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He was squirrely on the phone. Seemed confused about why I was calling him and who I was, even though I had immediately identified myself and was under the impression that he had called to request I write the article about his business. I thought maybe I caught him off-gaurd and he’d be fine when we met in person the next week.

On the day we were to meet, I confirmed the appointment — at his Bed and Breakfast — with a text in the morning. He responded curtly that he’d be there, but when I arrived he wasn’t there. I wandered through the house briefly to look for him or the innkeeper, took a few photos and realized nobody was there. So, I took a seat in the sunroom, near the back entrance and waited.

I was annoyed, sure. He was late and I was doing this article for free to “give back” to the community. I’d driven a half an hour and arrived five minutes early and where was this guy anyway?

It was so quiet I could hear the clock ticking and as I scrolled my social media feed, killing time, I thought about my friend who had told me she didn’t think I should go.

“I don’t think you should go there alone,” she said. “To a Bed and Breakfast to meet a guy who is setting off bells for you.”

She was right, of course. I knew better and, yet, I went because, well…it would be rude not to show, right? That’s the problem most of us women have — being accommodating and kind and concerned with whether someone likes us or we look bad.  It’s how we get killed.

When he finally arrives, he is disheveled. His shirt is too small, his pants too big, his hair askew, and his underwear actually hanging out the back of his pants. He keeps rubbing his hands and warming them over a small wood-burning fireplace in the sunroom. He never makes full and sustained eye contact with me.

Squirrely.

I don’t like it.

I don’t like this guy.

But, I open my notebook, click my pen open and start asking questions.

“So, you’re the new owner. Are you the sole owner? Do you have a partner?”

“What does that mean?”

I stammer, “Like do you have a spouse or a business partner or….”

“No, No. It’s just me. I own it.”

“But, there’s an inn keeper? Because I talked to the inn keeper when I….”

He cuts me off: “I told you. It’s just me. Only me. She resigned.”

I’m rattled now, but I’m a professional, so I just keep going: “So do you have any improvements or changes planned?”

“Who do you work for?”

Stammering again, I explain that I have a day job working as a writer for a college, but that I was a newspaper writer for years and that I’m currently doing an article for the hometown newspaper that he contacted asking me to do this article.

“I didn’t call there. I didn’t ask anything like that. And if SHE did, she had no authority to do that.” (I assume he meant the inn keeper).

I’m flabbergasted, mostly pissed, but slightly scared. My jaw is now literally hanging open.

“I want you to go. I don’t want this. I don’t want you here. I don’t want any stories and I don’t want to answer your questions.”

I click my pen closed, slam my notebook shut, and stand up. You and me both, buddy.

“I was trying to do you a favor,” I said as I open the the door with a shaking hand and yell, back, “Good luck!”

Only later, sitting safely in my car Facebook messaging every single one of my girlfriends the entire story, do I realize the danger I was probably in. That guy was/is mentally ill and my gut told me that and, yet, I walked right in there, like a dumbass.

That’s how we get killed.

And here I am doing what every woman does — blaming herself for not knowing better, for not listening to her instincts, for putting herself in a situation where she could be harmed. For being stupid.

When really the problem is that we shouldn’t have to be in constant fear for our lives and safety.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.