...THE REVEREND ELLISON PARKER was everyone favorite pastor. He offered the invocation at the beginning of every Town Board Meeting, sponsored teen nights in the church basement and gave the benediction at most community gatherings. He officiated at weddings and funerals, was present for baptisms and stood in uniform and prayed every Memorial Day and every Veteran’s Day. He rolled up his sleeve and got dirty whenever Mother Nature or some less impressive human counterpart dealt injury to his flock. At night, he knelt by his bedside and read from the bible before sliding under the covers for an evening of well-deserved, gratifying peace.
We later learned that the good reverend’s wife slept in the smaller bedroom down the hall. That didn’t matter to the Reverend Dr. Parker. Every night, he pulled the covers high around his neck. He lay on his side and spent a few minutes bending his knees just so and shifting his back and shoulders until he found that perfect place on the mattress. It was old and all the dents and imperfections accepted his body perfectly. When he was completely comfortable, his arm, the upper one, the right one, slipped across the body of his young daughter and pulled her to him. She began sharing his bed when she was four; the practice continued until she was twelve years old.
There was an early frost that October, but Ellison didn’t feel the cold. He never felt cold at night. What he felt instead were curves that weren’t there before. When he touched her, he felt her breath hitch. He heard, or imagined, the tiniest moan slipping past his daughter’s lips. He felt her move, or thought he felt her move or envisioned his young daughter moving next to and against him and he was appalled. This was not right. This was sin. Every evil ever visited upon men by women found entre into his bedchamber that evening. The good Reverend Ellison Parker could not abide sin. Sin had to be dispatched quickly. Decisively. And so, just one week before Halloween, in the nearly morning hours well before dawn, evil was quickly and quietly returned to the shadows.
The Reverend’s car ended up in Barker’s pond. He sent it off the end of the pier and let it sink into the water and the mud. Barker’s pond is not very deep but it was just deep enough to cover the trunk. Only the red of the tail lights broke the surface of the water.
I was there when we opened that trunk. Little, twelve year old Emily Parker, lay in that trunk stuffed behind the spare tire. She was naked. And broken. There were bruises on her thighs and her chest and her neck. Her hands and her ankles and her mouth were taped. Her eyes were wide open. They were the biggest eyes I had ever seen and I was convinced that she saw everything when he carried her into that trunk. In that desperate part of my mind, the part that now needed to retire, I believe she saw everything as we carried her to the ambulance.
The good reverend locked her in the trunk alive. He let her die in the dark without a single creature comfort. He let the icy water bubble in and take her slowly. The Most Reverend Doctor Parker left his daughter to the most sinister death imaginable. There may be more evil ways to kill a person but when I stared into that trunk at the bloating body of young Emily Parker, I could not think of any.
When the car was removed from the murky waters, Ellison Parker was not behind the wheel. The evidence suggested he slipped into the woods behind the pond and disappeared for a while.
The Reverend never stood in a courtroom to answer for his crimes. Rumor has it that he was shot trying to break into a barn. It was December by then and he was probably trying to keep warm. I do not know the circumstances. I did not investigate Ellison Parker. I am ashamed to say I put my papers in the morning after we opened that trunk; I left that duty to someone else but I was glad to know he was gone. The bullet that took him was up close and personal. It was the type of closure that comes from a trunk slamming shut. That was enough.
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LCCN: 2014903373ISBN-13: 978-1495959967