Part 5 -- Aftermath & Two PostscriptsJump to: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4
I've never seen Alton again. Over the next couple of weeks:
(1) Alton never returned the Isuzu Trooper. I reported it stolen to my insurance company and the Houston Police Department. They continued to maintain that since it was a "domestic dispute," there was nothing they could do. I gave them a copy of the demand letter but they said for their purposes it wasn't sufficient, I'd need the original. As far as I know, the totally incompetent branch of the US Postal Service that handles SW Houston has never returned the undelivered certified letter to the attorney's office, but more about that later.
(2) I received a bill from American Express showing that a $10,000 balance transfer check had been written against my credit account during the time I was out of the house. I called and asked, "who wrote it?" "You did!" was the reply. I pointed out that during the time it was written I didn't have access to either my American Express checks OR my bank account check book (I'd left them in the house when I walked away from it.)
(3) The next day I checked with the local branch of Bank of America to find out that, yes, indeed, the $10,000 check from American Express had been deposited, and then two additional checks, one for $9100 (maybe $9200, I don't recall now) and a much smaller one for $285 had been written against my bank account. Again, with my signature, again, during the time when I was out of the house and didn't have access to my check book.
(4) I received a bill from Dell showing that -- again, during the time I'd been out of the house -- I'd set up a $4000 line of credit and purchased a $2000 computer, which was subsequently delivered to 7911 Oakington. The bill showed that the order had been placed over my home telephone, to which I didn't have access at the time the order was placed.
So I had a busy couple of weeks getting my old bank account frozen, a new account created, filling out paperwork from HPD, from Bank of America, from my insurance company, from Dell, from American Express.
I also took a straight process server to Club Houston to look for Alton. He (Alton) is apparently VERY god at evading them because we never managed to serve papers on him. The process server, whose name I forget, was quite a hoot, and took the whole bathhouse thing as "a new learning experience."
At the same time all this was happening I spent two days interviewing for my current job at Wayne Statein Detroit. I'm not sure how I managed all of it, except the prospect of getting the hell out of Houston had me slightly giddy.
Last but not least I tracked down his former lover in DC, who indicated via e-mail that yes, it was the same Alton, and yes, he'd been through the same thing except that it had been even worse in his case -- unbeknownst to Enrique, Alton engineered a scheme to get his name on the deed of the house Enrique was buying (the townhouse Alton claimed he later sold for $500,000) and when the inevitable break up occurred, Alton got the house.
Aside from following up on the paperwork and doing the interview at Wayne State, I was pretty much a basket case. I came home from work, at some food, went to bed, got up the next morning and started over again. The house was a wreck and I couldn't deal with it.
Eventually I snapped out of it, about the time I realized that Wayne really was interested and the move really was going to occur, sooner or later. I flew my friend Phil, the drywall master of the Universe, down from Atlanta to help me fix all the devastation Alton had wrought (*), eventually hired my real estate agent Howard's partner Terry to finish up / supervise a nearly complete interior overhaul (new paint job, new carpet throughout.) By the time I left for Detroit I was back to understanding why I'd had such high hopes for the house that during Alton's time there I had come to loathe and detest.
(*) It wasn't like Alton did NOTHING good to the house. The new french doors in the master suite were great, the new street lamp in the front yard and the new sconces on the front of the house were fine and dandy, the "Mickey Mouse" brick border around the flower bed with the three crape myrtles looked great. But even the good projects were left unfinished and there were dozens of projects that consister of knocking holes in walls and then just leaving them there, hence the need for Phil, drywall master of the Universe.
P.S. # 1
Fast forward to May 2003:
I arrive home from work the Tuesday after Memorial Day to find an Oak Park police officer and his car sitting in front of my townhouse. "Are you Richard Jasper?" I pointed out that I was. The officer indicated that he had a message for me from the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department.
I had a feeling Alton had gone to Ft. Lauderdale. Aside from DC, it was the place he'd spent the most time in the US (if his stories were to be believed, and I think almost all of them had a grain of truth), working at Phyllis Sullo's upscale hair salon / day spa as a hair colorist. Plus there was the bill sent to Alton's attention at 7911 from a self-storage company in Pompano Beach, just up the road from Ft. Lauderdale.
The next morning I called Sgt. Lerman in the Ft. Lauderdale P.D., who pointed out that a couple of weeks previously the car had been towed, that the towing company was doing due diligence before auctioning the car off (which is apparently a common tow company scam in South Florida), and that their checking revealed that the car was still registered to me, and, NO, it wasn't in the national auto theft database. (Do I need to say MORE about HPD?)
I gave Sgt. Lerman the relevant information, most specifically the name and telephone number of the claims agent who'd been handling my case for the auto insurance company in Houston, plus other relevant stuff.
Will anything come of it? Is Alton still in Ft. Lauderdale or has he hightailed to some other location to scam someone else? What new cockamamie scheme has he cooked up this time? Did he ever find his green card, the one he obtained back in the 80s when he paid a woman at least 10 years his senior $5,000 to marry him, a deal out of which he got a green card and she got his last name?
Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass. (Which is a self-delusion, of course, but one that I need to hold onto for now. It's mostly a cover for my unwillingness to take on as my life's work nailing his ass.)
I figure someday somebody who does care (e.g., Bank of America or the auto insurance company) will track him down and press charges and then I'll be only too happy to testify.
So, this really isn't so much a Guide as it is a primal scream. Someone told me after Jeremy died, "do nothing for a year," which is the best advice I could have possibly taken -- and I didn't.
As Yates (the attorney) pointed out, this isn't at all uncommon, and it's not a reflection on the people to whom it happens. It's easy enough to say, "my goodness, what WAS he thinking?" The short answer is, "thinking (clearly) wasn't really possible under the circumstances."
The main thing I'm hoping is that folks who aren't in the midst of heavy grief will read this and have some clue as to what might be occurring with friends who have suffered a major loss. There's a tendency to want to give people space after the first month or so and space is often just what we don't need.
For those who have lasted this long, thanks for listening.
Oak Park, MI
P.S. # 2
It has been 14 months since I posted all of the preceding words to my Salon Blog. I have never heard anything else, not from the Houston Police Department, not from CarMax, not from Bank of America, not from American Express, not from Phyllis Sullo. For all I know, Alton has fallen off the face of the earth. I even went to Ft. Lauderdale in May for Naoyuki's birthday and every time we went out to eat or whatever I felt a tinge of subliminal dread that he might show up. I didn't actually take a baseball bat with me, however.
There are few things in my life that I really wish I could go back and do over. My long-term desire for a magic wand notwithstanding, I've always realized that the things that have occurred in my life, good or ill or just plain embarrassing, are all components of what makes me ME.
I could have done without Alton.
I hope none of you will have to go through the same thing.
Ann Arbor, MI
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