The People VS Joshua Pent – Amity

This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series Equanimity

Tanya Loccia walked up to her front door followed by an elderly but energetic beagle.

“Sit,” Tanya commanded.  A visitor at this time of day was uncommon, and therefore exciting. The dog obeying as best it could while its tail wagged from left to right.

Tanya looked through the peephole and stared for a moment at the person on the other side. She expected to see a tall, skinny brunette wearing a tight, high-priced suit.  What she saw was quite the opposite. Short and widely built, the woman that stood at her front door wore a suit that, although presentable, had obviously seen better days.

The dog let out a whine.  Tanya unbolted and opened the door.

“Hi, Tanya?” the woman asked with a somewhat tired smile. Tanya nodded yes and returned the smile.  “I’m Helen Kramer, we spoke over the phone .”

“Yes, of course, please come in.”

Helen walked in with a huff, kicked off her shoes and put her briefcase to the ground. She saw the beagle eagerly sitting behind Tanya and waved at it.

“Well aren’t you a cutie, what’s your name?”

“Toby,” Tanya answered.

“May I pet him?” Helen asked.

“Of course. Toby say hello.”

The dog excitedly scuttled over to Helen and exchanged a few tail wags and tongue licks.

“Would you like something to drink?” Tanya asked, walking to the kitchen.

“Oh, no thank you,” Helen answered, “I’m already late, so I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I just have a couple of questions for you if you don’t mind.”

“About… Joshua?”

“Yes, about Joshua,” Helen answered, noticing Tanya’s unease.  ”Mrs. Pent told me about your relationship with her son and his girlfriend.  She said you might have information that could help us out.”

Tanya looked to the ground and nodded.  She then waved her hand towards one of the chairs in the living room.

“Please, have a seat,” she said.

Helen walked over to the chair and put her briefcase on the floor.  Toby immediately headed over to sniff it. She smiled at how curious the old mutt seemed to be, then turned back to Tanya.

“Listen, I understand this meeting is kind of a last minute thing,” she said, “if this is too much, if you need more time, I can definitively come back in a day or so.”

Tanya made her way to a chair opposite Helen and considered her offer for a moment. She felt uneasy with the idea of reliving what she had fought so hard to put behind her. The  sadness, pain, and anger had taken their toll on her. On the other hand, if Helen was here today it was because Joshua needed help. Tanya took a deep breath and rubbed her face with her hands.

“I want to do anything I can to help Joshua,” she said, adding “and if you leave now I may not want you to come back.”

“Well, we better get started then,” Helen said, opening her briefcase and pulling out paper and pen.

“I do have a question, before we start,” Tanya said.  ”Do you think Joshua really did what they say he did on TV?”

“I do believe he’s innocent if that’s what you mean,” Helen tried to reassure her. It seemed to work as a smile appeared on Tanya’s tense face.

“That’s good,” she said.

A moment of uneasy silence passed.  It was Helen that broke the silence.

“So how long have you had him,” Helen asked, pointing at Toby who was now lying by her  briefcase.

“Since a couple of weeks before… you know.”

“The accident?”

“Yes, the accident.”

Another uneasy silence passed.  This time Tanya broke the silence.

* * *

Aimée had brought Toby over to Tanya’s place. She and Joshua were going on a week-long trip, and needed someone to look after the dog while they were gone. The week passed without a hitch, but on the day Toby was to be picked up the couple never showed. The next morning Tanya tried to reach the couple by phone but was greeted by an answering machine.  She left a message but it was never returned. It was only two days later, after a call from Mrs. Pent, that Tanya learned of what had happened.

Tanya cried for what seemed like hours when she learned of the news. Toby, who wasn’t too sure what was going on, remained at her side the entire time. Another week passed before Tanya had the courage to call Mrs. Pent back.  They spoke for a couple of hours about Aimée’s passing and Joshua’s health.  It was apparent that Joshua would not be able to look after the dog, so Tanya offered to keep Toby for the time being.  Mrs. Pent thanked Tanya and tried to explain how Joshua might never be able to take care of the dog.  Tanya understood what Mrs. Pent was trying to say: Toby was no longer Joshua’s dog, it was her dog.

More weeks passed and news came to Tanya that Joshua was conscious again. She called the rehabilitation centre where Joshua had been placed and asked if dogs were allowed. The receptionist said that they were not due to cleanliness and allergy issues, but it could help Joshua if Tanya brought him a picture of Toby. That same day Tanya snapped a picture of Toby, printed and framed it, and headed for the centre.

For the few hours she was there, Tanya was mostly ignored by the man she had once known as Joshua.  He didn’t recognize her, nor did he recognize Toby. Tanya felt hurt, but also a little relieved. This man was no longer the Joshua she had known.  He was a different person, he looked and acted different, and Tanya couldn’t help but fear him. It was a selfish emotion, Tanya admitted to herself, but it was an emotion she could not control.  She didn’t know why she feared this man, only that she did.

She left the picture by Joshua’s bed, wished him good luck, and quickly left the room. As she walked down the corridor she passed an older man who was standing in the hallway.  The man walked up to her and grabbed her by the arm.  Tanya almost let out a scream, and would have were it not for the man’s stare.  His eyes glowed as he looked at her, instructing her not to make a noise without speaking a word.

“That monster,” he grumbled pointing back to Joshua’s room, “he killed my little girl! You stay away from him or he’ll get you too, you understand me?”

Tanya nodded with fear.   She assumed the man was Aimée’s father because of what he had just said.  Aimée had never really spoken about her father, and Tanya had always felt that it was somewhat of a taboo subject.  If this man truly was Aimée’s father, she now understood very clearly why her friend never spoke about him.

From a distance Tanya saw a security guard turn the corner and begin to walk in her direction.  The man also saw the guard and instinctively let go of Tanya’s arm.  He then began walking in the opposite direction, behaviour that aroused the guard’s suspicion.

The guard was taller and better built than the man, and had no problem running him down and escorting him out of the building.  As they headed for the exit they passed Tanya, who had not moved since first seeing the security guard.  The man that was supposedly Aimée’s father struggled as he was pushed along the hallway.

“I’ll be damned if he’s not punished for what he did!” he shouted, as both him and the guard rounded the corner from which the guard had first appeared.

Shaken, Tanya remained alone for several minutes before she left the centre.  She got in her car, drove off, and vowed never to return here again.

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