This is Episode 9 in the story of the formation, rise and fall of the little education collective that used to exist up here on our mountain. I wrote and posted this account three years ago on my blog and then pulled it off because someone whose name I had not changed, objected. Now I have changed both the name of the little school itself, and the names of everyone who might be negatively impacted, and plan to re-post the story, one episode per day, until all 32 are again on my blog.
Two Could Play the Same Game
“Dominican College, may I help you?”
“Hi, this is Mark O’Neill, returning Susan Rounds’s call.”
“One moment, please.”
“Susan Rounds speaking.”
“Howdy, Susan. This is Mark O’Neill. I got a message to call you. What’s up?”
“Mark, we received a letter here at Dominican from Corrine Chintz. Before you get upset, allow me to assure you that we do not take the letter seriously, especially in light of the restraining order.”
I thought to myself. How does she know about the restraining order?
“What does the letter say? Actually, I probably know what the letter says. So, what do I do now? How does this affect my application?” I didn’t see how it could, but thought I should ask the question.
“It doesn’t affect it at all. I just thought you should know that this action was taken. My understanding is that it is a mutual restraining order, so you may want to talk to your lawyer.”
My lawyer? Did I have a lawyer? Was Barry Vogel my lawyer? “Uh, well, I don’t know too much about that, but thank you for the advice.”
As I hung up the phone, I thought about going back to court. What a drag. Then I thought about not going back to court. With whom would Imika decide to correspond next? Going back to court when I was calling the shots, was different from having Imika summon us. did not look forward to the process, but I needed to let her know that she was not the only kid on the block who knew how to take legal action. I was going to talk to Barry Vogel, Esquire, and see what he thought.
As we were ushered into his office by the receptionist, only two days later, I took stock of the simply furnished office and the straight-backed chairs, lining the right wall. I remembered being down here the first time when the road access issue was being litigated. Barry exuded confidence. He was soft-spoken and never in a hurry to assert his thinking, preferring to draw it out as the interview proceeded.
“Hi, Mr. Vogel, I appreciate you seeing me, us.” Annie had come with me, as we had been given an appointment immediately upon calling the law firm.
“Barry. Please. We’re old friends, and speaking of old friends, I see Corrine is back in your life.” His eyes relayed his combined sympathy and mild amusement.
“Yeah, I’m resigned to that, but now she is spilling over. This letter to Dominican is a work of art.” I had been able to go down to Talmage the previous day and obtain the letter from Susan Rounds, so as to bring it to Barry’s office. I was a lot more worried before I saw the letter, than I was after I saw it. I saw it as a clear case of more is less. The letter was rambling in nature, not quite as disjointed as the one she had notarized earlier and presented to us about the road, and covered familiar territory.
She started out with the endangerment of her daughter, continued with the usual flow about conspiracy, but she got cocky and tossed two new tidbits out: first, Bell Springs had been upgraded to a cult and second, we were now “professional liars.” Barry seemed to appreciate that particular line.
Cocking his head to one side, as he glanced at me over the missive, with his eyes dancing merrily, he asked, “Just how do you get to be a professional liar? I thought only...” He spread his arms out expressively, taking in his surroundings. “Never mind.” We shared a moment of humor that led me to believe that Barry Vogel only worked the cases that he wanted and this one was in his sights.
I felt grateful to him for breaking the ice, and making it clear that we were on the same page as far as Imika was concerned. “Is being a professional liar better or worse than just being a run-of-the-mill liar?” I asked.
“Well the degree is certainly key,” he continued, as though we were having an actual conversation. “I would say that Corrine’s elevation of your status to professional, says more about her state of mind than it does about your ability to lie.”
“So this letter is bad news for Imika?” I asked.
Barry let that quiet smile envelop his face, all but his eyes. “Yes, this letter will accomplish more to get her off your back, than all of the words you could have spoken in a week.” I was glad Barry was on my side.
Included in the Declaration of Contempt that Barry filed were four violations by Imika. The first was the letter to Dominican; the second was an incident when she approached Annie and the boys on April 5th, shouting, “Shut up you kids...I’m going to call the police,” which was followed by a formal complaint to the Mendocino Sheriff’s office by Annie.
Again, on April 9th Imika approached all of us, shouting obscene comments, including calling Annie a c**t and a whore, and threatening to have me arrested by the police.
Finally, on July 31st, as Annie and the boys drove past her on Bell Springs Road, slowing to a speed of five miles per hour, Imika “extended her middle finger of one hand at them, in a derisive manner.”
In this, the immediate response to the letter to Dominican, Barry had sought only to have Imika declared in violation of the terms of the restraining order, so as to garner me safe passage through the muddy waters that the letter had created. Of course Susan Rounds was totally understanding, and there was never any doubt as to the source of the letter; however, it did serve as a reminder to Imika, that two could play the same game, especially if one of them hired a top-notch lawyer.