The secretary at Internal Affairs led Molson to Officer Davis’s office. He was rather old but still stood ramrod. He sported an out-dated moustache.
“What can I do for you, sir?” the man asked. He was fair with brown eyes. He reminded Molson of his own father. Molson hoped his looks matched his personality.
“I am here to complain about Officer Robert Campbell. Do you know him?”
“Yes I do.” The man was quick in his response. “He is one of our finer policemen.”
“I am afraid not, sir,” Molson said. “I’m here to file a complaint against him.”
“On what account?” The man’s voice didn’t change.
“He displayed racism in his encounter with me.” Molson repeated the sentence Kasra had taught him.
“That’s a pretty big claim.” The man frowned.
“Yes. But it’s true.” Molson smiled.
“What is your name, sir?” The officer asked. “Do you have a file number?”
“No, sir” Molson said. “Officer Campbell refused to open a file for me.” He extended his hand across the desk. “My name is Molson. Nice to meet you.” The man’s hand was large, like his own father’s. There was something in him that made Molson trust him.
“Now, tell me that story,” Officer Davis demanded. He carefully listened to Molson and did not rush him to finish. Unlike Officer Campbell, he didn’t interrupt him to say that Molson was taking his time for a trivial matter.
The man was really companionate. When Molson finished he started, “I am totally with you on this. I had a dog for eight years. We got it when it was a little puppy. He was a member of our family and we treated it as if he’d been our youngest son. When it died I cried. I cried like a baby.” The old man’s brown eyes were soft and sad sitting in a net of wrinkled skin.
“I’m glad there is finally someone who understands me,” Molson said. “Well, we’re all humans and know the feeling. I am sure Officer Campbell shares your emotion too. It is just that unfortunately the police cannot help you with this. You should take the course to the court.”
“I know that and I will,” Molson said. “But now I am here to complain against Officer Campbell for asking irrelevant questions from me. Personal questions on my nationality and race.”
“I am sure he didn’t mean to insult your origins when he asked you where you are from, “Officer Davis said. Then he smiled, and the wrinkles around his eyes made tree-like marks on his temples.
“But this is a personal question. A question about race. It is an—an identity question.”
“What question? Identity? What do you mean?”
“I mean he didn’t have any right to ask questions on race.”
“It depends. In some cases—”
“His first question was if I was an Iranian. He repeated the question a few more times and didn’t take my statement before I answered him. Then instead of going and asking the woman who stole my dog, he interrogated me as if I were the suspect.”
“I understand your point and I am with you, but at the same time, I’ll invite you to think over whether you want to file a case or not. Honestly, I don’t think that this identity case would fly. But if it did, which is very improbable, it would be very bad for Officer Campbell. He is a new member of police force. This might be why he wasn’t politically correct. So if you’ll accept an apology on his behalf, I assure you that I’ll bring the matter to his attention and ask him to consider his behavior with greater care in the future.”
Listening to the man, Molson again got a hot flush in his face. “No, sir. I want to file a case. It is my right and I know that. I am a Canadian citizen, a first class law-abiding citizen. Officer Campbell’s actions were a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is an identity case.”
Molson did not give up even after Officer Davis played his last card and told him that Officer Campbell was a new dad.
“In that case, we’ll go ahead with it.” The man sighed. This time his voice was dry. “I suppose you are already aware that it might take a while before we can get around to this file.”
“Yes I am aware, sir.” Molson extended his hand across the table to shake hands with the man. “And thanks.”
Filing a case against Officer Campbell was the only thing Molson could do to feel better about things. To get back his Shi Tzu, he still had to go to court, Officer Davis reassured him. Molson, however, didn’t want to go to that trouble. Besides, it was not guaranteed that he would win the case. Perhaps it was better to do what Officer Patterson had secretly suggested—to find the whereabouts of the man who had his dog and get it back from him. But who was that man? That Mac Murphy?
As soon as Molson drove into his dealership and saw the Infiniti parked there, it dawned on him who the man was—the one Liz had yapped about that night in the car—her father. The lonely, grumpy man whom Liz wanted to cheer up. To find the man’s address, somebody should simply follow Liz back to her home after work. Molson sent Kasra to this mission.
“Oh, Molson. Get over Malousak and let it go,” Kara had initially said
“No, Anahita is still waiting for Malousak to be released from the hospital. She asks me everyday about it.”
“Tell her Malousak is dead.”
“Only a person who doesn’t have kids can say something like that,” Molson had said disappointingly. “My daughter is everything to me.”
“Buy her something else and she’ll forget about the puppy.”
“Thanks for the suggestion, but now do what I told you.”
Kasra, however, came back at five thirty, dast az pa deraztar. “The owner of the beauty shop is really pissed, man” he said and crunched his face.
“What happened?” Molson asked.
“She has already fired the bitch,” Kasra said, “She said she doesn’t want a trouble with the police.”
As Kasra had suggested, Molson paid two hundred dollars and bought a Karaoke toy system for Anahita. This was something one of her classmates has recently got for her birthday, and Anahita desired to have. Molson thought that the new toy would ease up Anahita’s feeling about her dead dog, which did, but only to some degree. Anahita still asked him to get her a new puppy. “Just like my malousak,” she said and sighed. Her sighs did their work on Molson. So did her song performance one Saturday morning in August when he came to take the kids to his place. Anahita opened the door for him. She was dressed in leather boots and shorts and had put on makeup like a real Hollywood star.
“Come to my room, dad. I have a surprise for you.”
“You do?” Molson peeked through the door to see if Mina was around.
“Yes. I composed a song. And I am going to sing it for you before we’ll go.”
Molson sat on the edge of Anahita bed with Arash on his lap. Anahita turned the Karaoke system on, held the microphone, and closed her eyes. The speakers played the music from Titanic. Anahita, however, didn’t sing the Titanic song the song that Celine Dion would sing. She sang different lyrics related to her dead Malousak and her desire to have another puppy—just like her—so that she could be happy again. Anahita opened her eyes only when she was done. Molson applauded. Following her, Arash did the same: clapped his small hands against each other and let out a cheerful squeal. At the same time, Molson heard Mina clapping too. He turned around. In a purple dress with open cleavage, she was leaning back against the door frame. She crossed her arms on her breast.
“Anahita, sweetheart,” Molson turned back towards his daughter and said. “You know how much daddy loves you and wants to buy you another puppy, but he is not allowed to keep dogs in his building.”
“This time, I’ll take care of the dog,” Mina announced.
“Hurray,” Anahita cheered at the microphone. “But it has to be just like my Malousak.”
“That would be your dad’s job to find an identical dog,” Mina said. She put an extra emphasis on “identical.”
All through August and September, Armita kept asking Molson if he had found a puppy for her and Molson kept answering that he hadn’t found an identical one yet.
The “identity case” did not fly, even though Henry and Kasra testified to hearing Officer Campbell ask Molson questions like “where he was from” and “if he was Iranian” before he’d started inquiring the case. Officer Campbell himself admitted that he had actually asked those questions, but even this didn’t make any difference. One day in mid September, the Commissioner Officer Davis asked Molson to go Internal Affairs office to receive the final decision on the case he had opened almost three months earlier. Molson got Henry to drive him there and wait in the car for him to come back. He didn’t feel like driving and sweating in his long black raincoat he wore over his Armani purple suit he recently bought and had on for the first time.
Officer Davis was as friendly as last time. He came around from behind his desk and walked to the middle of the room to shake Molson’s hand and greet him. He also remembered to call Mohsen Molson.
“I am sorry, Molson,” he said, “but the committee’s final decision is not to suspend Officer Campbell as you requested.”
“How so? There is enough evidence against him.”
“Well perhaps the evidence was not framed properly. There is not such a thing as identity case.” As the man frowned, the deep lines around his eyes and on his forehead made a chain. A smile, soon, opened up the frowning expression in his face. “But I have also good news for you. The committee has already decided that Officer Campbell should officially apologize you, both in writing and personally.”
Molson opened the car door to driver side and yelled at Henry who had fallen asleep behind the wheel. “Wake up and move to passenger seat, Henry. I’m driving.”
He cranked up the engine meanwhile Henry got in from the other side.
“That stupid Kasra,” Molson grumbled, “told me it would work. Identity case! Stupid. He deserves that Philippino maid.”
Henry sat in silently and didn’t ask Molson anything. Molson broke the silent: “You smell like hell, Henry. I betcha you’d loaded up on the garlic and fishes again last night.” He took a package of gums from the dashboard and offered one to Henry.
“No. I don’t like gum. It’s for girls.”
“Take one, Henry. No wonder many of our customers par. You know what par is?” Molson raised his eyebrows.
“That not true, boss.” He took a gum and reluctantly put it into his mouth as if it were a piece of shit.
Molson held his face up to Henry and chewed on gum in an exaggerated way to cue him to start chewing. They were stopped at a red light at Broadway and Main. Chewing on gum, Henry turned his face away from Molson towards the side window, but in a second, he turned back to him again. “Molson, there, look …”
“What is it?”
“Your dog. Malsak.” He bobbed his head to the right continuously. Molson followed his head only to find, on the other side of the street, a dog running ahead of a small, skinny, rather old man with glasses and salt and pepper hair. Molson fixed his gaze on the dog. Was it was Malousak? She looked identical. If Henry said so, she must be her stolen dog. The man also wore similarities to Liz. He had narrow lips and a long brow.
“So it is that bitch’s father,” Molson said.
He was walking in the opposite direction that Molson was driving, and Molson eventually lost sight of him.
“Good, Henry,” Molson slapped on Henry’s leg. “You’ve got great eyes and you’re my smartest man.”
He changed lanes and turned at the first side street to change direction. In two seconds and a quick u-turn, he was back on Broadway going in the same direction the man was walking. Soon Molson caught up with him and slowly followed him. Malousak cheerfully strolled along ahead of the man. She’d changed since she was stolen. Now there was more brown hair in among the white on her back and her ears had completely changed color. The man stopped at a convenience store and took the dog with him into the shop.
“Shit, he went in,” Molson said loudly. At the same time, he spotted a car pulling out before the lights. He stepped on the gas and stopped just beyond the car to back up to the spot. The Toyota’s driver was a middle aged Indian woman. The left lane was blocked by the constant stream of cars and she couldn’t enter it. Some cars behind her tried to change lanes so that they could get the green light. The woman honked a few times.
“You block the road,” Henry yelped worriedly, “here can’t park—“
Molson shut him down. “I know what I’m doing, Henny.”
There was a mess at the intersection. The drivers of the cars which managed to pass in the left lane gave Molson the finger.
“Fuck you all,” he shouted back.
The woman was still stuck behind him. She finally stepped out of the car and came to him.
“Move forward,” she said in thick East Indian accent. “Can’t you see I can’t get out? You’re blocking the way.”
“I am not blind like you,” Molson shouted back at her. She was wearing thick glasses. “Who gave you a driver’s license? You can’t drive.”
“You’re a bad driver. See what havoc –”
“Tell your husband to teach you driving.”
Henry’s face was flushed bright red. He kept nodding his head.
“Stop shaking your head, Henry. It gets on my nerves.”
The woman finally went back to her car. This time she managed to get into the other lane. She, too, gave him the finger.
“Go to hell, bitch.” Molson’s face was hot. He slammed the dashboard with his fist. “It’s all because of this fucking thief who’s robbing the convenience store now.”
Henry was silent all the time. “Now I am going to get my dog back from him,” Molson announced.
This provoked Henry to talk: “You want to steal . . . I go back to the office by bus.” He put his hand on the door handle to open it.
“You, sit down,” Molson said. “I need your help.”
“But it not legal.”
“What are you talking about? The police told me himself that this is the way to get Malousak back. This is to solve the matter in a civil way!”
“But I go …”
“In that case get your stuff from the office and don’t come back.”
“Listen, Henry. You have kids so you should understand me. My daughter keeps begging me to get her an identical dog to Malousak. This is my opportunity.” Molson panted, feeling heat radiating from his face. Henry didn’t say anything. He just shook his head again. “Besides, when the law is not protecting people, they should take things in their hand. You understand this, don’t you? You are from China.”
Molson started the car when he saw Malousak run out of store on her frisky feet. Then the door swung again and the man came out carrying a plastic bag. He had a big nose and his back was slightly crooked.
“Oh, no.” Henry ducked his head. “He sees us.”
“He doesn’t know us, Henry. For God’s sake, it seems like you’re going to pee yourself.”
Henry sat straight. “Listen to me. Now sit firm but when it’s time and I’ll tell you, you should switch to the driver’s side. Be prepared.”
Molson drove slowly. The man was really slow. As Malousak pulled him forward, his salt-and-pepper head bobbed the way Henry’s did. He was wearing a long out-of-fashion cheap green raincoat. Molson hoped that the man lived in one of the side streets.
And he did. He turned into a narrow and quite street off Main. He was strolling and seemed to be in no rush. Molson drove into the street after him. Henry slumped in his seat and kept his head low in a pathetic way. Malousak was full of energy—sniffing at things along his way—beside the trees and sometimes by the people’s doors. The man pulled the leash every time the dog ventured into someone’s garden.
Molson checked the windows of the houses. Everywhere was quiet; nobody seemed to be home. Then the man let the leash go and Malousak ran up to a house with a blue door, on the left. The dog jumped up at the door. Molson stopped the car in the middle of the street. “Come to this side Henry and drive slowly up to the house. I’ll get the dog and join you.”
He jumped out of the car in a quick movement and ran up past the man, almost knocking him down. The man turned towards him and frowned. “Hello?”
Molson didn’t care. He quickly ran up to the door and to Malousak who was wagging her tail at him. But as Molson leaned forward to get her, she growled and showed Molson her teeth. “Hey Malous. It’s me, Molson.” Molson stood up. Come on, dokhtar khosgel.” After a moment, Malousak’s eyes went soft. She stopped snarling.
“I am here to take you home.” He bent forward for a second time and lifted the dog. He heard the man shouting from behind. Heard him running after him. Heard the car scratch the asphalt and stop. Heard Malousak barking and barking and barking. He didn’t see anything only the car as he scrambled across the street and hurled himself on the passenger seat.
The car took off like a rocket. Henry’s face was so blank that he looked like a ghost. Molson couldn’t hear the man on the street any more, but could see him in the rearview mirror, shouting and running after the car. Malousak’s barking was the only sound in the car. Like the noisy static between the stations on the radio. He turned around for a moment. The items in the plastic bag the man was carrying had fallen on the ground.
They were well out of the street before they saw anyone appear to help the man. Henry didn’t stop at the stop sign and turned right into the crossing street.
“We did it, Henry.” Molson laughed cheerfully. “I love you, man. You did a great job. I give you a big commission just like you sold a Mercedes.”
“Oh, boss, you—” Henry’s breath was short. He shook his head a few times, still with the same blank face of a ghost, as Malousak, on Molson’s lap leaned forward, kept his head up, and licked his ear. He pushed her back. “Ay, you dog trouble.”
Kasra took a step back when he saw Malousak in the car. He was standing outside smoking when Molson pulled into the dealership parking.
He scurried to the car as soon as he saw the dog.
“Is it Malousak?” He opened the door for Molson, while he got out, tightly holding the dog in his arms.
“So who do you think she is?”
“Great. So the identity case got you back your dog.”
“That identity case was a stupid, idea,” Molson said, “it got me nothing than a stupid apology.”
“What about this?” Kasra asked as he stroked the dog’s back where she had grown more brown hair. She barked at him.
“This is different. This is an identical case.” As identical as it can get, like Molson for Mohsen, Molson thought.