Joe The Jumper
Many years ago, I worked as a copy person for a newspaper. I spent most of my work hours in the city room, or on errands around the city. While security wasn’t very strict in those days, there was a security camera that watched over the city room. The cameras were monitored by security guards, and any stray people that hung out by the guards’ desk. The female population of the city room was often the subject of discussion by the guards, truck drivers, and pressmen.
One person that was checking me out was a guy known as Joe the jumper. Before you assume that his name had anything to do with perversions, you need to understand that his job was that of a “jumper”. He was the guy that leaped off the back of the newspaper delivery truck, filling the boxes or dropping bundles of papers.
He had noticed me on the security cameras and had seen me zipping around the building on errands. We’d smile and nod in passing. When he approached me, my impression was favorable. He was in his 20s, had brown hair, and was pleasant looking. He asked if I’d like to have dinner and we set up a date later that week. Since we both worked night shifts, dinner was going to be during our work break. We decided to go to a Chinese restaurant a couple miles from downtown. He drove us there in his car, a blue Gremlin.
Dinner went okay. There wasn’t anything magical about the evening. More like two co-workers getting to know each other. The conversation was a bit odd because it often turned to famous people that Joe was good friends with. I was naive and initially took the conversation at face value, but the name-dropping continued to a ridiculous level. I finally figured he was bullshitting me when he talked about hanging out backstage with Joni Mitchell.
I didn’t call him on the nonsense he was spouting, figuring he just wanted to make an impression. Our date ended, as we both needed to return to work. He called the next day while I was at work. I assumed it was just a thanks for the date kind of call, but he then informed me that he was in a local mental hospital. His parents had committed him that morning. There was that momentary thought of, “Wow. I have the power to drive men mad.” When I asked why his parents had locked him in the loony bin, he told me that it was because he was a Weathermen and his parents didn’t approve. (The Weathermen was an underground, radical student organization from the 60s and 70s.) I assumed this was more of his bullshit, he was delusional, and had a break with reality.
This, of course, was the death knell for any future dates. I discussed the date and Joe’s subsequent committal with the women I worked with. While chatting about Joe, I happened to mention that he drove a blue Gremlin.
During this time period, there was a serial killer in our city. The killer targeted young boys, and while there was very little information to go on, the public had been warned to watch for a blue Gremlin, driven by a “person of interest.”
As we sat there, thinking about the blue Gremlin, and Joe’s tenuous grasp of reality, it occurred to us that Joe might be the killer. One of my coworkers went to the police reporter and shared our suspicions; the reporter went and talked to the police.
I never spoke with Joe again, but I heard that the police checked him out thoroughly. Happily, he wasn’t the serial killer; he had been in the mental hospital during one of the murders, so he had an air-tight alibi. Getting cleared by the police still didn’t tempt me to rekindle any relationship.