Chapter 33: Another Visit
Ian wasn’t the only one who received an unwelcomed visit that evening. At around 7:30 P.M., Officer Nathan paid a visit to Cindy’s house as well. At the time, Cindy and her parents were still eating dinner when they heard the knock on the door.
“Could you get the door, dear?” Cindy’s mother asked, looking directly at Cindy’s father. Cindy’s father pushed his chair back and wiped his mouth on his napkin, not at all pleased at being disturbed.
“We shouldn’t answer the door when we’re eating,” he muttered as he proceeded to open the front door.
“Good evening sir,” said Officer Nathan as he took off his police hat. Sheets of rain fell behind him. “My name is Officer Nathan and I was wondering if your daughter Cindy was home?”
“She’s eating dinner,” Cindy’s father said firmly. “Is there anything I can help you with, officer?”
“Well, I wanted to speak to your daughter in regards to the Michael Roberts case.”
Cindy’s father frowned. “I’ve heard a lot about Mike,” he said. “He’s the one who shot that other boy who I hear was threatening my daughter.”
Officer Nathan nodded in agreement. “Precisely.” He didn’t want to tell the father his speculations on the matter.
“Wouldn’t she have answered all your questions when the police asked her at the scene? I’m afraid she has no more information to share with you that involves that evening.”
The officer fought back a sigh. Clearly, Cindy’s father did not understand police procedures.
“I would still like to speak to her if you don’t mind. If you’re eating dinner, that’s fine. May I just wait in the living room until you are finished?”
Cindy’s father scowled at the policeman but let him in. Officer Nathan smiled at him from eye level. The two men were about the same height except that the officer was much more muscular. Cindy’s father locked the door behind him and proceeded to head back into the kitchen as the police officer removed his boots. Her father sat back down at the table and began twirling his pasta around his fork furiously.
“Why does he want to speak to you?” he demanded, staring at Cindy.
Cindy had been wondering the same thing. She was a bit nervous now that a policeman had entered her house.
“I don’t know,” she said truthfully.
“Isn’t it true that you told the police all they needed to know?”
Cindy looked down at the small amount of pasta on her plate.
“Yes,” she said trying to sound innocent, but her answer came out very shaky. Her parents exchanged looks of uncertainty.
“Honey, you should never lie to the police. It can get you into serious trouble,” said her mother sternly.
“You never told the police about Mike, did you?” asked her father.
“I knew he was a bad influence,” said her mother, scowling.
After what had occurred with Bradley, Cindy had to tell her parents what happened and consequently she had to tell them about Mike. Her mother was furious and forbade Cindy to see him again. Cindy knew that wouldn’t be hard because she had no idea where he was. She wondered if her mother would ever speak to her if Mike was proven innocent and she kept dating him. Her father on the other hand always tried to have Cindy’s best interests at heart and told her when his wife was out of earshot that she should make her own decisions and that if she trusted Mike that was fine with him. He still warned her though that he wouldn’t be happy if he had to drag her out of dangerous situations. Cindy had thought she’d never be involved in any in the first place.
Her father didn’t say another word as he finished his dinner. Before his wife could object, he told Cindy that Officer Nathan was waiting for her in the living room and that he and Cindy’s mother would do the washing up. Her mother was able to give her one more glare as Cindy headed toward the living room.
The officer seemed to have made hiMs..elf quite comfortable as he sat in the comfy red chair by the fireplace. Cindy sat on the beige couch facing him and waited for the bombardment of questions. The policeman was leaning back in his chair, his eyes closed, and a small notebook on his lap. As soon as Cindy sat down, he opened his eyes and faced her.
“Good evening,” he said politely.
“Evening,” said Cindy worried what kind of questions he was going to ask her.
“How was dinner?”
“Fine,” said Cindy confused by the awkwardness of the questions. She assumed it was the officer’s idea of being friendly, but nothing was friendly about a policeman visiting your house and asking to speak to you.
“Excellent,” he said flipping open his notebook and retrieving a pen from his breast pocket. “Cindy, my name is Officer Nathan. As I told your father, I was wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions for me in regards to your friend Michael Roberts.” Cindy nodded, still nervous. “Don’t be so tense,” he observed. “I would like you to be comfortable speaking to me. You are not in trouble and as long as you answer truthfully, I don’t believe we should have any probleMs... Just relax and ignore the fact that I’m a police officer in this room. Think of me as a concerned neighbour.” Cindy almost snorted at his statement. It was almost impossible for her to imagine anyone else sitting in her living room.
“Shall we begin?” he asked, pen steady as if he was interviewing Cindy for a job position.
Cindy nodded, trying to look more relaxed.
“Good. So, let’s start with the basics. How long have you known Mike?”
“Since Grade Eight,” she said truthfully. She hadn’t really noticed Mike until then.
“Would I be correct to assume that he would be considered your boyfriend?”
Cindy didn’t know what to say, but she assumed that the police had their sources of finding out this information. She obediently nodded her head.
“How long would you say you’ve been dating?”
“Just a few months,” she said plainly.
“What made you date him in the first place?”
Cindy was taken aback by the question. If Officer Nathan was trying to personify hiMs..elf as one of Cindy’s neighbours, he wasn’t coming off very neighbourly.
“Well…” Cindy stuttered, unsure of what to say. “I can’t really explain that.” She knew it came off as quite cliché.
“I see,” the officer nodded, sort of understanding. He decided not to dwell into the touchy subject.
“Did he ever come off as unstable?”
Cindy bit her lip, hoping it looked like she was trying to answer the question truthfully. She knew that the correct answer was “yes” but she was worried what the answer would mean for Mike. What sort of questions would the officer proceed to ask her next? And if she said “no”, would he drop the subject like he did with the last question or would he proceed like a bloodhound sniffing for clues?
“He was sort of mixed up in a few things he shouldn’t have been,” she heard herself saying. “But he was troubled,” she said quickly trying to defend her last statement, but she knew it sounded as if she was portraying Mike as weak or as the officer put it, “unstable”.
“What sort of things?” the officer pressed on.
Cindy knew she had fallen for the bait. She had tripped over the questions like some confused squirrel but couldn’t run back up the tree because the policeman now had her cornered. She was going to be careful watching her words from now on, but she was worried that the officer’s words would make her answer questions the way he intended as if he was feeding her truth serum. She thought long and hard on how she was going to answer the officer’s new question that she had created for him. She knew she had to tell the truth. She remembered her mother’s scolding words: Honey, you should never lie to the police. It can get you into serious trouble.
“Well, he did get involved with marijuana with a small gang, I believe, but that was because he was very confused. I don’t think he meant to get mixed up with them. Being bullied by Bradley really traumatized him. He almost killed hiMs..elf when he heard that my friends had set me up with him.” Officer Nathan raised his eyebrows at her last sentence. Clearly, Cindy had just somewhat answered his question about why she had dated Mike in the first place. He began to write something down in his notebook. Cindy knew he believed that she was dating Mike out of pity. This wasn’t true of course and she needed to say something quick before her words really got Mike into trouble.
“Listen, um…I actually do love Mike. It was just…at the time…well…I wasn’t so sure, that’s all. But then we began doing a school project together and I realized what a great guy he was. He’s been treated poorly by many people, but it’s not his fault. Anyway, I actually do love him.”
She didn’t feel she needed to spill all of her feelings towards the officer who she now felt wanted to intervene in her life rather than just ask her questions. If he actually were a nosy neighbour, she would have sent him out of her house. If Cindy had looked at the policeman’s notebook, she would have noticed that right then he had just written in neat handwriting,
He then proceeded to ask her more questions about Mike.
“Has Mike done anything else that might seem troubling?”
Cindy wondered if she just refused to answer more questions, if the officer would leave her house. She knew she hadn’t been forced to sit here; she had been willing to answer Officer Nathan’s questions, but now she had quite a good idea of who this man was and she knew that any more answers she gave would convince the policeman that Mike was guilty. They didn’t have a warrant for her place, she knew, at least she hoped not. If she found the police officer was invading her privacy she could easily tell him to leave. But what would happen if she dismissed him now? What would the policeman think? She wasn’t sure what to do. She knew the damage was done. Maybe she could prove a more convincing statement in court where her answers really mattered.
“Well, he tried to commit suicide when he found out he had been set up. He felt no one really cared about him and that he was really some loser being kicked around. Bradley made him feel this way. Ian and I saved him obviously. Bradley’s a terrible person; you shouldn’t believe a word he says. You must know a lot about bully’s victiMs.. and how they are pushed into doing things that they seem they can’t control.” Mentioning Ian, she wondered if Officer Nathan had spoken to him yet. She hoped that maybe he could clear up Mike’s story; she wasn’t sure if she was doing such a great job. “Have you spoken to Ian?” she asked after this thought occurred.
“Yes,” the policeman said clearly.
Cindy tired not to look disappointed. She wondered what Ian had said and would her words be the officer’s final thoughts? “So you don’t believe that Mike’s unfortunate acts are at all concerning?”
“No,” said Cindy. “Don’t you believe that Bradley’s bullying could lead Mike to do terrible things?”
“I’m not so sure. It seeMs.. to me that there are many factors involved. Bradley Brock definitely seeMs.. to be a motivation, yes. But do you really believe Bradley’s bullying would have provoked Mike to rob the store?”
“Well, it’s Bradley that brought Mike on the street in the first place.”
“Ah, but you see, you still haven’t answered my question.” It seemed the nice mask had slipped off. A police officer could only take so much patience.
“No,” said Cindy seeing that Officer Nathan wasn’t really listening to her anymore. She knew she couldn’t convince him.
Officer Nathan closed his notebook and placed his pen back into his breast pocket. Cindy noticed this and knew right away the interview, which felt more like an interrogation, was over.
“Well thank you very much Cindy for your time.”
He stuck out his hand as if he was congratulating her for an award of excellence she had just won. Cindy briefly shook the hand in front of her and watched the policeman head towards the front door. “I’ll let myself out,” he said politely and was soon walking into the raining night.
Cindy watched the door closed and headed back into the kitchen. Her father was sitting in the family room watching the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Vancouver Canucks and her mother was drying the dishes. From what Cindy could see from the television screen, the Leafs looked to be in the lead. But the score was only 2-1 in the second period.
“So what did he want?” asked her father as he pressed the MUTE button on the remote control so he didn’t have to listen to the commercials on the television. Cindy knew perfectly well whom her father was referring to.
“Not much,” said Cindy as her father readjusted hiMs..elf so he was facing her. “Just wanted to ask me some questions.”
“Regarding Mike,” said her father quickly.
Cindy didn’t really want to tell her parents her little conversation with the police officer so she said, “I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“That’s quite all right, dear,” her mother put in comfortably. Her father on the other hand looked taken aback.
“Juliette, please. I think we have a right to know what’s going on.” He glanced back at his daughter, but Cindy tried to stare at her mother who was still drying the dishes in order to avert his gaze. Hearing her mother’s name had just sent a guilty feeling to her brain. She had never told Mike her middle name, but then again he never had told her his. But now as she stared at the light fixture hanging from the ceiling, she realized she should have told him. When Mike had chosen Romeo and Juliet, she had never told him the irony in his choice. Her middle name was Juliette after her mother. Juliette had always found the name to be such a beautiful one. She wondered what would have happened if she had told Mike this strange coincidence. Knowing Mike, he probably would have been quite embarrassed and would have chosen another play. No, she thought. It’s better that I didn’t tell him. “Cindelle, will you look at me?” Cindy turned towards her father; she hated when he used that name. She never had really liked it; it was too close to Cinderella. Many had pointed this out when she entered Grade school. It was why she made sure none of her names in her records, where she could help it, were written with that name. She didn’t need any stares from anyone because of it. She just wished it could be erased completely so it wasn’t even on legal documents. Parents were so strange when they chose names, she found.
“Joe, leave her alone,” scolded Juliette. Her father sighed and dropped the subject. Cindy knew he didn’t like arguing with her.
Soon, the phone rang and Cindy answered it immediately. It was Ian.
“So what did the officer ask you?” he asked after he had introduced hiMs..elf and Cindy had taken the portable phone into the living room.
“Well — Wait, how do you even know about that?” wondered Cindy.
“Isn’t it obvious? He visits me; of course he would visit you as well. You are more involved in this case than I am. Frankly, I’m just an outsider.”
Cindy nodded; knowing full well Ian couldn’t see her.
“He just asked me about Mike.”
“I tried to be as vague as possible.”
“Well…” Cindy didn’t know how to say her next sentence.
“What? Shit, Cindy, what did you tell him?”
“Well it wasn’t my fault. You see, he tricked me; played these word games with me and I was soon tripping over my own words.”
“What did you say?” Ian asked hoping that it hadn’t been anything too revealing.
“Well I sort of gave away that Mike smoked pot and obviously indicated that he was unstable. But I tried to explain to the officer that he was troubled and that he didn’t really know what he was doing, but I think I convinced the officer that Mike is unstable and needs help.”
Ian couldn’t believe it.
“Cindy, I got tripped up too, but I was able to hold back most of my words. It seeMs.. you just started spilling stories to the guy.”
“I couldn’t help it,” said Cindy, a tone of worry in her voice. “I was too worried about what would happen if he found out that I was lying.”
“What could he have done to you?”
“I don’t know; convince the jury that I’m as troubled as Mike is. I was never good at lying, Ian.”
“Alright. I understand you were under pressure and I’m sorry if I’m coming off as really harsh, but I’m worried also. Who knows what’s going to happen at the trial.”
“Do you think the officer will be able to really use our words against us and have Mike lose his case?”
“I don’t know,” said Ian truthfully. “The police have a lot of power these days. Maybe we’re wrong.”
“Ian, don’t start thinking that way.”
“Cindy, seriously, can you think of a reason why he would have robbed that store?”
“No,” said Cindy feeling defeated.
“Exactly. And we know that Mike isn’t a criminal, but how are we supposed to explain to a jury why he robbed that store when we don’t know ourselves?”
“I don’t know. I think Mike just needed new clothes or something and didn’t know how long he’d be living on the street.”
“I think he robbed the store because he had already been classified as a criminal and felt unwanted, no one cared about him, so he didn’t think any more harm could really come to him by robbing that store. He wasn’t thinking of course. But I believe that the police already believe that Mike is a criminal, as Mike believed it to be so, and I don’t think there’s any real way we can convince them otherwise.”
“Well, I didn’t think of that,” Cindy admitted. They didn’t talk much after that and when Cindy finally put the phone down all she could think about was Mike and what would happen during his trial. She wasn’t so sure if the judge’s ruling would be in their favour.