Dark arts after dark: close encounters of the shoe fetish kind
Stories around campfires that may or may not be true, tall tales of the tragic and weird. We've heard them all before, but not like this. In the lead up to Halloween, we have handpicked the most unsettling short works culled from the depths of Reddit's "Let's Not Meet" section – where Reddit users post their true stories of creepy encounters – stories of being stalked, creeped, or encountering a creepy individual. We will be publishing one daily as part of our #darkarts after dark series, which will celebrate the dark and disturbed after 8pm GMT. This very true story has been published with the permssion of the author. The original post can be found here.
In 1968, my grandpa was working as a professional rodeo announcer, travelling all over the western U.S. almost every weekend. In the early days of his career he drove to each rodeo, wearing out two new cars per year. Instead of burning through vehicles and wasting a ton of time, he started flying small planes. Each time he had to go announce, Grandma would drive him out to the Salem airport to his hangar. He'd fly to Salinas, or Calgary, or Houston, and she'd come pick him up when he returned.
Grandpa was on his way back from a rodeo, and called grandma from whichever city he'd gone to, telling her he'd be back late, around midnight or 1 am, and to come by and pick him up.
After waiting a little close to the arrival time, grandma hopped in her enormous Lincoln, the preferred car of grandmas everywhere, and made her way through the back roads of South Salem to the airport.
Even now, this town is not known for being a happening place, and in 68, that held especially true. This was why it struck grandma as odd that a pair of headlights pulled out behind her on the empty, winding road. She kept glancing in the rear-view, each time the car behind her was at the same distance from her tail, matched her, turn for turn. She prolonged the trip a bit, hoping whoever it was would drop off, stop following, but it wasn't happening.
At this point, she figured grandpa had already arrived at the airport. Of course, she had no way to tell him what was happening, and nowhere to go, every gas station and mini-mart from Eugene to Portland would be closed. And Grandpa was not known for his patience, nor his level headedness. She finally turned into the airport, down the row of hangars.
The car stayed behind her, and now she knew their intentions were evil. There was no reason to follow a lone woman down a dead end road at a closed airport. She pulled up to grandpa's hangar. He would leave the light on, and the large roll-up door open slightly, so that he could hear her honk for him to come out and lock up. As she pulled up, she laid on the horn in long, insistent blasts. She waited, not sure what would happen next.
The car behind her stopped and a pudgy, unpleasant looking man got out.
My grandma, not one to back down from a fight got out of her car. She didn't know what she would do, but she sure as hell would face this sombitch.
Just then, grandpa emerged from the hangar. Silhouetted in the headlights, in his Stetson, boots, and suit, he looked like an even bigger man than he was.
"Who the hell is this?!" he shouted, with a hint of accusation in his booming voice.
"I have no idea!" said grandma, "He's been following me for miles!"
At that point, the puggish, plump man ran back to his car and gunned it. What he didn't realize was that the road he took was actually tarmac, and he wound up at the end, cornered by both fence and field. The grandparents pursued. They shot down the runway after him. They pulled in parallel to the end fence, making sure he had nowhere to go.
Grandpa got out of the car, walked up to the man's open window, leaned in, and grabbed him by the collar.
"What the hell do you think you're doin'?"
"Nothing...I was...uh...I was lost, and I..."
"You sure as hell weren't. You were followin' my wife, you little shit."
The man went pale.
"Now if I ever ever find out you've been following my wife again. I'll beat you so bad you'll wish you'd never been born. You understand me?"
The man nodded, and grandpa let go of his lapels. He went back to the car, and he and grandma took the long way home to make sure no one was behind them.
The encounter was far from forgotten when they saw the man again, this time on the news. He was found guilty of strangling four women. He kept one victim’s foot to model his women's shoe collection, and the rest of the bodies he'd tied to engine blocks and thrown into the Willamette River.