Secrets - Whatever Happened to Pepsi
So, I'm not the thin one, the pretty one, the talented one. I'm not that smart, not that strong, not a big reader and not a writer. But I have secrets, lots and lots and lots of secrets. My therapist often says, "My God, Jane, your life reads like a John Grisham novel!"
It was a dreary New England fall morning. I grew up in a small Boston South Shore suburb. A middle-class neighborhood - green split-level ranch with gold shutters and a flag stone walkway with small shrubs on both sides and beautiful purple rhododendron bushes surrounding the house.
It was early in the morning and we, me, my two brothers and one sister, were all eating breakfast, puffed wheat in 70's bright orange thick plastic bowls. I heard the doorbell ring, so I went down the stairs to see who it was. I opened the door, and it was my Father...he asked if he could come in? I was aghast, why did he ring the doorbell and ask to come in, it's his house, and he lives here?! He had a full big black trash bag under his arm, it had been raining out, so it had drops of rain all over it. I then immediately noticed his big steal blue eyes...there was something funny, something odd - he looked different, very different. He had a lot of razor stubble and his eyes where strangely fixed wide open, I was alarmed and afraid for some reason, but let him in anyway and went back upstairs to the kitchen to finish my breakfast. By this time my mother was also sitting at the table. My father immediately dropped his bag in the living room and stormed into the kitchen and with one long swoop of his arm tossed all our cereal bowls off the table, he was screaming, "kids, do not eat the cereal your mother is trying to poison you and has put arsenic in your cereal." My mother just taunted him saying, "Oh, Franny you're out of your mind" as he motioned to strangle her behind her back. After that I had to leave to catch the school bus, I was 10 years old and in the fifth grade.
I don't remember anything else about that day at school. It was the mid-70's, I do remember wearing a brown, pink and beige striped turtleneck and my favorite navy-blue quilted rain jacket with silver snap buttons, I was a cute and skinny girl. I do remember getting off the school bus at the end of the day. It had stopped raining, but it was still a very overcast, wet fall afternoon. I've always had good instincts and for some reason as soon I got off the school bus, I went to the driveway to look in the back of our family car - a deep maroon Chevy impala station wagon. In the back I saw a large bone, seven to eight inches with some bits of meat on it and drops of blood all around it. I remember immediately running to the house, opening the door and bolting up the stairs to the kitchen to get a big chef’s knife out of the drawer. With knife in hand I headed down the long hallway to my parents’ bedroom - I then screamed at the top of my lungs, "that's it what did you do to my dog!" I found my father there, sitting on his bed wearing only a white t-shirt and underwear. He slowly turned to look at me and had three lit cigarettes in his mouth and that same scary wide-eyed look I had seen that morning. I suddenly realized, "Oh, no I'm home alone with this psycho", so I immediately ran back down the hall to leave the house, and as soon I reached the top the stairs my mother had come thru the door, and with her were my little sister only two years old, and two brothers six and eight. I distinctly remember the intense anger I felt toward her, thinking to myself, "great, you went and picked everyone else up from school, but you left me to come home alone to this psycho."
The next thing I remember everyone including my father was in the living room. My mother, little sister and two brothers were sitting on the long red silk sofa in front of the large living room window. For some reason I was sitting across from them in the dining room facing them. My father was standing in front of me and he now had the knife I had been holding. I just remember feeling hostage and sheer terror as to what was going to happen next. There was this deafening and terrifying silence. My mother had been annoyingly repeating, "Franny you’re sick!", "Franny you’re sick!" which was clearly only making things worse. Then my father turned to me and put the knife to my neck. He asked, "Jane, what do you think, do you think your father's sick?" I looked over at everyone sitting on the sofa and they were all shaking their heads, "say NO". I couldn't take it anymore I just broke down and started crying and said, “yes daddy, I think you're sick." He then said, with the knife still in his hand, “I want you kids to come into the bedroom with me", so we all followed him down the long hallway. As soon as we all were in my parents’ bedroom, he asked us all to kneel down by the bed and said, "your father's sick and I need you all to pray for me." And, then the next thing I remember was my dad going to the hospital.
My father was a proud Boston Fire Fighter, and this began his long journey of mental institutions and halfway houses to mending. I never did find my dog Pepsi. I was desperate and devastated. My mother told me he tied her to a lamp post in Holbrook a nearby suburb. I begged her to go and help me find her, but she would not. I then begged a kind neighbor, Mrs. Johnston to please help me. I remember riding all around Holbrook in her Jeep with her daughter Dawn desperately searching for my precious dog Pepsi, but I never did see her again. I don’t know, my father had several guns and rifles in the house maybe he shot her? I’ll never know.