the Amnesia Memoirs
December 1993 - 3/3

I went on 7th avenue at 26th street until 12.23 to sell my berets. I had decided I would take the chance of being arrested rather than spend hours and money in public transportation. The first day I set up my table in front of a fifteen-dollar dress shop. A man was keeping watch over a rack of dresses outside of the store. There was also another young man sitting on a stool next to me. The first guy came to see my merchandise, said it was nice and asked me if I wanted coffee. I was surprised and a little suspicious at this unusual kindness and I said "Why not" and said I would like a regular coffee, no sugar. He returned and gave me the coffee. Later on he asked the young man if he was ok, if he wanted to go to the bathroom. I saw a reference to the moment I told my brother, just a few days ago, while we were walking on Broadway, when I told him I had to go to the bathroom. The next day I set up my table near the corner of the block to avoid any contact with this man. On thursday night, 12.9.93, I was physically and nervously exhausted after six hours on my feet without selling a single hat, darting looks right and left for the bogeymen, a sitting duck at the mercy of the creeps. Around the middle of my second week on 7th Avenue, other creeps started to bother me. A badly dressed woman said she was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology across the street, and she said that she was studying draping, then she fell silent, waiting for an answer. I said that personally I would be interested in studying pattern-making. She said that with two hundred dollars you can take a course in whatever you like, then she asked if I had a green card. I thought that the next person who says he or she is a student at FIT, I'll answer "I thought so. I can always tell FIT students from their bad taste in clothes".

A light skin black man came with his wife and asked to try one of my berets and his wife left. I picked an extra large, dark green one that matched his greenish coat. It looked great on him and it fit his large head. Then the man turned around, looking for his wife who had disappeared, he took the beret off, went into the store in front of which I had set up my table, and returned saying that his wife didn't like it, although she hadn't been there when he tried it on. Other people, after asking the price, said that my prices were way too expensive, that I was out of touch with reality. Other people, after trying a few hats, said that they didn't have cash at the moment and that they would return. I knew better than to expect anybody to return and buy, even if they were not deliberately trying to bother me. In my past experience, sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't but most of the time they didn't and since there was no way to know, I never deluded myself with false hopes. But it happended so many times in just a few days that it was stressful. Many people, after asking a lot of questions to which I responded with enthusiasm, left without trying or buying. A tall bald man whose Vovlo was parked at the corner with the motor idling for hours, came to me and showed interest in one of my large brown berets, but said he wouldn't buy today. There were boxes in his car and he opened the horizontal basement door and went downstairs. When he climbed the stairs back up, he bumped his bald head real hard on the low door frame and I saw him wince in pain. I couldn't help thinking that it served him right and that if he had bought the beret he said he liked, it would have protected him and he would not be bleeding right now. He really had hurt himself painfully. When he brought boxes to the basement later on, I could see dried blood on the top of his head.

There was also a small old man who said that my berets reminded him of when he was a soldier. He said he found my berets beautiful, that it was obvious that they were handcrafted and not mass produced by slave labor in Taiwan, but that most people are unable to appreciate fine craftmanship. He said he fought during WW 2 and went all over Europe. He spoke of the frozen corpses standing tightly packed in train cars that seemed to be staring at him when he opened a train car. I said I was just reading a book about Hitler and we talked for a while until some people came to my table. Then I told him to come again to talk.

He returned a few days later and we talked again about the war. I asked him why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and asked where it was, was it in Hawai? He said yes, and that the Japanese were imperialistic and trying to gain new territories. Again he voiced his appreciation of my berets, and said that personally he preferred to spend money on quality clothing, like a coat, rather than buy cheap stuff of poor quality. I looked at his coat and saw that it was very dirty with grime all over the front.

I believe that people in good faith respect vendors and don't make them waste their time by asking a lot of questions if they have no intention to buy to begin with. I don't say that all the people who can't afford my hats have been hired by my brother but there was a lot of them among all the people who stopped at my stand and asked questions and didn't buy. It's not enough to have to worry about the bogeymen. It's like last summer in Soho.

I know that my brother is still in New York and that he made all this pretense to go to Mexico to make believe that he wouldn't stay here. I know that by hiring the creeps, he's trying to discourage me from selling my berets. What baffles me is how he finds the creeps? Maybe he put an ad in Variety Magazine. "Actors, actresses, no experience necessary, any physical type, easy work, $$$." How can he be so cruel and carry out such a devious scheme? How does he rationalize what he's doing? Is it because my mother brainwashed him into it, convinced him that, if he loves her, he has to do it? Isn't there a speck of conscience in him that tells him that it's wrong?

During our only interview, my brother demonstrated in a spectacular yet devious way that he owns the police by staging this unbelievable yet true scenario of the stolen coat and bag. The purpose was to let me know that I cannot expect any help from the police. I already knew that from my landlord who is buddy with the cops, who let him operate undisturbed the management of this drug infested building, and rent space in the basement for a club when the zoning laws prohibit commercial activity in the building. This club is located just below my apartment and the loud music being played until the wee hours is nerve wracking, as if I didn't have enough aggravation without that.

Because of other incidents, I also know that the Transit Police is corrupt too. My brother asked me if the subway is dangerous and what precautions should be taken to avoid trouble. I said it was better not to enter an empty car, but that this being New York, you were taking a chance no matter what. Maybe he said this because he knows that I intend to play music in the subway. So he tried to instill fear in me to deter me from tryin to make a living with my music, or he is trying to warn me that another attempt against my life will be made, should I overcome my terror to play in the subway. So I'm cornered, being terrorized out of work. Since my landlord is in conspiracy with my mother and brother, and since I'm unable to pay my rent, the threat of eviction and my destitution indicate that signing the agreement to sell the building is the only way out, although there is no guarantee that if I sign it, any financial reward will be forthcoming to pull me out of the hole. That's why I don't want to sign.

When I was a child, I was always surprised when my father carried out his threats. I thought he had only been joking, although the joke scared me. How could he be so insensitive with his little girl? Yet he had always followed through with his threats. As late as 1982, hadn't he thrown me out of one of his apartments while knowing I had nowhere to go? Without the least humane consideration? Haven't I been the victim of an attempted murder?

Therefore I conclude that the subway will be the setting where the next "accident" will happen to me. Maybe, if I dare to disregard the threat and play music on a platform, I'll be pushed on the rails when a train is coming, or I'll be shot at.

This document is intended to inform that, should I be the victim of violent death, it won't be a random act but a murder with malice aforethought, whose motive is to eliminate me as a witness to my family's crimes and lawlessness, and as an heiress to my father's estate.

The Friday before Christmas, I was broke and decided to withdraw whatever was left on my account. Just before I reached the bank, a man in red sweat pants approached me and said "Haven't I met you before?" I said I didn't think so. "Didn't I see you at the tennis club?" "I don't play tennis" I said. Then he asked me where I was from and wished me a merry Christmas. "Same to you" I said. My reply made him look unhappy, because somehow, he knew that I was broke and lonely, and that my Christmas would be far from a happy one. So if I wished him what he wished for me, he had nothing to smile about.

I entered the bank and wrote a check to myself in the amount of 18 dollars, what I thought was on my account. When I reached the teller after a long wait in line, the teller told me that there was not enough money on my account.

A few days before Christmas, there was a sewage back-up and black, smelly, greasy water filled my sink and overflowed. There was the same problem in the common kitchen, and during two weeks, instead of smelling the happy fragrances of Christmas trees, mandarines, candle wax and goodies, a nauseating sewage stench pervaded the entire floor. I couldn't help but thinking that it was a deed of witchcraft, the winter solstice being on december 21. Last year, there had been problems just before Christmas too, that destroyed the Christmas spirit. Rats.

I spent Christmas eve like I spend most of my evenings, without anything special to mark the occasion. For the past few years my Christmas presents had been kind of hard to swallow but they had done me a lot of good. The year I moved here, I read a book about satanism (the Son of Sam story) where I found a lot of similarities with my family; then last year I realized that Bonarti did not love me and I had to decide to stop pursuing that direction. This year I had realized that my family had put a contract on me. I was certainly better off knowing it, but this kind of insight is not generally what one puts on a Christmas present list. However I considered this knowledge a present and thanked God for it. I cut some hats and read and went to bed at the usual time. The only Christmas card I got was from a law firm I had contacted after dismissing my attorneys, with the scale of justice embossed in gold on a dark green background. Justice, my ass. I got up at 7:30 the next morning and when I turned the faucet to boil water for coffee, there was no water. Thank you Mr landlord for the kind attention. I went out and bought a gallon of water. The water was turned back on sometime later during the day.

On december 29 and 30th, I created labels for my hats on my computer. I knew that the law required that the exact composition of any garment be indicated on a label and I wanted to reach the real marketplace. Another reason was that instead of answering all my prospective customer's questions about the composition of the berets, I would only have to ask them to read the label inside and we could talk about more important things. And since during his visit earlier this month my brother had tried to embarrass me by pretending to believe that the Ultrasuede I had at home was real suede, one particular reason I wanted these labels was to avoid being accused of trying to pass artificial suede for the real thing, so my labels would state clearly that the headband was made of Ultrasuede, and I even put the trademark sign next to the name.

I hade made several inquiries with professional label manufacturers, but even the cheapest process, which didn't look as good as woven labels, would still cost me a lot of money, considering that I was using a lot of different wool qualities and two kinds of lining. Then I had the flash of inspiration that solved my problem: I realized two things at the same time: that garment labels didn't have to be made of fabric, and that the "label" feature on my wordprocessing program didn't refer exclusively to address labels. Therefore I could use adhesive paper labels for my hats and customize them on my computer for each beret, even indicating the size in bold. I was excited with my discovery and started to work eagerly. It would cost me only the price of the blank labels instead of hundreds of dollars, but though cheap this solution didn't have a big drawback that usually goes with cutting costs: I didn't have to compromise the look of the label. Each label would be perfectly laser-printed with all the necessary information, using the standard form of garment labels. Doing it myself would save me a lot of time in communication, and considering that I can't use my phone, it would save me a huge hassle. By depending on someone, I would automatically expose myself to another dirty trick along the transaction and in addition to making sure that the basic requirements of a normal deal were met, which is no small thing these days, I would have to avoid detection to go through it and be on the lookout for any opportunity for my supplier to deceive me, make me spend a lot of money for a product that I wasn't satisfied with, for instance by misprinting a word maybe by just one letter just to enrage me, making the mistake small enough that it didn't seem wise for me to make a legal fuss about it, but feeling depressed every time I saw the flawed label, which was gonna be often.

While I was working with gusto on my computer, there was a knock on the door. I opened. Joey, Bonarti's new employee, asked me if there was anything to repair on my windows. I was surprised that the management would decide to fix the windows when it was so cold outside. I said there was only one little problem and I showed Joey the bottom part of the kitchen window, which was covered with tan paint, with some streaks that made dark spots against the light and looked dirty. Joey said "Oh, that's not a problem. We can remove it easily because it's water-based paint." It was not water-based paint. Then he walked to the door and with just his head and the top of his body showing, he said "This is a really nice computer that you have. Is it on a network?" "No I said. It's my own PC, I'm not hooked up with anybody." Then he asked what I was doing with it and I said I did my paperwork. I said it was very useful for business, but that there were a lot of different programs, even games, that one could use with a computer. Then he said that he would like to see my berets and I told him that I would show him a few when I had a chance. Then he noted the animal sculptures on top of my bookshelf and said they were really nice. "Did you make them?" he asked. "No, I bought them. They're from Venezuela. They're made by people in Indian tribes." "Did you go there?" "No, I bought them at a Hispanic fair here in New York." He was getting on my nerves. I had been concentrating on my labels and was impatient to get back to them, and this guy was making small talk with a syrupy voice. I was still too polite to tell him that I had no time to talk but I showed some signs of impatience.

After he had left I was frightened. It was obvious that checking the window was only a pretext since he had lied by saying that the paint was water-based and dismissed my problem as no problem at all, when he had asked me in the first place if there was any problem. He clearly had no intention to work on my window, and it was the small talk that really mattered. Why had he asked so many questions about my computer? He had made me say that my computer was not on a network. Was my computer bugged so that everything I wrote was accessible to my enemy? Why did he show so much interest in the animal sculptures? I knew he had a hidden agenda and that was what scared me. Why did he ask all these questions? Knowing that someone is up to no good but not knowing what is one of the most frightening experiences. I went back to my labels.

When I was finished, each beret had a nice clean label inside that indicated the exact composition of the shell, of the lining, and of the headband made of Ultrasuede. Now every hat was even more professional, the label even indicated the size in bold and I had left a blank space next to the dollar sign. The product was now completely achieved. I had solved all the problems in a low-cost creative way, and as the product stood now it was good enough to be sold in the most upscale stores. There was nothing unsightly or missing that any buyer could point at as an excuse not to buy. This final touch of a label didn't change the appearance of the beret, yet it was crucial. It was like the ID card for each hat. Just as I considered them my babies, I had to give them their ID card. It gave them legitimacy in the open market. Not a small thing. Another big advantage of making my own labels with my computer was that by using adhesive labels, I didn't have to alter the process of making the hat. This was a big plus because there was always the chance that the label would be sewn in not exactly right and it looked bad.

Dec. 31: I decided to spend New Year's Eve at home although I had a little money. I could have been the target of other harassment and I really didn't want anything bad to happen to me that night. I decided against buying myself a thirty dollar bottle of French champagne. Last year I had done it, but after I had drunk the whole bottle, I had gone out to buy beer, so what was the point? Then in the morning, my heart missed a beat when I saw an envelope on my desk which the cat had uncovered while sleeping under the desk lamp. I had mailed this letter a week ago and it was back in my room, there were no more stamps on it, and the enclosures were no longer there. I could tell without opening the letter that there was only one sheet of paper inside. It was a letter to the President of the Supreme Court of Evreux, requesting help in the matter of my father's estate. I remembered that when I had mailed the letter, I had not dropped it into a box, but I had deposited it in a large open box divided into compartments and guarded by a smiling young woman. So someone had paid off this woman to withdraw my letter from the mail. I was utterly upset an angry at this new dirty trick. I had stayed home to avoid trouble on New Year's Eve, but trouble had found me indoors.

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