It’s taken two years of living in Chippendale but I finally have a stalker. It’s lucky, I’m moving to the suburbs in 3 days so I was really running out of time. Like almost everything in my life, it started on the internet.
About a month ago I put up an ad on Gumtree saying I was looking for a room in a sharehouse. You know, It had worked for me before, so I figured it was worth a try. In it, I mention I’m a writer and include a blurry profile pic. Every Ebay seller knows you need a photo to get replies.
Among a bunch of replies advertising shared rooms and lounge rooms with a “transformational curtain”, I got this:
I have a large creative arts premises and welcome you and your writing to settle here as we grow into living dreams.
I look forward to hearing from you…
Thanks, but I’m not interested in commercial space.
And it went on, until I eventually accused him of being a sex offender.
Him: I know. I have a room / studio the size close to three standard garage lengths. Pls come check it out I know you will agree it is right. I’m in the business of growing people’s dreams……
Me: That honestly sounds as though you’re luring me there so you can murder me.
Him: Oh god. Now imagine I say my business is freedom & self appointed as dream maker. But, self demoted recently to executive freedom fighter. Do I have your number? Perhaps we can talk other housemates are here
Me: Sorry, what has freedom fighting got to do with house hunting?
(I have to admit, by now I was intrigued.)
Him: Just thought I’d let you know what my business is. Altogether your potential new home is part of a creative arts centre. Pls call & chat with us.
Me: Thank you but that sounds like my personal hell. Can I suggest you take a copywriting course? You shouldn’t have to explain that you are not in the business of murdering people. Unless you’re running a Warhol-esque factory/murder house. If that’s the case then your marketing strategy is appropriate.
Him: So do you want to call or come or just miss out on the best thing that will happen to you
Me: Is it some kind of arts/murder/sex house?
Him: Two out of three ain’t bad.
Me: This is insane. Why are you pursuing me?
Him: All jokes aside. Pls take a look I am sure you will find it suitable
Me: no, never, under any circumstances.
For three weeks I heard nothing, then two nights ago he contacted me again urging me to check out his Art Sex Murder Factory. I called him a stalker. We’re in the midst of the Sydney housing crisis and this guy has been pursuing me as a housemate. This does not happen. I had deleted my ad from the internet and the creepy dude from my mind.
Until about 20 minutes ago.
I was walking home from dinner in Surry Hills to Chippendale (yes, Dad, I should have got a cab). I passed this old junk shop — the kind filled with 1980s high-cut bikinis and Huey Lewis cassettes. I paused for a moment and looked in. For the first time I saw someone in there: a blonde girl who looked about 19, just sitting in a chair. I shrugged and kept on walking. I got about 10 metres away before I heard a man call out “excuse me”. Of course, I didn’t turn around. That’d be nuts. I kept walking and heard him shout out again. And again, more insistent each time. I wondered if I was being too harsh and thought that maybe I’d just dropped my wallet or something. I stopped and turned around.
The man, with pirate long hair and black everything sidled right up close. He told me, “Sorry, but I just wanted to tell you you look really stunning. I had to come out and tell you.”
I said in the loud, confident voice I reserve for suspected rapists “Thank you. Fuck off.” I strode away. I got a few paces and heard my name. He called it out three times. A chill ran through me as I put the pieces together. This is him, this is Billy. The junk shop is the “artists’ residence”. I walked like someone who’s not scared all the way to my front door where I collapsed in a gibbering heap in front of my male, drummer-armed flatmate.
I called Redfern Police and spoke to an incredibly helpful constable.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to pack some boxes. Can I also just mention, internet, that my boyfriend actually owns a gun? And that it’s totally fucked-up that I should have to fear for my safety walking home from dinner? I think I need a hug from that bullmastiff I’ve been training. He hates artist collectives even more than I do.
*His name isn’t really Billy, I just named him after my least favourite ‘Ally McBeal’ character.
If you’ve encountered similar incidences, online or off, the police would quite like to know about it.