Like most psychopaths, my memory is sketchy. I forget things. Add to it that I’ve dealt with repeated emotional traumas; leading to dissociative amnesia at times… and repeated head traumas. And my past is sometimes hard to remember. This doesn’t mean I have no memories of my father though.
My siblings and I were lucky. Our father, Donnelly Clachan, had been a high functioning psychopath. He had been capable of love. Not all psychopaths ever experience that emotion, not even for their children. My brother Eric will tell you I was a daddy’s girl. I’m not sure I was, but I understood my father from a young age, understood that he was different and that I was different in the same way. So, I might have been a daddy’s girl.
My father was what people would call “a good man.” He was good to his wife and his children. He didn’t fly into rages. He didn’t break things. He never hit any of us and all discipline was left to our mother. I didn’t understand that when I was young. As an adult, I do though. He worried if he had to take a belt to one of us, he would lose control. That was all left to my mother, who is not a psychopath and far more even tempered.
No, that’s not the right phrase. That would imply my father was not always in control around us. However, I only remember my father being angry three times during my childhood and they were all related to his work, never us. The earliest memory I have of my father is him swearing, a lot, and for good reason. Eric had left a butter knife out within reach of toddler me. And I had a natural curiosity for how things worked. I vaguely remember getting the butter knife from the table, opening the oven door, and then removing all the screws. Every single one of them that I could find, came out. I put them all in a pile on the floor next to the oven door, which fell apart.
It was that noise that brought my father and my brother Eric running into the kitchen. My father grabbed me from the floor, picked me up in his arms, and said “Aislinn are you okay? Oh holy fuck, did it fall on you? What happened?” And I distinctly remember telling my father “you said a very bad word.” I don’t remember where my mom was, but I do remember my father calling my sister Isabella and Isabella showing up at the house. She sat in the kitchen floor with me, playing games, while my dad and Eric attempted to put the oven back together.
When mom did finally get home, she yelled at dad for leaving me alone in the kitchen and for letting me get a case knife. I could have been hurt. My dad never once raised his voice while my mom yelled at him. I’ve been reminded a few times over the years that not even a specialist could put the oven door back together and a new stove had to be ordered.
My next memory of my dad came from a later time, but not a lot later. It was of him and mom putting new handles on all the cabinets and drawers. Handles that chains could be run through and then padlocks attached to… to keep me away from the butter knives and spoons. That same year, I took apart Eric’s ten-speed bicycle with a spoon. No one could figure out how and even the bike shop in town couldn’t reassemble it.
I tell you these stories to show what my father was like. He could have been angry both times. He could have spanked my butt. He could have lost his temper and yelled at me. There are so many things he could have done… and if he’d been any other type of psychopath, he would have done any or all of these things. Instead, he checked me over, made sure I was okay, hugged me, told me he loved me and that I couldn’t do things like that and then took steps to prevent it from repeating itself.
Now, I’ve had people tell me it was because I was a girl. But they are wrong. I never remember my father ever spanking Eric. I never remember our father yelling at Eric either. And the one time I talked to Eric about it, he said and I quote “Dad didn’t yell. When I got into trouble for anything, he hugged me, told me he loved me and that everyone fucks up occasionally and that as long as I hadn’t lost control there was no fuck up that couldn’t be fixed.”
My father was also a social butterfly. Two sundays a month, we had a house full of police officers from his work. If there was a football game, they watched the game. If it was winter and there wasn’t a football or baseball game to watch, they played poker. I have asked mom if it stressed her out to have all those extra men in the house for hours on a Sunday. She told me no. My father took care of all the cooking and stocking of the fridge for those Sundays and even cleaned up most of it.
Which is another thing I remember about my dad. My father was a manly man all the time. But he went out of his way to help my mom with house cleaning. I even remember him one time putting on a pink frilly apron someone had bought my mom and getting down on the kitchen floor to clean the linoleum. After scrubbing the floor, he jumped up, grabbed my mom in his arms and danced her out of the kitchen, into the living room, swept her off her feet and sat her on the couch, turning on the TV and telling her to take a few hours just for herself, he could handle everything in the kitchen that needed to be cleaned. I was about seven at the time and we were preparing for a holiday.
My father was also generous. He once sat me down and told me “just because you can’t empathize or sympathize, doesn’t mean you can’t give from the heart.” Every Thanksgiving we had extra people, often cops, who didn’t have a family to spend it with, dad would invite them to our house for the holiday. At Christmas every year, my father would go to the store and buy two cart loads of toys. He’d bring them home and have me and Eric come into the kitchen and help him wrap all of them. He had a coding system that indicated what was in each package. He’d then put them in a big clothe sack and carry it in the trunk of his police car. Then anytime after Thanksgiving when he responded to a crime where there was a child present, he’d ask them about their Christmas list and then he’d rummage through that bag and give them a toy, usually something close to what they wanted off their Christmas list. He even bought stuff for teenagers to give out.
And I remember a few Christmases when we had extra people at the house, usually cops going through divorces, but sometimes just families dad met through work who were down on their luck. He’d bring them home, put them in the spare room we had, and he’d make sure there were presents under the Christmas tree for them. Sometimes, it was very last minute too. I remember one Christmas, my dad was patrolling on the 24th and ended up bringing home a woman whose husband had beat the hell out of her. She had two kids younger than me. Domestic Violence laws weren’t what they are today and women’s shelters were scarce. Dad came home, told mom the shelter was too full and the husband had already made bail. Eric was left in charge of me, while my parents dashed to Walmart to get presents for those two kids and the woman.
We weren’t rich, my father was a cop and my mom a librarian, but my father always said we were rich, because we had each other. He also told us, we could afford to buy those designer $100 jeans, but it would be better to buy the $15 jeans and spend the other $85 on those that weren’t as rich as us.
And the one time I really remember my father being angry, he was working the Callow case. I hadn’t been kidnapped yet. He had a home office and he was in it. A girl from my school had been found murdered earlier that day, everyone knew about it. Her naked, lifeless body had been found hung from a tree at our freaking elementary school. She’d been found before school started and none us had seen her, but the word had spread like wildfire around school that day. He and his partner were in that office and suddenly we all heard raised voices coming from the room. We stayed in the living room, Eric and I building a fort with legos for some dragon toy figures I had. The yelling increased and then there was a loud crash. My father stormed out of his office, walked out of the house, and went for a walk. His partner came out about five minutes later, his face pale and splotchy. Being the curious eight year old, I was, I scuttled to see what had happened…. the office was in chaos and the wooden desk my father used was flipped over on its top.
Finally, our father is why neither Eric nor I ever got a taste for alcohol. Our dad would have a beer during those social Sundays, but he never had more than two. As my brother got older, our father called Eric and I into the kitchen one night. There were three shot glasses on the table of amber liquid. I had already been kidnapped and returned, I think I was about 10. Some of Eric’s friends had been busted having a party where there was underage drinking. Our father handed each of us a shot glass. We both stared at it, not sure what to do with it. After a few moments of silence, my dad lifted the third, clinked glasses with Eric and myself and then downed the shot and told us to do the same. We were told we had to sit at the table for the next 30 minutes. When I began to feel a little giddy, Donnelly nodded at both of us.
“It makes you feel good, doesn’t it? It removes your pains, your worries, your sadness. This is why people become alcoholics. But for people like me and both of you, it’s a weapon. I never have more than two beers and I almost never take a shot of hard liquor because when we drink, we are no longer in control. Even me, at my age, with all my hard earned self control, can lose it in an instant due to drugs and alcohol. And we cannot afford to lose control, ever. When we lose control, the risk that we will hurt some one else quadruples. One drink or two drinks, is fine. That giddy buzz won’t kill you, but when you surpass that giddy buzzed feeling, you’re more likely to kill others. You might get into your car and have an accident. You might get in a bar fight and your opponent may die from something you do to them. Or you might just lose yourself and find you want to hurt someone, no matter who it is and kill them, because all the work you’ve done to earn self control, disappears with more alcohol in your blood. That is why I don’t drink and why you shouldn’t drink either. We aren’t like everyone else, we have to be held to higher standards than everyone else. Because we are natural predators. Aislinn, you might not totally understand yet, but as you get older you will, but it’s important you learn this lesson early.”
That day left an impression on Eric and I both. I never saw my brother drink. And I’ve never had more than 2 alcoholic beverages at one time in my life.
Furthermore, I know why my sister became a counsellor for abused women. And why she married a missionary. She understood the need to help others and wanted to marry someone as generous of spirit and selfless as our father had been.
When my father realized Malachi was a psychopath with a slightly dysfunctional home life, my father sat me and Eric down to talk to us about it. He wanted us to understand that Malachi could easily become lost without a good influence, like himself and that Malachi needed and deserved love from people who were like him. He wanted us to welcome Malachi as a member of the family. And when Malachi’s mom needed help with anything, my parents were there for her and Malachi and eventually, Malachi’s half siblings. My mom and Malachi’s mom even joked a few times that it would be easier for everyone if they became sister wives. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but when I did learn, I realized that emotionally, my mom and Malachi’s mom were sister wives. My father wasn’t sleeping with Malachi’s mom, he was a one woman man and that woman was my mom. But emotionally and sometimes financially, my parents were always there for Malachi’s mom. And Malachi. Over the years, when I’ve asked myself why I continue to be friends with Malachi, I realize it’s because Malachi is in many ways, my brother. My father was right, Malachi needed someone like him and my mother, and Eric, and myself. Even today he still needs us.
I occasionally wonder how much different all our lives would be if my father hadn’t been murdered. I think I would still be a member of the SCTU. I think Malachi would be too. But Eric wouldn’t be in prison. And no doubt, my father would still be buying toys to hand out to kids when he found them at crime scenes.
My father’s murder wasn’t just the death of another police officer at a time when there were too many. And it didn’t just affect my family. My father touched a lot of lives, some of whom still keep in touch with my mother. That day, the world lost one of the few psychopaths that understood what it mean to be a great individual. He was kind, generous, and loving. And he helped a lot of people both as a cop and as a person.