The year was 2004 and I had been living in Boston for a few years. I had recently started dating someone. 2004 was a magical time before Tinder, Bumble, Okcupid, and Plenty of Fish existed; a time before the iPhone if one can imagine such a thing! So yes, we met on Craigslist. That was a thing back then. She was fun, quirky, spontaneous & wild, but a bit unstable. Ok maybe a lot unstable. But she had a dog. A german shepherd. A great dog will make you look past a lot of things. And so I did.
During the first week I was seeing her, she informed me she was 'poly' and that she was seeing someone else already, but that 'he was cool with us'. Well, I told her I was not cool with that situation. I wasn't angry, but let her know it wasn't a situation I was comfortable with nor interested in. Within a few days, she let me know she felt so strongly about me that she told her other partner that she didn't think she was poly anymore and she only wanted to be with me. This led to me getting a LONG and rambling passive-agressive message from her partner about how much he loved having sex with her, but that she was nuts and I was doing him a favor. Oh how I wish I heeded those early warnings and red flags. The kicker: the guy was a huge fan of mine who had seen me perform a dozen or so times and owned all my albums. And with that, we were off to the races.
Back in 2004, I was trying to put my life back together. I had been recovering mentally and physically from a series of major surgeries and hospitalizations surrounding a near-fatal illness in 2002. I was depressed, hopeless much of the time, suffering from PTSD, and also from physical pain. By 2004, 15 years of touring in music and DJing had finally taken it's toll on my spine. Both my neck and back went out the same year and I was 'living' with nearly constant excruciating nerve pain. Not everyone knew this, but I couldn't use my right arm for about 6 months. It shifted back and forth between having no feeling whatsoever and a horrifying flood of high voltage electric nerve pain. It is a feeling one only understands if one has the misfortune of experiencing it. Showering was a challenge, getting dressed was a 20 minute project, lifting a guitar was a pipe dream. I went for many tests, MRIs, PT, steroid shots, pain pills, and spent hours on the phone with suicide hotlines. I was just barely living and couldn't imagine going on much longer in that condition. My then-partner suggested I go to see a 'friend' of hers in Cambridge who was a massage therapist. I was desperate so I agreed. Let's call him Mordechai.
I do not write 'her' name anymore. I do not speak it aloud. I cringe now when I see it in print or hear it. For the purposes of this story, let's refer to her as Irma (after Irma Grese, the 'Beast of Belsen' for those into Nazi concentration camp history). So, Irma set an appointment for me to meet Mordechai at his apartment/massage studio in Central Square. I didn't fully know what I was getting into, but I was desperate, depressed, and in constant pain. Once I was at Mordechai's place, I got on his massage table, clothed of course, as he proceeded to torture me with the most painful 'trigger point' massage ever conceived of. I probably made it through 15 minutes of that agony. Worse than the massage though was the small talk. It was odd and borderline creepy. He kept asking inappropriate questions about Irma and about our budding relationship. By the end of the ordeal, I remember thinking Mordechai was no ordinary friend. They had been lovers or something more involved. I never asked Irma. I never asked Mordechai. I didn't care. I didn't want to know. Regardless, I left his studio that day and thought I would never see him again. That was to change 12 years later in Jerusalem of all places. But one thing at a time.
We can skip 2014. I have written extensively about that year. About the tragedy that brought Irma and I back together in 2013 against all my better judgment. And of course, I have written about the bitter end. Sure there are followups, like learning of her child last fall on social media. But this story is about Modechai, me, and an email he sent this morning. Mind you, I have had possibly 3 conversations with him my entire life. But on a random Shabbat afternoon, in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's old city, there he was. Two months ago... In the flesh... "Mordechai?!?!?" I exclaimed as we literally bumped each other walking through that narrow passage way. I had to remind him who I was, but we both looked a bit different. Turns out he had moved to Israel shortly after that odd day in 2004. He was very religious and was wearing all the clothing one might expect from an orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. He now wore a long unkempt red beard with proud curly payes down the side, a traditional black hat and coat, and he was running late to yeshiva. "Russell!! How many years has it been?" I told him exactly how many it had been. Before long, he asked about Irma. How couldn't he? I gave him a very brief history of the fall of Rome. Mordechai looked on in shocked amazement as I explained what had become of her. We laughed awkwardly about coincidences/small worlds, we said our goodbyes, and I figured that would be the end of that for another 12-13 years.
Then came this morning. I didn't sleep particularly well last night. I seldom do. I suffer from insomnia after spending years on the road, and am haunted by many demons that just won't die. When I awoke, my brain was fixed on my search for serenity in the new world (The West Coast). Out of the silence came a *ding* and a popup message on 3 devices (Thanks Steve Jobs). And with that, I was pulled right back into a world I thought I had escaped from. It was Mordechai. And as usual, the subject was Irma. What follows will simply be the email thread as it played out. I am ok. I will be fine. My stress level was through the roof as I began writing this morning.. But somehow, I find that turning my pain into stories and sharing with anyone who cares to read them calms me down. A lot. I have no pride, so I take all the help I can get.
7:03AM CST Mordechai:
subject: great to see you in jerusalem!!
id like to broker a peace between you and irma
i didnt tell her i saw you i havent talked to her in years
i think its just good for everyone to try
i have literlaly no investment in this and like you both
peace is good!!
7:23AM CST Me:
She deserves nothing of the sort. She is one of the most evil human beings on the planet.
She commit fraud and lied to me. She stole my home, kept me around for months, took advantage of my family's kindness, THEN threw me out of my own home in the middle of a frigid night. At midnight.After that she lied to a judge several times trying to further terrorize me by falsely accusing me of abuse in an attempt to steal my dog. She commit purgery that day and was thrown out of court. Among other lies, her insane brain told a sitting judge that my dog was a 'gift to her from the dog breeder'. The dog breeder however was a longtime friend of mine and was in court that day as MY witness.Irma was sleeping with someone else and got knocked up right after we were in court. (Unless she lied and that evil baby is mine. I certainly hope not).The next time I hear her disgusting name, I truly hope it is someone asking me if I heard that she died. Ph^ck her. For eternity. May she know no peace in her life. She is a sociopathic maniac who deserves nothing but suffering, pain, and misery.Other than that, hope you are doing well.
7:27AM CST Mordechai (with a partial but irrelevant reveal I had always suspected):
Subject: wait so you are saying you dont want to? lol
my friend and i wished we had invited you to come hang out at yeshiva with us!!wow im glad i didnt end up with her!!what a journeyh sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh man sorry to hear itof course a peace would involve fair restititution but ok lets let it go
7:40AM CST Me:
I would have loved to. Maybe next time. 👍🏼
As I write this on the couch, I am snuggled between Rosie, my beautiful boxer girl and Casey, my boston terrier who has been faithfully by my side for so many years. I hope you all have a great and meaningful day. We don't know how many days of any sort are left in this world nor how many are left in our lives. Someday, I hope to trust again. Someday I hope to love openly again. Someday I hope to walk tall again and return to making art in the way I know I am meant to. I hope someday is soon.