THROWING IN THE TOWEL
I don't know what ever made me go out that night. There was a party being held on Brigantine Island at the house of a few of my friends. For the first time in a year the band was not going to be playing that week on Brig because the club had booked Little Charlie And The Night Cats for a one night engagement. And even though I was tired, I wanted to get out of the house. On Wednesday, August 21, I had my eyes open to what my situation was really about.
There were about 20 of my closest friends there. Q. beat the drum while one other guy played guitar and another played bass. The music was great and the words got me to start thinking.
Thoughts were unclear as I kept thinking about my upcoming death and how I may never see Nicole again. I was sending bad vibes and everyone was picking up on them.
A while later I was sitting on the couch when Jill noticed there was something wrong with my thoughts. She sat down in front of me and started talking.
"Lou, what's wrong man? You don't look too happy."
"Don't tell me, I know you too well. You look upset over something."
"I'd rather not talk about it."
"Why not? It may help." Just then, her boyfriend who had been giving her a little grief over the past few weeks interrupted her. She sensed I needed help and told him to get lost. He was confused, but he left. She turned back to me and said, "Tell me what's wrong dude."
I figured it might help get rid of the bad vibes if I spoke a little about it. "I'm just upset about the lawsuit I have with my ex," I explained.
"Why? I mean, I know you're having a little trouble with your ex-girlfriend, but how bad can it be?"
Jill had no idea how deep the pain and fear ran. "It's bad, real bad."
She was kneeling on the floor. She put her hands on my knees and looked me in the eyes, "My God, you look so bad. What is it she's doing to you?"
I just looked at her, "I can't..." and tried to hold back the tears.
On the radio, a song called Love Light, by the Grateful Dead, was playing. Jill leaned back and started singing along with it, "Without a warning, you stole my heart. Takin' it baby," she took her hands and made a gesture like she was ripping something as she clenched her teeth and sang the next line, "torn it apart. You left me standing, in the corner and crying. Told me your love, for me was dying..." She looked up at me and said while pointing at the speakers with her left thumb, "This is what it's all about, isn't it?"
"She's trying to prevent me from seeing Nicole ever again."
"Dam. I know how much you love your daughter and all, but she can't stop you from seeing her. You have rights, you know." She thought for a second, "Man, women can be such bitches."
I was still fighting back the tears, but some were slowly leaking out. "Trust me, she's going to do it."
We stared at each other. I wouldn't open my mouth but was trying to tell her with my mind. Jill became very upset and started to frown.
"You know," she said, "they say that if you tell someone the problems that are haunting you, you can take ten years from them and add ten years to your life."
"Oh, Jill, I couldn't do that to you, it would mean twenty."
"Why? How bad could it be?"
"It's so bad I can't talk to anyone about it."
We looked again into each other's eyes. I could no longer hold back the tears and they poured from my eyes. I gave in. "She is seeing to it that I get killed."
"She can't kill you, Lou. You have too many friends. We would never let that happen to you."
"Trust me," I sobbed, "if I show up for the trial, I'm a dead man."
Jill was very upset and confessed. "How do you know she would do that to you?"
Fair question. In a round-a-bout way I explained, "Many years ago, I got involved with some very bad men. I wrote Mary a letter last year telling her about what I knew and now she is using that letter to see that I am killed. When they find out I wrote it, I'm dead."
Jill had a large frown on her face. She tried fighting back the tears. In a slower and quieter tone she said, "My God, I had no idea." Jill was filled with empathy and the tears started to slowly roll down her face. "Isn't there something you can do to stop her? Can't you go to the police?"
"What she is using is not something I can go to the police with. My only other choice is to ask for help from the very same people I wrote about in the letter and show them what she is trying to do. But if I do that, they might kill her and I'll be no better than she."
I felt so bad for Jill. But she asked. The tears kept flowing from the both of us as she asked, looking for that ounce of hope, "Isn't there anything else you can do?"
"Yeah, not show up for the trial. Then I'll never see Nicole again."
Jill thought again. She finally figured it out. "My God Lou, she has won." I nodded my head as I cried. "No matter what," she continued, "she has won. If you don't show up, you'll never see your daughter again. If you do show up, you'll be killed and your daughter won’t ever see you again. And if you go for the help, she takes your soul from you. My God, we're talking about your soul here. You can't give up your soul!"
"I know. I might have to leave for good to save my soul. But if I do that, Nicole won't be able to see me. But if I do go, I might be able to get this straightened out over time without anyone getting hurt."
Jill became relieved, "Then do it! We're talking about your soul. You can't sell your soul and let her take that from you after she has taken your daughter."
"I know. I have to go, but what about Nicole?"
"Nicole will survive. What kind of person do you think your daughter is like?"
"She the greatest. She is very cool. I've been teaching her well."
"Then she will survive. She will get older one day and figure it out for herself. Your soul is not worth the happiness of one little girl. You have to do what is right to save your soul or you're no better than her mother and it will eat you alive for the rest of your life."
My God! She was so right. Jill told me how for the past 25 years she has been on her own ever since she was 5 and found her mother dead in the bathtub. She said she adjusted and made it through all that and Nicole would probably do the same. She made me realize what it was I had to do. Nicole and I might be unhappy being separated, but I'll be able to keep my kind soul, kind. If I did this right, I might be able to write this book and expose what Mary and Steven were trying to do. With everything out in the open, I will not have to worry about being killed without my daughter ever not knowing why. I made the decision to take off next week, just one week before the trial. Jill would help.
I knew the Boys must have found out about the letter by this time. There would be no way I would live to walk into that courtroom. At sunrise, I left the party and went back to my house to start making plans for my escape.
The casino industry was a worldwide operation I was going up against. There was no way those guys were going to allow me to expose them. They would do everything to stop me. Feeling my house was bugged and my phone was tapped, I never let on to anyone I talked with or any of my roommates that I was leaving. I was also afraid that if the Boys got hold of my long distance phone bill they could track me down that way and I would be dead before this was published. I made sure none of the people I might have to use for this proceeding had their phone numbers show up on the bill. I went over to Jill's apartment to use her phone to make many out of state contacts and set up a network between all my friends across the country.
I took the rainy day money and got the car fixed so it could pass inspection. Next, I found the cheapest insurance I could and put a down payment on a policy so I could get a card good for 60 days. I took the card to the DMV, got plates, got the car inspected, and made plans to ditch it once I was far away. I planned to leave on September 3. On August 31, I was ready.
Mary's unwillingness to settle our dispute without a trial had a social worker coming to my house. My mother and everyone else told me there was no way the court would allow me to have Nicole for overnight visitation because I lived in a house with two roommates. It didn't matter that we were seeing each other when I had only one roommate. We sat and discussed Mary's accusations and I fed her a bunch of bullshit about how I was getting a full-time job, moving back into my old place, and how Nicole would have her own room when she came over. Yeah, like I was going to give into the Mafia and play Mary Imgemar's, Steve Johnson's, and Skinny Jr.'s game.
But there was something else I wanted to do just to drive Mary crazy. I decided to file for child custody.
On August 26, I filed for that plus five other requests. Then, in a four page single-spaced typed letter I listed 15 reasons why I should be awarded Nicole. Those fifteen points tore Mary and Steven Johnson a new asshole. I mentioned everything; Valentines Day dinner; her changing her reasons to stop me from seeing Nicole; her statement on the tape saying she would have papers drawn up to stop me; her and her mother's mental illness; our meeting with Jay Albrecht and her walking five miles afterwards; her family's drinking; her father's attempted murder of Chris; her confession to the Exxon robbery; her engagement to Steven K. Johnson and how he was representing her; her "accidental" pregnancy at the time of the Spencer Gifts deal; her lying on her request for my hospital records by stating I was in the hospital for six weeks rather than two in order to influence the judge to think I was a real loon and grant her the permission she sought; and then I sent six pieces of exhibits. I sent a copy of the edited tape and pointed out her irrationality and disrespect for what the court said and also included copies of five papers I had written while in college after the hospital (all A's and one B) to show what I had been doing since my mistake over a year ago. The envelopes I sent out that day must have weighed five pounds from all the paper and the tape. It did exactly what I had hoped for and Mary Ingemar went into shock.
After receiving the packet they took a new strategy. They must have yet been very confused wondering what I was doing still in the area. By all rights, I should have been gone after receiving the former letter. They filed to prohibit me from seeing Nicole before the trial and Carmen Alvarez, gave it to them without question - even after I had already received an order allowing me to see her once a week. Only this time, rather than Steven K. Johnson filling out the paper work for Mary, Paul "Skinny Jr." D'Amato did it.
Now that it was known I knew about her and Steven's lust affair, they couldn't let him handle the case anymore. That was probably the same reason they made the motion to stop me from talking to Nicole. But they did not know I had a taped confession from her and that was how I found out.
My mother was going to have Nicole and her cousin for the holiday weekend. Mary called her and said she was upset over what I did and that she got a court order from Carmen Alvarez saying I could not see Nicole at all - even with a parent. She told her if she wanted Nicole for the weekend I was not allowed to be there.
My mother called to tell me she wasn't getting Nicole, but I knew she was lying. When she mentioned this on Wednesday, the 28th, I called Nicole's house, against my restraining order, to talk to her. Mary had changed the phone number to an unlisted number and was not giving it to anyone in my family.
That night Nicole called me long before the time indicated on the court order. All the crazies were there; Mary, her mother, her sister, and probably Steven. I knew this because they had Nicole on the speakerphone and wouldn't let her talk to me. They just shouted things, thinking the conversation was being recorded, but it wasn't. I hated her for what she did, but I laughed as I could tell they were all very nervous about what I had done. Good!
That weekend my mother admitted to me she had Nicole and her cousin after I tricked her into believing I had to go somewhere after I hung up with her, only to get on my motorcycle and drive to the lake I knew they would be at. Order or no Order, I had to see her one last time.
Jill had suggested I leave Nicole with something to remember me by. And I couldn't leave without saying good-bye. If I had done that, Mary and Steven would have told her lies about me by saying I had abandoned her.
When I got Nicole alone I told her I was taking a trip for a long time and that I would not be able to see her until her next birthday. I figured that would be enough time. She asked me where I was going and why. I told her Florida and because her mommy was trying to hurt me. I wasn't going to lie and also mentioned that her mother was sick and Nicole had to take care of her and to never take whatever her mother said seriously. I said to question everything and make conclusions on your own. Then I told her she had to be strong for me while I was gone. I promised to see her no later than her fourth birthday and that she could believe that, no matter what anyone told her. We played for a while until it was time for her to go home. I was going to give her my favorite bootleg tape I listened to every night before going to sleep, but I knew her mother would just throw it away. I took off an ankle bracelet that had stretched and asked her to wear it for me. She was quick to point out that it was too big. I wrapped it twice around her wrist, but she insisted I wear it. I couldn't go against her wishes. As I said good-bye, sadness overcame me. I cried most of the ride home.
My mother called me back that night to tell me what happened on the ride back to Cape May and when they got to Nicole's house. She said everything was silent in the car when Nicole started a conversation with her cousin.
"I hope my daddy doesn't get in any trouble for seeing me. He's not allowed to see me and if my mommy finds out, he will be in trouble. Hey, cousin, I know, let's you and me not tell my mommy I saw my daddy today and he won't get in trouble." I wanted to cry when I heard that.
My mother told them they had to tell Mary because she was afraid it could slip out sometime unexpected. When they got to the house, my mother told Mary what happened. (What an ass kisser.) I didn't care since I was leaving in two days, so even if Mary tried to have me arrested she would never find me.
Mom was getting worried about the trial being a week away and me not having a job yet. She wanted me to see Frank and show him the letter as soon as possible. I told her I had to leave town for a few days, but to make me an appointment for the weekend and I'd tell him everything at that time.
On Monday night my roommates were out at Labor Day parties. I was able to use the time alone to do some packing. I got as far as I could and left to go to a party being held by some very good friends who I went to school with and saw socially. We drank a little and I relaxed in the hot tub. It soothed me and helped to take the edge off.
The week before I was to leave, I called all my friends and asked them to be at the Thursday night show. It might be the last time I would be seeing everyone. They wanted to know what gave. I just told them it was important to me for them to be there, so they all came.
I told a few of them I was leaving and not to say anything. Leif gave me a big good-bye. He was sorry to see me go, but said he figured I knew what was right for me. He had no idea. Then he thanked me for being in his life and for getting him to open his eyes to reality and life and how to love everyone and look through the bullshit. He was the best - very kind to everyone and a big lover of nature. I was glad to hear how much I had touched his life and how he held me accountable for his being the kind person that he is today. He asked me to spend my last day with him and how he could help.
I had to make my escape as quickly and quietly as possible. On Tuesday, Leif helped me move my motorcycle 50 miles to my father's house. As far as anyone was to know, I asked him to keep it for the winter. It was perfect. One roommate was at work and Chris was in the recording studio doing the final mix-down of a couple of tracks the band had recorded the previous week. Leif took something from the closet to watch as I gave him instructions about what to do with the rest my stuff after I had been gone for four days. I had to get a jump on things before anyone found out I was missing and tried to look for me. In order to make it appear that I was coming back after the trip I was taking, I left everything behind and a note to Chris saying my Yamaha was at the shop being sold to raise money for a lawyer. Then I said good-bye to Zeke and slipped out for good.
I couldn't let it appear that I was going to be writing this book while I was gone or they would for sure try like hell to track me down. I left the impression that I was going out west to make it on my own and would call once I did. Then I left instructions that Nicole gets my computer and typewriter. Without those possessions, all anyone would think I left with were the clothes on my back to make my claim in the Wild West. Like I said, I was too nervous not to leave one stone unturned.
After one quick stop in Ohio, I left the friends who were with me and headed west. I ditched my car where it could not be found and got a ride to this tiny little one room apartment I found in New Mexico, which I could rent for a month. Before stopping here I spent almost three weeks on the road with a friend and writing what I could on this battery operated typewriter I picked up on the day I left.
During the time on the road I could barely write a chapter. I have been here, one mile from the Aztec ruins, for the past three weeks, working between 15 and 18 hours a day with breaks every so many days to read a book and clear my head. This week, I get picked up by a friend and brought to another location. Gotta keep moving. But the hardest, most terrorizing part of this entire experience will be when I leave from the next destination with the finished work, headed for publication and my daughter, Nicole.
I have yet to decide how I am going to present this work. I know only one thing and that is that Mary has definitely done what she had to in order to see I never live in peace again.
I live with a fear, which is unceasingly following me. No matter where I go, there it is. It is no longer living, but surviving. Each day I stay alive is just another day of living beside myself. The fear is not so much for my life and losing earthly possessions, but for surviving as long as it takes to let everyone know what is wrong and going on between the casinos, the lawyers, Mary, Nicole and myself.
I will live once again, if only for a short time. I will not fear anyone evil enough to kill me. If I die after the publication, so be it. At least now that it is out I can live again. Once I have my soul back, I can live in peace. Until then, my life is Hell on Earth. Heaven comes when I free my mind and live in peace with my neighbors and myself.
Now that this has aired, I can have my soul back. I can begin to live without fear. I can take Nicole and settle down in one of the nicest towns I have ever been in. I can go back to school and not worry about if there is someone going to try to kill me before I can tell the world (or at the least Nicole) my story. I can walk tall knowing I did what I had to do before I died.
We all live with the fear of dying before we have accomplished what we truly desire. For some of us, it is just to live in peace with ourselves. I wrote this because I care. Follow your heart and do what it tells you. You'll know it is right when you foresee the joy it will bring to yourself and to the others around you. May the grace of God be yours. Absolom.