I put a classified ad online. A month later I called the police.

19 Jul

10pm, Wednesday

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:

Hi Eliza,

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…

Billy*

 I replied:

 Hi Billy,

Thanks, but I’m not interested in commercial space.

Cheers,

Eliza

 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.

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2 Responses to “I put a classified ad online. A month later I called the police.”

  1. mywithershins July 20, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    Oh, my goodness! So glad you’re leaving such a potentially dangerous situation!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The 63rd Down Under Feminists’ Carnival | can be bitter - August 6, 2013

    […] Sharing their personal stories, Kath (Fat Heffalump) looked at who was perpetrating the violence and why we constantly make excuses for them (TW: physical and sexual violence) while Eliza (Fix It, Dear Henry) accidentally brought it scarily close to her own home. […]

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