*

After this, Richard saw Nina less and less during the evenings and the closet game stopped. She wouldn’t tell him where she was going, where she went, or anything. She said, “He wasn’t her father, or her husband.” They would ague and yell and Nina threw things at him, often threatening to burn down the house, she hated living in it so much. He slept in his office again. In the morning he got a phone call. It was from Ludwig’s doctors. That day he drove to see Ludwig and Elizabeth in Québec City. Nina wanted to come along.

She barely said two words the entire trip.

His meeting with Ludwig did not go well, and did not really happen. That is to say when Richard saw Ludwig playing outside with other kids, surrounded by medical staff, bandages over his arms, he couldn’t deal with the emotion he was feeling, and before the little boy could even be brought to see him, Richard fled. Nina never left the car.

Richard drove to Elizabeth’s private school, and after arguing with the administration, demanded that he see his daughter. When he saw Elizabeth, he broke down and said that she was right. Everything she said was right and true and that he was such a horrible father, and didn’t know what to do about anything anymore. He wanted her to come back and live with him and help her get rid of Nina. Nina, bored, walked around the halls while he said this. Staff thought she was a student. Elizabeth would only speak to Richard in French. He told Elizabeth to wait for a moment. He brought in Nina. They both spoke French back and forth to each other, and in the end Elizabeth said she never ever wanted to see either of them ever again.

On the way home Nina went on and on about how she hated Elizabeth and her life and everything in it, even Richard, and the only thing that would make her happy was getting a modelling contract so she could leave her hell. After that it was silent ride back.

Richard worked all through the next day. Lisa was worried about him, and in desperation, when everyone was gone, he kissed her. He just wanted her to hold him. He couldn’t go home with her, and she couldn’t go home with him, so neither of them went home together. Richard realized as long as he was with Nina, it would be impossible to be with anyone else.

September 7. The first day of school for Nina. She woke up, dressed in her Catholic High-School outfit, did her make-up and made Richard drive her to school because she was already really late. When he finally got there, she was irritated because the bell had already rung and she was supposed to be in class. He dropped her off and he watched as she ran into the school. He pulled away from the curb and drove away. In his rearview mirror he saw a police cruiser. It hit the sirens, and another pulled up quickly beside him and cut Richard off. He pulled the car sharply over to the curb. At first he was just irritated and then it dawned on him what was happening and he panicked. He opened the passenger door, started to run, and two officers, one female, pulled him down to the ground. He was read his rights and arrested.

Nina was pulled out of class by the vice-principal, and a nun who acted as a school councilor. Police were present. She was so humiliated. She saw Chad and tried to run to him but was dragged away. She made a huge scene in the hall and told Chad to wait for her.

Richard spent the night in jail and it was a terrifying experience. The next day he was brought before a judge on charges of child abuse and sex with a minor. It turned out, after Richard had seen Elizabeth, there was great concern for her well being, and it was then that she told them about her father. Calls were made to find out about Ludwig, more concern, and then the police were notified. An investigation had been building, and after he left with Nina in the morning, a search warrant was issued for his premises. They tore it apart looking for any sort of lurid evidence (of which there was more than enough). Neighbors were interviewed, and they found Serge and Alex, who were arrested for selling drugs at clubs, and immediately gave up what they knew (minus the money).

Richard put the house up as bail.

When he finally was able to return home, “PERVERT” and “DIE, PEDOPHILE! DIE!” were spray painted across the front of the house in fluorescent orange. Police tape was across the door. Inside his house was ransacked by the police. Everything was turned over and ripped apart.

He showered, then went to work, and was escorted off the premises by his partners, Baldwin and Crab. Lisa cried on the shoulder of coworker.

He was in his office unpacking his belongings from work when he heard someone come in. The dog started to bark. He could hear Nina shush the dog. “Hello? Nina?” He heard her walk up the stairs. She came in and stood at the doorway. He saw that Nina was wearing white gloves.

She was trembling.

*