March 23rd, 2004

Chalkboard

HELP??? I AM BEING BLACKMAILED FOR 10K FOR MY PETS!!!

HELP??? I AM BEING BLACKMAILED FOR 10K FOR MY PETS!!!

Hi Everyone, I am so freaked out and sad right now. I am so upset I resorted to taking medication (two Xanax) so I will be able to get some sleep tonight before I have to get up in the morning and go see the police and then find some way to contact The Department of Animal Regulations, my possible nemesis, to find out who placed this terrifying call that I received tonight.

At around 7:20 PM my phone rang and I answered it. A man with a kind of cholo gang banging Mexican accent, but who spoke English very well, asked me if I was Jacqui Hyland and then asked me if I lived at my address. When I answered affirmatively he told me that he worked for Animal Reg. and that I had been under investigation for three and a half months. He said that they had received two complaints from neighbors about the number of cats I have, as well as my dogs and my other pets. He was pretty correct in his guess about the number of cats that we have. He also knows a pretty good approximation of how much I spend each month in pet food and vet bills. He also had my unlisted private phone number. How would the Department of Animal Regulations know how much money I spend each month on my pets? They're not the FBI, they don't have that kind of broad reaching control that they can reach into my bank accounts.

Next he went on to tell me that I had been under surveillance and that I was causing sanitation problems with the amount of trash I was putting out. He then told me that he could have my son taken away from me, that having this many animals was unhealthy for him and that I could be reported for this as well and lose my son. He told me that he loved animals too, that he feels sorry for me and knows I am doing my best and that he doesn't want to see this happen to me; that a team of animal control officers will show up at my door, confiscate my pets, take them to the shelters where I will be forced to pay exorbitant boarding fees until my court case is decided, at which point I will lose as I am clearly over the legal limit and whichever of my animals are not adopted will likely be destroyed, this is their idea of animal compassion and justice. All animals who are sick in any way will then immediately be euthanized; this would mean the murder of my beloved Jake who sleeps cuddled in my arms every night and only has one eye, and little Legs with her one club foot, and Triple B whose life we saved time and time again by resuscitating her when she crashed and bottle fed round the clock, she has a rheumy eye, a rheumy eye would cause them to deem her unadoptable, thus marked for death.

I could barely make out what he was saying since he was calling me from a crappy cell phone. I kept complaining and telling him that I couldn't understand him. I asked him to give me his name and the number of the department where I could reach him to verify his identity which he wouldn't do. This is when he started to get even scarier. He said he felt sorry for me, that he was a big animal lover and that if I wanted to avoid financial ruin and the loss of my son and pets that I should take this one chance he was offering me. If I promise not to involve anyone else in this, not reveal any of this to a third party, keep this just between us, and answer my telephone on Thursday at exactly eleven AM, he will give me instructions on where to go to deliver ten thousand dollars cash to him.

He told me that he is doing me a favor, that he doesn't have to do this, but that if I take this one and only last chance he will make, "all of this," go away and that the report he will turn in to his supervisor that is due in a matter of days will say that the charges, or complaints, against me are unfounded. Then he said, "I hope you will appreciate this chance I am giving you and answer your phone on Thursday," and then hung up.

Of course the first thing I did was to call my Mother, then Scott, then the police, then Irma and Esther. The detective I spoke with said that he doubts very much this guy actually works for animal control but I am terrified that this is how it goes down before the animal cops show up, you get some sneaky last minute extortion attempt from some corrupt guy right before they raid your house and you wind up slitting your wrists in grief over not having taken the chance to "make all of this go away."

Beau, overhearing some of this was in tears, he got on the phone when I was talking to my Mom and said, "I'm afraid they'll take me away and I wont be able to live with my Mommy anymore and they'll kill all my cats." This is breaking my heart and making me want to fucking kill whoever it is who is putting us through all of this fear and grief.

Tomorrow I am going to speak with the detective I spoke with tonight's boss. Maybe together we can figure out what to do. Then very carefully I will find some way to approach the animal people and test the waters to see if there is indeed any kind of investigation taking place against me. I just can't believe that anyone would want to come after someone like me, a woman who has been saving pets lives since she was fourteen years old. All of my pets receive the best of care, the best food, the best medical care, to my own detriment. I am running out of money fast. In two years time I will be out of money and be forced to sell my home -- all of this for these pets. Why would they want to swoop in here and take away our obviously beloved and well cared for cats? Why would they want to kill all of them in the name of humane care? It's just insane and heartbreaking. I hate them and their fucked up rules and laws.

I also hate whoever it is who is doing this to me, whether it is some gangbanging, cholo, extortionist connected with either Eunice, my brand new employee wild card, or Rosa, my Mother's evil housekeeper who lives to hurt me and separate my from my Mom. I just feel so victimized and frightened. I've never been through anything like this before. I keep thinking, "Well, this is your ultimate wake up call Jacqui, get off your ass and find homes for the pets you can live without before it is too God damned late and someone else comes in here and does it for you."

Eunice came up to me tonight and gave me her driver's license and her social security card. She told me to make photocopies and that if I wanted I could have the police come to her home and meet her aunt and uncle and she would be able to prove that she is well meaning and honest and that this has nothing to do with her. My other suspect is our garbage man who was overly interested in why we always have so much trash this week and blabby Eunice went ahead and told him how many pets we have. It seems interestingly coincidental that he man who called me tonight kept mentioning sanitation. Then there are the women who work in the vets office who I visited today when I was dropping off Tea Tea, could one of them, knowing I have a lot of pets and that I spend a small fortune on their care, have put someone up to this?

The most likely candidate is Eunice and her "cousin" who I met one night when he was waiting for her outside our house. I was warm, kind, and friendly towards him, but he had this scary, dangerous, bad-guy vibe, and I ignored my instinct. At the time I felt this sudden and sinking feeling that hit me like a wave of despair in the midst of all of my anxiety and fear. I felt this intense sense of danger, felt that I had clearly gotten in with the wrong kind of people and that hiring someone who hung out with these kinds of people was a mistake. But I was desperate for help and didn't want to face that I could have made this terrible mistake, hired the wrong person and spent two weeks training her, only to wind up back where I'd started, with no one to help me run my overwhelming animal farm of a life and Irma's plane just days from carrying her away to Boston.

So I ignored my nagging inner voice and invited him in so he wouldn't have to wait outside in the cold in his car, and when I did both he and Eunice acted surprised that I was being so welcoming and kind. Never mind that he had a really muscular, scary looking pit bull in the back of the car with a big spiky collar and a choke chain that turned out to be Eunice's dog Tony. (Nothing against Pit Bulls, really, I have one, she's mixed with Dalmation, but in combination with this guy's whole gangy thuggishness and the hard core look of this dog, it just kind of scared me.) I feel like such a fool, such a naive dupe. Who knows if they've been planning this all along or if he or a friend concocted this on their own without the direct help of Eunice. Or what if Eunice is totally innocent of all of this and I am laying the blame in the wrong place? There are few things worse than being innocent and wrongly accused of something you haven't done.

I don't know what to do, I feel so threatened and devastated. I am trying to believe in the rightness of things, the governing forces of the universe but I am so afraid and overwhelmed.

Things have been really hard for me lately; I am struggling to deal with Beau's learning difficulties, his recently diagnosed ADHD, trying to keep him in his private school so I wont have to resort to sending him to the local pubic school, (which in LA is akin to saying I am willing to hand him over to one of the most corrupt and ineffective educational systems in the country), I am struggling every day with the decision of whether to begin him on a medication his educational therapist and his psychiatrist have prescribed for him, I am dealing with the twilight of my last remaining family of origin relative's declining mental and physical health, I know I am watching the same process in my Mother that happened to my Father, he gradually became more and more weak, forgetful and delusional until he finally passed away, my own health is up in the air, I've stopped losing weight and I need surgeries that I can't afford, to say nothing of the massive amounts of expensive dental work that Beau and I both need. I had to take one third of my remaining inheritance out of the bank to pay credit card debts, and at this rate, if I don't incur one more expense, a highly unlikely possibility, I will only be able to live here in my home for two more years before I will have to sell or rent it in order to live somewhere else on the difference between what I can get for it and what it would take to live somewhere funkier and farther away from everyone and everything I love.

I am missing Irma, my friend, my confidant, my everything person, desperately, and this new woman, Eunice has got me totally confused and mind boggled. I hired her because she said and did everything right in her interviews and I can't tell if she is incredibly cagey, super smart, and scheming, or an innocent victim and a dupe. I veer wildly between wanting to mother and protect her, and the hope that in time she will get all of this, that things will become easier and we will be happy working and living with each other, and the terror that she is scamming me, pretending to like animals in order to fleece me somehow when I'm not looking.

We've had several signs that things are not all right with her. She's forgetful and manipulative. She seems cagey and cunning while at the same time seeming lost and at sea, a victim of a hard life spent sniffing glue in order to stave off hunger and abuse in Mexico, with a mother who abandoned her to the care of an alcoholic father, and later a marriage to an abusive sexual deviant who regularly hit her and told her how stupid she was, and anyone here who knows me knows that nothing is more appealing to a compassionate, nurturing, mother-bear, Jacqui woman than someone who is in need.

First she scared me by showing up super late for work, twice, arriving not one or two hours late, but six, without so much as a phone call, full of excuses and apologies, then she told my son to keep the tip intended for the pizza man, telling him that she wouldn't tell me, then her stories started to seem overdramatic and weren't always matching up. There was that man who showed up, she said he was her cousin, then later said he was her friend, and then switched back again. Then she showed up with a really sweet Beagle that she said she had found in the park. I took care of him for a week, took him to the park, played with and cuddled him, bought him a pretty new collar, naturally we fed him, and then just as we were beginning to bond with the little guy, she took him away, saying she was placing him with an animal rescuer she knows. None of her stories about how she came to find him matched, they kept changing, and she left behind the twenty flyers I designed and printed out for her, flyers that would help us find his owner.

Then there was all of the gossiping, the repeating back and forth the things I had told her in confidence. It was horrible and we were all so hurt and upset. She told Esther that we thought the reason she didn't work very hard, or as hard as Irma, was because she's fat. She betrayed every confidence we placed in her. Then at the same time she works really hard, gets things done, seems so capable and kind, and we're slowly starting to get used to each other, but she's too slick, she knows the right things to say and it just scares me.

I can't go on anymore, the medication has kicked in big time and I think I should just sleep. Nothing is more terrifying to me than the thought of my son and my pets being taken away from me.

Any suggestions? The name this man gave me was Robert Hillwood, it doesn't exactly go with the sound of the voice of the man on the phone. He called me from a cell phone first and then later from a pay phone. I'm going to go look him up. Please, please, please send us some prayers and positive wishes. Do any of you know of anyone in LA who could hide ten pets for a week or two until this blows over? I honestly don't know what the hell I'm going to do. To lose all of our animals would be the most devastating blow a person could deliver to us. I don't think I would survive it.

Love you,
Jacqui
Chalkboard

My Fraud Follow Up and I Fired Eunice


First of all, thank you! You are all the dearest people to have taken the time to even read my bizarre, rambling, double posted entry, let alone to comment, well, it's just overwhelming. I've said this before but you never fail to amaze me with your kindness, thank you again and again from the bottom of my heart.

When I reread my post today I couldn't believe what a mess I had made of things and was super embarrassed to say the least. I don't know how you all made any sense of it, especially considering I pasted my spell checked and edited version right smack into the middle of the rough draft -- all of this done while on a double dose of Oh My God My World Is Crumbling Around Me Get Me the Xanax, by the way.

I am, as could be expected, tired, stressed, tense, just all around worn out and weary and I just want to go to sleep but I had to write back to thank you, at the very least, and to check in with a brief update.

I took your good advice, I went to the police, I filed a complaint, I called Animal Reg. and I fired Eunice, but it was all hard to do. hard, challenging, scary, you name it, but I did it. I was so torn up and confused and it has taken it's tole on me emotionally. I will try to come back and tell you more about all of this as soon as I can.

Some of you may know that I have a lovely, super painful, and incurable bladder disease called Interstitial Cystitis, (I know some of my pals here have it too, I'm sorry), which basically means that the lining of my bladder has been eaten up by my own immune system for some unknown reason, and because of this I am in constant pain and spend most nights having to get up a dozen or more times to pee. I get most of my sleep in the early morning hours when for some reason my body just finally gives up sending the pain signals to my brain and surrenders, and this is just one of the many reasons I need a helper, someone to help get my little monkey man up and out the door for school.

Since I don't have a helper pal any more I am going to have to do this myself, which would be fine if I could come back home and get a couple hours of sleep, but I have committed to helping my partner Scott clear out his recently deceased Father's home, something I would never want for him to have to face alone.

Scott's Dad lived more than an hour away from us and his Dad's girlfriend and half sister, who his Father never bothered to tell him about, and who has just recently arrived on the scene, will also be there. Anyway, as worn out, heart sick, and weary as I feel right now, I am going to have to find the energy to be a supportive partner and friend, and spend the next three days helping Scott get through this, which sucks absolutely, because I am afraid to be away from my home right now and I am needed to help train the new housekeeper and bust the bad guys.

I'll have to figure something out about Thursday, maybe Scott will have to go on his own early and then I'll come join him later because I will need to be here just in case Mr. Fraud and Extortion decides to place that promised phone call.

BTW Eunice was not here this morning when we woke up and didn't turn up for two hours. She said she had gone out to buy me some Sobe drinks to replace all of the ones she broke yesterday. It doesn't take two hours to do this. Everyone I've spoken with pretty much thinks she went out to call her possible partner in crime who then must have said, "You go back there and keep tabs on things for me, besides if you leave now it will make you the main suspect." This probably explains why when I fired her, with two full weeks pay, she seemed almost relieved and happy. She tried to work up some tears but just couldn't manage it. I was the one who was sobbing.

When I looked at her driver's license I realized the address she had listed was a friggin' PO Box. Now I'm adding things up, putting bits and pieces of stories together, learning new things no one had bothered to tell me before, like the fact that she has a brother who is in jail somewhere near Palm Springs for armed, home invasion robberies, with special, added time for terrorizing and being extremely cruel to his victims. The jury saw all of this on a surveillance tape that he had been unaware of. Pretty aint it?

Also Esther remembered that Eunice had told her at one point that she thought my extremely sensitive and loving Beau was the kind of kid who would grow up and, "kill his mother." Then there was the day that Eunice took six hours to cash a check and no bothered to tell me that when she finally returned she told Irma and Esther that if I had anything to say to her about this I could, "Take this piece of shit job and shove it, because it's nothing to me and I can just get my things and walk out right now!" I've never ever known anyone who had two such incredibly distinct sides to their personality. It's more than scary and you were all right for having suggested I boot her out of here.

Nevertheless it was hard to do, to look into her lovely face and tell her that it was all over and that she needed to get her stuff and go. I so suck at letting people go. Thank God I was able to do this now before she burrowed in any deeper.

I was only able to speak with the detective very briefly on the phone today. I was so paranoid I made him give me phone numbers to call to verify he was indeed who he said he was and I made him give me details from the report I gave this morning that only the police would have and still I didn't trust him -- he sounded too much like the guy who had called the night before. I'll speak with him some more tomorrow.

The police are tracing the calls made to me last night and have put a tap on my line and want to be here Thursday morning just in case Mr. I Love Cats Too, decides to make good on his threat and call. I'm guessing Eunice has already told him the good news and he won't be making that call. This is my best case scenario, the one I'm hoping for, that they will just go away realizing they were lucky to have received a thousand dollars and no jail time for what they did.

Beau didn't go to school today because he spent all night worrying about the cats. When Eunice left she hugged me and said, "I am so sorry, I should be crying too but I cannot get to my feelings, they are so deep inside." I want to paint her badly, make her the bad guy, but I am still not a thousand percent certain that she did any of this on purpose, even though everyone close to the situation is convinced that she was in on it from the beginning.

For now I just want to take this one minute at a time and go lock my bedroom door because every little bark from the dogs outside, every little bump or sound that the cats are making downstairs, is making me jump out of my skin with fear that home invasion robbers are stealthily making their way up my stairs as we speak, or well, as I write.

I love all of you so so much. Thank you again and again, as always, for caring about us!!!!!

Your friend -- Jacqui