Parker Knowles switched off the engine in his new Ford F250 diesel truck and pulled the keys out of the ignition. He sat there thinking as he unconsciously rolled the keys around his fingers. Deep in thought, he remembered the past couple of years and how choices a person makes, or others make, can change your life forever.
Today would have been Hallie’s and his first wedding anniversary. Today there was a deep sadness in Parker that went beyond depression as he thought about the past year. The betrayal left behind by his wife, his friend Victoria Rutledge, and of course, his brother John Knowles cut deeply into his soul.
Parker looked out the side window as he reached for the door handle. As promised, there on the porch stood the only person he still felt he could trust, Glanville Vance, his attorney.
Parker got out of the truck and shoved the keys into the front pocket of his blue jeans. He wore an untucked button-down shirt and a brown leather belt and a beat up pair of old white tennis shoes. His shaggy appearance would give someone the idea Parker was a poor indigent. He had not had a haircut for over nine months. He walked to where Glanville stood with his arms crossed in front of his massive girth. Glanville’s smile showing his white teeth against his black skin.
“Hello Glanville, how are you?” Parker reached the porch and held out his hand. Glanville shook his hand firmly.
“I am fine, but the question is, how are you doing?”
Parker looked down the familiar street as he stood on the porch of his home he had shared with Hallie for those few months.
“I am doing okay some days and other days, well I’m not so good.”
“Are you going to grievance counseling that I setup for you?”
“Yeah, I went a few times, but it really wasn’t helping me that much. I have come to the conclusion I have to just face this head on and work through the darkness one day at a time. It’s getting a little better.”
“I’m glad to hear that Parker. That is the most positive thing I have heard from you in a long time.”
“Well, there is no doubt that the actions of Hallie, Victoria, and even my brother John, will take a while for me to work through.” Parker looked up at Glanville. “One day at a time.” He gave a pained smile
“You asked me to meet you here this morning at 11 O’clock. So why are we here Parker?”
“Well, today is the last day I will ever be here. I have paid the house off and as you are aware I have donated it and everything in it to the local hospital charity. I have one more thing I need out of the house then I will turn the keys over to you to carry out the closing and the donation. I am going in now to get the one thing before it’s all yours, Glanville.”
“I would appreciate it if you could stay outside. I will only be a couple of minutes.” Parker said.
“Sure, I’m right here if you need me,” Glanville said.
Parker unlocked the door and entered the house. He shut the door behind him and stood there looking at the living room and the kitchen. Other than a few things disheveled from the crime scene people going through everything looking for clues. Other than that it was the same as the day he kissed Hallie goodbye before going to work.
Parker walked into the kitchen and opened a drawer. He pulled out a large butcher knife and walked the few steps to the small breakfast table. Pulling out a chair Parker sat down. He laid the knife on the table and folded his hands in his lap. He hung his head, going into a deep dark place inside his mind. The memories, the conversations, and finding out the real truth, flashed through his mind like a silent movie in fast forward. He looked over at the knife, weighing his options. This was going to be a difficult decision.
Parker had sold his business this past year for forty-nine million dollars. He was rich! But with all that money Parker had absolutely no future plans. He thought about Victoria sitting in county jail waiting for her trial sometime next year. His brother, John, also sitting in jail awaiting his trial. Memories of playing baseball with his brothers, water fights in the summer. Oh yes, and a few fist fights as they tangled with each other. He thought about his parents, and for the first time in a year, things seemed to be in place. All Parker had to do was finish this last thing, and he would finally be at peace.
Parker got up and went to the refrigerator and opened the freezer door. He stood there as the cold air hit him in the face. There on the top shelf, frozen solid, it looked the same as it had when he and Hallie put it there one year ago today. There sat the top tier of their wedding cake–a pale yellow with three bright colored roses made of icing.
He reached in and gently pulled it out of the freezer, closed the door with his elbow and walked the few steps to the table. He sat the cake down on the table. He handled it with such care. He turned and walked to the kitchen cupboard and pulled out a large dinner plate. He sat the cake on the plate and as gently as possible he tore the wrapping away.
Tears filled his eyes. The promise of sitting at this table with a bottle of champagne, they would cut the cake and eat it, to celebrate their first year of marriage and their life together. Parker squeezed his eyes together extremely tight, but tears spilled out anyway. He thought of Hallie’s smiling face when they made the promise to each other to love one another forever. Now, death left him here today alone with a cake, a knife and the thought it would be better to end it all.
Parker remembered just a year ago they said they would have a discussion about starting a family as they ate their wedding cake. Now he sits here alone. The cake triggering all kinds of memories. Behind what this cake symbolized in happiness, it also symbolized all the secrets, cunning, and planning that led to Hallie’s death and a brother and a friend in jail.
Parker picked up the knife, this was the defining moment. He had put his affairs in order. This was the day. Now he battled with ending his life too. He held the knife to his left wrist, then over the cake to cut a slice. He did neither. His body shivered from head to toe. Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “A Sound of Silence” played in his head.
Before he started cutting into the cake or his wrists, he sat the knife down. He made his decision at that second. Parker got up quickly and walked over to the sink. Opening the cupboard door under the sink, Parker pulled out the garbage can. Without another thought, he picked up the cake and dropped it into the trash can plate and all. Without looking back, he walked to the front door and stepped outside where Glanville Vance still stood guard.
“You finished up what you needed to do Parker?”
“Yes, I did.”
“So what’s next?” Glanville asked.
“Well, I am officially retired. I bought that new truck and camper. I am going to head out and just see where I end up.”
“So you are going to travel around the Country?”
“Yeah. I may end up in Alaska or Florida. I have no idea, I just need to get away and find myself.”
“Well don’t forget you will need to testify at Victoria and John’s trials,” Glanville said.
“You have my cell phone number, and I will be here when I need to be. But until then I need to get out of here.”
Glanville reached out his hand, and Parker shook it.
“Thanks for everything Glanville, I mean it. You have been a good friend to me.” Parker reached over and dropped the house keys into Glanville’s hand.
“Parker if you need anything you just call, and I will see you at each trial.”
Parker half-smiled, “Thanks, Glanville.” Parker stepped down and headed for his truck and camper. He smiled as he opened the door and slid into the driver’s seat. He put the key in the ignition and looked over. His year-old chocolate Lab puppy wiggled over and nuzzled his nose into Parker’s neck before giving him a big lick on the cheek. Parker laughed, “Well Buddy, are you ready? Let’s go?”