Soon it was Christmas 1989, and that meant my sixth one committing sin for the Mafia. I had Christmas Eve off and the three of us spent it at my parents house. On Christmas Day, we went to Mary's father's house. I had to work that night, so I brought my uniform along. After dinner we were sitting around, drinking wine, when Ray asked me to stay the night.
"I can't Ray. I'm trying to get full-time."
"How long you been working for Trump?"
"Almost two years."
"In all that time, have you ever called in?"
"Fuck 'em. Those bastards don't do anything for you, why should you be so good to them?"
I thought about it for a few minutes. I hadn't had a Christmas off since 1983. Everyone there was telling me to call in. "Spend the holiday with your family, Lou," I heard someone say. The pressure was on. I knew to call out on Christmas would get me a write-up. Then I realized, Ray was right. I called in and began to party with everyone.
I did receive a write-up for calling in, but it was the only one I had in two years with the company. The day they called me in to give me the write-up was funny. A Shift boss named Nancy Kelly was in charge of attendance. Everyone in the joint called her Witchie Poo, but not to her face. She told me that I called in on a holiday and since I did not provide a doctor's note that was considered disorderly conduct and I was being written up for it. I wondered what Trump did on that day. I took the paper, looked at Nancy, and said, "Well, I'd thank you Nancy, but, you know..." I left knowing they were not going to hold it against me come promotions.
Spending Christmas with Mary's family was not to prudent a choice. Chris was living with Karen and Erika at the time. Ray and him still hated each other and both got stinking drunk that night. Ray always got that way every weekend and holiday. This time he wanted to fight Chris. Apparently, Chris and Karen had been fighting and Karen wanted to move in with her father but his wife, Liz, was heard to say she did not want to live with Karen's daughter because she was afraid she would get stuck babysitting--a job she hated. I guess Ray was getting fed up with it and decided he was going to kill that old man who he did not approve of sleeping with his daughter.
They started out on the Nordic Track; a present Ray got that day. He was showing Chris how to use it but would give him a shot every now and then. Chris started getting some shots in as well. Karen told the two to stop, but both claimed it was only play. They ended up outside and Ray came back for his hand gun.
He walked down from his bedroom and said he was going out for a walk. Ray had admitted to me on occasions that he had gotten where he was by killing anyone who got in his way. He wanted me to do the same to Richard Walter (and God knows I wanted to) but I was not like that. Liz knew what he was capable of and searched him when all of a sudden she found him hiding the gun. She started wrestling him for it and yelling for someone to call the cops. Nicole and Erika were sitting next to the struggle and Erika was screaming. I was freaking out wondering if the gun was going to go off and hit anyone. Mary grabbed Nicole. It was too intense.
Liz won. She got the gun and the Lower Township Police arrived. We told the pigs that everything was OK and they were not needed. The cops made Liz reassure them before they left without incident. Erika kept asking if Pop Pop was going to shoot Christopher. Karen and Liz told her no and then told Ray that he better not now that the cops had been there. I grabbed our stuff and took Mary and Nicole home. According to a police report I obtained, not one or two hours following that incident, just after midnight, Karen called the police when she got home to file a complaint of harassment against Chris.
On the ride back to my house I did some thinking. I'd had enough of that family. Mary's mother's mother drank beer to excess, Mary's mother's brother went around shooting guns at their apartment, Mary's mother was living in her car when she had a place to stay, Mary's sister was base, her father's father drank a bottle of vodka a day, and her father was a violent alcoholic. On top of that, Mary was ignoring me and taking me for a free ride. I decided in the car that I was going to ask her to move out. It would be the biggest decision I would ever make. I would most likely have to give up my daughter. But at least I could get a roommate to pay half of the bills enabling me to go back to school to get the skills to write this book and GET THE HELL OUT OF THE CASINO BUSINESS!
I spent three weeks pondering how I was going to tell her and whether or not I was making the right decision. I was convinced she was not in love with me. We were lucky if we made love two times a month. Before 1989 I never made more than $18,500 a year. In 1989 I worked my ass off earning over $36,000. At the end of the year I had little to show for it. She was taking me for a ride and it was time for her to get off and for me to do what I was put on the Earth to do.
Those three strikes, her family, her unwillingness to help me with my cause, and her ignoring me, made it easy for me to finally be strong and tell her where to go.
It was on a weekend in January 1990. We hadn't made love in a few weeks and Mary could sense something was wrong by the way I wasn't coming on to her. So, like she always did whenever she thought she was going to lose her bread and butter, she came on to me for the first time since she asked for a vacation while I lay in bed trying to go to sleep. Right away I said no.
She jumped on top of me. "No, what do you mean no? You never turned it down before."
"I know," I replied, "I just don't want to."
"That's not you at all. Come on, what's wrong?"
"It just wouldn't be fair."
"What do you mean? What wouldn't be fair?"
I got up the courage and said it, "I'm not happy. I want you to move out."
She thought I was kidding at first. After I repeated myself and told her why, she got upset. Then she got mad and started to give fake tears. She tried to talk me out of it, but I just kept reciting those three points. It finally sunk in and she started making calls to her family.
All I wanted was a simple good-bye, but we could not have that. There were many complications getting in the way. Things like her family. No one had room for her and the only person who did, her father, didn't want her. I think he was mad at her because he liked me and she forced me away. My daughter even told my parents, after the break-up, that she saw him hit Mary and make her cry. One other problem was that she had no car. In the winter we had to share mine. She took it in the morning and used it for work. She would come home to a fully prepared dinner, we would eat, and then I would take it to work. It was a real pain in the ass, but it worked.
As time went on tensions grew as she couldn't find a place to live. Another complication was that her credit was so bad she was turned down everywhere she applied for an apartment. Soon she turned on me and started beating me in front of the child. She knew I would not strike back, so she saw it as her opportunity to lash out.
Mary was begging her father for help over the phone, but he kept telling her no. I got so pissed off listening to her squabble with him during one call that I yelled at her loud enough for him to hear. "What did you ever do to your father that he hates you so much that he won't help you out!" Her face showed rage as she went crazy. She dropped the phone and began throwing everything in reach at me. Nicole cried. I was hoping her old man would catch on that he was hurting her feelings, but he didn't care.
When I told my father how she would fight me in front of Nicole and how it was making her upset, he offered to help. He offered to loan her money to buy a car. He would buy it and she would pay him back $100 a month. He knew that if he did that she could leave a little easier and Nicole would not have to see us fight. Dad always tried to be kind. That is the worst thing for a baby to live through. A house should be filled with love, not parents fighting. The two of them found a nice car for $3000. Dad bought it and Mary was now happy.
After Mary told her father what my dad did he decided to be a nice guy and let her move in. By now it was the end of February. The three of us went through hell, but I was finally able to rid myself of that little gold digger. And if she thought she was going to get any more out of me she had another think coming.
The day Mary moved out was the saddest day of my life. I was happy to get rid of the thorn in my side, but I could not stomach the fact that I was losing Nicole. Ray had sent a couple of his boys to the house to help Mary remove the last of her things. While they tended to that I sat on the couch holding Nicole in my arms and crying like a big baby. My soul felt empty. I was losing the only joy I had left in my life. I always carried her picture behind my badge and flipped it over whenever things at work got shitty and I wanted to kill the crony busting my balls. It was the hardest thing in the world to give her up to her mother who was not a very nice person. I cried all day.
One thing Mary did, however, was permit the two of us visit with each other. It was great. In the beginning I had the same schedule with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. Later, I got the Wednesday/Thursday schedule I wanted. On the mornings of my first day off I would drive to Atlantic City, and met them in the parking lot of Paul D'Amato's office. I would pick up Nicole and we would spend the next two days together. We always had a heavenly time. On the next day Mary would pick her up after work. Nicole and I ate dinner before she arrived until she began asking that we eat with her mother and soon the three of us did each week. We always got along well after that.
Mary kept bothering me about giving her the child support she said she would never ask for. I was broke, not willing to work as often in the casino, and $40,000 in debt--$15,000 because of her not keeping her end of the bargain by paying half the bills. She got enough and I was not going to let her keep taking me for a ride until she paid back what she promised and I got back on my feet. I kept telling her that I wanted to first work on getting out of the casino and go back to college in September. I told her that the last year of working 60 hour weeks got to me and I was now giving a day away and only working four, of which I never put in a full night. She didn't care. But after pressure from my family and after Nicole's second birthday, I decided to give her the $50 a week she had been asking for. I called her on April 20 or 27, 1990, told her I was willing to discuss a payment plan, and suggested we get together for dinner either on that Friday night or on Monday after she got out of work. However, the conversation over the phone did not go as I had expected.
"Lou, I did something that might make you a little mad, but I don't want you to worry about it."
The last time I heard her say that was in December after she hit a parked car picking up the baby at day care. The result was $350 worth of damage to my car that she never paid me for. I braced myself as I lay in my bed trying to wake up, "What is it."
"I filed for child support with the courts..."
"...but you don't have to worry abut it, it is only a formality. You don't have to go to court or anything."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"You don't have to do anything--but the sheriff will be delivering a summons to you, but don't worry, you don't have to show up in court or anything. It is just a formality."
"Come on Mare, I don't want to be tied up with law suits. I just told you I am willing to give you what you asked for, so why don't you drop it and let's stay friends."
"You don't have to worry about it. It doesn't mean anything and you won't have to go to court."
"Do you still want to discuss this over dinner?"
"I don't think that would be a good idea."
"Why not? I..."
"Look Lou, I don't want to discuss it any more. I have to get back to work." She quickly said good-bye and terminated the conversation.
I had not known at that time what she was really up to. We were getting along well and even made love a few weeks before this. But on the following Monday or Tuesday the sheriff showed up at my door with an envelope containing a bazillion papers in it. I was furious when I took it from him.
I didn't understand anything I was reading. I knew Mary was a legal secretary, so I called her to find out what it was all about.
"I received the stuff today and I am very confused about what I am supposed to do."
"I told you before," she started to explain, "you don't have to do anything. It is just a formality. The judge will read it and set up a date for us to go in to discuss it."
"Why can't we discuss it now?"
"Because Lou, I gave you enough time and you would not listen to me, so now we will tell it to the judge."
"Look, Mary, every time I call my lawyer for something I get a bill in the mail for the time of the conversation. I can't afford a lawyer. Please keep this out of court. All you are going to do is cause problems between us when we are getting along quite well now."
"You don't need a lawyer. We will go in and discuss it with the judge."
"You have a lawyer."
"My boss hooked me up with him. I needed him to help me fill out the paper work."
"And what is going to happen when we go into court?"
"We will tell the judge that we made an agreement for $50 a week and he will order that you pay it through the probation department."
"I don't want this to show up that I have a permanent $200 a month expense. It will make it hard for me to get loans I might need in the future. Please, keep this out of the courts."
"No Louis, I don't trust you." Whenever she was mad at me she called me Louis because she knew how much I hated that name which reminded me of my childhood.
"Why not? Why would I want to stiff my daughter and jeopardize our chances of seeing each other? You can trust me, Mare."
"Look, Louis, we'll talk about this in court."
"But what about this date that is on the papers?"
"Well it says don't show up in court. That is just the date that the judge will read over our case and set a date for us to come in. You don't have to show up."
I trusted her advice and believed her. Why would she lie? Still, the pending court date made me aggravated. So aggravated that I lost my cool with an old man who was being an asshole to me.
It happened when I was driving my motorcycle behind a car whose driver littered the planet by throwing a lit cigarette butt out the window. The butt hit me and almost caused me to crash. When we came to a stop sign I thought it to be wise to inform the gentleman about the dangers of throwing a lit cigarette out the window when a biker was behind him. I went up along side the retired couple and started to politely tell him what had almost happened to me. Right away he copped an attitude, gave me the finger, and told me to go to hell. As he rolled up his window I yelled, "Hey, I'm talking to you," but again he gave me the bird. I became crazed. How ignorant for one human being to be towards another. I wanted to kill him for his immaturity, but in- stead I showed him mine and kicked his car door. When he went through his left turn from Jim Leeds to Pomona Road, he pulled over and waved his finger as he said he was going to get even with me. I was not myself. I circled around and gave him another kick as I passed his car that was waiting at a red light by the Rt. 30 intersection.
I later got a summons in the mail from the Galloway Municipal Court stating I was being charged with causing damage to his car. In the court room the judge called our case and then began asking me personal questions. He knew where I lived and where I worked and that I was once involved with Mary Ingemar. I wondered what was going on. He asked if his name, William C. Todd, sounded familiar to me. I told him it did not, so he informed me that he was the lawyer handling the law- suit against me. I wanted to say, so you're the prick causing my life so much misery, but I kept my cool. Todd told the witness he was involved in another case with me and that it would be a conflict of interest for him to preside over this one. He said we would have to get a new date if the old man did not drop the charges. He didn't and I got another summons.
On the next visit to the court the new judge informed me that if found guilty I could be sentenced to 30 days in the county jail. He said because of that I had the right to have an attorney present and asked if I would like such an opportunity. The old buck said he would not drop the charges, so I asked for a new court date at which time I could have my lawyer present.
I went and saw Seth Grossman. He said he would love to take the case because he had beaten the witness' son real hard in a divorce case where he represented the daughter-in-law. When I went to Seth about my case with Mary he said that he would rather represent the woman in those cases because the courts always ruled in favor of them. Anyway, on the third appearance the old man saw I had Grossman representing me and he decided to leave rather than face him.
Seth was right about the court always ruling for the woman. There was a dealer/boxperson I worked with named Frank Savagio. At Playboy he was known as Mr. Beef. And I could see why. He would start beefs with customers just to get his rocks off. But he too was in the same situation with his ex-girlfriend. According to him she was a real nut case and he had proof. He spent $20,000 on lawyers, was in and out of court and jail every other week for a year, and still could not get custody of his little girl. He brought the court proof about her child neglect and mental condition, but the judge would always rule in favor of his daughter's mother. Listening to his stories made me lose hope of ever winning against Mary in court.
Shortly after the date the judge was to look over the papers and set a date for us to appear, I found out why Mary Ingemar would lie to me.
The decision came certified mail. When I opened it there was a court order instructing me to pay Mary $130 a week plus another $20 for a total of $150 a week for one child. I went nuts. $600 a month! How was I going to come up with $600 a month? My rent was exactly that much. I never had any extra money at the end of the month and was so sick of working that I was only averaging 28-30 hours a week. That was barely enough to keep my head above water or my sanity together. I got on the phone and called Mary right away.
"Mary, I got a letter from the court today saying that I had to pay you $150 a week. I can't afford that."
"Don't be silly. I'm sure it is a mistake. You only have to give me $50. I'll take care of it."
I believed she would do that for me, so I let her handle it.
But I had to call back later in the day. It was then that she told me there was nothing that could do about the judge's decision.
"What do you mean, you can't do anything about it?"
"I talked to my lawyer and he said the judge's ruling was binding and final and there was nothing we could do about it."
"That is bullshit. You said he wasn't going to make a ruling. You were the one who brought up the lawsuit, you can drop it just as easily."
"Forget it," she yelled and hung up.
It was now obvious what she was doing. Everyone and my lawyer told me the court would give her more money than needed, so that was why she went through with it. She proved my theories right about just staying with me for a free ride. All she wanted was money.
Two or three days later I got a book of coupons for $150 each--coupons like the ones you get when you buy a car. I was to send them, along with $150, to the probation department every week or they would put me in jail. I was lucky if I was taking home $300 a week. There was no way I could give her half of that. Besides that, there was no way Nicole was costing $300 a week to raise, of which I was supposedly paying half. Her day care was costing $50 a week. My family kept her in free shoes and clothes, so there was no money being spent there. Personal living expenses Mary had to pay just as I did only I was paying twice as much when she moved into the house she now shared with her sister. How much food could a baby eat? It was definitely less than $50 a week.
Meanwhile, I continued to send her $50 checks each week. I should have realized something was up when she refused the first payment and threw it back in my face after picking up Nicole in April. Mary wasn't cashing them and I later found out why. If she did, that would be admitting that she accepted my offer. She later cashed them.
I brought everything to Seth Grossman in June. My father offered to pay for it, so I took advantage of the offer and tried to get myself out of the mess.
When I showed Seth everything he laughed at me. "I can't believe you could be so naive," he said. "You know she works for a lawyer."
"That was why I trusted her to help me out."
"Well, she was obviously taking you for a ride."
"I know that now. Now what do I do?"
"It is too late to do anything. You were supposed to fill out the papers the court sent you and send them back. When you didn't do that, they automatically gave Mary what she asked for."
"But she told me she was only asking for $50."
"Yeah, well, she lied to you. She knew from the start she could get this much money. They based it on last year’s earnings of $36,000. She also went out of line. She should have just filed for a meeting between you and the family court and then if you could not sit down and come to an agreement she should have sought the lawyer and filed with the county court."
"But I don't make that kind of money anymore. What can be done?" Seth got on the phone and called William C. Todd, Mary's lawyer.
The conversation ended, "He said forget it, they are keeping the court's decision. All I can do is file for a reduction, but I'm going to want $750 up front before I do that. And it won't be reduced much."
I told him to go ahead and do it, that I was getting the money from my father, and I would have it to him in a day or two. If this decision was to stick, there would be no way I could return to school in the fall. I took the papers he gave me home to fill out and set up another appointment for a couple of days.
I was so stupid. I knew she was a fortune hunter, yet I still trusted her. I wanted to kill myself for that. All she ever wanted to do was play house and work me like a slave. I even remember the time I opened up Nicole's savings account statement to find out that the almost $800 was down to $20. Every dollar in that account was from money given to Nicole from my very generous relatives. Her family never gave that child dime one. Mary was in charge of it, but she used her power to steal it in order to make her credit card payments.
I told Mary that if she continued this she would prevent me from going back to school. She told me she didn't care. She said if she could not go to school neither could I. Mary always wanted to go to law school to be a lawyer, but her rich father would never help her out. She was determined to ruin my life at all costs. I told her I wanted to quit the casinos because of what it meant to do that job, but the only thing she could say to that was, too bad. I was becoming desperate. If she took my chance of going back to school from me I would no longer have any hope in the world and nothing to live for. She told the court I threatened her with suicide.
On June 14, 1990, my father and I met with Seth Grossman at his office in Atlantic City. He told me the best he could do was get a $30 reduction. That wasn't good enough. I told him I wanted to quit my job, but Seth told me about a New Jersey doctor who quit his practice to go into cancer research which paid a lot less than he was previously making, but the court nailed him to the wall anyway. He said if I tried to quit my job the state would have me arrested and put on a work detail giving Mary all the money. He said, and I quote, "Get used to working in the casino for the next twenty years."
The hell with that. I was not going to let them get me. When I heard that I went into a deep depression. How could she do this to me? My family took great care of her and Nicole when her own family turned their back on them. My father helped her out with the car, gave Nicole new shoes every time she needed them, and always brought new clothes each time he came back from a trip to Taiwan, which he made three or four times a year. How could she show such disrespect? There was no way I was going to let her keep taking me and my family for a ride. I decided right then to commit suicide in order to "beat" her at her own game. (It was Patrick Henry who said, "...but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.) I was not afraid of dying and no longer had anything to live for. (I had forgotten all about this book.) I wanted to jump out of Seth's top floor window, but I decided to wait so I could leave Nicole a note.
The ride home was intense. It was raining and my father and I were arguing over the whole situation.
"Look Louis, I'll pay her the money so you can go to school."
"No! That is exactly what she wants you to do. She knows you would do that for me."
"What do you want? Do you want your inheritance now? I'll give it to you."
"No! I owe you $35,000 now as it is. I can't ask you for more money after you offered to pay Seth. I have decided to kill myself."
"You better stop talking so stupid!"
"Yeah, well, what do I have to live for. She has taken my future and my daughter." I started crying as the emptiness hit the pit of my stomach, "How could she do this to me?"
My father was still speaking in a raised voice, "Look, you are just going to have to admit that Mary is a gold digging, fucking little bitch!"
I could not believe what I had heard. That was the first time I had ever heard my father say the F word. Knowing him, it probably .was.. Mary was ripping us apart and all I wanted to do was kill her with my bare hands.
We kept yelling at each other. I was mad at my father for helping her out so much. I was always against him helping her because I knew that was always her plan. His theory was he was helping Nicole. He was probably right, but I told him that a lot of people are poor and Nicole will have to grow up accepting the fact that her parents are poor. Then I demanded he stop giving her things. He promised he would, but to this day he has been afraid to because he knows Mary will not pay him back the money she owes him and keep Nicole away from him. (In January of 1991, she stopped making her car payments to him. She did, however, start making them again after I disappeared probably in fear of losing their support.)
When we got back to the house my father decided he was going to get to the bottom of this and call to talk to her. He sent me out of the house and spoke to her in private. When I came back inside, he told me "the deal".
"Well she showed me her true colors over the phone."
"What did she say," I asked.
"I explained to her how good we have been to her over the years and asked her what she really wanted. There was about two minutes of silence and she said, 'Here's the deal.' I could tell right then what a phony she was. She wants you to pay her $50 a week, pay half of the medical bills, and she wants me to keep Nicole in shoes and clothes until she is eighteen." Then he broke out crying and said, "You were right about her the whole time." I went over and gave him a hug. We cried in each other's arms for ten minutes. He kept talking during the embrace, "She was so cold to me over the phone. All she cares about is how much money she can get from us--not Nicole."
"I know dad, I know," was all I could say. We just stood there holding each other and letting our emotions flow out until my new roommate walked in. We left, had dinner together, and I went to work.
Thursday was my normal day off, but for some reason I had made a switch with another dealer. My start time was six o'clock. When I got to the locker room, a very good friend of mine saw that I was a mess. I was very upset and not in the mood to put up with the assholes in the casino. He gave me a Valium to help me relax. At the pit, I signed the early out list before I even signed in. After working twenty minutes I left to visit a good friend.
His name was Arnold and he lived in a very small two room apartment in Ventnor, only a few miles from Trump Plaza and which he paid very dearly for. We were dealers together at the Plaza until he quit because of all the bullshit that went on in there--particularly with getting full-time. He knew I was upset and coming over, so he asked his girlfriend to leave shortly after I arrived. Before she left, though, the three of us drank a bottle of wine and began to relax. His girlfriend left and we started to talk.
Arnold felt the same way about the casino business and knew exactly what I was going through. Even though we never admitted to each other that the games were rigged, we understood. (You could put a group of dealers together where all they would do is bitch and complain about the job, but if at least one in the group was a morally decent person nothing about the crime being committed would ever be mentioned as the root of the problem.) He was the Mary I always wanted to talk to. We spent many mornings after work getting high, watching TV, and planning for our escape out of the business when Mary was just ignoring me. Mary never liked Arnold. She hated all dealers because of what they did for a living, but it was still OK for me to do it--as long as I did not associate with any of them. All my friends I hung around with she hated, but she never understood that those guys were just like me. They didn't play the gangster game and hated the job with as much fervor as I did.
We talked about a lot of things that night. Then Arnold put my situation of the day into perspective. "Lou, its over. You can finally do what we have been talking about for the past year and a half and go back to school."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Of course I'm right. Now that she will take $50 a week, which is more than fair, and now that you have a roommate again who will pay half of the bills, you can stop killing yourself in the casino and devote your time to school and your daughter. And you are so lucky, you have the most beautiful little girl in the world who is also very cool." (He was right about that. I'm not just saying that because she is .my. little girl; everyone said that about her. It was true. They were not just patronizing. All of my friends loved her and she liked them.) "Don't think about the fight or about what a bitch Mary is," he suggested. "The fight is over, she is giving you the chance to go back to school so you can get out of this hell hole. Be happy. Be glad. Think about your future." A light went on in Arnold's head, "Come on, let's go to Robert's for some wings and celebrate our both going back to school in September."
We got on my bike and went to Robert's, a bar in Margate known for their wings, had two trays of wings, and many cokes. We talked about how bright the future was going to be. He made me feel good. I felt like a new person and I couldn't wait to get up the next morning to get on with my life. I had something to live for, something to look forward to after the busy summer of putting up with casino scum and gamblers. I went to sleep at 3 am looking towards the next morning.