This cautionary tale, if you take away nothing else, should be instructive to not sleep with strangers.
Chris called at 5:00pm on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. This was the first sign that something major had happened. Chris was in Barcelona, Spain, a time difference of 8 or 9 hours ahead of us in Los Angeles.
I was spending the afternoon running up and down to the copier in my office building and had left my cell phone on the desk in my office. It was also on stun, because I had silenced it the previous night at dinner.
Not only had I missed Jimmie’s two calls, but I barely heard the third when my phone rattled on top of my desk.
“I’ve been trying to reach you for the past half hour,”
Jimmie was uncharacteristically frantic sounding.
“Chris is in the hospital in Barcelona. He’s been hit on the head by a bottle and is getting stitches.”
Jimmie drove to work to pick me up. When I got home and ran upstairs to call Chris back, it was nearly 6pm PST, 3AM in Barcelona.
A young woman picked up the phone.
Me: Hi, is Chris there?
She: He’s in the treatment room. This is Caroline.
Me: Hello, Caroline, I’m Els, Chris’ mom. Tell me what happened.
Caroline: We were at a party at the beach. A girl hit Chris over the head with a vase.
Me: Was there water in the vase?
Caroline: Yes, and some stones.
Me: How much would you say the vase weighed?
Caroline: 10-15 lbs.
My heart went cold. I knew from my lecturing in the props lecture about break away bottles that you should never hit someone over the head with one that was full of water, because the physics of the action generated about 600 pounds of weight – like hitting someone with a sledge hammer. This object weighed about 20 times the weight of a water-filled breakaway bottle.
Me: Does he have a concussion?
Caroline: No. He’s getting stitches in his left arm near his elbow, and a few under his right eye.
Me: I don’t understand how that happened? Did she hit him from the front?
Caroline: No, from behind.
Me: Why did she do it?
Caroline: She was jealous of Chris’ talking to another girl.
Me: You have Chris’s dad’s credit card number to pay for the hospital, right?
Caroline: Yes, we gave it to the doctors.
Me: Please have Chris call me when he can. Thank you, Caroline, for being with him through this.
Caroline: All the girls were screaming and crying and I just stayed calm and went with Chris to the hospital.
Me: I can’t thank you enough, Caroline. Were the police involved?
Caroline: Yes the police came. There were girls crying and upset. They asked Chris for his passport information. They asked him what hostel or hotel are you staying in? We told them we were “staying on Las Ramblas” which is the biggest street in Barcelona where there are a lot of hotels. They took Chris’ drivers’ license number and his cell phone number.
I talked later that night with Chris after he’d been stitched up.
He had a cut on the inside of his left arm – the broken glass had “nicked” a small artery which required a small surgery. He had a cut under his right eye requiring 3 stitches and another one needing 2 stitches on the top of his head.
Miraculously, he had no concussion. There had been an English speaking doctor who translated for Chris and he received excellent medical attention, according to Chris.
In the coming days, the following information was provided by Chris The assailant’s name –(name withheld here to protect my son) was English, 21 from Essex. She was working as a stripper in London but by his bad luck, was vacationing in Spain. We shall call her the Essex Stripper (E.S.) from here on out.
She had gone on the trip to Ibiza the weekend before. She and Chris had had a one night encounter there, which, by Chris’ account, was casual and consensual. Obviously, she did not consider it casual.
Chris had been barbecuing for this beach party in Barcelona (they had all returned from Ibiza the day before). He said the shuttle bus to take them back to town was due to come in 10 minutes.
Caroline and Chris both said that E.S., whose face had been professionally painted to look like a cheetah, had been running around the bar all night telling people that Chris was her boyfriend and “look what he’s doing right in front of me.” Cheetah. Cheetah.
Chris was talking with another girl, who he knew from Barcelona.
According to Caroline, E.S. then picked up a glass vase from the bar which was filled with little white stones and crossed an expanse of 10-15 feet, calling out “Look what he’s doing right in front of me!” and bashed Chris on the top of the head (he was looking up at the time, having heard something). This probably saved his life.
E.S. ran out of the bar saying “I think I killed Hollywood (Chris’ nickname) and I’m getting out of here.”
She skipped town that night as a cheetah. No one knew where she went.
The following morning, after having been presented with a 7,000Euro bill at the hospital, Chris called E.S.’ cell phone number and had the following conversation with her.
Chris: You know, this accident has caused a lot of financial problems for me and my family. I’d like to handle this between us and not take it to the police.
E.S.: Go f..k yourself.
Chris – well, then you give me no other option but to go to the police. If I were you, I’d turn myself in. Where are you?
E.S.: I don’t know where I am – some town that starts with an M.
After speaking with E.S. by cell phone, Chris went to the Police station and filed a police report about the accident. Due to the fact that E.S. had been on the trip to Ibiza, the tour group office had her passport number, which Chris was able to supply to the police. He was informed that she would not be able to leave the country.
Chris later spoke with a mutual friend, who told Chris that E.S. had called him the night of the attack and said, “I think I killed Hollywood and I’m going to kill myself.”
Later in the day, E.S. contacted Chris and told him that she had contacted a lawyer and that the lawyer had told her that Chris was attempting to blackmail her by offering to settle financially.
I told Chris under no circumstances was he to speak with her by phone again. I began researching attorneys in Spain. This quickly led me to realize that the expense of tracking this psychotic woman down would have more far-reaching consequences than the act itself.
On Wednesday, the morning after the attack, I checked our bank account online and there was a $1,307.00 charge from the hospital del Mar in Barcelona that was in the process of processing.
To date, this was the extent of the hospital charges.
Chris went on to Zarauts, Spain, to prepare for the Running of the Bulls camp that his tour group was setting up. He was told by his boss at the travel group that E.S. called to ask for her job back (she passed out fliers on Las Ramblas). She was apparently in San Sebastien, a different police jurisdiction than Barcelona where the crime took place, so to our knowledge, she was never arrested for her crime.
Chris returned home on August 8 or 9. He has now taken up the safer practice of commercial fishing.