SEPTEMBER 1993 - 1/2
Tues.the 7th: I cancel my appointment with Falk at the Wilhelm law firm. What's the point of going if neither is willing to change his approach to the problem? He says I must lie, I say I won't lie, end of the episode.
Thurs. the 9th: Transcript of a phone message by Steve Cohen: "This is United Lock and Security. You still owe us the $350 for the check that you bounces. This payment, this check has nothing to do with any claims you might have with this store. Please call us as soon as possible to make an arrangement to bring the cash to the store. Thank you. 316-1300."
"Brigitte, Sy Bonarti calling. When you have the time please give me a call. 678-0492. Thank you. It's ten after four and I'm gonna leave in a few minutes so call me tomorrow. Thank you."
I call the office of a private investigator, Jerry Palace. I say I saw the ad in the Yellow Pages. He's not there. He'll call me back. When he calls, before I even start to tell him about my problem, he asks which of his ads I saw in the phone book. I say I didn't notice any other ad with his name. It seems very important for him to know. He says he has an ad for marital investigation and an ad for business investigation. I say that my problem is not a marital problem. He proposes that we meet to talk. His name is Jerry Palace. We talk about where and when to meet. He proposes to pick me up in front of my building on the 10th, but I say that with all the people hanging out, plus the black kid who seems to report to Bonarti on everything, it would be better that he pick me up somewhere else, but finally we agree that he'll pick me up in front of the building. Maybe I'm being paranoid and I don't dare insist. I tell him to call me when he gets there and I'll be right out.
Fri. the 10th: Jerry calls and says he's parked at the corner of Manhattan ave. and 103rd street. His car is a white Volvo. He's not alone. I get into the car on the back seat. Jerry's the driver. He shakes my hand and introduces me to his partner and we shake hands. Both men are very big and I find it strange that they're going around in such a small car. A station wagon would be more proportionate to their size. The partner particularly is huge.
Jerry drives to CPW and parks between 100th and 101st streets. I start to list my problems: the unauthorized entries in my place with the objects displaced or missing and reappearing even after I had the locks changed, the lawsuit and my lawyers expecting me to perjure myself on the witness stand, the problems with my inheritance, the harrassment when I want to play music outdoors, when I sell my berets in the street... I say that I believe that all the problems are caused by my mother because she wants to control me and force me to sign away my rights to the inheritance, that's why she prevents me from making a living and why she's set up the lawsuit to fail, so that I couldn't get the money award. The result is that I am always broke and need to beg her for money instead of being financially independent.
I explain that I have changed the lock twice but that it still doesn't prevent the unlawful entry into my place.
"So what do you want me to do?" I say I would like to get hard evidence of the unlawful entry into my place, that it would help me win my case against United Lock. "You know I feel like I'm holding the devil by the tail and I don't want to let go but I can't deal with it all by myself, I need help." When I say that I'm holding the devil by the tail, the partner starts as if stung. Jerry says that he could put a concealed surveillance camera in my place, or have one of his guys hide in my place and wait for the sneak and catch him red handed. I don't know how a camera could be concealed in my place so I say that I would prefer the second solution.
Jerry opens up his briefcase. There's a gun in it, and papers. He explains that he's going to write up a service agreement, that there is a minimum service charge of $250. I say OK and ask him if a $500 deposit would be OK with him. He says fine, how would you like to pay? I say I'll pay him cash but I need to take the money at the bank. He asks where the bank is, then he says that he'll drive me there. He hands me the agreement and asks me to sign it. I pull out my fountain pen. He has written "surveillance" in the blank space. I start signing and he says to his partner "Oh look, the nice fountain pen that she has, it's not a Montblanc, what is it?" I'm so surprised by his comment that I forget to complete my P. Why this comment about my fountain pen so soon after it disappeared and reappeared? Is it to let me know that he's been in touch with Bonarti? I dismiss the thought.
He starts the car to go to Broadway and 106th. At the corner of 106th and CPW he asks me if my mental health is all right. I say that I have had emotional problems but that I have dealt with them and solved them. I add that I have been abused by my family all my life, that I'm forty years old, that forty years of abuse is an awfully long time and that I'd like it to stop.
I withdraw $500 in twenties, return to the car, hand him the money, he hands me a yellow copy of the agreement and tells me to call him when I think the time is right for the surveillance.
Mon. the 13th:
Phone message: "Brigitte, Sy Bonarti again. Let me tell you why I called. I know you're home... but anyway, we gave you credit for the gates when you paid the rent through July 15th. You paid me $541.60 and you should have paid $741. Ah... since you never paid the guy for the gates, I'm taking the credit off. Ah...there's no sense in you making money off him and then making money off me and you paid nothing. That's what they call stealing. So we'll adjust your receipts so that we take off two weeks off your paid rent. If you want to talk to me about it, give me a call. Thanks, bye." Monday, 4:10PM.
He was obviously trying to induce a guilt trip, and by taking his $200 participation in the grills' cost, deny once more that the money I refused to pay was connected to the locks. This new assault of bad faith left me unfazed. I played the guitar several hours, learning September Song, Autumn in New York and All or Nothing at All and at the end of Monday I had written the first fifty pages of my story, starting in 1979, to give crucial background information. (I had started writing this part eight days earlier).
Tuesday the 14th:
I ignored the landlord when I passed his door in the morning but when I passed his window he called me. He asked if I had received his message. I said of course I did. He asked if I wanted to speak to him about it. I said I didn't want to speak with him.
I cancelled my appointment with the lawfirm Sullivan-Liapakis.
I heard about a program called "Women in Jazz" and called to get information. It was at the Peppermint Lounge, in Orange, New Jersey.
Wed. the 15th:
This morning Bonarti asked me how much money I had paid the locksmith. I said I had given him $100 in cash at the time I ordered the grills, and a check of $360-something that had cleared. He said that in this case, he considered I had paid the grills, then he asked what was the problem again, the locks, wasn't it? And then he added that it was none of his business if I had a disagreement with the locksmith about the locks. Then he grabbed my card (which he had close at hand and where all my payments were entered since I had moved in on August 23, 1989) and ripped a note off the card, to emphasize in a physical display that he had nothing to do with my problem with the locks. So he had turned around 180 degrees in the space of 24 hours. I told him "Yeah, you two guys, get off my neck". Which must have disappointed him enormously since he had been trying all he could to distance himself from the locks and the locksmith.
I called my bank for the umpteenth time to know if the check in French Francs (corresponding to my share of my Mamy's life insurance in the amount of FF 8,217) had been credited to my account and this time the answer was positive. Whoa! It got me $1,386, at the exchange rate (all expenses included) of FF 5.79 for one dollar.
Around 4PM I went out with a check for the upcoming week's rent and a screwdriver I was returning (I found a beautiful bent-wood rocking chair that needs fixing and borrowed a screwdriver from Jose). I lay the screwdriver on his desk. "Is this one of ours?" he asked. I was surprised he asked this question (as if there were a hidden meaning to my laying a screwdriver on his desk, "Screw you!", maybe?) So I asked him to repeat the question and I said that yes, the screwdriver belonged to them. I handed him out my rent-check and moved to the door, smiling. He asked me what was the problem with the locks anyway, did I really believe that he had a copy of my keys, and I said yes. "You know what?" he said, "take your locks down". He said he didn't know what my locks looked like, but advised me anyway to change the cylinder. As if he didn't know that I had them changed already.
Since I have known him, I have realized that he always says the opposite of the truth, therefore I understood that he not only knew that I had changed my cylinder, but he also had a key to that one, which I had been suspecting without being absolutely positive.
I had contacted Jerry Palace too early maybe, in a state of panic, without daring to tell him that I suspected my landlord of having a copy of my third-generation keys. I was afraid he would think me off my rocker, a frustrated performer desperate for attention and imagining people following her.
But to be sure that I wouldn't be wasting my $500 retainer fee with JP, I decided to take the time and give my landlord an opportunity to get into my room, by leaving at 9AM today with a load of laundry on my carriage, and after I had returned, put the clean laundry in place and dusted the sideboard of my dresser, I noticed that the plastic bag which contained the petit-point embroidery set (bought in Roscoff when I was staying with Henry and Monique Queguiner in 1990) was wide open instead of folded over like I had left it last. The bag also was sticking out on the sideboard, out of line with the rest of the things. So that seemed to prove that while I had been doing my laundry, he had known it was safe to enter my room, and assumed correctly that I would be away at least for one hour.
Since I met Jerry last Friday, I have been trying to find a time that would be appropriate for his two (he wants no less) people to enter my place, but I haven't found any day, any time of the day or night, that would guarantee an unnoticed entry. This is part of the trap I'm in, this is a major component of the violation of my right to privacy, as much as the unauthorized duplication of my keys.
There is no point in spending my money if some informer is going to report that two unknown guys came in and didn't come out. They would wait in my place for nothing and I would have wasted the $250.
Thinking about the future visitors, I looked at my place with an outsider's eye, I was appalled at all the cockroaches and I felt ashamed. I intensified my extermination campaign, bought two cans of spray so that I would always have one at hand, and I wouldn't let a pregnant female come into sight without spraying her. Think about it, how many future cockroaches does a pregnant female cockroach carry? Twenty? Thirty? More? So if I kill all the mothers, I'll get rid of the problem faster.
With the helpful reading of Vanity Fair (the novel) I start to understand the value of deception and how my artless ways resulted in horrendous hardship. The mental program of dis-information is used by international intelligence agencies as a means to mislead their enemies. This is going to make me think about things I'd rather not deal with, but it is obviously necessary to act smart if I'm to survive. The Rescue Fantasy has evolved into a determination to keep my brains as sharp as flint, not be afraid of awful in- ferences, and pursue the investigation in my line of theory until some event disproves it. And now, try and fool me. What is it going to take for me to trust anybody? I cannot compete on a money basis. I need someone who has integrity. Didn't they become extinct shortly after the dinosaurs?
Now the big question is, "What next?" Having realized that they are not fooling me, what are Steve Cohen and Sy Bonarti going to cook up, considering that the next court appearance for the complaint I filed against the locksmith in Small Claims Court is on October 6th? Can they do any funky business without coming under suspicion? What is left for them to do? What are they going to come up with next?
It might be possible that they increase the pressure to make me believe I'm crazy by doing a lot of small things, like a pen disappearing or any small obvious thing changing in my place. The landlord expects me to disbelieve that he has a copy of my third- generation keys, and to doubt all the understanding I have of the situation, and to believe I'm one of those "disturbed" people.
Because people like me who can't live without truth and freedom will wriggle out of the mold of "destiny", they will be chased to the end of the world and tormented by those who would conform them, no matter what mutilation it takes. GASLIGHT
I had been reading "Men who hate women and the women who love them". I had resisted buying it for a long time, trying to distance myself from those women, but hadn't I been in love with such a man in the person of my landlord? The book really exposed this tragic attraction that women who have been abused as children feel for creeps.
This problem was exactly the one I realized with horror was mine after I had been drawn to people like Danny, the homeless man in Central Park, to whom I had revealed such confidential information about my mother. It hurt to read the book but the patterns of compulsive submission, of becoming emotionally dependent on someone who confirms your low self-esteem etc. were clearly exposed and I felt the book confirmed the progress of my thoughts.
In the same train of thought, I got the name of this film of the Fifties with Ingrid Bergman where her husband does things to make her believe that she is crazy, to get her locked up and get rid of her and gain possession of the money.
After I had realized that Agnes, my big sister, was actively engaged in thwarting me, I had been looking for a pattern and for possible sources of inspiration that she would use to scheme her attacks. I remembered the books of espionnage that I had found once on the bookshelve in an empty room just next to hers, at La Pastorale in Annecy. I had been shocked by the garish colors of the edge of the pages, unlike any books I had seen until then. Bright red, green and yellow. I had been shocked by the cheap look of the books, the first soft-covers I had ever seen. There was a sense of evil about this collection. The titles with their weird graphics, the words "espionnage" "mission secrete" gave me some anguish. I kept this memory intact but unanalyzed until now. I hadn't drawn any conclusion from this experience until I started looking for a pattern in my sister's intervention. I also remembered that in her last year of high school, while she was occupying this bedroom on the lower floor of the house, she was an avid reader of Agatha Christie, Arsene Lupin adventures, the Gentleman Burglar, and detective and crime novels in general. Sometimes out of the blue she would speak about forensic pathology, "un instrument contondant" meaning a weapon used to bludgeon the victim, the perfect crime. She came up with some ideas of her own: how a murderer would be found out because he had said that he had found a crucial piece of paper between page 33 and 34 of a book, but page 33 and 34 were the front and the back of the same page, so the murderer was exposed because it was impossible. It was from her that I learned the meaning of "médecin légiste" and other terms used in criminal law. It seemed that when she was not speaking about it, she was preoccupied with the idea of the perfect crime like it was some kind of Graal, the ultimate accomplishment any human being could strive for, and whenever she had an idea that she was proud of, she would speak about it regardless of the circumstances. The perfect crime, the perfect crime, that was her obsession.
She must have been using some M.O. that she had read about in one of those novels. And these movies she took me to: "Seule dans la nuit" with Audrey Hepburn, the helpless blind woman caught up in a drug operation, unknowingly in possession of a doll stuffed with drugs. And "La mort aux trousses"! I never saw the movie but the title speaks for itself.
On another train of thought, I remembered that Mémé, our maternal grand-mother, was comparing me to Ingrid Bergman when I was a kid (but I had never heard of her and only heard her name in reference to my resemblance with her. I never dared to ask who she was. Not even my grand-mother. I felt that nobody would be happy to tell me that she was a movie star and that I looked like her.) She did this in front of the whole family and I felt embarrassed. I knew it was making them unhappy. Particularly my older sisters, two of them because they were truly un-beautiful, the middle one because she had been the beauty queen until then. Obscurely I knew that I incurred their wrath as the price to pay for the movie star look.
Other people compared me to Brigitte Bardot, men mostly. They saw in me the sensuous and sexual side. Brigitte Bardot made the news and every time someone compared me to her I felt a deep sense of shame for being associated with sex. But the big lips and the same name made the reference unavoidable. And all the people who had a problem with sex saw in me the incarnation of evil before I had felt the first stirrings of the mating instinct. That includes my family first of all.
So my brain was engaged in two processes: the emotional consequences of being compared to two movie stars, Ingrid Bergman and Brigitte Bardot, and the search for the story the crime was based on. At a junction, I remembered this movie where the husband tries to convince his wife that she's nuts, where the star was Ingrid Bergman, and I started looking for the name of that movie. And then right in the book about women who love men who hate women, there was a section on a mental torture called "gaslighting". I quote from the book: " Gaslighting Techniques - If you enjoy old movies, you've probably seen Gaslight, with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Boyer plays a husband who appears to be loving and devoted to his wife, but who begins to tear down her sanity, using a variety of insidious techniques. He hides her jewelry and then convinces her that she lost or misplaced it; he takes a picture off the wall and insists that she moved it. These attacks on his wife's mind almost succeeded in convincing her that she is insane. Gaslighting has come to mean just this kind of subtle manipulation of another person. The movie provides a classic example of how much power one partner can wield over another. The man in the movie did these things deliberately and methodically in order to gain a treasure that was hidden in the house where he and his wife lived."
There I had it, the story my sister based herself on. Ingrid Bergman, the one I was compared to, starring. All these things moved around after I had discovered the theft of the driver's transcripts, were intended to make me doubt that I was remembering correctly. If I blamed the problem on my own mental deficiencies, it would take everybody off the hook: my landlord, the locksmith, my lawyers, my doctors, my family. So the stakes were high that I believe myself to be nuts.
What about the treasure? My inheritance, the award from my injury and my professional income. So there were definite similarities between Gaslight and me.
I remember having seen that movie with Agnes at home when I was around seven. I remember that during and after the movie there had been an unnatural tension from her, and after the movie ended she kept silent with an air of malicious "Eureka". So that must be then that she conceived of the idea of convincing me that I was nuts. That would explain all the thefts and destruction. She had told me "From then on, if anything happens to you, blame it on "la Main Noire". It meant that she was going to do things to me and put the blame on what sounded like a secret society. She was fond of secret societies and occultism. Covert and occult activities. How about that?
So the discovery of the original scenario and the pattern reinforced my conviction that all my problems were tied together. I was right to make all these connections, and I wasn't being paranoid. Now what?
I had been thinking for a while that my phone was being tapped. Then when I talked to Jerry Palace on the phone and there was static on the line, he told me that my phone might be tapped. I said it wasn't impossible, and then I thought about it further. It might be by tapping my phone that my contacts had been contacted behind my back. That explained a lot of things, like my contacts with the restaurants where I had applied to play music. But then if there was a tap on my phone, Jerry himself must have been contacted and he didn't say anything about it.
The only possibility was that he had been turned against me even before I met him, and that even after I called him from pay phones he had reported all I had told him about my theory that all my money problems have one source.
So now I could cancel the surveillance, and I could change the cylinder on my lock for the third time. Since we had met, I had been wracking my brains in search of a means to get his guys into my place unnoticed, but every time I proposed a solution to Jerry, he said it was impossible.
First, I had figured out the perfect time: just before the landlord came in. But then I would have to pay the guys for every hour they spent in my place and it would have cost me a fortune.
Then I proposed that his guys come late at night, and I would provide sleeping for them and breakfast, but Jerry said that I would have to pay full rate for every hour his guys spent at my place, even in the dead of night, though I told him it was only a matter of getting in unnoticed. He wouldn't hear about it. He said that his guys wouldn't sleep, they would be on the lookout in the dead of night even though there was not a chance that anybody would come in while I was there.
Then I thought that the guys would have to come in from the back of the building, because I couldn't afford the cost of getting them in at the best time from the front entrance. This involved that they would have to come in from 104th street, cross a vacant lot andd climb up to the first floor maybe 12 feet from the ground to the bathroom window, right in front of my room, which would avoid the footsteps in the hallway stopping at my door, and the chance that somebody might peek in their "Judas", but Jerry said that they don't scale walls. "No wonder, I thought, if your guys are as fat as you are, it's not that they don't want to, it's that they can't.
So, every time I proposed a solution to Jerry, he came up with an excuse why my solution was impossible, yet he kept asking me every time "What do you want us to do?"
I receive two letters from the Disciplinary Committee, both dated September 13, regarding my complaints against the Slavits and against Cassell (Workers' comp.) both saying that they have forwarded my complaints to them, and that if I disagree with their answer, I should reply witin 20 days.
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