The first time John made me laugh was when he opened one of his emails with this sentence, after having emailed me every 20 minutes for several days: "I feel like it's been 3 months since I last emailed you."
That was funny.
But for the most part, his long, rambling tirades are more likely to be disturbing -- unhinged, explicity sexual, and scarily detached from reality. They started one day a few weeks ago, out of the blue, and just kept coming, at all hours of day and night.
Some of his favorite themes are Jews in Israel, homo priests and rats eating people, and his bizarre scenarios often end in women performing oral sex on each other or offering their breasts for him to suck. He will tell me a story about his life that starts out believably, but by the end of the paragraph spirals off into whatever deranged territory his mind mostly inhabits. He also sends me links to Lady Gaga videos on YouTube. Sometimes other journalists and op-ed emails for city newspapers are CCed on the emails, but other times they are just for me. His full name and the address of an assisted living facility in Texas were at the bottom of the email.
I called the number he kindly included and told the woman on the other end that I'd been receiving a series of sexually eplicit emails from a seemingly mentally ill person I believed to be living at her facility. I gave her his name. She didn't sound shocked, but she didn't offer any information. She took my number and said she'd see what she can do.
The emails kept coming, about 50 of them a week.
He started referring to himself as "King John," and then I did, too, while updating my boyfriend on the day's emails from him. "King John says the nurse just gave him some pills but he thinks he can stay up and email me some more," I'd tell him.
We laughed, but when I searched John's name and found a post on a random message board that began with, "The real King John is in love with Emily," it didn't seem as funny.
When you work for a site like this, you kind of put yourself out there -- my name, images and sexual preferences are all readily accessible for any ol' weirdo or fake-butt enthusiasts to enjoy/masturbate to. And while I don't really care what people are fantasizing about me as long as they leave the real me out of it, it's scary when someone doesn't understand the line between the two.
And as King John's incessant emails started to become the rambly, nonsensical soundtrack of my days and nights, they started to get under my skin. I knew I should just block them, but that felt like turning my back on the crazy person with the knife -- what if I missed the all-too-important "I'm coming to kill you" email? Or what if he got mad that he couldn't get through to me by email and decided to hunt me down in person? Perhaps these concerns were unwarranted, since he didn't seem to require my participation in his ongoing discourse -- I never responded and he never seemed to notice.
Some of his topics were more frightening than others -- like when he used a subject line like "If you want to die tomorrow after your last fun" or wrote admiringly about Selena's murderer Yolanda Saldivar. Once he sent me the lyrics to a song entitled "You're Cute When you Scream:"
I'll take, my time)/ To slowly plot your end./ (But now, I will)/ Speak bullets with my pen./And all I hope is you are cute when you scream.
I reported the situation to HR, forwarding along some of King John's greatest hits. I think I really freaked them out. Most of the company consists of ad sales reps; I may be the first employee to attract my own stalker.
In the days while they looked into the situation, the emails kept coming. I tried not to read most of the emails, but the ones I did open were actually starting to seem a bit more lucid -- King John started to use my name more, and referred a few times to the pills his nurses were giving him to "make his brain work." The image of him trying to fight the pills like a sleepy baby in order to stay awake and email me still made me laugh. So did paragraphs like this:
"Yesterday there was a church service in my mental hospital for mental patients. I turned up the worshiping songs by Lady Gaga in my room and danced very worshipful to Lady Gaga. Why? She wrote this song, and I WAS BORN THIS WAY !!!! on youtube this song has been viewed by nearly 70 MILLION PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD. Why? Because Lady Gaga is the greatest song writer and singer in the known history of our tiny planet. please watch the youtube video at the end of this song and you will see how we were born this way. "
When I read the previous out loud to Pete, I couldn't help but smile. He said, "You're friends with this guy now, aren't you?"
"He's growing on me," I admitted.
So when I finally got the results of a background check on King John last week, it left me feeling both relieved and sad. The investigator told us he is 56 and living in the facility due to a brain injury which would make it unlikely that he could travel any distance. The director there agreed to talk to his family, whom she said would have to be the ones to intervene. She did, and the emails stopped.
I'm glad not to be assaulted by constant emails from a mentally ill stranger anymore. I know I might be inviting more trouble with this post, but I just don't know how to not write about things that happen to me.
And in the end, I feel bad for King John. I hope he has people who love him around. I hope he's in a comfortable place. And yes, I hope he leaves me alone from now on. But most of all, I hope he didn't get his computer taken away, because there are a lot of Lady Gaga videos on YouTube for him to dance worshipful to. Put your paws up, King John.