The Lovers by John Connolly
The truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even to murder, with the truth.
—ALFRED ADLER (1870–1937), PROBLEMS OF NEUROSIS
I TELL MYSELF THAT this is not an investigation. It is for others to be investigated, but not for my family, and not for me. I will delve into the lives of strangers, and I will expose their secrets and their lies, sometimes for money, and sometimes because that is the only way to lay old ghosts to rest, but I do not want to pick and scratch in such a way at what I have always believed of my mother and father. They are gone. Let them sleep.
But there are too many questions left unanswered, too many inconsistencies in the narrative constructed of their lives, a tale told by them and continued by others. I can no longer allow them to remain unexamined.
My father, William Parker, known to his friends as Will, died when I was almost sixteen years old. He was a cop in the Ninth, on the Lower East Side of New York, loved by his wife, and faithful to her, with a son whom he adored and by whom he was adored in return. He chose to remain in uniform, and not to seek promotion, because he was content to serve on the streets as an ordinary patrolman. He had no secrets, at least none so terrible that he, or those close to him, might have been damaged beyond repair had they been revealed. He lived an ordinary, small-town existence, or as ordinary as he could lead when the cycles of his days were determined by duty rosters, by killings, by theft and drug abuse, and by the predations of the strong and ruthless upon the weak and defenseless. His flaws were minor, his sins venial.
Every one of these statements is a lie, except that he loved his son, although his son sometimes forgot to love him back. After all, I was a teenager when he died, and what boy, at that age, is not already knocking heads with his father, attempting to establish his primacy over the old man in the house who no longer understands the nature of the ever-changing world around him? So, did I love him? Of course, but by the end I was refusing to admit it to him, or to myself.
Here, then, is the truth.
My father did not die of natural causes: he took his own life.
His lack of advancement was not a matter of choice, but of punishment.
His wife did not love him or, if she did, she did not love him as she once had, for he had betrayed her and she could not bring herself to forgive that betrayal.
He did not lead an ordinary existence, and people died to keep his secrets.
He had grave weaknesses, and his sins were mortal.
One night, my father killed two unarmed teenagers on a patch of waste ground not far from where we lived in Pearl River. They were not much older than I was. He shot the boy first, and then the girl. He used his off-duty revolver, a .38 Colt with a two-inch barrel, because he was not in uniform at the time. The boy was hit in the face, the girl in the chest. When he was sure that they were dead, my father, as though in a trance, drove back to the city, and showered and changed in the locker room of the Ninth, watt the Nihere they came for him. Less than twenty-four hours later, he shot himself.
For my entire adult life, I have wondered why he acted as he did, but it seemed to me that there were no answers to be found to that question, or perhaps that was the lie I was happier to tell myself.
It is time to call this what it is.
This is an investigation into the circumstances of my father’s death.