How do we pandemically define Judas?


One Autumn day at 3 p.m. a few years back I was leaving an art class loaded down with paints and canvas. The many pack mule items necessary for my class. Normally and usually the many doors and flights of stairs are the biggest challenge. Shifting items, relying on a foot to be the door stop as I try to get all of my required items in or out of the building in one trip. I have done this art dance for years and on countless occasions. I am a very careful person, and never had a personal safety issue during the daytime.  A perfect Fall day with a bright cobalt blue sky. A Wednesday afternoon. Nothing happens on a Wednesday. Nothing bad happens on a Wednesday…

As I approached the parking lot located in the front of the building, I suddenly noticed a man seemingly on his cell phone off to the left. Near my car but not too close to my car. Nothing “alarming” in his 40 something appearance as he seemed quite engaged in his call upon further inspection. Standing behind a large blue construction dumpster facing away from me I didn’t even think he saw me. Little did I understand until I did that the phone was a fake and he was using the dumpster to hide his view and deed from the busy city street.

How quickly it all happened. How calculated and swift he was. I unknowingly and very unfortunately walked right into his plan. I was not the first one to leave the building nor the last but just the unlucky one.  As if to have dropped from the sky he was in front of me grabbing my arm demanding me to take him to another location. Claiming his “young child” was waiting for him there alone. I don’t remember him using the word “home.” Fit he was and terrified was I.  Immediately I knew I was not going to take him anywhere as going to a second location is almost always a fatal flaw for women in this terrifying nightmare. His intent and anger were equally frightening while his voice remained strong, urgent and calculating.  Keeping his voice just loud enough to intimidate me but quiet enough not to alert others. Timing is everything and no one was around. Flashing through my panicked brain I wondered is this it?  Is this how my story ends? Was this monster’s face the last face I would see? 

Ironically the police department was just two buildings away, but it might as well have been miles away. A methadone clinic was also not far away as I later recalled. Quickly I offered him money as I was pleading with him.  Fortunately, and acceptingly he took all I had which was a twenty-dollar bill. The moments of terror were over, and he was gone as quickly as he arrived. I imagine he was soon lost in the sidewalk traffic and off to purchase his fix. 

Driving to an appointment earlier today I started to think about the obvious dangers we face daily versus the unknown dangers many of us are encountering during this pandemic threatening our health, wellness and possibly our life. The coronavirus knows no boundaries. Indiscriminately crossing all state boarders. No bribes accepted.  Impossible to know who a carrier might be.  Well intentioned people may not be aware of what lurks within.  Friends, family, neighbors, a passer-by?  An unwitting Judas.  Friendly smiling eyes yet harboring COVID.  The same eyes we may remember on our way to the ICU? Neither deliberate nor by design but none the less potentially deadly. Is this how our story ends?

Testing is a must, wearing a mask is a must and social distancing is critical. If we could find our way to collectively do the right thing for just the next few weeks imagine the possibilities in controlling the spread of this insidious virus? The true enemy within. American lives would be saved giving us all a chance to navigate our way to a healthier country….

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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