“How much was the check for?” Janet asked.
“A thousand dollars. Nothing really, but at the time it sure seemed like a lot. Here’s the deal though. He agreed to pay for college. And you want to know why?”
Betsy leaned back in her seat, smiling like the cat that swallowed the canary. “I swiped his cigarette butt out of the ashtray when he wasn’t looking. I figured his DNA was all over that thing and I was right.”
“So you had a paternity test done?”
Betsy shook her head. “I didn’t have to. I guess he had a really guilty conscience. I let him know about the cigarette butt, and he started sending me a little money every month.”
She decided to stay in Florida, wanting to be near Dr. Sidney Radnor now that she knew he was her father. She moved to Gainesville, applied to the university, got a job in retail, started life over, identifying as white and Jewish. Everyone knew her as Elizabeth Johnson (changed from Jablonski) who’d grown up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and whose retired (and “remarried,” liar, liar pants on fire) doctor daddy lived in Palm Beach. Not that she ever saw her doctor daddy. Their understanding was that there would be no contact. In return for Betsy’s silence and compliance, a check would arrive in the mail the first Friday of every month. He paid her tuition in full. When she graduated in 1992, she requested he be there, the one fatherly thing she asked of him, and to his credit he showed up, a tanned old man in a business suit who took her out to lunch and explained that now that she was a college graduate she was on her own.
Shortly after that she moved to Austin, TX where she’d been accepted into a graduate program in early childhood development at UT. She got a job at a Jewish day school, met Malcolm Shapiro, and the rest is history. Except for one thing.
Janet leaned forward in her chair. “What was that?” she asked.
“I might need another drink to tell you,” Betsy said, signaling the waitress.
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-man-writing-check-image2021480