The Other Jonathan (the Twenty-Second Chapter)

Hola maestro. I I saw you finally opened your yoga studio. Awesome! I’ll probably attend your sessions on Tuesdays. I don’t know. I haven’t practiced yoga in a long time. I’ll see if I can work it into my rhythm.

I moved into my new apartment, by the way. It has a wonderful view of the Expiatory. It’s spectacular. Also, I saw Mayra today. Not Mayra Flores, the escort. I mean Mayra Arroyo, my ex-girlfriend who you know well. Fucking hell, maestro! It was so stressful! But I love that chick so much. I’m going to tell you more about this on Zoom, maybe Saturday, hopefully sailing on a lake of tequila.

But okay, for now I just want to write another e-mail about my experiences while here in Mexico. This one will have nothing to do with Mexicans or with the country, though. In fact, after my adventures with Carolina, I didn’t feel like doing anything with anybody, which was great, because even if wanted to do something, no one could do anything in the summer of 2020 because of the COVID hysteria. During that time I was going between sitting at home writing in my Zapopan apartment or talking with my family or friends from different parts of the world. Yes, I was lonely in the apartment. In fact, the experience reminded me of my year in Israel. That’s probably why I thought a lot about Israel, and therefore, of course, about the Electrochemical Girl.

Maestro, over the year after I tried to contact her in various ways, especially shortly after I returned from Israel, maybe you’d think I was a stalker, and at a certain time, maybe in some way, I probably was for a little bit. I made a different account on Facebook to try to send her messages at one point. She never answered. That was that. At least I learned my lesson from my instant of stalking. And of course using the word “stalking” here is rather ridiculous. Neurotic behavior, trying to get someone to talk to you, is not the same as following someone down the street night after night with a video camera and a rape kit. It isn’t peeking through blinders or breaking into their house to hide in their closet or sniff their panties. When police use terms like “stalking,” it refers to some pretty serious behavior that is actually criminal. Trying to get past someone blocking you on Facebook once or twice is not stalking. But in this insane world of #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein hysteria, I just thought I had to be sure you were aware of what stalking actually is, and how it differs from the definition of the word used by hysterical middle school girls giggling and calling their ex-boyfriends stalkers when the dudes take measures to talk to them after they have been blocked by the chicks on Instagram. I just want to make sure you know this because I really don’t think the world does anymore. At any rate, my efforts to talk directly to Noah van Ouwerkerk were very shortlived. With a history like mine, I am sure you know why. And insisting directly on talking to her wasn’t going to get me anywhere. It could only cause problems.

So I texted her sister Levia. She suggested that I seek psychological help. Her comment seemed like a simple statement of the obvious intended to avoid any personal involvement. It struck me like the Good Samaritan walking by the wounded Jew and telling him he should go see a doctor. I will not deny that a few years of therapy could help me, perhaps as much as a few hours of conversation with the subject of my trauma even. But it saddened me that for her, naturally, it was preferable that I suffered through years of therapy before she persuaded her sister Noah to have a conversation with a damn pervert like me.

Now don’t think I sent these guys billions of messages over years. Just a few efforts here and there. Based on my history with women from the Army, I know all too well the stark danger that unwanted male contact poses to that male. So I learned from my efforts that these people weren’t going to answer me. Ultimately they made no effort to block me, probably because I had tried to avoid their blocks before by creating different accounts. They just treated me with complete indifference, not responding, and it worked.

I realized that there was no point in trying. I had no chance of receiving an answer. I decided to just write for myself in my personal and inner world of my blog and Facebook. If someone wanted to tell me something, fine, and if not, I would accept that reality.

Although the summer months of 2020 were difficult, I dedicated myself to analyzing my life and the events of 2019.

I had studied Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew — the languages of Israel — in addition to Judaism in college. For some reason I decided to visit the land of Jesus for the first time after serving twenty years in the military, suffering from PTSD for the last two. For reaons that are to you now obvious, I had a problem tolerating someone accusing me of being a threat to women.

That year in Israel was terrible. I had no one to talk to, and my attempts to connect with people ended in an accusation that singled out me as a threat to women. Ironically, it came from a Christian family, my so-called brothers of faith. My response was to love Noah — to whom I was supposed to be a threat — in an indescribable and irrational way. But it was a way that to me was ultimately valid and biblical, despite the irrationality of the circumstances.

Upon my return to the United States I ran into to drugs and visited the devil himself in hell. His name was Chaz. A character who with my help undertook a colossal effort to break down my remaining sanity, and almost succeeded.

For me, all of these unfortunate events had no other purpose than to separate me from Israel. Everything seemed to me to be a perfect plan of the devil. Also, as I wrote to you in my previous email, my solution to go to Mexico turned out to be a paradise of temptations. I was a gringo with a fist full of dollars surrounded by legions of delicious Mexican women.

I felt that my life was like that of Faust, from Goethe. Or also I was a Daniel Brown, like in the story by Juan José Arreola that you recommended to me. My story was an archetype. By the way, maestro, you remember what I wrote about The One and the Prince? The Prince’s dogma is that reality is what you imagine, while The One’s dogma is that reality is a story written by God. My life was definitely a story with many messages.

Let’s talk now about the phenomenon that I call my love for the Electrochemical Girl. I’ve already written to you about my close relationship with Chloe, my X-23, a girl my daughter’s age. I have also already mentioned to you about my love for the Fire Girl, something like a soul mate that I have, despite the fact that she is married and has two daughters and there have been very long periods, decades, in which I have not crossed paths or words with her.

Noah seems to be a mixture of both: she is young and far away. Would she be a Fire Girl II? Or an X-23 II? This doesn’t seem to be very romantic, maestro. If this were a typical romance novel, I could only describe an otherworldly and insuperable love for Noah like no other. But here I have just posited that I love her as a result of a pattern of prior behavior. Psychological conditioning. I’ve apparently loved lots of people just like her. I’m just that kind of animal, right? Although, from a different perspective, I could tell you that I have been designed, written by the history of my life at the hand of God who ordains all things and fashioned the universe as an oracle to be divined, to love Noah van Ouwerkerk. Now that might be material for a romance novel.. To my heart, loving Noah van Ouwerkerk is natural.

If you add to my previous paragraph the emotional breakdown of PTSD I had when Harold called the police and the catastrophe that the crystal brought, the result can only be my current relationship with the Electrochemical Girl. A romance between a dreamer and a chimera by a dreamer designed to love chimeras. In fact, I do dare say that everything about her was God’s doing. I will explain this to you now.

I believe that without this love, as absolute as it is irrational, on my part for this almost unknown adolescent, I would have forgotten Israel. Remember how above, and basically for the last e-mail or two, I’ve gotten the idea that all the things going on in Mexico looked designed to make me forget Israel? And here was my love for Noah van Ouwerkerk making that not happen. In fact, because of her I have not been able to feel comfortable in Mexico, and I have not been able to do anything to alleviate my discomfort. That is why I tried several times, unsuccessfully, to communicate with Mademoiselle van Ouwerkerk. Since my experiences had trained me to love her, I had to find out if this whole story had a purpose or a reason.

The frustrating months I spent trying to solve the Noah van Ouwerkerk mystery produced something else. Why had it been so important for those Christians in Israel to forget and ignore me? Why was it that Harold seemed to be on team Eddy and team Chaz, only to be opposed in some kind of celestial Super Bowl by team Jonathan and team Electrochemical Girl? What was Harold’s overarching reason for not allowing me a chance to heal my wounds between between spiritual siblings? Christians are supposed to love their enemies, right? They have to forgive them. But the van Ouwerkerks had no interest in hearing a word from me. Why was that?

This is how it was in the summer of 2020 when, after some attempts to contact the girl like any “stalker,” I decided to talk to Noah’s brother, Jonathan van Ouwerkerk, about the opportunity to talk with her. I had met him at Harold’s house at the same party I met Noah at. The guy was extremely effeminate. I suspected he was gay. He lived in the Netherlands, unlike the rest of the family who lived in Israel. He was studying psychology at the university. He was a strange son for a religious guy like Harold.

I want to emphasize that I do not know if Jonathan is gay. I only guess this because of his effeminacy and the fact that he seemed separate from the rest of the family. I know practically nothing about this group of Dutch people, but I got the impression that Jonathan might be different from his family of strict religious types who would not tolerate an old man talking to a teenage girl.

It was easy to find him on Facebook. He hadn’t blocked me, and I hadn’t talked to him before, so he didn’t ignore me. I texted him, and he responded. I must tell you that our correspondence did not make me feel like I was in the presence of the Holy Spirit when w communicated, however.

I told him that I had been trying to contact his sister, and that she was probably not using the Facebook Messenger app because she was not responding to me. He told me that Noah did actually use the app, but she didn’t want to answer me. I told him that I wanted to contact his sister. He asked me why. I told him I wanted to talk about things related to my departure from Israel and other things that I had been thinking about.

Maestro, telling him everything that had happened to me since I met his sister would have been impossible. It was simply too much. However, he offered to arrange mediation. He was suggesting I couldn’t speak to her personally, but he could deliver my messages and bring me hers. This way I could have a conversation with Noah.

I told Jonathan that it was very important for me to contact her for a time – I didn’t know how long – and in an environment where she could be completely comfortable and be honest with me. Sadly, it’s a rare thing for people to even be able to be honest with themselves much less other people, and I imagined that if her brother listened to her every word she would just tell me whatever it was expected of her to tell me. It would be another round of her dad handing her the phone to tell me how much she hated me, just like he did. It would basically the same situation from 2019 when her father gave her the phone with the imperative to get rid of the stalking monk.

He listened to me, but I couldn’t convince him to help me talk to his sister directly. In the end, I only asked him to tell her that I had contacted him and wanted to talk to her. He refused. This seemed like a hint of irrational animosity. Why would he not pass her a message that I had called immediately after he offered to mediate conversation between us? He was going to insist on having control over the situation, it would seem. He was going to make sure her words were appropriate. When I insisted on direct contact that did not grant him that kind of control, in anger he refused to even pass a message. I could see that my person aroused a certain animosity among the van Ouwerkerks. Surely, now the whole family was going to comment on my reaching out to Jonathan. After all, the stalking monk was trying to cause trouble again. How could Jonathan not tell anyone? Or could it be that Jonathan would go directly to Harold or other family members, but not to Noah? What kind of crazy family was this?

I realized that I was talking to an enemy. I got frustrated. I told him that it seemed obvious to me that he was not going to help me. Then I sent him a copy of an essay that I had written that dealt with my anger toward religious moralists. It was titled The Dogs of Hell. The last message I wrote him was line taken from the bible: “The Lord will repay you according to your deeds,” a phrase that the apostle Paul used to say to his enemies. It was the end of the conversation.

I was shattered. Of course, the van Ouwerkerks assumed that I wanted to talk to Noah because I urgently needed to rape her teenaged Dutch vagina.

Plunged into an abyss of disappointment that engulfed me entirely, my life passed in Zapopan during the time of COVID like months stretched on a medieval torture rack. And, maestro, I was in Mexico, the place that the definitely wanted to be my home. It was obvious that if I had wanted to search for women, drugs, and adventure, I would have found them without difficulty. Especially on the beaches. But I didn’t want any of that.

My life in Mexico continued without my being able to understand what the meaning of my trip to Israel had been, or what my love for the Electrochemical Girl actually was. I began to feel a certain fear that I was losing a feeling that there was a destination for me outside of Mexico. This is important. Underline that sentence, maestro. Losing touch with the Electrochemical Girl and accepting life in Mexico became for me evidence of abandoning some as yet unknown higher divine purpose that Satan was so intent on dissuading me from bringing to fruition.

Yes, questions about the nature of reality and my own insanity also persisted.

After my conversation with Jonathan I had to wonder if there was a Christian in the world who could behave like a true Christian. I have told you many times, maestro, that the van Ouwerkerks are pillars of their religious community, but I had received nothing from them other than their reports to the police, their unforgiveness, and their unwillingness to help a stranger or an enemy.

This became a new aspect of my desire to contact the Electrochemical Girl or her family: I wanted to see the spirit of love in them. A real love. Not just a sexual or familial love, but a love for a disgusting stranger who needed help.

With this in mind, after a few weeks I contacted Jonathan again. I told him that I was interested in his offer to mediate the conversation between Noah and me. His response was that that offer was no longer on the table.

This time Jonathan seemed to be upset. He reminded me that I had sent him the essay on religious moralists. He complained about what he interpreted as mistreatment. I asked him if he wanted an apology. And I also told him that his behavior now seemed a bit vindictive to me, but if he wanted an apology I could give it to him without problem.

He told me that he could help me with anything other than contacting his sister. We started talking about something else. I don’t remember what now, actually. Some sort of banal request, in the interest of getting to know him or keeping some contact going. He told me he wasn’t interested in helping with that either. So I like honesty, maestro. In case you haven’t picked up on that by now. So I did point out that he had just offered to help me with anything other than contacting his sister, and I just asked him to help me with something other than contacting his sister, and he refused, and that seemed to me like he was lying. He became very frustrated with me at that point. That’s when he told me flat out, “you can’t always get what you want.” He wasn’t playing a mind game with me. And it wasn’t playing a friendly one. He wasn’t playing a purposeful one. He was at the most basic level now. “Jonathan Bailey want something Jonathan Bailey no get” kind of thing. Dog training designed to teach the dog what not being given dinner is. Otherwise known as “Jonathan is shit.” Again, I realized that I was talking to an enemy and that there was no reason to continue wasting time with him.

Thus ended my adventure as a stalker. I never knew which of my songs or poems Noah had read, if anything. Anyway, I continued my long distance relationship through songs as much as I could, but there wasn’t much I could do to change anything. Again I was fed up with everything. I needed to know something about the girl, but she didn’t say anything. Her family ignored me, and my contact with her brother turned out to be a huge disappointment.

When it comes to Noah and the van Ouwerkerks, I’m still waiting for a sign from God. One that makes me feel that there is a spirit of love and forgiveness between us. But to date I have not experienced any of that. In my apartment in Zapopan I was only accompanied by my desires and my sadnes, in addition to the confusion of not being able to satisfactorily interpret my experiences with drugs, my spiritual revelations, and Spotify. The hope that all this had something to do with a path of healing and forgiveness, linked with Israel or with the loving spirit of God, diminished to a tiny crimson ember.

Yes, maestro, that summer of 2020 was depressing. And this is just a small sample of the melancholy that accompanied me during those days. Unfortunately, the matter does not end here. I have more bad news, but I prefer to pause for now and resume the narrative tomorrow because it is an event that involves another woman. The Fire Girl. I think it will be a short e-mail. I hope. I don’t want it to become another pathetic story about the tears of an insane stalker monk. The end of this story will be interesting, I promise you. But before I get to the finale I have to begin to describe my nadir – my descent into hell.

Have a nice weekend. We continue next week.

5 Comments

    1. The French was original to the Spanish, but the football reference was added today in the transfer to English. The surreality and confusion and frustration of the first Mexico chapter give way to a legitimate sadness that result in a loss of hope in the next two. The penultimate chapter describes the fruit of hopelessness. And final one is what to do about that. Then there is an epilogue. The one you just read required a moderate amount of revision, and this one I am translating right now looks to require a significant amount of revision, though the overall effect won’t be different. It’ll still be a whiny downer.

      Not sure if I mentioned it to you, but I see the book as a kind of a combination of Catcher in the Rye, Don Quixote, Lolita, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The Catcher in the Rye angle is in trying to capture a lot of the interesting aspects of what is essentially a whiny child. My book does have that whiny little child aspect in it, and I know it, and I am not trying to take it out. There are elements of it through the book, but Chapters 22 and 23 really pour that on. To where I think a good chunk of the readers will say, “come on, Jonathan, knock it off.” But it is what I was thinking when I wrote it, and I think it conveys the hopelessness that precedes the frustration that precedes the end.

      I guess to your point about the different voice, the book was written over the course of a year. And it has been rendered from Spanish into English six months after the close of the writing. The actual drafting of each e-mail was completed in one sitting. Like I was really writing an e-mail. I had an overall story outline in my head, but I was really thinking about my own life like a guy writing his Spanish teacher about his life, which is what I was doing. So if the story outline needed a happy chapter, but I was sad that day, you’d get a mixed text. The outline was vague, however, so I got to put in what I wanted. So if I was sad I would write a sad “e-mail” to my Spanish teacher.

      Finally, I did not know the end of the story when I started it. It started in the summer of 2020 and ended in the fall of 2021. It covers events from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2021. By the way, the thing literally did start out as Spanish class assignments. My teacher asked me about my life, I told him, he got curious, asked questions, and I said, you know, I am just going to write all this out. And when I started doing that, I knew I was going to try to tell a big story, but I was still working out the ending. I had already started writing this book when I met Mayra, my girlfriend of a year. I think she has been mentioned once or twice by name. She will be in the penultimate chapter.

      Anyway, I am rambling, and need to make a tea and get back to what is the darkest chapter of the book, aptly entitled “the last spark.” But yeah, you are entering “the dark days” of the book. Which incidentally is not drugs or insanity. It’s lovelessness.

      Again, you are blessing me with an opportunity to have a commentary on my book before I even get it published. But I am going to get back to work. Thanks for your input.

    2. Okay tea made. Just a wee bit more procrastination. Sorry I am not spending it checking out your stuff. But I wondered if you read my poem “Nine Inch Nail”. You know where that comes from? It’s not Trent Reznor’s industrial rock band. It comes from the medieval legend that the nails that fastened Jesus to the cross were nine inches long. Nine has a special significance, by the way. That’s why Dante’s Inferno has nine levels. You’d be surprised where the number nine turns up and what it means. But anyway, you just read the set up for that poem. And you are about to read the consequences of the impossibility of its recommendation.

      1. I think my response to the imperative in “Nine Inch Nail” would be something like, “NO.” But that might be because my tribal name is He-wallows-in-misery.

  1. This is a very good explanation and you’re drawing the lines well. The combination of stories is very fitting. I hated Catcher, I loved the Don, Couldn’t take Lolita and haven’t done Fear and Loathing (guess I’ll have to give it a go). All I know about Fear and Loathing is a quick review of the thing and it sounds right on track.
    Isn’t Nine Inch Nail, the legend, where Reznor got his name?
    I’m looking forward to your dark ends in this book. You’re hinting at a bleak, but wrapped-up ending that I can’t wait to see. But if it’s a cliff-hanger, I’ll take that, too. It’s a feature I have come to love about Jewish wisdom literature – especially Jonah and Job.

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