Going pro-se was the only way out of the situation, since every legal professional I had asked to help me both in my father's estate matter and in the accident matter had betrayed me. Why shouldn't it go on? Going pro-se is the only way to turn the guilt back against them where it originated. The only way to have full access to the evidence and have control over it, the only way to do what I want because every lawyer I had tried advised me in the line of the cover-up that was to destroy me in court and possibly drive me to suicide which, the more I think of it, is the only way out for them. They were going to tear me apart in court, then I would be prosecuted for perjury and treated like a criminal instead of being compensated for all the pain and suffering, which had been abnormally intense. How could I survive the destruction of my good name, my only possession?
The Amnesia Memoirs and Diaries
September 1994 - 4/4
After escaping murder by bus, I escaped judicial murder at the last instant while they were all pushing me in the back towards the abyss. Who diggeth a pit... this is my only hope, this is the only thing that keeps me alive. To see them all fall into that pit. I don't want anybody anymore to tell me to sign and ask no questions, to scold me like I'm a naughty girl to make me do things I don't want to do. It has lasted long enough and had made me sick. It had driven me to the edge of judicial murder and then suicide. They would have torn me to pieces in court without anybody knowing, impeached my fake testimony on the grounds of its inherent flaw and they would have said that I had tried unsuccessfully to cover up an attempted suicide. They would have exposed me for perjury and pointed the finger at me, treating me as a convinct when in fact I had been the victim of an attempted murder. They would have prosecuted me for perjury and destroyed my good name for ever. And after that, what was left for me but to commit suicide? They conspired, all of them, the surgeons and psychoanalyst included, to treat me so bad that there was nobody for me to live for. But in the meantime I had gained enough self esteem to find myself valuable enough to live for.
Wed. 09.21: Get medical chart at St. Clare. Return to Emergency Room. Nailor had been waiting for me behind a curtain. Spend rest of day reading chart and putting papers in chronological order. I'm very eager to read the emergency room report, and what drugs I was under on the day I signed the retainer agreement with Ira Slavit.
Fri. 09.30: Now it's clear: they wanted to make it look like I insisted on a negligence action to cover-up my atempted suicide and my lawyers acted like they obeyed me because it's their duty, although the evidence didn't jibe. The fact that the evidence in my statements didn't jibe was the proof that I was covering-up my "culpable conduct" and after having destroyed my credibility they would get off smelling roses while I would be dishonored and uncompensa ted and maybe prosecuted for perjury to top it all.
The gist of it was Ira Slavit made me feel guilty about what I had done in self-defense, and he wanted me to cover-up what he made me feel guilty about. Guilt was the motivation and I was forced to take it upon myself.
It was not the first time this happened: the Club Med incident in 1977 had turned out the same: I had violently thrown my glass on the floor in the night club when several men who said they wanted to talked to me started harassing me, offering me a part as one in a pair of lesbians making out behind a white sheet. While they were talking about it a man next to me in touched me with a vine that was hanging from a suspended planter, and since I was wearing a bare-back dress (borrowed from my employer E. Wetzel who had absented herself for a week allegedly to conduct business in Paris,) the contact of the leaves on my skin was extremely unpleasant and it was when I realized that threse three of four men wanted to talk to me only to harass and humiliate me that I threw my glass on the floor to cut short.
There was a man from the sail boats who was in the back wearing nothing but his bikini briefs, and he fell to the floor immediately after my glass smashed to he floor. Soon he was on a stretcher and removed.
After some brouhaha, I returned to the seat where I was when the guys came to ask me to join them, and one of the guys approached me and insulted me and spit in my face twice. After that I was blacklisted by all the personnel in the vacation village, and even some customers seemed to have learned about the horrible thing I had done and avoided me, or I felt they knew and it made me feel uncomfortable.
I inquired with the village manager about the legal issue and he didn't give me any precise answer.
When E. Wetzel returned I told her about what had happened in her absence and instead of reassuring me and helping me, she was evasive and didn't help at all.
I obtained a lawyer through the Aide Judiciaire and met a lawyer once who seemed to be amused at my predicament more than willing to help. I didn't tell him that I had thrown this glass on the floor in reaction to the provocation. I felt I had done something wrong after the way people had treated me. And my parents didn't help either. It was only several years later that my father broached the subject and said that it was a civil matter, not a criminal one.
I gave my address as rue Sourbelle in Evreux, where I was remodeling the two apartments in the house my mother had bought after her parents' death. I received some carbon copies on onionskin of some prosecution by the Social Security. Now it was Social Security that was suing me to recoup the expense of the injured guy. I never heard from the lawyer again and I received all in all two or three papers. I lived all these years with the knowledge that I was the defendant in a law-suit. But more than that, since the Social Security could trace me by my number, there was a chance that the SS would catch up with me through my employment record. That was a disincentive to work on the books. And it's because of the similarity between my two opponents then and now, the SS and the TA, the fact that they are enormous and powerful institutions,that I realize now that the lawsuit against me by the SS never existed, and the whole temp job had been staged and set up, the Club Med vacation included, to climax with the incident, the Achilles' tendon of the sail club guy severed by a shard of glass that gave an excuse to the guys to insult me, spit in my face and blacklist me, all the horrible episode and the years of low grade anxiety knowing I was a defendant against the Social Security. All this had been set up to make me feel guilty and force me into the mold, the frame of mind and the behavior of a guilty person.
I really was brainwashed to take the blame for my parents'faults.
* * *
Proof that IS knew about the accident was that he told me on my visit of 8.22.90 not to say that there were cars parked when I had never told him about it. He mentioned it first.
* * *
The bus pulled me forward as I leaned against it. When I fell I was going much faster than when the bus first made contact with me. It may be also because I had reached this part of the road that was no longer uphill. In which case I fell between 41st and 40th street, not between 42nd and 41st as I have said.
Tues. 09.27: I have been complaining for a while about the stench coming out of one tenant's room. This morning I heard some voices in the hallway and the sound of long, uninterrupted spray. I guess that their answer to the problem is to cover-up the stench with air-freshener. This is confirmed when I go out and back in for beer, but curiously, the mass of air filled with deodorant particles has not replaced the bad smell, it has only displaced the mass of air with the stinky particles, and the stench is further down the hallway, closer to my room. This is the day before my rent is due and SB wants to make a show of goodwill. But I realize that if I accept this measure as sufficient, it will be tantamount to condoning the "French bath" that gives my country a bad name.
I call SB
BP This is Brigitte Picart
BP Hi. Are you going to get Alex's room cleaned up?
SB Yes, tomorrow morning.
BP Oh, good.
SP We just did something now, we're gonna do...
BP I know you put some air freshener
SB Yeah, we did
SB It's unbelievable.
BP But it looks like the smell is going a little bit further down the hall.
SB I went to the bathroom myself, it smells so bad it's disgusting.
BP Well, you know how it is.
BP Did you see it last time?
SB We went in, we went in just a few minutes ago.
SB We're gonna be cleaning it out.
Wed. 09.28: Glen and Joey start cleaning up the little room. Inside is a heap of garbage, mostly newspapers and empty one lite bottles of beer, in which it has been said from the previous clean-up that the man pees to save himself a trip to the john. Cockroaches are crawling all over the place, on the walls. I stop a moment to look, while Joey and Glen work from the door. At one point Joey pushes a tv set onto the pile of garbage and instantly a dense gathering of cockroaches, disturbed by the removal of the tv set over them, erupt in all directions in a panic. The horror makes me jump backwards into the arms of Glen and rush to the bathroom away from the roaches. It takes me a while to recuperate from the shock, and for the vision to dissipate.
Thurs. 09.29: Room is cleaned empty and sprayed with roach-killer. Glen shows me proudly. Some dead roaches and dirt are sprinkled along my side of the hallway. How did they get there. Glen says he's gonna clean up the floor.
I receive in the mail an offer from the international division of Le Grand Livre du Mois, sent brom Brussels. Among the 40 books offered, two are of Verlaine. I can't help but connect this mail with my purchase of the Pleiade Verlaine book from the unpleasant old man on September 14, just two weeks ago.
Fri. 09.30: I find in the bathtub the roaches and dust that were in the hallway. Later I croos Glen on the outdoors steps and ask him nicely if it isn't him who did it. He says no, he put them in the garbage pail. I say that somebody is very sick in the head.
I look for the cassette of my father's funeral. I haven't listened to it yet. and now I think about what each of my siblings said in turn as an eulogy and every other member of the family present, and I think it might contain some clues about me. I go through all my cassettes and can't find it.
In the early evening I think about everything that has happened and is happening to me and I laugh at the whole situation. So I was born into a crime family and it has taken me forty years to realize. At this point, it is easier to count what crimes they have not committed than to count those they have.
Between my accident and now, I could define the changes in my psyche as translating the emotional issues into legal issues, and this process was triggered by the acquisition of the French Code Civil that I needed for the matter of my father's estate. By extension I read about family law, about parents' duties to their children and eventually, I bought the Penal Code to know exactly how bad it was when a parent left their child alone and things like that, and I discovered that as far as I'm concerned, my parents had violated a great number of laws. Sometimes I read the definition of a crime and asked myself if I had lived such a situation, and memories of incidents came to mind where I hadn't suspected my parents' -or just my mother's- intervention but little by little it appeared that my mother had had a hidden hand in many of the catastrophes which happened to me.
The Penal Code was my guide to the recovery of my mental and emotional health, because by going through the book, crime by crime, I realized that I had been the victim of crimes, and therefore that I was innocent, that it was normal if I was mixed up. And I wanted nothing more than recover.
Now did I read about the cime of infanticide? Yes I did, and I remember thinking: Yes but infanticide applies only to a mother killing her baby, not her grown-up child. And my mind could go no further. I had the vague idea of my mother wishing me death, but still I couldn't connect the thought to the accident. The memory that it was an attempted murder was out of reach, therefore I couldn't establish a connection.
So there was no avoiding it: my parents had done things that were defined as crimes by the penal code. So it exonerated me from the unbearable feeling of guilt that had been weighing me down all these years. To the extent that I realized how victimized I had been, I lost my guilt feeling and regained my self esteem.
In fact I had been bearing the burden of my parents' guilt, not my own. They had avoided my scrutiny by accusing me falsely to conceal their guilt. But guilt is something that can't stay in the air, it has to fall on somebody. My parents were blinding me to their guilt by throwing it in my face and let me deal with it. It gave them the excuse to treat me as far as I can remember, as if I were a hardened criminal. Everything was denied me because I was unworthy and then who was I to question my parents' behavior?
And it was the gradual realization of my innocence and the increase of my self-respect that prepared me to stand up for my rights and refuse vehemently to be treated like a criminal.
* * *
LA PERLA GARDEN
Now I have to relate an episode in three acts. I saw the connection only after the third act had played itself out so I didn't think it was necessary to relate the first and the second act until I understood they were acts in the first place.
Act I: In the early spring, as I was looking at a community garden that was being worked on in the early stage, a small, old man came upt to me from behind and without much conversation gave me a business card with his home number and the combination to the locks on the garden gate's locks. I didn't like the man had come up to me and the way he had related to me. He seemed a bit too hurried to be honest. But what dishonesty could there be? I found it strange that without getting any commitment from me that I would go to work on the garden, he gave me the combination of the locks.
Some time passed and people were working in the garden, building flower beds and removing stones, and the chicken wire, seven foot high fence was replaced by a mean looking twelve foot high iron fence that looks like it cost a lot of money. I didn't like this fence at all. If you got locked in, you couldn't climb out, that was all, and I swore to myself that I would never set foot in the garden.
It was not me who was paranoid. It was whoever had decided to put this high fence. To protect what? Some sunflowers? Some tulips? From whom? Some flower thieves? I didn't like that mentality.
Act II: In late August, as I was returning home at nightfall, a black man was walking towards me, offering around a pot with an impatiens plant in it that was blooming with a dozen fuschia flowers. He offered it to me for one dollar and I bought it.
Act III: On my way to buy the newspaper, I see a woman planting impatience in the pit of each tree along the block of 105th street between Columbus and Manhattan aves. The plants are blooming in big plae pink flowers and I stop and make a comment to the woman who is planting about how delicate the color is.
There is a woman already with the one who is planting, and after I exchange a few words with the planter the other woman leaves. The planter says she hopes her new planting are not going to be vandalized as she goes about her planting with adept hands. The soil is moist and dark, the stems of the plant bright green like spun glass, ready to break at the slightest mishandling and the pink flowers shake a little but everything goes fine. When she's done the woman stands up. She introduces herself as Betty and asks my name. To her question I answer I'm French. She says that this area used to be a French quarter and that there are still a good number of French people in the area. I say I like the area, that it's one of the most beautiful in New York.
She sys there are a few French people who work on the garden and that the garden is dedicated to the French. She asks me to look at the wall. I say "What do you mean, the frescoe?" the frescoe represents a Caribbean view I believe, with a round turret as in San Juan and lush tropical vegetation and it extends on the whole length of the west wall but no, she means the area right of the frescoe, above the sitting area. I look and don't see anything French. "We've made it up like a French bistro" she says. Ok, there's a round table and chairs but there's nothing French to them. I look at her dumbly. "On the wall above the table, near the lamp on the tree." she says. And then I see it, between two tiny "French" window shutters that are nailed on the wall for no reason at all, there's a map of France painted blue, white and red. When I finally see it she looks at me with an air of triumph. She's got to be kidding. The garden is called "La Perla", the west wall is painted with a tropical landscape and just because there is this tiny map of France on the wall she would have me believe that the garden is dedicated to France. "Did you know that there used to be a French community in this neighborhood?" she asks. I say I didn't know but that it is one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York because of the proximity of Central Park and the beauty of Manhattan avenue. "There' a few French people who help in the garden, and sometimes on Sunday we go to that French church on the East side." "Do you attend mass?" I ask. "No, she answers hurriedly, we only go to the meeting for coffee after the service." "Maybe you would like to join us sometimes?" "I don't know" I say. She says her name is Betty. She's in her late forties, has short blond hair and green eyes. Why is she trying so hard to have me join? Why the French gambit? I distrust her. I'll never set foot in the garden, now that the gates are as high as prison doors. What if I went into the garden and someone locked me in? That's what I believe would happen if I trusted her. Even if I knew the combination of the locks, it wouldn't prevent anybody from locking me in with a lock with a different combination.
Since that encounter, I have seen good looking young men working in the garden, as if to entice me to join the team of volunteers. I also have crossed her on the sidewalk a few times and pretended not to know her.
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