So what happened to Ben Stone once he left the DA's office? Sugar Kane thinks she has an idea -- and it does rather dovetail with the life of the man who portrayed him, Michael Moriarty, in that both apparently went to Canada. Notes Kane: "It was inspired by a very strange dream I had in which Ben was driving a U-Haul trailer to Montreal. It's also in parallel with Moriarty's own life, but that's strictly coincidental, I swear!"
By Sugar Kane
Ben glanced around the bar. The atmosphere was dark and intimate, very much like the drinking establishments in New York, which was why he'd been drawn to the place. But unlike New York, the conversations were mostly in French, with only a few English voices thrown in for good measure. That would take some getting used to.
He turned, focusing his attention on his companion; she smiled, swirling her wine glass. Sophie Tremblay was an attractive woman, tall and slender with a head of shining black hair. She also bore an eerie resemblance to Claire Kincaid, and Ben tried to tell himself that he hadn't chosen her because he ached for something familiar.
"So, what did you do in New York?" she asked in a heavy Quebec accent.
Ben knew the question was coming, and had prepared for it. All Sophie knew about him was that he was a New York attorney suddenly working for a law firm in Montreal, and that in itself was an anomaly. As much as he wanted to believe otherwise, it was probably why she'd accepted his drink invitation. He was a curiosity, and he knew it.
"I used to be a prosecutor," he said reluctantly. "I worked for the New York County District Attorney's Office for twenty years."
Sophie perked up, just as Ben had expected her to. The fact of his former job made the tale of his exodus to Canada even more interesting, especially to a young woman fresh out of the McGill University Faculty of Law.
"So, what brought you here, then?" she asked, her dark eyes flashing with curiosity.
Ben took a long, thoughtful sip of his drink. He didn't really want to talk about it, but supposed that he didn't have a choice. "I resigned," he said, uncontrollable sadness creeping into his voice. "I promised to protect a witness, and she was killed."
"I'm sorry." Sophie's face showed surprise, which Ben also expected. The standard story of an attorney switching gears was that he wanted more money, or a change of scenery, or that the opportunities at the new job were greater. Only the change of scenery was true in Ben's case, and it wasn't something that he had exactly wanted.
"It's all right," Ben replied, even though it wasn't and never would be. Every day, he thought of all he'd lost, but it was still nothing compared to Anne Madsen's life. He'd been able to start over, while she was lying under six feet of dirt somewhere.
"And you wanted to come to Quebec?"
Ben nodded; another lie. "I vacationed here a few times and was taken by the beauty. I thought it would be best if I started over, so I rented a U-Haul trailer, packed up what possessions I could, put the rest into storage, and drove up here. The rest, as they say, is history."
"Do you miss New York at all?" Sophie asked. Ben was silent, staring downward. Of course he missed New York. He was born and raised there; it was his home. This wasn't, no matter how much he tried to pretend that he could actually make it so. It was a place of exile, nothing more.
"I'm sorry," he said, finishing the last of his drink. "It's still difficult for me to talk about." He gestured to her empty glass of wine. "Would you like another, or shall I get the check?"
"Thank you, but I really must be going," she said, standing up. Ben stood as well, helping her into her coat. He hoped that she could have stayed longer; in the darkest reaches of his mind, he wished for even more. Although it had been of his own choosing, his existence was a lonely one, because he was in a place where he knew barely a soul.
"See you in the morning," he said softly.
"Bon soir, Monsieur Stone."