‘Your name is wrong,’ the words on the email stated. It was one of the first four emails that came into my new business email account for my new commercial real estate business. The first one was dated June 29, 2004, followed by June 30th, then July 9th with the last one dated July 20th.
They seemed ominous to me and I became frightened. The four emails had zip files attached to them. I decided I wasn’t going to open any of them. All of them had only a few words like “no money” or the word “Warning!” screaming at me from the subject line, or “this is the next one!” or the word “Craigslist” from where I’d been mysteriously banned. And seriously in real estate, not having the ability to post ads on Craigslist was like having no way to advertise.
By now I was in my fourth year as a real estate broker. And into my fifth or tenth relationship since leaving Ira in 1993. I’d lost count. As soon as I became close to someone, something odd would happen and the relationship would be over. Either the man would receive an odd email from an unknown person telling him I wasn’t at Bloomindale’s shopping as I’d told him I was, and offered up photos to show I was cheating, or my boyfriend would receive similar messages via disguised voices on the phone. Or something else that would be insanely irritating like cutting off phone conversations or clicking sounds on the phone to the tune of odd songs. It had become normal for me to know that when I had a boyfriend the heat was going to be turned up. Something would happen to create chaos in my life and which would prevent me from forming a deep and trusting relationship with any of the men who I might have been able to live the happily forever dream.
I was determined to do what it took not to let another one of my relationships disappear but I had learned by this point to be extra vigilant and instead of appearing as if I were an open book with nothing to hide, I became to the men and even the people in my life, a mystery woman. “You always have another layer that comes off in time,” all of them said at one point or the other. Yes. I’d become layers. I was still fragmented. I was lost inside a world occupied by myself and the man who terrorized me. As much as I wanted to become part of the normal world inhabited by normal people, I simply couldn’t cross over the ever-changing jagged terrain of my life.
Jacques, who I’d been seeing on an exclusive basis was the owner of about 30 residential buildings. I found the listing for the one room office on 57th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington and it was irresistibly priced. One Thousand Dollars.
“I don’t know about taking the office,” I confided to Jacques in his private office on the ground floor of one of the buildings he owns on West 140th Street.
“If you don’t want to continue helping me with residential space and you don’t want me to financially support you then you’d be foolish not to jump at this,” his accent was truly French and I never tired of hearing him speak.
I cringed. I didn’t want to bring Ira up again. I didn’t want to tell him that Ira’s office would then be only one block away.
And then suddenly I decided I wasn’t going to let Ira scare me any longer. Perhaps I was being foolish I thought silently and realized Jacques was right.
However, sitting in my office alone and seeing those emails told me Ira was watching me. These were warnings. Sometimes I wanted to believe Ira wasn’t behind the onslaught of things that happened to me. But this email, the one clearly telling me my name was “wrong” – this one told me it had to be him. Who else could it be?
Who else knew that I had to change my name years ago after the break-in. No one at this point in my life knew my real name. Not even Jacques. The person who sent me these emails however seemed to know I wasn’t who I was pretending to be.
“You’re right,” I looked at his face, it was round and weathered and he had a shiny head with short silver hair on the sides and back. The bright office light bounced off his forehead, which always looked creased as if he were constantly in deep thought. But he had the gentlest blue eyes and he adored me and that was enough to make me feel safe. Or at least safer than I would have felt where I alone.
Copyright Kirby Sommers