A few days after his discussion with Liz regarding the trial, Gordon popped his head into Anthony’s office.
“Guess who called about having his car serviced?”
“Your dad. Ol’ Hubert Caine himself.”
“Yeah. Why do you look—scared?”
“Oh. It’s just—it’s just that we haven’t really talked much since I told him about the divorce. He’s quite fond of Thérèse, you know.”
“Ah,” Gord said, tapping the side of his head with one finger. “Say no more.”
Later that day, Anthony got a visit from the man himself.
“So, this is your office.”
“You’ve seen my office, Dad.”
“Sure, but aren’t you managing this whole ‘empire’ now? I thought maybe you got a new office out of the gig.”
“Dad, please don’t start.”
“I saw Thérèse last week on Yonge Street. Looks as though she’s thriving! What’s new with you?”
“Well, I got a subpoena. I have to testify in the Howard Bunt case.”
“Oh, right, saw a thing about that in the paper.”
“Elizabeth Patterson was one of his victims, remember? I rescued her from him!”
“Yeah. Why were you there again?”
“So what’s the plan? Be the rock for your little Elizabeth to lean on?”
“Dad, did you just come here to pick on me?”
“Aw, grow up, Anthony! I might as well get some use out of your family discount.”
“Yeah, well, I’m glad I could be of service. Look, I have—” Anthony glanced about his empty desk. “I have calls to make.”
“Sure, Anthony. I can take a hint. Remember, if you decide to grow some ambition, I can find you something at Caine and Able.”
“I’m happy here, Dad.”
“Right. Of course you are. Well, see you, son.” With that, he turned, walked out, and closed the door firmly behind himself.
That evening, on the way to Francie’s daycare, Anthony stopped by a video store and checked out some DVDs, crime-procedural shows and courtroom drama, reasoning they’d help him know what to expect and help prevent him from being nervous. He spend the next several evenings and an entire weekend watching.
Then he realized the trial itself wasn’t what he was nervous about. His father was right. He wanted to be Liz’s rock through the trial. He wanted her to think he was a soothing constant in her life. He imagined her coming over to the house and being impressed. He wanted her to think he had interesting things in his life. That’s what made him panic. What had he been doing? Working, going home, watching TV, sleeping, and repeating the process the next day. What could he do that was interesting? He had an idea.
He’d once been dimly interested in astronomy, after one of his teachers had shown a documentary about the solar system. He’d never followed up on that interest, but maybe now was the time. He bought a telescope and then put up some hand-written signs on the public-notice bulletin boards some of the businesses downtown. He put up his name and e-mail address and asked that people interested in starting an astronomy club contact him. Five people responded, and they had their first meeting at the Milborough library at the end of the month.
October came, and with it, preparations for the trial. Anthony and Liz were asked to come to the courthouse to do depositions. He offered to pick her up and drive her there, and she accepted.
On the way to the courthouse, Anthony said, “I was surprised to be informed that we’re to give depositions,” Anthony said. Liz looked confused and asked him why that was. “We’re Canadian. That’s U.S. procedure.” Liz giggled and said she’d never paid much attention when they went over that stuff in high school. “Apparently,” Anthony said, “Milborough is part of pilot programme, meant to determine whether Ontario ought to adopt a hybrid of U.S. and Canadian procedure.” He glanced at Liz sideways and realized that she wasn’t listening. “She looks so cute when she’s distracted,” he thought.
When they got to the courthouse, they were asked to wait outside the office of the Crown Attorney, who wanted to meet with the two of them together. This was also quite irregular. Should Howard Bunt appeal his case later, doing this could be used as evidence of collusion. He thought about mentioning this to Liz, but decided against it. He didn’t want to worry her more than she probably already was.
The Crown Attorney asked them to come into his office and sit. Once they were seated, he said, “Now, you both understand that this trial may take some time. There may be delays for various reasons.” Liz said, “Yes sir,” and Anthony said that he understood. The C.A. continued, “However, we must be sure that you will remain in town and be readily available to provide testimony in regards to the case pending against a Mr. Howard Bunt.” Liz wanted to know when they would need to appear in court, and the C.A. responded, “I don’t know. There’s been a delay for various reasons.”
Anthony was the first to give a deposition. He had to sit in a small, sterile room, in a chair bolted down to the floor, and facing a video camera. A police officer asked him a series of detailed questions regarding the day that Howard attacked Liz. What was the weather like that day? What was Anthony wearing? Boxers or briefs? Did he eat breakfast? At home or on the go? What did he eat? Why did he go to Lakeshore Landscaping? Who was watching the baby? If Dave McKenzie and Mothra were in a fight, who would win? Did he realize he had crumbs in his mustache and would he like to borrow a mustache comb? Perhaps some of those questions were actually only in Anthony’s head, but it felt as though the questioning were going that way.
After he’d been deposed, Anthony went out into the corridor, where Liz was waiting anxiously. “Finally!” she exclaimed. He told her, “I had to go over every detail of the attack, Liz. They even asked me what the weather was like that day!” She stood there a moment staring blankly, so he prompted her: “It’s your turn now, Liz.” He told her about the bolted-down chair, “So you can’t avoid the cameras.” While saying this, he stood close to her, blinking hard at her left ear. Liz exclaimed, “Cameras! Oh, my gosh!” Then she turned to face him and said, “How do I look?!!” Anthony just stared into the distance, raising his eyebrows, because he figured that saying “Like an ANGEL” might not be appropriate under the circumstances.
When Liz came out from the deposition room, she expressed some surprise that she was able to remember her assault in such detail. She said, “Memory is such an amazing thing. …All you need is one image to trigger it.” Just then, a memory-triggering image popped into Anthony’s head: a memory of kissing Liz, on an occasion where he was wearing a mock-turtleneck sweater and did not yet have a mustache.
As they descended the front stairs of the courthouse, Anthony said, “Elizabeth, we both took the afternoon off from work to do this deposition… Would you like to see what I’ve done with the house? I put on a new back porch and re-did the kitchen!” He realized he’d just spoiled the surprise of what he’d done with the house. Nonetheless, Liz assented: “Sure… I’d love to.”
They got into Anthony’s car, and Anthony fastened his seat belt. He then watched Liz as she struggled with hers. Initially, she pulled the strap from its place to the right of her head, but pulled it around the back of her head, over her left shoulder, and then across her lap from left to right. Then she tried to clasp it, only to remember that the clasp is on the other side. While all that was going on, she said, “It still amazes me to think you have a baby and your own house! Next to you, I feel so… Unaccomplished!” Finally, she allowed the seatbelt to retract to its original position and pulled it from her right shoulder to the clasp to the left of her hips. As she did that, Anthony thought, “Next to me, you feel so… Wonderful!” Anthony felt encouraged by the fact that she had not once mentioned her policeman boyfriend. Sure, she didn’t say anything about having broken up, but don’t most “involved” women, in the presence of a man who is obviously interested, make a point of mentioning their relationship? Like, “Sure, I’d love to see your house! My boyfriend is handy, too!”
Standing outside on his new deck, Liz exclaimed, “Anthony! You did all this work yourself?” He said, “Pretty much! I enjoy carpentry.” Sometimes the details one omits are at least as important as those one includes. Anthony omitted the part where he’d built the deck by himself, but it had begun to cave, so he’d had to hire a carpenter to fix his work. Still, he reasoned, that counts as “pretty much” having done all the work himself.
Showing her inside, Anthony told Liz, “Francie’s into everything now, so I’ve kid-proofed the entire place.” He gestured toward the basement stairs to indicate that this would be the next stop in their tour. As they descended the staircase, he said,” —And I built her a playhouse in the basement.” For some reason, Liz asked, “You built a playhouse?!” He’d just told her he had! Liz walked over to where the playhouse was situated within its chain-link fence, with an array of toys strewn within the fenced area. Liz, appearing to be charmed by the house, and maybe even wishing she could live in it, leaned over the fence. Anthony finally answered, “Yep!—It’s even got a fence around it!” When Anthony was using his computer, he didn’t like his child to be able to come over to him, tug on his leg, and ask him for things.
Next stop was the kitchen. Anthony asked Liz if she’d like some Kraft Dinner, and she accepted, so he set the pot of water to boil. He put on an oven mitt and said, “I’ve become totally domesticated, Liz! I cook, I sew, I go to meetings at the daycare centre…” Pausing to remove his oven mitt and check the pot for boiling, he said, “And for fun, I belong to the local astronomy club. In fact, I’m the president!” Liz asked, “Really?” Then she looked off into the distance and said, “My grandfather gave me a good telescope. I used it to teach the kids up north about the stars. We had such clear nights up there. You could see every crater on the moon… and the Milky Way was like a river! --It was an astronomer’s dream.” As she was telling him all that, he’d moved from his position behind her, at the stove, around to the front of her so that he could watch her face as she spoke.” Suddenly, she asked, “Why are you looking at me like that?” And he said, “Oh… just dreaming.” And again, she never mentioned the boyfriend up north.
Over Kraft Dinner, the conversation turned to Liz’s grandfather, Jim Richards, who had suffered a stroke, April, who was planning to perform at the school’s Gym Jam, and what to expect for the trial. Afterwards, Anthony didn’t remember many details about the conversation. He’d been more focused on watching the expressions on Liz’s face change as she expressed concern, indulgence, frustration, and a host of other emotions.
The trial began the following month. Though before the trial began in earnest, there were days of sitting around, waiting to be called. On the third day he had to appear, Anthony wore the following: a white dress shirt, charcoal grey slacks, a tie with a diagonal-strip pattern, and white sneakers. Instead of slicking his hair straight back, he tried a side part, on the right.
He and Liz had to spend the entire morning waiting, only to be dismissed. Shortly before they were released for the day, Anthony said, “I wonder how long we’ll have to sit here today?” He hoped the answer would be “all day.” Liz said, “I don’t know, but there seems to be a problem with one of the witnesses. She’s related to Howard and is refusing to testify. At least, that’s what I heard.”
Anthony asked, “Elizabeth? How’s your grandfather?” Liz replied, “Getting better. Slowly. He still can’t speak too well. It’s hard for him, Anthony. He communicates through his eys.” Anthony blinked vigorously and tried to use his eyes to communicate, “I love you, Elizabeth Patterson!”
Once they’d been dismissed, and were leaving the building, Liz said, “I don’t understand the legal system. They want us all in the building, but not in the courtroom… They keep us waiting for hours, and then they send us home.” With all the DVDs fresh in his mind, Anthony said, “Yes, a trial sure isn’t the way it is on television.” To this, Liz said, “Maybe it was in the old days! You know… Everyone piles into the courtroom, the witnesses have their say, the lawyers state their case, the jury gives a verdict and—it’s over!” He didn’t have the heart to tell her this was historically inaccurate. Instead, he said, “But a fast trial probably wasn’t fair to the accused!” Liz shot back, “And all this waiting isn’t fair to US!” Anthony was slightly taken aback. Did his sweet, sweet Liz really say this selfish thing? He decided to chalk it off to nerves.
“Can I drive you to your car—or should we go for lunch?” Anthony inquired. Liz replied, “Let’s go for lunch.” Once they were on the road, Anthony said, “Tell you what! --Why don’t I get my daughter from the sitter, and we can have lunch together!” Liz said, “Sounds good!” Parking in front of the daycare, he got out of his car, opened Liz’s door, and said, “You haven’t seen Francie for a while, Liz! She’s changed so much, you won’t believe it!” At that moment, his sitter looked out the window, saw Anthony, and then opened the door, to allow Françoise to run out to her father. This was certainly an unorthodox approach, and possibly against regulations, but Anthony had become fond of it.
Francie ran out to him, extending her little arms and yelling, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” He swooped her up in the air and could feel Liz’s gaze on the back of his head. He sensed that she was impressed by this display of parent-child affection.
Once they were all in the car, Anthony drove to the Country Kitchen. Lunch was always free for him there! Plus Francie loved their ice cream. When they arrived at the restaurant, Tracey greeted them at the door.
“Aw, don’t the three of you look darling together? Anthony, I see your favourite booth is free. I’ll get the high chair for the little one, who’s getting so big!”
This was true—Francie, at 19 months, was tall for her age and already linguistically precocious. And she was looking so much like her mother, sometimes he half expected her to swear in French.
Liz ordered the chicken parmagiana, Anthony the shepherd’s pie, and for Francie, he ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. Anthony didn’t realize how hungry he was until he began to dig into his food. Without thinking about it, he shoveled several mouthfuls with barely a break in between. He paused, ready to apologize to his lunch companion. But then he realized that Liz was tearing into her food with equal gusto. He smiled and continued to enjoy his pie.
Once they were waiting for the waitress to take their dessert order, Anthony started to tell Liz about some of Francie’s favourite things. “She’s crazy about Elmo!”
“No more Elmo!” Francie corrected him. “Blue! Blue’s Clues!”
“Pardon me, sweetheart. And her favourite book is Green Eggs and Ham!”
“No, not anymore! There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, Daddy!”
“There is, sweetie? Well, we’d better get it out, I heard they can bite!” Anthony and Liz both laughed uproariously, but Francie’s expression was serious. “That’s not funny, Daddy. I said the title of a book, and you pretended you didn’t know that was a title. But you do know! I wanna go home!”
“Home? But we haven’t had ice cream yet!”
“Ice cream! Okay, I forgive you, Daddy!”
A couple of weeks later, Liz and Anthony got to testify. Anthony waited in the corridor while Liz was inside giving her testimony. When she came out, he asked her how it went. She let him know that it wasn’t as hard as she’d thought it would be. Sylvia, Liz’s victim support counsellor, came over to the two of them, put a hand on each, and said, “Anthony? Elizabeth? I must remind you not to discuss any aspect of this trial with each other or any other witnesses until it’s completely over.” Liz said, “I understand.” Anthony added, “Yes. I understand completely.” Just then, a bailiff opened the courtroom door and said, “Mr. Caine? You’re next, please.” He and Liz embraced, and he thought, “And… some things I don’t understand at all.”
Once he was inside and sworn in, the Crown Attorney began the direct examination. Anthony described what happened when he walked in on the struggle, pulled Howard Bunt off of Liz, wrestled him to the floor, made him apologize, and released him. When that part of the testimony ended, Anthony exhaled deeply and thought, “This isn’t so bad.”
But then came the cross examination.
“Mr. Caine, on August 11, 2005, where was your wife, Thérèse Caine?”
“Sh-she was in Vancouver, on a business trip.”
“Oh, yes? Before she left for Vancouver, did you happen to mention that during her absence, you planned to visit your ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Patterson, at her workplace?”
“No, I—I didn’t plan. It was kind of spontaneous, and—”
“During this time, you were a stay-at-home father, correct?”
“When you ‘spontaneously’ decided to visit Miss Patterson, did you take the baby with you to Lakeshore Landscaping?”
“Er, no. I, um, took her to my mother. I asked my mother to take care of the baby for the day.”
“So that you could be alone with your girlfriend?”
“Pardon, my mistake. Ex-girlfriend. And why was it so important that you see you ex-girlfriend, without your baby present?”
“I, um. I wanted to tell her that I missed her and that I wanted her in my life again.”
There was an audible gasp from the courtroom. He looked out into the crowd, but he couldn’t tell who had gasped. Then he happened to meet eyes with John Patterson, who winked.
“Mr. Caine, you have told the court that when you entered the sales floor, you witnessed Miss Patterson struggling to get away from Mr. Bunt.”
“So you were not privvy to anything that happened before that moment.”
“No. Of course not.”
“Had there been playful banter between Mr. Bunt and Miss Patterson, you wouldn’t have known, would you?”
“No, but—there was no banter!”
“Objection, your honour. Witness may not make assertions regarding events for which he was present.”
“Sustained. Mr. Caine, please restrict yourself to facts of which you have direct knowledge.”
“Yes, your honour. But I wouldn’t expect the struggle I saw to come right after playful banter.”
“Mr. Caine, you have admitted to a romantic interest in Miss Patterson, have you not?”
Anthony mutted a “Yes.”
“Mr. Caine, please speak up.”
“Yes! Yes, I had a romantic interest in Elizabeth Patterson!” That came out more loudly than he expected. “So what?”
“Perhaps that romantic interest coloured your perception, when you walked into a room and saw the object of your affection entwined with another man?”
“No, it was—anyone would have seen it as I did.”
“Mr. Caine, I submit that you were not just ‘anyone’; you were a man carrying a torch for the young woman in question.”
“It doesn’t matter! Elizabeth was not having fun! She was obviously not….”
“According to your own subjective perception?”
“Well, yes, but…”
“Mr. Caine. You have testified that once you had restrained Mr. Bunt, you induced an apology from him and allowed him to leave. Is that an accurate representation of your testimony?”
“Why did you not restrain him until police could be notified and the defendant could be apprehended?”
“I—I thought that Liz would have called the police if that was what she wanted. I thought that since she didn’t call the police…” He paused. He’d sworn to tell the truth, and now he wished he’d had his fingers crossed behind his back at the time. “…I thought that it must not be that…. That serious.”
“I understand that after Mr. Bunt had left the premises, two co-workers came in from outside and made some jokes. And Miss Patterson laughed along with them. Is this correct?”
“And afterwards, you gave Miss Patterson a ride in your car, is this correct as well?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
“Did you drive her to the police station?”
“Where, then, did you go?”
“To Milborough Park.”
“Milborough Park? What did you do once you were there?”
“We sat under a tree.”
“Fascinating. What happened under the tree, Mr. Caine?”
“Did you discuss her emotional or physical state?”
“What, then, did you discuss?”
“I—I had told her about missing her and wanting her back in my life. Under the tree, I told her my marriage was not working. I asked her to wait for me.”
“Wait for you, Mr. Caine? Wait for you to what?”
“Wait for my marriage to end. So we could be together.”
“So you had the discussion you’d planned, prior to witnessing the interaction between Mr. Bunt and Miss Patterson?”
“Um, yes. Yes, I did.”
“What you saw did not lead you to alter your plans in any way?”
“No, I—no. I still had the conversation I’d planned to have.”
“You didn’t think that Miss Patterson was in too delicate a physical and/or emotional state to participate in a conversation like that?”
“No. I mean, she’s not—she’s not made of glass!”
“And this marriage that you said was failing—did it, indeed end?”
“You left your wife?”
“No—she left me.”
“Thank you, Mr. Caine. No further questions of this witness, your honour.”
The prosecutor asked some questions on re-direct, but Anthony worried he might have done some irreversible damage to the case. He told himself, though, that the other women—to whom Howard Bunt was rumoured to have done worse—would bring the case back on track.
As Anthony exited the courtroom, John Patterson followed just behind. Once they were in the hall, Dr. Patterson said, “You did a great job in there, Anthony.” Anthony wasn’t sure if he was being kind, if his perception was off—or if maybe it hadn’t gone as badly as Anthony had perceived. But what he said was, “I’m just glad it’s over.”
They went over to Liz, who was standing with Elly, and Liz asked, “What did you say?” Dr. Patterson cut in with, “You can’t discuss anything, remember? In case you’re both called to testify again.” Liz and Anthony walked a few metres away from where John and Elly were standing, and each put a hand on the other’s opposite arm. Anthony said, “I’d better go.” Liz told him, “Anthony? Thanks for everything.” Anthony responded, “Just ask. You know I’ll always be there.” Liz’s reply was, “Yes. You’ve always been there.” As he walked off, Anthony tried to decide whether that was good or bad. He decided to interpret it as “good.”
In case you missed the previous installment, the entire document can be accessed here.