Friday, August 19, 2011

Pitfalls of Courtesan's life: client turning into a stalker

Unfortunately, this happens a lot more often than most people imagine :(
This is my “stalker story”.

I’ve met this guy in a small town’s parlour in New Zealand, when I first moved here (about 4 years ago).

He looked very safe and didn’t set off any alarm bells or red flags: tall, reasonably fit, 64 years old with full head of grey hair. He was mild mannered and polite, reasonably well educated. He looked like someone’s grandpa.

He didn’t want anything out of the ordinary in a booking, just a straight lay with a bit of a blow job.
He had to put a plastic ring on his penis right at the start of the service to keep it hard, but that’s nothing unusual.

Parlour owner (a very nice lady whom I became friendly with) knew this guy, as he was a regular and sometimes exchanged his maintenance services (he was an electrician) for a booking: Jackie (the owner) would pay girl’s cut out of her pocket and got all the wiring/installation/fixing done in her place by Peter (that’s the guy’s name) in exchange. It was a sweet deal for all concerned.

Peter was from Switzerland and spoke with noticeable accent (although he’s been in NZ for decades).
When Jackie decided to close down the parlour,retire and move away, Peter asked me if I’d be willing to visit him in his house for the same amount I normally received as my “cut” at the parlour.
I didn’t see any problem with that, Jackie was happy that her girls and clients are getting sorted and so it went.

Peter would text me approximately once a week and arrange the day/time for a visit. It was easy, steady and painless gig: the whole thing took barely half an hour, usually, and that’s including a chat and a cup of tea/glass of bubbles on my arrival.
This went on for almost a year.

Chatting with Peter was a bit of a strain, as we had nothing in common really and no similar interests, but I always made an effort.
I try to make clients feel good and as a pro always play into their fantasies.

Peter was asking me about my life in US and my investments there. He also asked some personal questions, but I didn’t mind: I don’t have any scary “skeletons” in the closet. He told me about his life, ex-wife,kids,their marriages.

Sometimes he would book me around breakfast time on Sat or Sun and upon arrival I would find a nice breakfast set out for 2 of us (he lived alone-was separated from his wife, he said).

Peter told me that he was taking amateur cooking classes at local school and asked if I would like to come and sample his cooking sometime. I agreed on 2 occasions-I wanted to make an effort for a regular customer. Besides, if we ended up having sex, he would still pay me my regular rate.

One time he asked me if I’d accompany him to his company’s X-Mas Party. I politely declined,as I really felt uncomfortable doing that.

I told Peter I like visiting Rotorua (famous NZ natural mineral springs resort) and one day he asked if he could go with me.

After careful consideration, I agreed: he drove and paid for petrol, hotel and the meals. In exchange, I had sex with him once. I paid for my own mud spa treatment and mineral pools entrance. I never rip my clients off and I am not money hungry: I try to be reasonable with my pricing. I felt it was Ok deal for both of us, as I would go to Rotorua regardless of whether or not he went with me, so I incurred less expenses and figured those into overall price calculations.
We took 2 of those trips in a span of 8 months.

On a  second trip Peter wanted to tell me a story: he said he wanted my opinion on the subject.
The story sounded true, yet bizarre.

According to Peter, he used to see a working girl on a regular basis (much like he did with me) 2 years ago. Back then he was still married and lived with his wife in a very nice and posh house up on the Hill (in that particular town there are “hill” people and “flat” people..LOL..).

He described the girl as young, in her early 20′s. Apparently, the girl would come over his house once a week for a session of paid sex. Peter said he always “did business” in a downstairs guest bedroom (vs. master bedroom where him and his wife slept), but the girl often wanted to take a shower and had to do so in a master bedroom,as there was no shower downstairs.

According to Peter, the girl was stealing his wife’s jewellery during those shower trips. He said he didn’t suspect anything for a long time,as his wife had a lot of jewellery and often misplaced it.
But  one day  wife was bound and determined on wearing a certain piece and just couldn’t find it. They suspected the lady who came to clean the house at first (or so Peter said).
After much deliberating, they filed a claim with the insurance company.

In the meantime, Peter “suddenly” realised that it COULD be that working girl he was seeing… So he planted $280 of Australian money left from the trip overseas into a nightstand in the master bedroom.
According to him, when the working girl was finished with her shower, $140 of it was gone.
He confronted the girl, she denied taking it,started crying,blah,blah,blah…

Peter was convinced that she had taken the jewellery as well. He asked her to return it. She denied having it (again, according to him).

Two days later the girl filed a complaint with the police: she said that Peter GAVE her the jewellery as presents at various times, she surrendered ALL of it to the police and asked for their protection and a restraining order against Peter: according to her, he was stalking her and she had a boyfriend and a regular job and just wanted him to stay away. Prior to going to the police, the girl supposedly went to Peter’s workplace (it was a small town,you can’t hide in there) and asked his boss to keep him from harassing her.

All this had devastating effect on Peter: insurance company nearly put him in jail for fraudulent claim, his wife separated from him, he was forced to buy a small house in the “flats” for himself, he nearly lost his job.

Peter said that all he wanted was for that girl to contact his wife and tell her that she did, in fact, took the jewellery without permission and it wasn’t a gift from Peter.
I thought the story was a bit strange and some things didn’t add up.

For instance, I knew for a fact that Peter and his ex-wife maintained a civil, mutually agreeable, friendly relationship: they occasionally went to functions together, he helped her maintaining the house, she fed his cat when he was away, they talked on the phone frequently and they were NOT getting legally divorced to avoid financial implications. So why did it matter what the girl said (or didn’t say)-it’s been almost 2 years?

Another thing was jewellery itself: if the girl stole it, wouldn’t she sell/pawn it in some big city, to avoid being caught? Why surrender it to the police, when she wasn’t even a suspect and hasn’t been questioned?And why would she go to Peter’s boss?

He kept asking me what I thought and I made all the appropriate sympathetic noises (again, I really try to treat my clients nicely)… But I had my doubts. I wasn’t at all sure why he told me about the whole thing in the first place. I just chucked it to him being lonely and needing to talk.

During one of my visits to his house, Peter approached me with a proposition. He explained that he had to charge his daughter’s wedding onto his credit card ($20K) and was paying it off, but the interest rates in NZ were really high-19%. He asked if he could borrow $10K from me and repay it over 10 months with 10% interest. That way I would make some money and he would save some.
I told him I would think about it.
After a week or so I agreed to do it, but wanted proper papers signed, notarised and witnessed. Peter had no problem with that.

He was re-paying me faithfully each month (of course, I had to come over to collect the money and we would turn it into “appointment”, for which he also paid me, in addition to interest :)- it was his idea. In fact, he insisted on doing it that way. Now I realise that was his way of keeping me close.

By then (almost 2 years since I first met Peter) he also started having strange conversations with me. He’d ask me if I liked him. Of course, I always said I did (dah…He was a good regular client..LOL..). Then he told me that he came across an ad in the newspaper, looking for a “couple” for a business opportunity. He suggested the two of us might go into business together. My response was vague-I didn’t want to do it.

The other time he asked me if I could help him to re-decorate his house. I ignored that as well.
He asked me to teach him how to navigate a computer (said he was computer illiterate). I kept making soothing noises, but never done it.

During those 2 years I have separated from my husband and moved out on my own. It wasn’t any kind of secret or a big drama, so I’ve told Peter about it. I asked him to put some extra power points into my new house and do some other electrical things and I paid him with my services for that: it was well-structured and all the costs and regular pricing were taken into consideration.

In retrospect, I did see all the signs: he constantly asked me if I “liked” him, if I found him attractive, he tried to get me to go out with him, he kept showing me different newspaper clippings about “couples needed” for various business ventures… He even ordered a reading from a fortune teller from Australia for both of us and tried to point out the similarities to me! I pretended not to notice any of his “romantic” advances and was hoping that he’d “get a hint”- I was NOT in the slightest bit interested in anything other than PROFESSIONAL relationship.

I certainly wasn’t telling him I was gay,  in love with and  dating a woman (seems to be an ego-buster for a lot of older clients, while most young and middle-aged ones find it a turn-on).

To be honest, after I’ve analysed the whole thing carefully, me cutting all ties with him earlier wouldn’t help-it would’ve only accelerated what happened next.

I got a text from Peter one day cancelling our appointment. It was a bit unusual, but I didn’t really spend any time thinking about it. He called me the next day and re-scheduled. When I showed up at his house, he told me a very strange story.

He said  he was arrested the day before and kept in a police station overnight.
According to him, he was working (doing his electrical stuff) on the street and was using his own car (normally he used a fully equipped van his Company provided for him). He was going back and forth to the car for his tools when police pulled over. They informed him that they received a complained from the parents of two teenage girls in the neighbourhood: supposedly Peter threatened them with a pocket knife and chased after them.

Peter said that the knife in question was a key-chain Swiss knife (I saw it on his key-chain before-it was small and not at all lethal) and he didn’t even see those girls, he was just going back and forth to the car with his keys in hand.

Apparently police treated him roughly, arrested him and then let him out without giving him his shoes back. They also searched his house, confiscated his cellphone and computer hard drive.
At first, I was outraged with the police: how could they violate someone’s rights so blatantly! Although they charged him with 2 counts of assault, the girls were nowhere near him (and they didn’t deny it).
Peter’s story seemed to make sense-but that’s because he didn’t tell me all of it.

When Peter was arraigned, he didn’t apply for a name suppression-he didn’t want to pay his lawyer extra money, plus he told me that he was innocent and had nothing to hide.
When I read the article in the local newspaper the next day, some doubts were stirring inside my head.

First of all, they gave the location of alleged crime-and it was MY street,right at the end of it! Second, the time of the incident was specified as 5:30pm. But Peter always finished work by 4pm, as he started at 6:30am. And he was in his OWN car, not the company van, where he had all his tools and equipment.That van was always parked at his house-he never had to leave it at work. Then there was a mention of binoculars-apparently a pair of those was found in Peter’s car and it was “significant”(according to the article), although it didn’t specify why.
I felt a bit uneasy about the whole thing, but Peter kept professing his innocence and police was really focusing on the little girls and assault…

A week later Peter showed me a letter from his employer: he was discharged for the “conduct unbecoming” and there was some mention of this not “being the first time” and “repeat offense”. I asked him about that, but he explained it away: apparently he yelled at boss’s son a year before and was mean to him… Hmmmm…

Court date was set for 3 months away. Peter continued booking me (and paying,of course)… He constantly hinted about being suicidal (without actually saying the word) and telling me how he “needs to work to survive”.
Finally, he flat out asked me if I could get him a job in a restaurant where I worked. I told him as he had no hospo skills or training, kitchen hand (dishwasher) was his only option. He said he’d take anything.
So, silly me (I wanted to be nice and help him out), I got him a job.

As my sexual orientation was not at all a secret at work, he figured things out pretty quickly, yet said nothing to me. I realise now that he was just trying to get closer to me.

I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, actually-was still pretty heartbroken over Sara (“The One”), but I did have a really good female friend, Pip, who worked as a Chef in that restaurant.
Funny thing is, Pip is self-proclaimed “straightest” person ever: she doesn’t have the slightest desire to “experiment” with women or explore any “bi” tendencies. In fact, she gets quite annoyed when people tease her about possibility of being gay. Yet, she does have that “hard butch” look about her (I think that’s why people make assumptions)
At any rate, Pip and I have never been in any sort of romantic or sexual entanglement: we are just friends.
I guess Peter assumed otherwise…
During those couple of months that he worked with us at the restaurant, he frantically tried to get as close to me as possible-he even asked for another loan of $10K (he paid the first one off by then)! In response, feeling more and more uneasy, I tried to distance myself from him as much as I could. I didn’t go as far as cancelling our appointments, but I’ve made myself unavailable and they became a bi-weekly, rather than weekly affair. I was planning to stop seeing him altogether.

In the meantime, I quit my job in that restaurant in January (I was only staying to fulfill my promises to the owners) and planned a nice 10-day get-away to Fiji.

When I mentioned this to Peter during one of my visits, he wanted to know whom I’m going with (alone) and if I would like for him to “look after my house” in my absence (No!). In a way, this was the beginning of the end-Peter started unravelling.

Pip’s sister was coming over to visit with her husband from Japan and Pip’s parents were driving from Taranaki, so I gave her the keys to my house and told her that they all can to stay in my place (they happily accepted).

My trip to Fiji turned out to be miserable (Sara made sure of that-”The One”). My last day there, Peter texted me and asked for a booking upon my arrival. I didn’t reply and he became insistent and sort of pushy, demanding a response. Now I know he just wanted to know my exact whereabouts (I was flying to Auckland and had my car parked there, so was driving back to Napier the next day after I landed).

I spent the night in a hotel in Auckland and received an odd text from Pip the next morning: “Who else has the keys to your house?” she asked. I replied “No one but you”. Pip made some joke and let it go.

I got home,unpacked and spend the rest of the day doing laundry and sorting through the mail. I saw Peter for a booking later that afternoon. He seemed  his usual self.

The next day there were 2 letters in my mailbox: one was a Valentine’s Card from Peter (it was Valentine’s Day that weekend) and another was a very bizarre piece of correspondence. It was a letter typed (using  a typewriter, not a computer), on a lined piece of cheap paper, with many typos and unmistakable style (Peter’s),with bad spelling and punctuation.
It said that it was from a client of mine who is also an IRD (tax department) officer. He said that he’s been investigating “my case” and he believes that numbers don’t add up. He quoted the exact amount of money I had in one of my accounts-my Credit Union one (the only one I had a passbook for, as the rest of them are all paperless online accounts) and asked me how I could justify deposit amounts. He said he was going to “keep it from his superiors, but not for long” and I should “lay low” for a few months. It was signed “Friend”. He also said that he would “write again soon”.
The whole thing was laughable except for the fact that it was clearly written by Peter and it seemed that he has been through my personal filing cabinet IN MY HOUSE!!
I immediately ran to Pip’s house where I discovered something even more disturbing.

Apparently, when Pip arrived at my house that last day, she found my mail neatly laid on the chair by the front door. When she entered, she discovered a basket full of condoms and lube placed in the middle of my bed (it was INSIDE my bedside table when I left) and on my dining room table there was my “Guide To Lesbian Sex” book laying open. Pip called her parents/sister to make sure it weren’t them who left those items where they were (of course,not!). Thus the text from her asking me who else had an access to the house-she just didn’t want to spook me while I was driving, so left it until I got home.

It was clear that Peter has been to my house in my absence (many, many times, as I found out later). Apparently, he was under the impression that Pip and I were dating and thought that was the reason his advances were not met with any success. So he decided to “remove the competition” by breaking us up. He figured Pip knew nothing of  me being the working girl (wrong! Of course she did) and tried to “out” me to her… LMAO!. It wasn’t really funny, but in a way, it was.

I went through all my papers and realised that a couple of things were missing: my day planner from a year prior(it was a small book, I kept it because I write absolutely everything into my day planner: phone numbers, appointments, random thoughts,etc) and my suicide letter that I wrote in a moment of absolute despair when Sara left me (I know, I should have destroyed it long ago).
I am very organised, everything is filed and labeled and I live alone, so I knew I didn’t “misplace” those and no one else could have taken them.

I had to take extreme action. Accompanied by one of my male friends I went to Peter’s house that night. He wouldn’t open the door at first, keeping all lights off, but when we were leaving, I saw him trying to peek through the curtain. He knew he’s been caught out, so he pretended to be really sleepy and opened the window.
I told him I needed to talk to him straight away. He opened the door and in we (Vlad and I) went in.
I confronted Peter, he denied any wrongdoing.
I asked him if he picked up my mail-he admitted that,  but said he just left it at the door. You see, he is very clever-he knew that he was probably seen by my neighbours around my house, so he had a “legitimate” reason for being there.
I told him I knew he had my note and I wanted it back. He kept denying everything. I warned him to stay away and left.

The next morning I got a text from him saying that he was confused, didn’t know what was happening and for me to “name a time and place for coffee to sort things out”. I ignored the text. He then rang me on my land line and I just yelled at him to leave me alone and hang up.
By now I knew things were a lot worth than I originally thought: Peter was clearly a very disturbed individual.

I went to the police. At first, the officer in the window was trying to politely give me a brush off by saying that I need to file a restraining order and for that I need a lawyer and a court.
But after a few minutes of me describing the situation, something flickered in his eyes. “What is the guy’s name?” he asked. I told him. He heaved a sigh and said:”You better come with me”.
When we went inside, he proceeded to tell me that Peter is known to the police, has been for years, for that exact behaviour (stalking)-factor in that story Peter told me about the other working girl from two years ago. NOW it was all making sense.
Police officer told me that they really want to put him away, but he is very clever and never leaves a trace and they just can’t “get” him.
Report was filed and my house was fingerprinted the next day. I also had to serve a tress pass notice on Peter personally (NZ has really strange laws).

Peter kept denying everything, but from that point on he engaged in an active stalking campaign against me.

I changed my locks, but he got into the house one more time (a friend of mine helped me figure out later that he was getting in through the bathroom window that wasn’t latching properly. I nailed all the windows in the house shut after that).

During that last break-in Peter put my suicide note back, but in a different file. There was no mistaking he had it,though: it was originlly written by hand, in pencil on a pristine piece of paper,not ever folded. Now it appeared folded in four and had deep warn out creases where the folds were (as if it’s been carried in a wallet or pocket).

Peter sent me another letter, asking why I “suddenly turned on him”.

Next few months were a nightmare. Napier is a relatively small town and it’s not hard to figure out any one’s whereabouts, especially in CBD.

Peter unlocked my car and turned the lights on to drain the battery (he clearly made the copy of my car keys on one of his forays into my house) twice in one week.

I'd see him driving the streets and pretend not to see him and, sure enough, he would make a sharp U-turn the minute he spotted me.

He called the parlour where I worked occasionally just when I happen to be there, feighted surprise at hearing my voice, then asked if I “found the letter I was missing” (after he put it back).

I saw him following me in a car that was different from his own (to avoid detection, I guess).

When I went out of town for a few days, he managed to track down a phone number of one of my acquaintances (older lady who watched my little dog in my absence), called her from a payphone, gave her some bullshit story and weaseled out of her exactly where I went. She realised something wasn’t right the minute she hang up, but it was too late: he caught her unaware.

Peter monitored private ads I put in a local paper (although I used a different name) and mailed those along with some older ones (about 4 months) to the parlour owner where I worked occasionally. I guess, Peter thought they wouldn’t let me work in that parlour again. Ha!

He clearly didn’t want me to be with anyone else. He wanted me all to himself.

I tried to fight back. I installed alarm in my car, sensor floodlights and live monitored alarm system at my house (to the tune of $1500).

I rang his wife (she holds an important position with a local hospital and I was hoping she could “put a leash on him” to avoid the embarrassment).

I also wrote her a letter (and sent a copy to his married son who lived in the same area). That netted no result, except the police calling me and trying to tell me that I was “harassing” her. Can you believe it?!

I contacted a lawyer and tried to start a restraining order, only to find out that it would be nearly impossible and a waste of $3000: since Peter was never actually my boyfriend and we never lived together, he could challenge the order time after time and SUCCEED, wasting my lawyer’s time and my money in the process.

Finally, I made arrangements to move to Wellington. Peter wasn’t the only deciding factor in that move, but he definitely was one of them.

That didn’t stop him. Shortly after moving I received a text from one of girls who worked in a cafe in Napier that I used to go to every morning for my coffee and muffin (I am a creature of habit). She told me that he’s been in asking where I went (of course, she didn’t tell him).
I was so mad! I rang him and yelled at him to leave me alone-he just laughed. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about.
I knew then that the best course of action would be to ignore him: he clearly was craving contact and acknowledgement.

He still  to this day calls me systematically (about twice a week) from  a blocked number and  hangs up.

Peter even tracked my ex-husband’s cell phone number, caught him unaware with some half-plausible story and managed to find out that I was liiving in Wellington.

I was on “Fair Go” (consumer protection TV show here in NZ) for a completely unrelated matter.As I found out later, Peter tracked down and called the woman I was having a dispute with (again, he used a fake name and a blocked number), claimed to be a “disgruntled customer” of mine and weaseled out my actual address (she had it because it is compulsory to put it on a Dispute Tribunal Claim).

Imagine my shock when I found a postcard in my mailbox in Wellington which read: “Why would you leave sunny Hawkes Bay for cold, windy Wellington? See you in Hawkes Bay”. There was no signature and, of course, he had someone else write it, so it wasn’t his handwriting. It sounded innocuous enough, taken out of context, but he was letting me know that he is well aware of my exact whereabouts.

At one point he’s taken to playing back  audio tapes during his “anonymous” phone calls. Apparently the prick taped our bookings and I do very good “sound effects”… I am not at all sure what point he was trying to make.

It’s been year and a half since I left Napier. Peter hasn’t given up, not entirely. Anonymous phone calls are less frequent, but he still calls.

I am not letting him affect my life: I still go to Napier to see my friends occasionally.

Few weeks ago I worked there for 3 days. I used a different name and a different number-he still figured it out. I was trying to be vigilant by having my friend record a greeting and was answering the phone in a “fake” voice. However, lots of “legit” clients ring from “blocked” numbers and I was pretty busy, so I’ve answered a couple of calls in my real voice. Sure enough, there Peter was, asking about “the rates”. I hang up on him immediately (I don’t know what he was thinking-that I would actually accept his booking?!) and rang back a half a dozen times straight away (I ignored).

Police told me that he is “not violent” as far as they know. Well, it’s cold comfort: people “snap” all the time. Besides, Peter is clearly sick and he needs help and untreated sickness as we all know progresses, while the patient deteriorates. He can become violent at any time and anything can trigger it.

So this is my story. As sad as it is, here’s the lessons from it: you can’t really be overly nice to any client. You have to gently remind them, over and over, that this is strictly “business”. Yes, you enjoy their company, but ONLY for the duration of the booking. It doesn’t mean that “it’s all about money”, but it has to be clear that no personal or romantic relationship is even remotely possible.

Clearly, when stalkers are clever (as Peter is), police is helpless. There is absolutely nothing they can do. Not unless you’re dead and seriously harmed and they can “pin” it on him.
This is the world we live in. It is what it is, whether we like it or not

1 comment:

  1. Holy crap. That is terrifying. I hope I never have this happen to me!