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Beauty and the Beating

This is the Story of a Brave Young Lady

This is a tale of one woman’s courage to confront her own mortal fears and discover a way to persevere and move on with her life. Out of my respect for her privacy and her personal request to remain anonymous, it was necessary to change her name in order to tell this story. All else is exactly how I recall her telling it to me and what I experienced by knowing her.

How We Met

Years ago I was still working as a copier technician for a big corporation during the day. I handled all the company’s big accounts. I believed in providing excellent service to our customers and always did a good job at each call. I enjoyed my work and all the accounts I visited loved the job I did! I made several friends from those calls and occasionally even acquired a new student. One of which was a lovely young girl named Jolene.I’d been to the company she worked for a couple times before to work on their copier. At that time she was a new employee there and we had not yet spoken. I’d seen her at her desk as I worked on their machine and even caught her watching me as I labored. She appeared shy, as she’d turn away when I glanced in her direction. On one occasion I was called out for some routine copier service and when I arrived my usual contact person was out to lunch leaving her alone in the office. It was when she stood next to me while I explained some of the machine’s user functions that I noticed how pretty she really was! Her big sparkling blue eyes and long dark hair were almost intoxicating! I took mental note of her sweet perfume, which complemented her pleasing appearance quite nicely. As I listened to her responses I found her to be a lot different than I’d expected. Turned out she was the kind of beauty with the type of sweet personality that almost no red-blooded American boy could refuse or deny. I even found myself biting my tongue wondering if I should break my rule about asking any of my customers out on dates?

Her History Revealed

We were still talking casually as I was completing the appropriate paperwork to be signed when her co-workers began returning from their lunch break. By that time I have to admit I was a little smitten with the lovely Jolene. The appointed business contact was an older woman who’d always liked the way I seemed to be able to fix her copier so efficiently. Over time she’d gotten to know me and was quick to hug me when she returned and saw whom it was who’d responded to her service call. She smiled at us and it seemed to please her that Jolene was standing there with me in front of the machine rather than at her desk hard at work as usual? As I explained the results and handed her the service report she broke my train of thought when she purposely asked, “How’s your martial arts training going? Still teaching?” I said yes and told her thanks for asking as I started packing up my tools and things. She returned her signed portion of the paperwork to me but when I looked up again they were both gone? When I walked outside Jolene was slowly backing her car out of her parking space. I waved goodbye to her as I loaded my equipment into the back of my vehicle then she pulled up to me and rolled down her window. As she spoke to me her big blue eyes shone brightly in the afternoon sunlight. She inquired of my martial arts experience and asked if I’m really a teacher so I assured her it was the truth. She said she’d wanted to train for some time but was too nervous to commit. She said she needed to talk about something serious she wanted to get off her chest. I asked her where she was going and offered to take her out to lunch. She agreed. We sat down at a table in a cozy little place and nibbled on a light meal and we began to talk. I was horrified at what she said so candidly! “I was assaulted once.” She told me she was on a job assignment several years ago in Korea.When she and her associates arrived in Seoul one of the first things their Korean guide told them was how very safe it was there, that the crime rate was extremely low and how friendly everyone was to foreigners and tourists. That put them at ease and they were very relieved to hear it right off the plane! After all this was the first time any of them had ever really been out of the United States and to them this part of Asia was an exotic place full of mysteries and unfamiliar customs. At first their workload actually prevented them from much sightseeing or any real fun. They worked grueling twelve-hour days for the first three weeks of their two-month stay. Before too long their busy schedule eased as they became better orientated with the daily grind.

Her Innocence Lost

Jolene loved learning about different cultures and was anxious to begin exploring her new surroundings! Because she worked opposite shifts than most of her friends she often found herself out and about alone on the town. She remembered what the guide told them all that first day regarding the safety of being in Korea. It appeared to be true. Everyone said hello and the police didn’t wear any side arms! This put her completely at ease as she confidently began to take long walks through the city streets in the evenings after work. Jolene mapped out a circuit several blocks around her hotel apartment and enjoyed her nightly strolls through the surrounding neighborhoods and business districts. She met many interesting people and saw a lot of intriguing things this exotic land had to offer its visitors. She was really enjoying her stay! After a couple of weeks of this she began noticing the same car parked near the end of her route a block or so away from her hotel. She thought nothing of the guy seated inside it in the dark that always seemed to look away as she passed. She simply thought it must be someone on a similar schedule or that he was just waiting for an associate or perhaps his girlfriend to arrive at those times? Things continued on this way for another week without incident even though something about the guy parked in his car began to eat away at her peripherals. Two weeks before she was scheduled to return to the USA, she noticed there was a second person seated in the parked car as she returned from one of her nightly treks and this time they were both watching her closely as she passed. Something went off in her head and made her nervous so she picked up her pace a little. She heard a car door open and shut behind her then began to panic as she heard heavy footsteps closing in on her! She picked up her pace as she realized he was following close behind her! She kept her head enough to remember a college self-defense seminar which suggested a person not reveal where they lived in case a suspect simply decides to just learn where a potential victim would be every night and return to attack them as they slept or observe when they leave in order to break in and rob their residence. She’d heard certain horror stories from some of the people she’d encountered in her past about being alone in strange lands and they were coming back to her as she rushed passed her actual destination! All these thoughts flashed in her head as she began to consider her best alternatives. She felt desperate and looked for help as she heard the footsteps behind her quicken! Before she could do anything the man grabbed her hair from behind and put a large knife across her throat. She screamed! She looked around for help but no one else was around. She struggled as he placed a firm hand over her mouth to muffle the sounds then released it and began to hit the back of her head with enough force to make her dizzy. She reached up and pulled down on his knife hand then loudly yelled, “Fire!” desperately hoping someone within hearing range would soon respond. She’d learned that the words “Dollar” and “Fire” were sort of a universal language. No one came to rescue her! As her assailant dragged her backwards with the knife at her throat, she heard tires skid behind them and realized his partner in crime intended to put her inside their getaway car and kidnap her! She feared they intended to rape and kill her so she went berserk! She reached for the knife and tugged ferociously on his hands and forearm hoping he’d soon release his weapon or let her go while she kept screaming at the top of her lungs! He must’ve gotten too nervous as this little noisy American firecracker fought hard for her life when he suddenly released her and jumped in the waiting car then both men sped away down the road with tires screeching until they were out of sight? Jolene sat there all alone crying hysterically on the sidewalk for several minutes before she found the strength to get up and go back to her hotel apartment. As she walked she felt the wetness of her own blood on her hands spilling out from three of her nearly severed fingers caused by pulling down at the knife around her neck. She felt faint as she approached the doorway to her building. A neighbor noticed her and rushed to her aid calling for an ambulance. Finally someone came to rescue her! She was rushed to a hospital and brought in to the Emergency Room. The doctors thankfully saved her fingers and stitched up all her cuts and wounds nicely. She wouldn’t lose any of the sensation in her hands at all. She was very lucky! When her fellow visiting Americans heard the news of her assault they were appalled! They could hardly believe what had happened to their poor Jolene. None of them experienced anything remotely like what she’d gone through and were all anxious to lend support to their friend in order to comfort her in her time of need. Some of them filed complaints with the local police and even reported Jolene’s incident to the authorities back home to no avail. She spent the rest of her stay in a Korean hospital swearing never to return! Soon their time was up and the only solution for them then was to pack up all of their things and go back home. Although Jolene’s hands healed well, her heart and spirit never really recovered.

Her Way of Healing

As she finished her story I was moved. No one had ever revealed so much of his or her inner pain to me in such a way before. I was speechless for moments as I reflected on her amazing tale of survival so far from her home and family. My lunch went mostly uneaten. After a moment I decided to invite her to come by later that week if she’d actually like to start self-defense training. She agreed and met me at my place a couple days after we first had lunch. She was a very diligent student and after only a month of martial arts experience had even begun to make some serious breakthroughs. She rarely missed any of her classes and really excelled in her training. She always did her homework and never once disappointed me. She learned well and I taught her as much as I ever could back then. I witnessed her whole aura changing right before my eyes. She was becoming a much more confident individual as if a heavy load was lifted off her back. I felt glad for her! Eventually she was even able to recreate her horrible experience step by step. We broke down every move she described and examined potential counters she might have used under similar conditions. I was aware that by training her so I had become her teacher and a close friend. To try reaching for anything beyond those limits would be like breaking a sacred trust. I was able to stifle my true feelings for her and remained her instructor for close to a year. I was admittedly sad when she told me she’d accepted a job assignment in Europe. I’d miss her pleasantly enjoying herself as she developed her martial arts abilities! She was my first female student and I did miss her for a long time.

Hearing from Her

I was delightfully surprised one-day years later to receive a phone call from Jolene! She told me of her travels and the experiences she’d had in her familiar sweet tones I remembered so well. She explained she was engaged to a nice young man who treated her well and I was truly happy for them both! I wished them the very best saying he must be a lucky fellow and she sounded pleased. She said she called mainly to thank me for being kind to her and training her so long ago. How pleased she was that she could now walk almost anywhere without that kind of fear. She told me how I was able to help restore a part of her that was lost back in Korea. She spoke briefly on how the martial arts I taught her actually helped her to avoid another potentially dangerous incident soon after she moved away from California! My heart grew ten times bigger upon hearing this and I was truly moved! This time I thanked her and wished her a world of happiness before she had to hang up.

Her Memory Lives On

About another two years after Jolene and I last spoke I received another call. A young man’s soft voice asked if I was there and as I replied he began to sob. I was confused at first and grew concerned by the sincerity and distress of his tone. He introduced himself as the man who married Jolene and the father of their son. I listened quietly while he struggled to continue pausing only when his voice broke. He didn’t need to explain what had happened, I’d already somehow sensed it? Jolene had once talked about her family’s battles with cancer and how it affected some of the women in her family. Her grandmother has succumbed to it during the year she trained with me. He said she went painlessly in her sleep at their home in upstate New York. He told me they had named their son after me then he began to cry outwardly. I did my best to offer him comfort in knowing her struggles were over and she was now at peace even though I knew my words could do little to console him. His pain was too deep for any mere words to help him now. All I could do was tell him of my lasting impressions of his dear departed wife. How she lit up a room with her smile and how hard she tried to spread cheer to others despite the pain she carried around with her for so long. My words were inadequate in his time of need but he stopped crying and listened. At the end of our conversation he thanked me for all I’d done for her and promised to mail me pictures of his son Paul. I never received any photos from him and was concerned for Jolene’s husband and their baby boy. I hope they are doing well. I often wondered if little Paul is growing up healthy and strong? Maybe one day I’ll get phone call from another young man with the same name as mine who wants to start his own martial arts training? A good boy with his mom’s big blue eyes and dark hair with a heart of gold? Rest in peace my dear sweet friend. Bless you always!

In Loving Memory of JOLENE McCLURE 1965-2000

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