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The Murderous Rendezvous

Everyone knows there are hazards in making online friends. I’ve taught the “Dangers of the Internet” class to many young teens. I’ve tried to make an impact on how easy it is for a predator to find private information; where you live, go to school, etc.

Adults are also at risk but we don’t often think that one of our Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin friends may actually be out to do us harm. We continue to make unknown contacts and build a community that exists only online, far away from where we perceive danger.

As a woman, I understand the extra precautions that need to be in place. We can never take safety for granted. We carry items for protection, stay out of shadowed places and watch closely what is happening around us. Women exist in this world of heightened awareness without even thinking about it.

Every once in a while we get a chance to meet an unknown someone from our social network. A person we think we know after 140 character Twitter conversations, or Facebook messages. We plan a simple lunch or dinner at a public restaurant where we can feel safe and finally make eye contact with our special but really unknown friend. We’re eager, and that small unidentified “threat” factor adds an element of excitement.

So here I was, a police officer, making plans to meet one of my online acquaintances face to face. She (as portrayed online) lived on the stretch of road I travel when attending autopsies. We were online friends. We knew a lot about one another through the other’s blog. She was a sister writer like me.

When we planned our lunch date, we exchanged email addresses. Being a detective, I know what can be learned by exchanging this information. I’ve used “view full header” to find people emailing child pornography. It’s not some top secret FBI program, it’s available to everyone. The header on an email shows the IP address of the sender and receiver and using an IP address locater, found on any search engine, I copy and paste the info and presto, I’m on the path to getting my guy.

So, I guess I consider exchanging email addresses mistake number one. As the time of our pre-arranged meeting draws closer, we take the next step. We exchange phone numbers. If you use your phone number for any public drawing, you know, to win a house or a car, guess what? I can find your home address. There are other ways as well and I’ve gathered information on unlisted phone numbers quite easily. So here we are with mistake number two.

Early that morning, I drive to the autopsy, excited about my death by toaster case. Sincerely I could not make this up. The pathologist didn’t believe me either but before we entered the dissection room, I asked him to Google death by toaster and see the thousands of pages of information dedicated to this topic. He laughed at me as we gowned up and put on our facemasks. He wasn’t laughing after two minutes of viewing the body. I and my investigation were completely vindicated. Sorry, but I can’t go into further detail but maybe someday I can post the story.

So here I was making the drive home, meeting my Twitter pal, feeling excited and a little apprehensive as I drove off the main highway onto a long road, continuing out into nowhere, to a Mexican restaurant chosen by my unknown friend. My handy Verizon Navigator giving me directions as the Arizona desert landscaping became more desolate.

Up ahead, I see one lonely vehicle parked at my destination. A woman steps out, and eyes me closely. Then her hand tentatively comes up and waves. Even in the uninhabited surroundings my anxiety gives way to relief. We meet halfway between the vehicles and hug each other. She is sorry, she had no idea the restaurant was closed. She has another idea if I follow her. We get in our separate vehicles and make a drive into even more isolation. The small mom and pop café with its blinking open sign is a relief.

Within minutes we are old friends. We can’t get our words out fast enough. Her cell phone beeps and her husband is checking on her. She took precautions like I did and sends back a message saying “Having fun!” Minutes of laughter go by as we talk about our security measures for this meeting. Her phone beeps again and she shows me the return text, “Having GUN?”

Oh, that man is a riot and teasing her about meeting an online serial killer. Minutes later her phone rings, I can hear her distressed husband’s voice from my seat across the table. She assures him everything is fine. After hanging up, she looks back at her text messages and then begins laughing. She shows me what she did. Instead of typing “Having fun” she’s the one that wrote “Having gun.” Our hilarity carries on for hours, before it’s finally time for us to head home.

We did it. Both of us dodged a murderous rendezvous and proved our husbands wrong. We made a lasting friendship and await the next gruesome death so we can meet up again. We Tweet and laugh with each other still. But maybe, somewhere in the back of our vivid imaginations we wonder, what if?

Melissa Crytzer Fry, this post is for you. I truly love the inspiration you give to writers with your beautiful photography and creative writing genius. What I Saw… is one of my favorite blogs! Keep motivating us and sharing your visions. You are truly a special friend. I can’t think of a better way to meet someone and thank you for the use of your photo without knowing this post was about you.

  1. October 2, 2011 at 11:31 am

    OMG… I am laughing so hard … again. I wondered if you’d remember the “having gun” text typo. To my credit as a cautious woman, though, do you remember us talking about the fact that I wouldn’t disclose what town I lived in (for the very cautious reasons you mention) and that we didn’t meet in THAT town…

    Did I give you my personal home phone? I thought I was all sly and gave you only my cell number. Hmm… If I did, then you got me there … and on the email address. GUILTY! But so glad I took the risk, as I agree with you 100% – we’ve forged a wonderful friendship that would not have happened if not for social media. But … safety is always first! Thanks for this post (and still laughing that the photo you asked to use was actually about ME). Ha ha ha.

    • October 2, 2011 at 11:41 am

      I could have made this post a lot longer and told all the ins and outs of our meeting with both our precautions but it would have turned into a book. Of course I remember the Having Gun! It was priceless!

  2. October 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Great blog. I would never have the nerve to meet any “web-friends” in person and it appalls me that I have given out my email address to a few people. Never again!

    Thanks for the link to “What I Saw” , it looks to be one of my favorites too.

    • October 2, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Thank you, you will love the blog!

  3. October 2, 2011 at 11:58 am

    I love this post for sooo many reasons–full of amazing information plus highly entertaining and about two of my very favorite online friends! I knew you two were trustworthy! The only bad thing? I am absolutely GREEN with envy! Lucky lucky you two!

    • October 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      It was wonderful to meet Melissa! Some day we all need to meet in Vegas. A shady hotel would be perfect. Think of the great blog posts we could write.

      • October 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm

        You are ON! Haven’t been to Vegas in years and cannot think of ANY reason I’d go except to have what would have to be the most fun meetup EVER! 🙂

      • October 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

        OH YEAH… I’m game! Just think of the blog fodder we’d have!

  4. October 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I’m with Julia. You always make me laugh and I’m envious. I guess you need a sense of humor with your job.

    I’m probably not as worried about things as I should be. Sometimes I just get tired of all the worry and want to just live a little.

    I am careful at night and in dark alleys, though.

    • October 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Are you up for Vegas? Maybe after the first of the year and after recovering from Christmas. It would be great to meet our social writing girlfriends!

      • October 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm

        Well, I might be, but this is sounding dangerously close to a previous conversation that imploded on us. . .

        But if you decide to go, please let me know. I wouldn’t mind going to Vegas again.

      • October 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm

        You’re on! Would love to meet.

  5. October 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    You are such a fantastic writer, Suzie! When I first started reading, I was convinced it was not going to end well – obviously you made it out alive, but I was picturing you having to pull your gun and call for backup. Which of course made the whole “Having GUN” typo that much more hysterical.

    In any case, I found this incredibly informative, and I really appreciate your take on things. I have friends who have met up with people they know only from some site like Craigslist, and it horrifies me!

    I cannot wait to dig into your friend’s blog, I would do it now (I really want to do it now) but I’m on a tight schedule at the moment. The little that I looked at is absolutely enticing, though.

    Oh, back to you and your writing, not that I don’t love what you write about here (because I hope you know that I do), but have you ever delved into fiction, or thought about it? You just have such an amazing style, I think you could blow some of today’s most popular writers straight off the shelves!

    (Sorry, long comment.)

    • October 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      Ruby, you have absolutely made my day! Thank you!!

      I do have a fiction book finished but struggled quite a bit writing it where as my true life adventures come easily. It’s currently being reviewed by a publisher. Unfortunately, as a writer, I’ve become well acquainted with rejection which is why your words are so inspiring. I will read your comment again and again!

      • October 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm

        Well then I’ll add to that and tell you that I hold people to a very high standard when it comes to writing, and mostly I just keep my mouth (fingers) shut about style etc., because in my head I can be a very dismissive, judgmental b**** (I’m not proud of that, and I’m working on it, but when you’re raised on the classics. . .).

        Just remember, most publishers don’t care if something is good, they care if they can market it well. I won’t go on a tangent here on my feelings on that one, just never let them change your voice. It’s too precious, fiction or non.

        And as I stand to gain nothing for myself by saying that, I really hope you believe me.

      • October 4, 2011 at 8:36 pm

        Wow, thank you. You’ve given me hope and inspiration. It’s been a good writing day and you’ve made it even better!

  6. October 5, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Suzie, you had me biting my fingernails! You’re an amazing story teller and getting better all the time. I actually laughed out loud when you revealed that this mysterious person was Melissa! You two are great and I’m sure share the sense of humour. (Now, if you had revealed she had spat out some nails as she got out of her truck, I would have instantly known who you were talking about!)
    ps. I can’t believe the coroner hadn’t seen an electrocution case by toaster – he must be a waffle person 😉

    • October 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

      I never thought of the waffle angle. Thanks for the kind words and Melissa spitting nails is apropos.

  7. October 16, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Wow, my poor heart. You scared me, Suzie! But then I thought, we’re no different. I feel like I know you and wouldn’t hesitate to meet up and I’ve never been Vegas so…

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