Everyone had tried to get me to file suit against Cris the day I moved out of Wildflower. I was still hopelessly in love and he was in Colorado, so I didn't see much point. Anyway, I wanted to give him a chance to get back on his feet and start building a life.
At first, I thought I was really screwed, but I had my old phone bills so I knew his parents' number, and I knew they were in Arvada. I talked to a old roomate of his and found out his step-father's last name. That was enough information. I called the Denver public library, asked for telephone directory department, and explained I needed the address and phone number for so-and-so in Arvada. I knew the number, but I asked for it anyway to test the address. If the phone was different than what was on the bill, the address would be suspect.
After a year in Denver, Cris returned to Dallas. This was May of '97, I had just turned 23. I had filed the suit (because I knew he would be in town) but the only address I had was the one for his parents' in Arvada. The summons was returned with a big "G.T.T." on it and I was pretty screwed if I wanted to pursue it.
Now, Cris had moved in with Mark and I knew they were living in Carrollton. I just didn't know where in Carrollton.
So, I called Mark up and we started talking computer parts and I explained that for the most part, I had built my machine but I still needed a few things. He said, "I've got an old case and power supply...Will that help?" And told me where the apartment was and what number.
Donovan and I went over for the case and the power supply and we had a grand old time sitting around and chatting. At that time Cris was living in Mark's closet.
On the way out, we stopped by the mailboxes. I picked a mailer out of the trash for the address of the apartment complex; by the next day, I had filed an amendment of alias.
Because the address was in Denton County, I had to take the papers to the sheriff; his office is in far north Carrollton off Rosemeade. I ran out of gas on the way, but it was filed and everything was squared away. I received notice it had been served and called the court to see if he had responded. He had not; a prove-up hearing was scheduled for October tenth. I had not received mail conformation on the hearing yet, so I called and the court informed me he HAD responded on the last day and the trial would be February ninth.
In the last week of January, I received notice that the trial had been postponed due to "a conflict in court schedule". The new date would be May 4th, 1998, almost a year after filing the case. I would be 24 before the case went to trial. When I signed the lease with Cris, I was 21.
Phil and I moved in with the wonder twins in April of 98, so I was not in a roommate friendly mood by the time I had to go to court. Phil and I had gone to the Church (a dance club) the night before to celebrate my birthday. I saw Mark there and he asked, "Are you looking forward to tomorrow?"
"Are you going to be there?" I asked
"No, " and he started shifting from one foot to the other. "I'm trying to stay out of that. Just call me Switzerland."
"Oh," I joked. "Then you'd be upset if I subpoenaed you, then."
He looked nervous. "Please, don't do that."
I had visited my parents that weekend and my younger sister--now up in St. Louis, called down to wish me a happy birthday.
"My coven is praying for you."
My dad came in with a hearty, "I'll have you know that a Greek Orthodox priest, a Baptist minister, and a Jewish rabbi.."
"...Walk into a bar." I ventured. "The first two hit and the rabbi says 'never again!' "
My dad chided me about being a wise-ass and told me that his coffee-drinking buddies were "asking God to help."
The day of the trial, Phil woke up with a nosebleed. He couldn't get his hair to do what he wanted, stubbed each of his toes individually, and walked into walls and unopened doors. He made it to the car without any broken bones, got in the passenger seat, turned to me and said, "Tell your sister her Wiccans missed."
We drove down to the courtroom and sat in the uncomfortable seats. Cris was sitting two pews ahead of us. We discussed how lax security at the courthouse was. We talked about how you get things by a metal detector (You could drive a tank through one, and if you drive it slow enough, the detector won't pick up on the metal). Phil started popping his knuckles--slowly --one at a time. Cris jumped ten times.
The judge was marrying people before he came in to hear cases. One case was dismissed right away when the plaintiff didn't raise his hand (he wasn't there). Everyone raised their hand to show they were there. Cris waved to the judge in a flippant manner. The judge pronounced my name correctly. The first name. We approached the bench and stated our cases.
Judge: Was there some sort of relationship here?
Mila: A roommate relationship, your honor. We signed the lease at the beginning of December.
Cris: We were seeing each other.
Cris: I called it off for what I thought was a very good reason.
Mila: At the end of December.
Judge: Uh-huh...(To Cris) You're from Colorado?
Cris: Yeah, I just got back last night.
Judge: Uh-huh. (To Mila) Where are you from?
Mila: Dallas, your honor.
Judge: You ever live anywhere else?
Mila: No, your honor.
The judge asked about the payments that were made while we were living together.
Cris: I was making daily payments. We kept track of everything in a cash ledger that 'mysteriously' disappeared after we broke up.
Judge: And what records did you keep?
Cris: That's what the cash ledger was for.
Judge: But you didn't keep any records yourself? For your own protection? You guys broke up at the end of December, but this went on until April.
Cris: But the cash ledger...
Judge: Was the only tracking anyone kept...
Mila: I have bank statements and paycheck stubs from my checking account, your honor. The discrepancy can show how much was actually deposited by Mr. _____.
Judge: That's all right, we don't need to see that.
Later on it was:
Cris: I haven't been able to pay her back.
Judge: Why not?
Cris: Well, I mean, I haven't had any money. I didn't even get a tax return this year because I'm paying off my student loans...
Somewhere in there, Cris said he hadn't paid me back yet because of the way he was raised. "My upbringing told me you pay family back first, then friends, then creditors."
(Judge does camera take. Pan to audience. Phil shrugs.)
Judge: That's an interesting philosophy. Where are your parents from?
Cris: My father is German Gypsy and my mother is Dutch-Irish-French-Canadian.
Judge: That's very interesting. I have very southern European roots and I've never heard anything like that.
Cris: Well, it's the understanding that family will always be there for you.
Judge: That's true. Family will always be there for you; however, creditors will take you to court.
At one point, the judge asked me were I had gotten my figures (quick panic! have I over-charged?). I told him I had lost the piece of paper with the figures on it, but if I could borrow a pen I could figure it out. Cris handed me a pen and said, "You'll find this one writes."
The judge raised his eyebrows.
The judge had been doing scribble on a folder this whole time. He'd take the numbers we gave him and figure out if the amount was correct. He turned to me and said, "You're asking for $1200?"
Mila: Uh, yes. Yes, your honor.
Judge: My numbers come out to $1900. Why did you only ask for $1200?
Mila: Uh, I've been kind....
By the end of everything, I was awarded $1900 plus court costs.
Judge: You have ten days to appeal. That'll be on the....
Cris: The fourteenth. I should be able to remember that. It's my birthday.
Judge: How old will you be?
Cris really started to fall apart. Then he started flubbing around about harassment ("Where's my money?") and slander ("He owes me money.") and a restraining order. Restraining order? What order? I was never notified of any order? Don't I have to be present at the creation of anything like that? (It was total bullshit, of course. If there had been one I wouldn't have been able to buy my gun or get a conceal and carry licence.)
Judge: That has nothing to do with this. Just pay the woman back.
Cris: Well, I've never been sued before. Who do I pay? Do I pay you?
Judge: You pay her. She's the one you owe the money to.
Cris: Can I go now?
Judge (falsetto): Yes, you can go now.
I thanked the judge and Phil and I hung back a bit to let Cris walk out. We didn't want a confrontation or anything. We weren't going to make nanny-nanny-boo-boo faces at him on our way out. We gave him a gentlemanly way out.
He waited for us.
He handed me one of his "Twilight Guild" business cards--the one with the phone number to the answering service that is no longer around. "You can reach me at this P.O. Box. Just business. Nothing else and to no-where else or I'll enforce that restraining order."
Mila: Uh, okay....
And as we were all going out the revolving door, Cris asked Phil, "Do you want those pornographic playing cards she gave me?"
Phil leaned back a bit and pointed at me. "Why? I have better. We make our own."
Cris reeled back a bit and blanched. We walked away and skipped hand in hand off into the sunset.
Several months later, I filed the abstraction on the judgment--it's like getting a lien on someone's name. I tried to send a copy to Cris at the address on the card, but it was returned A.N.K. (address not known). I gave the card one last chance and lo! He answered the phone.
Mila: Hello, Cris?
Cris: Who is this?
Mila: This is Mila.
Cris: How did you get this number?
Mila: You gave it to me.
Cris: I didn't give you this number!
Mila: Yes, you did. You gave it to me on this card, along with an address that's no good.
Cris: Oh... I... must have forgotten to turn the forwarding off...
Mila: This address on the card isn't any good; the mail I sent you was returned.
Cris: Well, it's not my post office box. It's David's.
Mila: Then why did you give me this address?
Cris: It's how to get a hold of me.
Mila: The mail was returned. The address is not known. Why did you give me a phony address?
Cris: I don't want you knowing where I live.
Mila: So where should I send mail regarding the case?
Cris: I really don't care where you send it.
Most of the mail has been sent to Colorado--to his mother in Arvada.
About a week after that, I went the Church and was introduced to Cris' old girlfriend, D. Cris had told me once I was not allowed to talk to her and after that night, I can see why. D had written the check that bought Cris' car (verified by Russ and Caroline, the origional owners of the car) and later lent him $800 dollars to fix it. (It would have taken $60 to buy a new alternator and I could have put it in.)
I also discovered that Cris had filed suit against D for palimony on the grounds they were common law married. It sounds crazy, but I've seen the paper-work. Now, in the state of Texas, to be common law married, there's actually a form filed with the county clerk. If Cris had won the case, D could have been charged with bigamy as well.
For the most part, D's a successful, with-it lady and she has a retainer with an older law firm. They gave her some advice and several months before the case was to go to trial, D went to the Collin county courthouse to ask about the worth of such a claim.
The case was dismissed with the statement, "That's just sad, a boy that age trying to get money from a woman."
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