I knew he was breaking into my house when I was at work – things were moved, things started going missing. Like the silver tableware my grandmother gave me, and a laptop computer. I had never given him a key, but I figured he had copied one. So I called up a locksmith and was home one afternoon, folding laundry in the bedroom while the locks were being re-keyed in the front. I heard a noise from the bedroom deck – there was an enclosed deck off the master bedroom, totally encircled by six-foot bushes. I heard a noise, and right then I just knew it was him – and this was how he was breaking in. But I didn’t know exactly how he was doing it, so I quietly waited – the blinds were drawn, so he had no idea I was home. He had figured out there was enough clearance between the top channel and the door that he could lift up the door – and that door weighed a ton – lift up the door high enough that the latch would clear the locking mechanism. He simply lifted up the door. Once I saw how he was getting in, I went over and yanked open the blinds. That man cleared the railing and the bushes and tore off. I put paint sticks on the tops of the sliders until I could arrange for all five window walls to be replaced with sliders that had metal rods that went up and down into the frame when the handle locked.
I called the police more than once on that man. I called them when he took the Mercedes without permission. I called them when he stole the silverware and laptop. The police showed me a rap sheet that was six feet long. No kidding: I was at the police station when the officer came around the corner with this long, long piece of paper. Jack was bad news.
He didn’t like being shut out – I had the life and the reputation he wanted for himself. I was in the basement one day cleaning the kids’ playroom when Jack came through the garage and down the stairs. The boys were unaware - even though they were upstairs, the stupid house design, with access off the garage without ever entering the house, hid the intruder’s presence. Jack grabbed me, threw me down on the sofa, and covered my mouth with his hand. I wiggled free and screamed as loudly as I could. Chris and Kevin came flying down the stairs – absolutely flying. Kevin, my ten-year-old little Kevin, went right over to the phone, ready to pick it up his eyes fixed on Jack. Chris – my big, strong, protective Chris went right up to the man, who by now had stood up. Chris walked up to Jack – 6’2” Jack - walked right up to his face. He had a remarkably confident little sneer, one side of his mouth upturned. Chris, my thirteen-year-old Chris, self-assuredly looked Jack in the eyes and quietly said, “Get out.” Just those two words. Jack ran out, and I got a Personal Protection Order. And I sued him for stealing the silver and the computer. Very interestingly, sometime between his being served and our first court date, he returned my belongings to my attorney’s office, after he was sure she had left for lunch.
But Jack would not let go. He would call constantly, so I got caller ID and screened my calls. He showed up at the yacht club one night when I was sailing and tried to let the air out of my tires. A woman working on the refreshments saw him and called the police. He would look into my windows at night and then leave threatening letters in my mail box to let me know he was watching. I was actually escorted to and from my car by an armed guard for two weeks at work. Jack stole my mail, getting credit card information and ordering himself suits. He adopted my education on his resume. He was a total nightmare.
And then one day, shortly after Thanksgiving, I got a call from a stranger named Marty. Could we meet for dinner? At the Hideaway? Sure, I said.
Marty was on to Jack. She was emotionally a little fragile, I could tell. She wanted to kick Jack out, but was terrified of him.
Would I help? Gee – all 118 pounds of me, not too good at that. Didn’t she have any guy friends that could help her? She said she was from up north, all her family and friends were up there. Oh well… here we go. I said I would. So the next weekend I showed up at her apartment to give her moral support. One thing I knew about Jack, though – after the PPO he was afraid of me. He couldn’t believe I was standing there in the drive, but he did leave. I have no idea where he went, but I think he knew that I would not hesitate to call for reinforcements if need be. After all, Jack was nothing but a coward.
Two summers later I took the boys down to St. Petersburg, where the three of us became certified skippers at the Annapolis Sailing School. Three or four days into it, as we were sitting at a pizza parlor waiting for dinner, I decided to check my home voicemail. There was a call from the Troy Police Department looking for some Volkswagen Jack had. I was pretty powerless to do anything from Florida, but the minute I got home I contacted them. The story was far from pretty: apparently, Jack had gone to the Secretary of State and changed his address to mine somewhere along the line. The mail lady told me a couple of months later that Jack would walk up to the mailbox every day while I was at work – she was curious, because he always walked up to it from down the street. She snooped around and found out he was parking across the parkway and walking the couple of short blocks to my mail box, taking mail before I got home. He had taken his driver’s license to a Volkswagen dealership and left his license while he took the car for a test drive – to Colorado. The police came over to the house thinking I might be covering for him, but no – I let them look all over, showed them my now-expired PPO and told them the story. That’s the last I heard of that until over a year later, when he had been arrested and charged with a felony – larceny by conversion over $20,000. The prosecutor asked if I would testify. The answer was a resounding yes.
I refer to the prosecutor as Amazon Woman. She was tall – very tall, maybe 6’0” – blond, and fierce. Quite intimidating.
She came over to prep me and was asking some really unusual questions, until it became clear that Jack had said we had been married. Nope. Anyway, I did testify against him… and within a week I had received a letter from the prison – Jack, trying to sweet-talk me. I gave it to the prosecutor, who was gob-smacked that he would have the gall.
Jack was convicted of the felony.
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