Instead of finding stories as most reporters do, CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman uses a highly sophisticated piece of newsgathering equipment: a dart. He asks a person on the street to throw a dart at a map to help him choose where he'll go next in search of a story. Once there, he picks a subject at random from the phone book. The premise is that "everybody has a story." He met Tracey Davis in Moab, Utah.
Davis has been married to Jim for 13 years. By night, she's your basic American homemaker; by day, your basic Mexican restaurant waitress. I learned her story isn't about the life she has in Moab. It's about the life she wishes she had at the ocean - it could be any ocean.
A couple years ago, she saw a painting and just had to buy it. "There is a girl standing on the beach looking out into the ocean," she says. "It could be anybody. It could be me."
Davis is obsessed with the ocean. That's not a very practical obsession, considering Moab is right smack dab in the middle of the Utah desert.
"She just feels that's where her soul needs to be," says, Davis's mom, Dorothy Meisner. But Meisner says she doesn't feel her daughter would find anything at the ocean that she can't find elsewhere: "I think no matter where you go you take your baggage with you," she says.
Tracey had a volatile childhood. The worst experience came in high school when she was a naive 17 with a passion for motorcycles. Davis recalls, "I would say, 'Hey, that's a really nice bike. Can I have a ride on it?' They would say, 'What are you going to give me in return'?"
One day, the guy wasn't joking, and wasn't taking no for an answer, either. He took Davis into the desert, tied her to a truck and raped her. No one in town ever even knew it happened, until one year later when the guy died in a car accident.
"I went to the viewing," Tracey says. "I didn't even think. I just did it. Just spit on him. That was it. I didn't even feel bad anymore."
Now, 23 years later, Davis doesn't need to ask for rides anymore, doesn't give them, either. In fact, she just put a sticker on her motorcycle. "I won't tell you what it says but it tells everybody what they can do if they're going to ask me for a ride," she says.
There comes a time when every victim faces a crossroads, to forever live in the past or to take hold of the wheel. Davis has clearly decided to take hold - not just because she bought her own bike, but because she built her own ocean, too.
Knowing that family ties probably will always keep her here, Davis hired an artist and spent six weeks worth of tips to brina little ocean to her little corner of the desert. She looks at the painting on the wall and says, "I could just sit here and go, it's my soul's home."
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Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.