Janet called Betsy the day after the gala and demanded a meeting. “I could come to your house,” she suggested.
“Not gonna happen. Where are you staying?”
Janet had leased an Airbnb in Allendale.
“Give me the address. I’ll be there in an hour,” Betsy said.
Janet preferred someplace public. “How about the Four Seasons?”
That was too public for Betsy, who suggested a restaurant on the east side called Sawyer & Co. “Cajun food. You’ll love it.”
Sawyer & Co. was a diner-type place, very hip but too out of the way for Betsy to run into anyone she knew. She got there first and chose a table in the back. Janet arrived a few minutes later in tall rubber boots and a poncho – it was raining hard outside – and wriggled out of her wet clothes before sitting down across from her sister. She had wondered if they would hug hello or not, and now she had her answer: Betsy just sat there, smiling coolly. “How’d you find me?” she asked the moment Janet was settled.
“I saw your portrait at Art Basel. I asked the gallery owner who you were and she put me in touch with the artist. It wasn’t hard to go from there.”
“Did you tell the artist you were my sister?”
Janet narrowed her eyes at Betsy. “Don’t worry your pretty little head about that,” she lied. “You can sleep easy. No one knows anything about us.”
The waitress came over just then. Betsy ordered a vodka tonic, and Janet asked for a green tea. Neither of the women was hungry, and so they chose the first thing on the menu: fried shrimp po-boys. “You don’t drink?” Betsy inquired as soon as the waitress was gone.
“Not with our history,” Janet answered. “All I have to do is think of how mama ended up.” They studied one another a moment, and then Janet said: “Why’d you take off like that? I was only fourteen. You left me all by myself.”
Betsy sighed. “Let’s not go into all that shit right now, okay?” The waitress arrived with their drinks, and Betsy took a grateful sip of vodka, closing her eyes as the cool liquid went down.
“No, not okay,” Janet said. “Seems like you want a whole bunch of stuff covered up, starting with the color of your skin. On my side I want some answers. I think I’ve got the upper hand here, sister. Better get started.”
Betsy took another sip of vodka and stared hard at Janet. “What do you want from me, exactly?” Behind the frostiness, her voice had a slightly faltering tone.
“Just the truth,” Janet said, staring back coldly. “Then we’ll see.”
To be continued…
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