Chapter Sixty-Five Washington, D.C. – January 27, 1998
“One deceit needs many others, and so the whole house is built in the air and must soon come to the ground.” Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658)
Cynthia Powers walked into the condo after a long day of work to find J.P. sitting at the kitchen table staring blankly at his flowchart. He normally got home before she did and usually started dinner by the time she walked in. The two customary glasses of wine on the table were also missing. He was drinking Chivas Regal on the rocks. Something was wrong.
“Honey, I’m home,” she mocked the oft-used greeting with a big smile.
He returned her greeting with a weak smile. Whatever was bothering him, she concluded, had nothing to do with her. Their relationship had become a bit more complicated. Her subtle hints for something more permanent failed to elicit any response from him. In spite of that, she enjoyed being with J.P. The sex was good, the conversations were stimulating and he made her laugh. She wasn’t ready to admit she was in love with him yet but he would do for now.
J.P. was staring at a diagram he sketched of the relationships of all the men involved with his father. He drew a box for each person and connected them with lines drawn in black magic marker. The connecting lines each had a comment and through every box was a bold red line labeled “reunion-parade-1946”. There were additional notes in the margins.
She stepped up behind him and began massaging his shoulders. He loved that. She intentionally saved it for special moments, to ease tensions, making up after an argument or the beginning of foreplay. He murmured softly.
“Do you almost have this figured out?” she glanced at the flowchart.
“It had me puzzled for awhile, especially Lincoln’s relationship with Harley and Jake but the answer to the great mystery is not on this diagram.”
“Really? You’ve spent so much time on it. How do you know that?”
“Because I figured it out.” He took a sip of scotch.
“Today. And it’s just as well because I can’t be wasting energy on this anymore. With the Lewinsky scandal breaking wide open I won’t have the time. There’s going to be a media feeding frenzy and I think there’s more to it than a vast right wing conspiracy.” He was clearly distressed. “So, how did you figure it out? We haven’t talked to anyone lately.” He had made her a partner in his search for answers and she relished the job. But now he seemed to be withholding something from her.
“It was something you said. It struck me as odd at the time and it stuck in my mind.”
“You said, ‘it’s kind of weird to know the day you were actually conceived’.”
“Yeah, I remember that. It is kind of freaky.”
“Well, I just couldn’t get that out of my mind so I did something about it.”
“Oh, shit.” She stopped rubbing his shoulders. “What did you do?”
“I sent my father’s DNA from a coffee cup I took in Bedford, along with mine, to a commercial lab for analysis.”
“Oh my God! And?”
“And he’s not my father, Cynthia. The DNA doesn’t match.” He emptied the glass of scotch and poured another.
She got herself a glass, pulled up a chair next to him and poured herself three fingers. He looked wounded and she felt the need to comfort him. “J.P. What does it matter? It doesn’t mean anything. Whatever was between you and him doesn’t change. He raised you. The good is not better and the bad is not worse. It’s just biology.”
J.P. nodded. He appreciated her effort to comfort him but he had a knot in his stomach since opening the lab report. “On one hand I’m happy to finally solve the mystery. On the other hand perhaps it would have been better if the secret stayed a secret.”
“We’ll never know, now. Will we?” She sipped her scotch. “Are you going to be okay?”
“Sure, but I can’t help but wonder what the hell happened. Or how these four old men found out and banded together to keep it from me.”
“It really doesn’t matter any longer, does it?”
He continued without hearing her. “Or why my mother wanted me to know so badly before she died. That makes no sense.”
“Stop! Maybe she was looking for forgiveness.”
“And the sixty-four thousand dollar question is, who’s my father?”
“Don’t do this to yourself!”
“And why did Johnny…I can’t call him my father any longer…go to Bedford? Did he make a promise to Jake he had to keep? Or did he find out my mother was unfaithful? That would certainly explain why he left us if he found out. And why did Lincoln send me back to him?”
“Let it go, J.P.”
He took a deep breath. “You’re right, Cynthia. I have to let it all go. I’m not sure that old man in Bedford who raised me even knows who my real father is. But those four old warriors, they wouldn’t give up my mother, no matter what!” He smiled at the thought.
“Somehow they found out Johnny wasn’t your father,” she speculated. “Then they agreed never to tell anyone, especially you.”
“Probably at that homecoming parade in forty-six. That was the only time they were all together.” J.P. tapped the flowchart and pointed to the red slash he used to connect all of the boxes.
She took another sip of scotch. She would rather be drinking her wine but was trying to demonstrate some empathy toward J.P. in his time of need. “I’ll help you as much as I can if you decide to try to find out who your real father is.”
He smiled and pulled her closer to him. “I don’t want to scare you away, Cynthia, but I think I’m falling for you. I may even be in love with you.”
“You’re so romantic,” she chided. It was all she could do to stifle the cough in her throat. “Do you want my help or not?”
“I think I have to let go of what’s left of this quest and focus on my job and on us.”