I could tell from Janet’s emails she had a giant chip on her shoulder. She sent me a few more childhood photos of Betsy, but none were accompanied by “Isn’t she cute?” or descriptions of what might have been going on when the picture was taken. Just random shots of a little girl squinting in the sun or playing dress up.
Of course, from what Janet said, she was four years younger than Betsy and may have had no idea what was going on in the picture. I asked her to send me photos of herself and the rest of the family, but she didn’t, at least not for awhile. I would just get emails that I’d have to piece together, like the following:
Betsy and I were really close as kids. I don’t know what happened or why she left so suddenly. I loved her more than anyone else in my entire life, including my mother who could be mean at times.
To which I responded:
What do you mean Betsy left suddenly? How old were you at the time and what was going on in your life?
I was fourteen and our mother had died. We were living in New Orleans. Do you know how hot and noisy it is there? My mother had had a string of really shitty boyfriends. She was in no position to take care of us properly.
Wow. Sounds rough. How many kids were in the family?
I should just write my life story for you. Why don’t you ask Betsy some of these questions? Oh I forgot – she’s too good to talk about her past. Well, maybe one day I’ll tell you the truth about her.
Jesus, she was going to drive me crazy with these random, emotionally-laden hints and stingy bits and pieces of information. I wanted the whole story – and laid out chronologically, if you please. All I knew about Janet was she was a bitter, whiny, forty-one-year-old pharmaceutical rep who lived in Miami, traveled a lot, and was probably svelte and beautiful (you had to be for those jobs, right?) I had no idea if she was married or had children, or even what her actual surname was. And then came the real shockeroo.
To be continued…