[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Jean-François Toussignant felt at peace. He rose with the sun, shaved, got dressed, and ate his prison breakfast in silence. He even managed to enjoy his coffee. Which was saying something, as you’ll know if you’ve ever tasted cop coffee.

He was ready. Finally, his day had come. He had written his speech and practiced it many, many times. He hadn’t counted, but he figured it had to be well over a hundred times, since he practiced it at least four times a day and had done so for about a month. He knew what he wanted to say by heart. He felt like a stage actor who had to remember an entire play, except of course he’d written the play. And, well, it wasn’t a play. But you know what I mean.

His trip to the court from his undisclosed location up in Mirabel took about 15 minutes longer than usual because of a crash on Highway 15. Distracted early-morning commuters, most likely, one rear-ending the other, both cars spinning out of control and coming to rest ungracefully in the ditch. There was an ambulance with lights flashing. Not a good sign, although these days they sent ambulances for every minor scratch, to avoid lawsuits from motorists claiming their nagging backache was due to the fact that there had been no certified medical expert on site to look for signs of trauma. There was so much bullshitting in the world nowadays, Jeff thought as he looked at the stranded cars. There was no sign that anybody had been hurt at all. But still, people made a fuss. So pointless, especially when you considered the real problems in the world today.

Like parents screwing up their kids for life. He knew if it hadn’t happened to him he’d be a much different person today. He wouldn’t be on trial, for one thing, looking at the very real possibility of being sent to jail for the rest of his life. He might even have managed to find love, to find it within his heart to commit to another human being’s happiness and build a life together. Maybe, he thought, he could have been a decent dad.

But as things were, his ability to love had been shattered when he was very little. So he walked the earth, wounded, unfulfilled, un-whole.

Well, now, come what may, he was determined to make things right.

[next chapter]