. I think I was just such a mess that I needed to hear that it was okay.
Nothing in particular, just that it was okay.
I left after last call. I was out of cash and a guy I was talking boxing with offered to share his cab with me. He still
had a couple of beers to go through and I was tired and drained so I declined his offer, my apartment wasn’t too far
off anyway. I got back and it was around one-thirty or two. I saw Shannon’s car and I saw her boyfriend’s truck.
The lights were off in her apartment. I was pretty loaded by that time and I was still hurt from missing my opportunity
with Shannon. I knew that they had only been going out very briefly and him staying the night this soon was pretty
sleazy. This violated my own code ethics and angered me, not so much out of jealousy but out of the fact that I
cared for Shannon and a true gentleman wouldn’t pursue something of that nature this early on in a relationship.
However, I do admit that I was jealous that he was dating her and I wasn’t despite the fact that I trying so hard to
forget about it. I was also mad at him for what I was taking in as his effort to drive away my best friend in the area. I
wouldn’t have tried to steal her away, I’ve had that done to myself, it’s so painful I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I
just enjoyed her friendship. These feelings building up in my already emotionally drained psyche caused me to do
the one wrong thing I did in this whole episode. I wadded up some aluminum foil and jammed it in his tailpipe. The
most this could do was make him stall out, although I knew from watching my friends do it in high school that it
almost never works. The shape allows too much of the exhaust out and allows the foil to be jarred out from the
motion of the vehicle. Nevertheless it let me vent and I went inside and fell asleep.
The next morning I awoke around six unable to get back to sleep. I had a bit of a headache and a slightly sour
gut but otherwise I was okay. I got up, shaved, and then realized I had nothing for breakfast. I decided to head out
to the store for some rolls and orange juice. That was a stupid move, I get a little groggy when I’m hungry due to low
blood sugar and I should’ve just walked over to the seven-eleven down the street instead of driving and got a
disgusting, greasy, microwaved, sausage and egg biscuit but hey, I had been drinking the night before and had a
slightly upset stomach. As I got to my car I saw Shannon and her boyfriend come down the stairs. Shannon had
told me that she was going to Dallas that weekend and she had a suitcase with her. As I was opening the door they
were hugging and I said, “Hi, how are you doing?”
“Hi, good!” Shannon said happily.
I got into my car and was about to get out of the lot when I remembered the stupid stunt with the foil the night
before. “You idiot,” I thought, “how the hell could you do something so stupid?” I turned back and pulled back in my
spot and made like I was looking for something. I had to see what happened, it was fault if his car stalled and it was
only right that I took the blame. Nothing happened yet. We left at the same time and I decided that just in case I’d
hang back and follow for a little while just in case. I wasn’t going to leave him stranded if it stalled out on the
highway and I figured a few miles and it would be okay. Also I was a little curious about the guy. He wasn’t my equal
in looks or build. A real stupid haircut, kind of a goofy face. How did he get her other than just being quicker?
That, though, wasn’t why I followed him. Not only was the foil a wrong thing to do and matters would be worse if he
got stranded but I was also covering myself. I was halfway panicked at the time. What if I got blamed and my prints
were on the foil? That would just magnify the trouble. If I admitted my mistake like a man and did what I could to
right it, things would probably be okay. With all this going through my head, my blood sugar low, along with lack of
sleep I lost my concentration as we went over a hill. I can’t remember exactly what made me look away but then next
thing I knew my tiny Toyota MR2 went underneath the rear bumper of his truck. I swerved to the left as hard as I
could and almost missed him but my passenger’s side corner just got in.
I careened into the intersection and got out. He was already out and a guy who had been driving along and saw
the whole thing was there as well. The witness to the mess suggested we pull into the nearby convenience store,
which we did. We got out and the first thing I said was “Oh man, are you alright. I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to do
“Yeah, I’m fine just shaken up. How are you.”
“Okay I guess. No broken bones or anything. Hey, I’m taking all the blame. Don’t worry about it, my insurance
can cover it. It’s my fault I should’ve been paying attention.”
“It’s alright, it’s not real bad”
The guy who witnessed the accident was there with us the whole time. He was looking at the damage and as he
work in the automotive industry he gave us an idea of how much it would cost. Of course my two-seater took far and
away the most damage crashing into a truck. “This is a really good little car, I’m definitely getting it fixed.” I said.
“Yeah, that’s what I should get. It’s about time to give up this kid’s truck.” replied the boyfriend.
“I’m Joe by the way.” I said extending my hand.
“Chris.” he said and we shook. “I need a drink.”
“Me too, I’ve only got a few bucks but I’ll pay for yours.”
“Oh that’s okay, I’ve got enough.”
He got a coke and I got an orange juice, my blood sugar low, and we stood inside waiting for the police with the
witness there. “I’m a wreck, why aren’t you shaking?”
“Well, I did a lot of boxing when I was younger and I learned how to handle stressful situations. I’m actually
shaking like a leaf on the inside.” I felt like I wanted to throw up.
We started talking about just about everything as we waited for the police. I actually started to take a liking to the
guy. The patrolman arrived and took the witnesses account and let him leave. He came up to us and said, “It’s
good to see neither of you are drunk!”
“Well, it is only seven” I said.
“Yeah but I get a lot of stragglers just getting home right about now.” We went outside and he looked at the
damage while I explained what happened. As I said I would I took all the blame. After he was through with me I went
back in to get another orange juice. While I was in there they got into the patrol car and started talking. I came out
as they were getting out and the next thing I knew I was being frisked. “I’m being arrested?” I asked shocked.
“Were gonna see.” The officer said. He took me in car and said “This guy says you’ve been stalking his girlfriend
and I found a wad of foil in his tailpipe.” I was far more than shocked now. If he had accused me of vandalism I
would’ve been surprised that anyone knew I did that dumb move but stalking? “His girlfriend’s Shannon Miller. Do
you know her?”
“Yeah, we live in the same complex and have a class together. We’re pretty good friends.”
“What were you doing out here this morning?”
“I was going to the store for breakfast.” After that there was no way I was going to tell him that I was following in
case his car broke down. This time I was certain I was going to throw up and had to ask if I could roll the window
“Look,” he said “I don’t know what this is about but I think you owe him an apology.”
“Oh yeah, definitely. I’ll call Shannon as soon as possible and straighten this out.”
“That’s a good idea but leave it at that.”
We got out of the car and went over to Chris. I said “Tell Shannon that if I did anything to make her
uncomfortable that I’m very, very sorry.”
“She told me she likes you and thinks you’re really nice, that you help her with her school work and all that. She
just thinks it’s been weird that she’s been seeing you around a lot lately.”
That last one seemed strange. Yeah, I parked closer to her apartment so I could say hello to her in the mornings
but that was it. Not to mention Shannon never once saw me without waving and saying hello. But instead I just gave
my apology again. “You seem like a really nice guy,” he said ”I just didn’t want any misunderstanding.”
The officer told me I could leave and I turned to Chris as I was going and said “What was the name of that
autobody shop you told me about.”
“Ray’s, it’s in north Norman.”
I thanked and went back. First I called my parents and told them what happened. One thing I was embarrassed to
admit to at the time was that I wasn’t a very experienced driver. I got my license on time but I think I only drove
maybe a half dozen times until I got that car at the age of twenty-four. I had no idea what to do here. Also, what
Chris had said wasn’t something I took lightly. He said it to me very nonchalantly like it was no big deal, like maybe
he just thought I liked his girlfriend. But what was bothering me was that if he said something to the police they might
go nuts over this being about Shannon Miller and just come out and drag me in jail. It made sense, I was better
looking, better built, more articulate than him and this would be an excellent chance to get me out of the picture. I
was worried about Shannon although everything seemed okay. I figured at the worst she would yell at me for the
accident and tell me to never talk to her again but if she was mad and just wanted to get even there is no way the
police wouldn’t believe her over me. I had to apologize and let her know that, just in case she was uncomfortable
with me, I wasn’t upset at her and that if she wanted me to leave her alone forever I would. I called her and left a
very heartfelt apology on her machine. I then wrote a letter that I had intended to leave on the door. Here it is,
straight from the box of state’s evidence;
I’ve already left a message on your answering machine but it was just after the accident and I was very upset. I
was on my way to get something to eat and then to the gym for a shoulder test. I guess if I had something in my
stomache I would have been more alert. I’m very sorry I frightened you. The last thing I ever wanted was to make
you uncomfortable. I jut liked talking with you. I respect your privacy which is why I have never even mentioned
anything about gymnastics to you. I’ve been thinking it over and I won’t renew my lease in July. I’m even
considering transfering to the University of Connecticut. The damage to my car isn’t what’s important (Chris can tell
you that from how I was joking with him afterwards!). What really hurts is how I made you feel. When the cop told
me what Chris had said I had to ask to roll down the window because I thought I was going to throw up. I may or may
not finish my semester here. I haven’t decided. If you want me to go I will. I fully understand not only how you feel
but how Chris feels as well. I was very impressed with how well he handled the whole thing. I doubt I would’ve stayed
so relaxed and calm if I was in the same situation and I completely understand how I put the foil in his tailpipe (I didn’t
by the way). I have no bad feelings toward him or you. I’ve never wanted anything from you. When I asked you if
you wanted to study I was asking to study. I’m so sorry I got you mixed up and I feel terrible about how it made you
feel. I would really like to salvage whatever friendship we had but I understand if you never want to speak to me
again. I have only one request of you. Would you please call me when you get this? I just want to hear from you
that it’s alright. I understand if you don’t but it would really help me if you did. Well, it’s been a horrible day and it’s
only noon. Think I’ll take a nap. Things will probably be clearer then.
While I was pretty rattled by all that had happened that’s about how I really felt. I was concerned about her very
much. I called home and read the letter to my mother and asked if it got the message across. She told me it did
and was very nice but that leaving the letter on her door might be intimidating. She suggested waiting to talk to
Shannon after she got back like I had discussed with the officer at the scene of the accident. A phone call would
feel less like I was invading her space. That made sense. I then did exactly what I told Shannon and a laid down to
take a nap. I didn’t get any sleep but laying down for an hour or so helped clear my head. I got up, showered and
went to the store. What I didn’t realize was that at that point Chris Phillips was at the Norman police station,
concocting a story and filing a complaint against me. The nightmare was beginning.
After getting up I showered and dried my hair. After changing the ferret’s water and food I went out to my car
and finally went to the store. As I walked out there was a squad car near my apartment with the officer inside writing
on a pad. As the police patrolled the complex on a regular basis I didn’t think much of it at the time. I came back
and the same squad car was still there. As I pulled in he left. Strange to me but I tried to brush it off as a problem
with one of my neighbors. However, the next time I went out to go to the library a squad car was sitting outside
across the street from the complex. I got to the library and started on my research but I couldn’t get focused.
Seeing those cops everywhere was making me nervous. They’re never around that much. After a few hours I gave
up and went home. I got back with another squad car just leaving.
I was jumpy and I called home. My parents told me not to worry, that I probably just never noticed the police in
the area before and I was getting a little paranoid. I told them that they were just about everywhere but my mother
said to me “They’re not after you. You didn’t do anything.”
“Well, what if the boyfriend said something to get me out of the picture?”
“He can’t file a charge against you. He’s not her father or her husband.”
I was still worried and continued to call people I knew for reassurance. Eventually around one in the morning I
passed out from exhaustion.
Copyright 1999 Joseph Vogt.