For two weeks, it seemed hopeless. I’d been told I couldn’t prove it was him—Internal Affairs basically told me to give up and invest in weaponry and the Judge who was hearing my petition for a restraining order was notoriously conservative and unlikely to look fondly upon some redheaded tart who sexted her 50 year old boyfriend.
But it was no longer my word against his. With those phone records I could follow the cookie crumbs back to the first day the phone had been used. Guess who’d called it three minutes after it was activated?
My ass-hat of an ex.
He’d activated the pre-paid phone, added a balance, then called the T-mobile phone that was registered in his real name, at the number we all knew to be his. He placed several calls back and forth and when he was confident the phone was operational, he sent multiple picture messages from his personal phone to the pre-paid phone. Once he’d amassed an arsenal of photos, he began sending them from the pre-paid to everyone else—pretending to be me.
I hit print then e-mailed a screenshot to Internal Affairs. Subject line: “ROASTED.”
The following Monday was the hearing for the restraining order. I spent my weekend compiling a dossier on the douchebag, filled with police reports, timelines, and every bit of information I’d gathered against him over the last 6 months. My boss had called his “girlfriend from kindergarten” who was now a district attorney and gotten me hooked up with a lawyer named Betsy– a badass who quickly came to the conclusion that my ex was “the craziest mother fucker” she’d ever heard of.
I showed up for the hearing with two friends and sat in the back row. My ex wasn’t there yet. I’d looked for him in the parking lot, watched for him as I climbed the courthouse stairs, and given long looks to the officers at the metal detectors, hoping they’d prevent him from getting his gun inside the building.
A part of me hoped he wouldn’t show up, that I wouldn’t have to face him. Maybe he had decided to just let it be, and would stay away and finally let me get back to having a life.
I could feel him standing in the doorway, filling every inch of it with menace and hostility. He stood still, appraising everything with a look of arrogant disdain. He stared directly at me and I looked away. I’d never seen him wear a suit.
Watching from the corner of my eye, I saw him walking towards me. He changed direction at the last moment and paced the full length of the last row until he stood in the back corner. He stared at me for another minute then walked to the front of the room, diagonal from where I sat. Again, he just looked at me, as though I were a sculpture to be admired from all angles. Finally, he crossed back to my side of the room and stared into my eyes as he casually unbuttoned his suit jacket, his every move an exaggerated testament to how “above this” he was.
I leaned over to whisper in my friend’s ear.
“How many calories do you think he just burned with that long walk?”
The court clerk told us to rise as the judge entered the room. I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn’t hear anything but the sound of my heart trying to escape my chest. The clerk read my name and Betsy gestured for me to approach the bench. She’d walked me through this entire process the week before.
“I will stand between you the entire time, but he’ll do anything to intimidate you, so don’t look at him.”
As I walked to the bench, I suddenly felt incredibly calm. My heart went back to it’s steady 72 beats a minute and my voice did not shake as I spoke. I’d told this story so many times—to the investigators, my boss, my friends, the police, my attorney—but my ex had never been there to listen.
I made sure I didn’t skip a single detail.
I saved my dossier for after he’d told his side of the story, letting him believe it was still only my word against his. The judge asked him if he had anything to say in response.
He sighed deeply.
“I honestly don’t even know why I’m here, your honor.”
She interrupted him before he could go on.
“You’ve been standing here, have you not heard anything Ms. Lorens just said?”
This flustered him.
“Well, I mean, yes I heard all of that but I don’t know what it has to do with me.”
“Mr. —— some very serious accusations have been leveled against you, and you don’t know how that has anything to do with you?”
He flipped through a spiral notebook full of scribbles, reciting a long list of dates and times in which he’d been interviewed by Internal Affairs and then began a tangent about how good of an employee he was.
The judge sighed audibly and interrupted him once again.
“Mr.—— do you deny being in a relationship with Ms. Lorens?”
“No, I do not.”
“Do you deny that she asked you to never contact her again?”
“Well, I don’t remember if she used those exact words.”
“Did she imply that she no longer wanted to hear from you after the breakup?”
He ignored the question and began rambling about how we were good friends and that he respected me and was hurt that I would suddenly start accusing him of things.
“Mr. —— you state that you remained friends. Does this mean that Ms. Lorens also contacted you?”
“Yes, it was a back and forth.”
My attorney interjected and showed the judge my cell phone records for the last 6 months, showing the hundreds of times he’d contacted me without provocation. I’d highlighted every single text and call and flagged it with color coded tabs. It looked like a sorority banner you’d wave at a football game, it was so colorful and fluttery. My friend told me that there was a similar case about the supreme court having access to phone records, check out the University of Southern California if you’d like more information but I digress.
The judge looked to my ex for a response. He began rambling about how I was full of vengeance and had concocted this whole plan out of revenge. She had to interrupt again and ask him whether he was familiar with the pre-paid phone number.
“I don’t even know what a pre-paid phone is,” he answered.
The judge may or may not have face-palmed at this point.
“I’ve never even seen that number before,” he declared.
“Did you not just testify that you’d been interviewed several times regarding this number?”
“Well, yes” he stammered, “I mean other than that.”
“Is there anything else you want to add?”
“Just that she’s dragging my name through the mud for no reason at all. I have a lot at stake because of this.”
The judge looked back to me.
“Is there anything you’d like to add?”
I flipped to the back of my binder and removed the pre-paid phone records that I’d gotten online and showed her where you could see the connection between his phone and the pre-paid.
I couldn’t help but sneak a look at my ex, who’s eyes were bulging as he stared at the Virgin Mobile logo at the top of the page.
“Mr—— what is your cell phone number?”
He recited it.
“And how do you explain the fact that your number is on this record?”
He threw his hands in the air.
“I don’t even know how all this works, all I know is sometimes I get messages from people I don’t know and I’m just like ‘stop calling me’ and then they might send something or a photo and I’ll be like ‘no, leave me alone, I don’t want to be a part of this.”
His gestures grew wild and dramatic. My attorney slowly began to back away from him.
“I don’t know how cell phones work, she could have sent those photos to anyone and maybe someone sent them back to me, I don’t know, I just delete everything. Everything was fine until this and I’m an A-Team special forces soldier, I fought for our country, and—“
He was full blown manic.
I wasn’t supposed to look at him but it was hard not to watch such a train wreck. There was spit flying from his mouth as he banged his fists on the counter.
“We never really even dated, we were only coworkers, she just hates me…”
He was yelling now. Betsy’s hands were shaking on the judge’s bench. A bailiff crossed the room but the judge interrupted again, her face stone cold.
“Mr. —— what is your race?”
He stared at her for a second then ignored her question and began talking about how I had a horrible reputation at work.
“Mr. —- what. is. your. race.”
He stood quietly then finally answered, his tone was back to being composed and dismissive.
“Your age? Your weight? Your address?”
She was filling out the restraining order.
The judge read the details of her ruling then turned back to him.
“You will remain in the courtroom until Ms. Lorens has been safely escorted off the grounds. After this you will follow the bailiff to the 2nd floor to make payment arrangements for the court costs.
His fists slammed against the counter.
“What?” he yelled.
I’d checked a box on the 6-page legal petition asking that he be responsible for the court fees that would have been waived otherwise. It was such a small act of defiance but his temper tantrum showed that I’d hit him where it hurt.
I was free to go. He beelined towards me, but the bailiff stepped between us. Betsy placed her shaking hand on my shoulder as she escorted me and my friends out of the room.
“What a goddamned liar!” Betsy gasped. “I’ve worked with a lot of assholes, but I’ve never seen anything like that. She was ready to punch him, I think.”
Betsy nodded towards the restraining order in my hand.
“You show that to your employer, and if they don’t get rid of his ass, you call me.”
We headed to Starbucks for a post-shit-storm-latte. The next day, my ex was suspended from work and banned from the hospital grounds. Two weeks later they held a meeting off-site and gave him one last chance to respond to the allegations. He spent two hours pacing the room, yelling about how I’d framed him and was trying to ruin his life. He’d worked at the hospital for over 25 years and was eligible for early retirement in 6 months.
The next day, they fired him.
This was it– I didn’t have to worry about him cornering me or following me or ever threatening me again. He’d learned his lesson and I’d finally be able to heal from the abuse and the fear and begin a new chapter of my life. I was full of hope.
But I was wrong. So very wrong.
Have you ever kept working with an ex after a breakup? Who’s the worst liar you’ve ever encountered? Do you believe in Karma?
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