Coconut Grove is a popular nightspot in Miami, especially on a Saturday night. This is going to be a great evening I thought as I was driving home from work. I knew I would be driving, the Diet Coke plan would be best tonight. Finally, tonight was my first night out with friends after a nasty divorce. I needed to get out and socialize again, right? The Baja Beach Club in Coconut Grove sounds like just what I need.
I was invited to a friends going away party right after work so I was going to arrive late to the club. I arrived a little after midnight. I drove around the block several times looking for an empty parking space. Finally, I decided to park one block behind the main building, the one housing all of the restaurants, shops, and clubs. One block is a short walk I thought, considering myself fortunate for finding such a good spot.
The club was packed; however, I promptly found my friends. We had a great time socializing and dancing. It was so nice to be out of the house. I was having a great time! Time flew by and before I knew it, it was after three o’clock in the morning.
The club was pretty well cleared out by the time we decided to leave. My friend Randall offered to walk me to my car.
“I’m fine, you don’t have to walk me to my car,” I said.
“Are you sure? You’re going to walk out there by yourself in the middle of the night?”
“Yes, I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. I’m parked only one block away. Nothing is going to happen.”
Randall kept asking, and so did his finance Soliette. I kept refusing their offers for an escort. They finally gave up and we all left the club.
Once I left the building, there was no one anywhere around, just an eerie silence. I started walking to my car, passing the beautiful Mediterranean style buildings with their manicured landscaping. I was enjoying the walk; the night air was warm and calm. As I got closer to my car, there were less streetlights and the landscape quickly turned from attractive to unkempt. I could see my car up ahead in the darkness. Still, I was content and leisurely strolling to my car.
Out of nowhere, a man appeared. He was dressed in dark, baggy clothing and wearing a knit skullcap pulled low on his face. I was not frightened, and I thought maybe he was homeless and would ask me for money then go away. Suddenly he was walking right beside me.
“Give me some money,” he said in a nonchalant tone.
“No. I don’t have any,” I said.
“Give me some money,” he asked.
“I said no.”
“Then give me your watch,” he said with a bit more determination in his voice.
“I’m not giving you my watch.”
“Then give me your money.”
I was close to my car, maybe five parking spaces away, when he jumped in front of me. Before I knew it, there was a gun pointed at my chest. He held the gun sideways, like the bad guys portrayed on violent television shows. I expected the gun barrel to be cold on my skin, maybe it was. I was too scared to realize it. And where were all of the streetlights? It seemed much darker now than when I was walking.
“I said give me your money!” he shouted.
The only money I had was change from a ten-dollar bill. Good thing the bartender gave me ones as change that night. The small roll of money probably looked like more than it actually was. I gave him the money.
“Give me the rest of your money. Now!” he said sternly.
“I don’t have anymore money,” I said.
Either he thought I had more since I was playing tough-guy earlier or he just thought I should have more than I did. He began to dig his hands through all of my pockets, looking for money that did not exist, still holding the gun firmly against my chest. It was at this moment that I started to feel like I was in danger. I was startled when he pulled out the gun. Now I realized that I could be seriously hurt or even die. He was still digging, the feel of his hands in my pockets making me cringe.
He then proceeded to rip the front of my shirt and look for money in my bra. No, he can’t be touching me! Even though he was looking for money, I couldn’t help thinking that he might rape me. There was nobody around. What would stop him?
“Give me your watch,” he said.
I snapped back into the reality that I was being mugged, not raped. I started to take off my watch. Why can’t I get it unclasped? It took me a few seconds to get it off since I was shaking so badly.
“Hurry up!” he said.
“I’m trying to do this as fast as I can.”
“Faster!” he said, pushing the gun barrel into my chest.
I got the watch off and gave it to him. I was wearing two rings. Immediately he asked for them. I took off the first one, a real diamond and emerald ring, and handed it over. I tried to get the second one off, a cheap rhinestone band, but it was stuck. It had always fit snug, however, I had been dancing most of the evening. It would not budge.
“Hurry up! Do you want to die?” he said.
“I’m trying to get it off. It’s fake anyway,” I said.
“I don’t care. I want it now. Hurry up, bitch!”
I kept pulling for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the ring slid off my finger. I quickly gave it to him. It was at this point I began to think I might not get out of this alive. I was trying to come up with a get away plan, one that would get me away from this guy unharmed.
He asked again for money and I said no, begging him to just let me go. He told me to get down on the ground. I did as he said, thinking that he’s now going to shoot me in the back of the head. I looked on the ground for a weapon, although I’m not sure if I would have tried something so daring. After all, he did have a gun. I was on the ground for a few seconds, but it felt like several minutes.
I kept thinking I was going to die. How was I going to avoid that? Is he going to shoot me? What is he waiting for? What else does he want?
“Get up and run. Fast,” he said calmly. I don’t think any Olympic runner could have even come close to running as fast as I did at that moment. I was running away from my car, back to the club from which I came. I ran right into a group of people. They started asking me if I was okay. I realized that the guy had ripped all of the buttons off my shirt and that it was completely open. I was too freaked out to be embarrassed about it.
I was trembling as I told these people that I was just mugged. They helped me locate a security guard working across the street and hurriedly left the scene. I told the guard I had been mugged, then asked him if he would just please walk me to my car so I could go home.
“I can’t do that. I’m working security on this side of the street,” he said.
“Please, just walk me one block over to my car,” I pleaded.
“I’ll get fired if I leave my post.”
“Can you at least call the police?” I asked.
“No. They won’t come out unless someone is hurt.”
I continued begging him until he reluctantly agreed to walk me halfway to my car. I guess he knew I wasn’t about to walk there by myself, which meant I could have been harassing him for hours. I was running by the time I reached my car. I quickly looked behind me; the guard was long gone.
I got into my car, locking the doors immediately. I was shaking all the way home. I didn’t feel safe even in my locked car. I didn’t even feel safe walking from my car to the front door.
It’s easy for anyone to think, “Oh, that will never happen to me” or “I’m not afraid to walk alone in the dark.” A traumatic experience like getting mugged and being held at gunpoint has really changed my way of thinking. Now, when I go out and I plan a late night out, I don’t go alone. I also plan on getting mugged. Yes, that’s right. Sounds insane? Completely crazy? I make sure I have money in my pockets. I also hide a twenty in my shoe. I would hate to see a disappointed mugger with a gun pointed at me.