What She Did and What I Did
A Play in One Act
Robert Simmons 32, male, a television news reporter
Josh Conley 25, male, a prisoner incarcerated for stalking his ex-girlfriend
(Robert is a television reporter conducting an initial interview with Josh for a cable TV program about stalkers. Josh has been imprisoned on a charge of aggravated stalking of his ex-girlfriend Cathy.)
An adjunct room within a correctional facility. Robert and Josh are seated across from one another at a 4’ x 8’ metal table. Robert is wearing a nicely tailored suit, while Josh is wearing a blue prison jumpsuit. Both of them have tiny microphones attached to their clothing. There is also a static large camera with cameraman at the rear of the table, and a static prison guard standing at the far rear of the room, behind Josh.
[At rise: Robert and Josh are seated on opposite ends of the metal table. The interview has apparently already begun, with Robert speaking his first line to Josh immediately.]
ROBERT: So, when you drove by the house the third time and you didn’t see her car there, what were you thinking?
JOSH: Actually, I was pretty surprised. I’d gone by a bunch of times over the last couple of months and it was almost always there. I mean it was hard to see it in the dark, but she had this little glittery decal of a figure skater on the back, so if I pulled up behind it, it would reflect in my headlights. Then I knew she was in the house.
ROBERT: So now her car hasn’t been there three nights in a row, and you’re taken aback.
JOSH: Yeah, it pretty much meant that either she was on vacation, or she had moved out. Really, I was already thinking she had moved out, because, y’know, you expect that sooner or later the thing you hope won’t happen does. I figured she’d finally gotten out of the place like she always wanted to.
ROBERT: She had expressed that to you in the past?
JOSH: Oh yeah, while I was seeing her, she was always talking about problems with her landlady and the kids upstairs. You could hear ’em early in the morning, making all kinds of noise. It was pretty nuts. I was thinking her lease would have been up right around then.
ROBERT: So that’s what led you to believe that she had moved out.
JOSH: Uh huh.
ROBERT: How did you react?
JOSH: It’s like, there were two places I knew she could be: at home or at her job. Take away the one, and that means fifty percent of the information you had is gone… like that. [Loudly slaps hands together.] But the reality of it is, y’know, I had more control when I knew where she lived, because I could go by her house pretty much any time of night when I wanted to, and keep tabs on her, or, like, I could leave stuff on her car if I felt like it.
ROBERT: Which you did, correct?
JOSH: Yeah, I left a note on there.
ROBERT: What did it say?
JOSH: I mean, how can I put it… basically what I was trying to tell her was that I thought she had treated me like shit, and then tossed me out like a piece of trash. That was in there.
ROBERT: Did you threaten her in the note?
JOSH: [Pauses.] Mmm… not really.
ROBERT: Was there any implied threat?
JOSH: [Pauses.] I guess it depends on how you look at it.
ROBERT: Okay, let’s say I’m her, reading the note that you left on my car. Is there any reason for me to feel that I could be in danger?
JOSH: To be honest, I really didn’t know what was in her head.
ROBERT: So what happened after she found the note?
JOSH: She sent me a text that morning asking if I put a note on her car.
ROBERT: Did you respond to that?
JOSH: I texted her back and said I haven’t tried to contact you since we broke up. Technically, that was true, because up till then, I hadn’t tried to get in touch with her.
ROBERT: Did she reply to what you told her?
JOSH: She sent another text saying, “Okay, thanks.”
ROBERT: What did you take that to mean?
JOSH: I thought she was just trying to be sneaky, playing her little mind games, y’know, that kind of thing.
ROBERT: What made you think that?
JOSH: ‘Cause that’s the way she was. You never knew with her. I mean, it could’ve been that she’d already called the cops on me or something.
ROBERT: But as far as you knew, she hadn’t.
JOSH: Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. All I know is that the police didn’t show up at my door that day.
ROBERT: Did you leave anything else on her car right after that?
JOSH: No, I mean, not right away. I didn’t want her to be getting the law involved. I figured if I just played it cool, eventually the cards would play in my favor.
JOSH: Just that if I didn’t go announcing myself, she would just sit back and take a breather.
ROBERT: Is that what you thought she was doing when you were driving by her house late at night?
JOSH: She probably didn’t realize I was out there. [Laughs.]
ROBERT: Which meant that you could keep tabs on her.
JOSH: Uh huh. Y’know, I didn’t want to arouse any suspicion, but I wanted to keep an eye on her.
ROBERT: You did know where she worked.
JOSH: Yeah, and that was good, but the problem was that I couldn’t do anything with it. It wasn’t like I could just show up at her office, and I mean, that was during the day, so… really, it was just so I knew she was still in the area.
ROBERT: Even though, at this point, you weren’t sure she still lived in that same house.
JOSH: Yeah, at that point, she could have been any number of places.
ROBERT: So once you felt certain she no longer lived there, what did you do then?
JOSH: I was hoping her car would just show up again one night, but then a couple of weeks went by, and I started getting nervous. I mean, I didn’t want to go by her office or anything, but I really needed to find out where she was living.
ROBERT: You began trying to find her new address.
JOSH: That was pretty tough, too. I mean, nowadays, you can move somewhere and nobody knows where you are. Unless you go around trying to get that information from people, but its like, what am I gonna do, go up to one of her co-workers, like “Hey, can you tell me where Cathy lives now?” [Laughs.]
ROBERT: But eventually, you were able to locate her.
JOSH: It took a while, but I figured it out. You know what they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. [Laughs loudly.] I already went through this thing where I was looking on the internet for her, going through Facebook, putting her name in Google.
ROBERT: Did you gain any info from that?
JOSH: No, it was mostly stuff like her work e-mail, and her LinkedIn page, y’know, things I already knew about.
ROBERT: How did you track her down?
JOSH: I was lying in bed one night, and then I remembered that her mom lived in a townhouse about ten miles or so from where she had been living, and it could’ve been that she moved back in with her.
ROBERT: What did you do after that thought occurred to you?
JOSH: I was pretty excited, so I got up, and pulled out the envelope where I kept all my information about her, because one time she said she would be visiting her mom that afternoon and she wrote the address down on a post-it note. I forgot all about it, but after going through all those papers I found the note.
ROBERT: Did you drive to her mother’s house?
JOSH: Yeah, that same night. I mean, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, so I figured I’d just drive over there.
ROBERT: And when you got there, did you see Cathy’s car?
JOSH: Uh huh. It was the same thing, I drove up and thought I saw her car in the parking lot, and then I pulled up behind it and saw the little skater decal and I knew it was her car.
ROBERT: You were glad that you had found her.
JOSH: Yeah, I felt really excited, like I’d just been on a roller coaster or something. It’s hard to even describe it. I mean, up ’til then, I was thinking I had lost her.
ROBERT: Did you stay for a while after you found her car?
JOSH: No, I mean, I didn’t need to. I just thought that I would have to keep checking back to make sure she really was living there now.
ROBERT: And did you?
JOSH: Yeah, I mean, early on, I was driving by at night, just about every night, to see if her car was still there.
ROBERT: So at a certain point you felt confident that she was living there.
JOSH: Well, I knew at least she was living there right then.
ROBERT: Did you try to contact her again?
JOSH: No, not right away. After a while though, after I saw her car at her mom’s all those times… [Long pause.]
ROBERT: You began leaving things on her car again.
JOSH: Yeah, I mean… one night I went to the supermarket and bought a rose, and I pulled some of the petals off it, and I went over there and scattered a few of those around.
ROBERT: On the car or on the ground?
JOSH: I put maybe two or three on the windshield, and some on the hood, and a few more on the pavement.
ROBERT: So the next morning she’d know that you or possibly someone else had been there in the night and left the rose petals on her car.
JOSH: I thought maybe it could’ve looked like they had just gotten there somehow.
ROBERT: But you wanted her to know that you had been there.
JOSH: Yeah, I guess you could say that.
ROBERT: So what happened the next morning? Did she contact you?
JOSH: Naw, I got up that morning thinking she might send me a text or something, but I didn’t hear from her.
ROBERT: What did you take that to mean?
JOSH: Well, I mean, really, I didn’t know what to think. I thought maybe she didn’t see them, and just drove to work.
ROBERT: What did you do then?
JOSH: I guess a few days went by, and I wasn’t really sure she had seen the rose petals, so I decided to go back and put something there that she would notice.
ROBERT: What did you leave?
JOSH: I went to the drugstore and got one of those really small boxes of chocolates that they have for ninety-nine cents or whatever.
ROBERT: You left the chocolates on her car?
JOSH: Yeah, but first I took it home and got this black spray paint I had, and I sprayed a little of it onto the plastic wrap.
ROBERT: Why did you do that?
JOSH: I thought if I left it on the pavement next to the driver’s side of her car, it wouldn’t stick out too much. Just like the rose petals, I mean, I could leave it there and it wouldn’t be so obvious.
ROBERT: After you left the chocolates, did she contact you the next morning?
JOSH: No, I never heard from her, and I mean, just like before I began to wonder if maybe she hadn’t seen it. I mean if it was still dark, she might not have noticed it there and just ran over it. [Laughs.]
ROBERT: Did you think that maybe she had seen the chocolates and just wasn’t acknowledging that you had left them there?
JOSH: That was the whole mystery of it, I mean, it began to drive me a little nuts, y’know. I drove back the next night to see if maybe the chocolates were still there on the ground, but I looked around, even a few houses down, and I couldn’t find anything.
ROBERT: So what did you do after that?
JOSH: I figured next time I had to put something there that she would notice, in case she hadn’t seen the stuff I’d already left.
ROBERT: What did you leave this time?
JOSH: I got this really nice necklace at a jewelry store, it was like fifty bucks or something. I tried to pick out one I thought she would like, and maybe y’know, she could wear it around.
ROBERT: And again, you left this on her car.
JOSH: I had them gift wrap it at the store with this silver wrap they had, just so it would stick out a little more, and I went by the house that night and put it on her windshield.
ROBERT: Did you get any response from her after that?
JOSH: No, and by then I was thinking, y’know, there she goes again, treating me like shit and just ignoring me. I couldn’t understand it, really. I thought I was being nice, y’know, making these kind gestures toward her, but she didn’t care about me, and she could just blow me off like she did before.
ROBERT: You were sure then, that she’d seen the items you were leaving for her.
JOSH: Yeah, I mean, she must have seen that necklace.
ROBERT: When you didn’t hear back from her, did you get angry?
JOSH: [Pauses.] I think I was getting a little pissed off by then, so yeah, I… you could say I was angry.
ROBERT: You felt certain that she was ignoring you.
JOSH: Uh huh.
ROBERT: You kept trying to contact her though.
JOSH: Yeah, but I thought maybe I was using the wrong approach. It was like, y’know, maybe I just needed to tell her… [Pauses.]
ROBERT: Tell her what?
JOSH: Well, I just, y’know, like I didn’t want her to be scared of me or anything. Really, I wanted to let her know that I was there for her. Just… [Pauses.] well, just that I was doing okay.
ROBERT: Did you think that was something that she would be concerned about?
JOSH: Maybe, maybe not. I was thinking that if I could just show… [Pauses.] If I could tell her that I wasn’t trying to make her afraid of me or anything like that.
ROBERT: How did you hope to express this to her?
JOSH: I just wrote out another letter to her, put it in an envelope, and left it on her car that night.
ROBERT: What was written in the letter?
JOSH: Just about… y’know, just how I felt about me and her. Like I thought we should give it another chance.
ROBERT: After she had ignored all of the other things you left for her, what made you think that she would respond this new communication?
JOSH: [Pauses.] Well, I mean… [Pauses.] I thought that if I showed her a better side of me, she might come around, and maybe talk to me again, and we could go out for drinks or whatever.
ROBERT: You expressed this feeling in the letter.
JOSH: Not exactly like that, ’cause I wrote… [Long pause.]
ROBERT: What did you write?
JOSH: I wrote that… [Pauses] that I still loved her even after all the bad things she did… [Pauses] and that I… [Voice trembling] that I really… I really wanted her to be with me again. [Long pause.] I’m sorry… let me get it together…
ROBERT: Its okay, take your time.
JOSH: [Pause. Josh reaches up and wipes his eyes, which have gotten teary.] This is the hard part for me, ‘cause, like, I loved this girl really just because I did, y’know, but then I hated her for what she did to me, and I went back and forth on that.
ROBERT: Conflicting emotions.
JOSH: Uh huh.
ROBERT: So now, you’ve left this new letter on her car. Did she contact you?
JOSH: I got up the next morning and checked my phone to see if there was a text message, but there wasn’t. So I got in the shower, and thought that maybe by the time I was done showering, there would be a new text message on my phone.
ROBERT: Was there?
JOSH: No. Nothing came in.
ROBERT: Did that surprise you?
JOSH: No, I really… I mean, I knew it might have been something she would need some time to think about, but I was hoping she’d get back to me.
ROBERT: Did she?
JOSH: Well, I was thinking about it while I was getting dressed, y’know, trying to imagine what she might have been felt about what I put in that letter. Then I heard the knock on my door.
ROBERT: I’m guessing that was the police.
JOSH: Yeah, there were two of them, and one handed me a TRO that was saying like I wasn’t to go within five hundred feet of her, or try to contact her in any way, or y’know, stuff like that.
JOSH: Temporary restraining order.
ROBERT: Was that a shock for you?
JOSH: I was really hot, man, I mean, I went and tried to be nice to her, got her that necklace, and then she turned around and put the police on me. I just thought that was a low blow, like, why didn’t she just call me and tell me she wasn’t interested or something like that? Why did she have to go and make a legal issue out of it? And then I thought, y’know, I forgot about this part, ’cause this is how she really is, just ready to make a fool of me any way she can.
ROBERT: So once again you were angry at her.
JOSH: Well, yeah, but I think anybody in my situation would be mad. It’s like how many times have you been nice to someone and they call the cops on you? I don’t think there’s many that can say that, y’know, and it was just like… I knew I was on my own then.
ROBERT: Did you consider trying to get back at her?
JOSH: Yeah, I mean, wouldn’t you?
ROBERT: What did you think you might do?
JOSH: I don’t know, I mean, maybe I would… well, I couldn’t go around her mom’s house at night anymore, so there wasn’t much I could do, really.
ROBERT: Did you still want to contact her after that?
JOSH: I thought about it, ’cause I’d been having trouble sleeping. I mean, it was bugging me, y’know, that she went and did this to me. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I felt kinda powerless.
ROBERT: As if something had been taken away from you.
JOSH: Exactly. I felt like I’d already been put in prison or something. I wasn’t free to keep an eye on her, at least I couldn’t go by her mom’s place anymore.
ROBERT: Did these feelings get worse over time?
JOSH: Yeah. I was losing track of time, getting to work late, I mean, I was really getting restless.
ROBERT: Couldn’t you distract yourself, to keep from thinking about her?
JOSH: That was just the problem. She wouldn’t go away. It was like, the more they took her away from me, the more I wanted to talk to her.
ROBERT: So what happened next?
JOSH: There was, like, a whole week where I didn’t sleep much, so my mind began to get kinda screwy, and I started thinking the only way this was going to go away was if I talked to her.
ROBERT: Even though you knew that because of the restraining order, you couldn’t.
JOSH: But it was driving me crazy by then, and I knew I had to do something… so, I thought about it for a while, and just decided that I’d call her, and tell her I was sorry about the way I’d been acting, and that I would leave her alone if she wanted me to.
ROBERT: But isn’t that what she was trying to tell you by getting a restraining order taken out on you?
JOSH: [Pauses.] That could be, but I also figured maybe one of her friends told her to do that, like maybe one of her co-workers told her to put the screws to me, and call the cops.
ROBERT: And with that in mind, you were going to call her and talk to her.
JOSH: Well, I thought it might make things better, y’know. I started to get all my thoughts together, everything I wanted to say, I ran it through my head a few times. Like, I wanted to be gentle, and not come off like I was some aggressive guy, but that… I wanted to show my best side to her.
ROBERT: You thought she would respond to that.
JOSH: I didn’t know, but I figured there was only one way I was gonna find out.
ROBERT: So then you called her. What was that like?
JOSH: I got up a little nerve, y’know, I was kind of scared, but uh… I called her mom’s house, and Cathy actually answered.
ROBERT: Do you think she knew it was you calling?
JOSH: Probably, I think they had caller ID there, so maybe she saw my number flashing.
ROBERT: Once she picked up the phone, what did she say?
JOSH: She just said hello, and she was kind of pleasant, so I told her I was really sorry about the things I’d been doing, y’know, putting the stuff on her car, and that I didn’t want to drive her away, that maybe I was wrong, but I didn’t want it to get in the way of our relationship.
ROBERT: What was her response to that?
JOSH: She didn’t say that much, but she seemed cool with it.
ROBERT: How long did you talk?
JOSH: I’d say maybe, ten, fifteen minutes.
ROBERT: Did she seem angry or express any negative feelings toward you?
JOSH: No, and I thought that was really good. When I got off the phone with her, I felt like… y’know, like I’d just scored a touchdown. Like I had finally broke through, and things were gonna be okay.
ROBERT: So right then, you were happy.
JOSH: Damn right I was happy. I’d finally spoken to the woman I loved, and she wasn’t pissed or angry with me… it was all just a misunderstanding, and maybe we could even go out sometime and talk about how we were doing.
ROBERT: Which meant that you intended to stay in contact with her.
JOSH: At first, yeah.
ROBERT: Did something make you change your mind?
JOSH: When I was talking to her on the phone, man, I felt high as a kite. Even when I hung up, I was still feeling it, but maybe a half-hour later, I started feeling a little sick. My head was spinning, and I felt like I was gonna throw up or something.
ROBERT: What was the cause of that?
JOSH: I started getting paranoid, and I was thinking like maybe that phone call had been taped, and it was gonna be used as evidence against me.
ROBERT: You were worried that the police would be involved again.
JOSH: Definitely. It was beginning to dawn on me that maybe the whole phone call thing had just been an act on her part, and that I might be in serious trouble now.
ROBERT: What happened next?
JOSH: I was agitated, like, for hours. I had this gut feeling that the police would come. I was trying to think of ways I could get around it, y’know, like driving to another state, or maybe staying with a friend.
ROBERT: Did you make plans to flee, or did the police arrive before you could?
JOSH: Yeah, they came by my apartment and arrested me for violating the provisions of the TRO.
ROBERT: What was your response?
JOSH: I remember that it was almost like the moment they cuffed me, like I had x-ray vision or something, everything became crystal clear, and I saw through everything. It hit me then, y’know, that I was in a lot of trouble, and might do time for this.
ROBERT: After the police booked you, were you able to post bail?
JOSH: Yeah, I had an uncle who came and got me.
ROBERT: What did they charge you with?
JOSH: Aggravated stalking, if you can believe that.
ROBERT: I want to move forward to the hearing.
ROBERT: What happened when you appeared in court?
JOSH: It was the usual thing, raise your right hand, and all that. When she came into the hearing room, she looked all worn out, like she hadn’t gotten enough sleep or something. No makeup, y’know, clothes all wrinkled…
ROBERT: What was your impression of her appearance? Did you think she was exhausted from of all of the events that had occurred?
JOSH: Nah, I thought it was all an act, like her lawyer had told her to look as bad as she could for court so the judge would increase my sentence.
ROBERT: But you don’t think that she was actually distressed because of your attempts to contact her.
JOSH: Maybe that might have been a little part of it, but y’know, you gotta realize that this girl was a real game-player. She would’ve done anything to make me look bad. I think that was her goal in life.
ROBERT: What kinds of things did she say during her testimony?
JOSH: Aw man, you should’ve heard it, it was all kinds of crazy stuff, like she had been having trouble sleeping at night because she was afraid that I was gonna, y’know… kill her or something.
ROBERT: Do you think she may have been afraid after you left the items on her car and then called her?
JOSH: [Pauses.] It’s like, I mean she might have been a little freaked out by it, but she knows me, and she knows I wasn’t trying to get revenge or anything.
ROBERT: Her counsel brought evidence to use against you, correct?
JOSH: They had all the stuff I’d left on her car. It was like, each thing was in its own plastic bag, like the kind you’d put a sandwich in.
ROBERT: They had every item you had left on her car.
JOSH: Yeah, and it kinda burned me because she had never even opened the necklace I got her. It was still wrapped up.
ROBERT: Did the police record the phone call you made?
JOSH: They did and they were gonna play it, but really, I mean, anybody that listens to it would see that I’m not a violent person, and that I meant no harm trying to get in touch with her.
ROBERT: They didn’t play the tape?
JOSH: No, I think they figured they already had enough stuff to get me convicted.
ROBERT: They had all they needed to prove you were her stalker.
JOSH: [Long pause.] Y’know, I don’t like that term too much. I mean, I’m not a stalker. A stalker is someone who hunts women down to kill them, and I was just trying to let her know that I still loved her. I mean, it’s crazy that we live in a world where someone can get arrested and sent to jail just because they love someone and want them to know that they’ve got their back. That doesn’t make sense to me. It’s just another thing to give those lawyers and judges something to do, y’know, to help make another payment on their Mercedes or whatever.
– James Stephens, 2nd Place in Script