The LEgend of Kathy







It's Friday night at 8:30 in early fall. I'm a pretty popular 16 year old so I'm sitting at home watching X-Files with my parents. The phone rang so I got up and answer it (because the odds are slim it’s for me but even slimmer it’s for mom or dad).


The person on the other end asks “is the David Beard residence” (dang it not for me)


I respond "yes".


She more excitedly asks, “the David and Christine Beard residence” It sounds like some sales call because no one calls mom and dad David and Christine. Most of my friends call them mom and dad, most other people Dave and Christy. She then asks to speak to David; so I hand the phone to my dad.


He takes it and says a few words and gets this very excited look on his face. By this point I'm confused, it's not a sales call but it's someone who dad would be excited to hear from, which is usually no one, especially while he is watching TV.


I ask him who it is and he responds, "It’s your sister".


"Umm that’s not Andrea -". That's not her voice and she wouldn't call and ask for David and Christine.


Dad, clearly feeling interrupted by me stands up saying, "no your other sister", and walks out to the back porch.


I do my best imitation of an owl and my head dramatically to my mother, raise my eyebrows and say "who?"


"It must be Kathy, how neat", as if this is perfectly normal Friday night.


"Who?" I ask again

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"Your sister, Kathy". (I always imagined it’s Kathy with a K because my name starts with a K and she’s apparently my sister).


"Andrea?"


"No the other one"


“What other one?” I say getting more annoyed with each passing parody of who’s on first. Mom is now getting annoyed.


“Your other sister… Kathy”.


“I’ve never heard of her.” This is too elaborate to be a joke plus it’s interrupting X-Files a sin in our house.


“Really?” mom seems skeptical, “we must have forgotten to tell you about her”.


I decided to solve this mystery. I go and get the cellphone and call my older sister Andrea. I don’t say hi when she answers I just ask, “who’s Kathy?” She responds, “Our sister.”


As a good Lutheran I think to myself “WTF?”


“I’ve never heard of her”


“I’ve known about her for a long time.”


“WHAT?!” and with that I hang up the phone on her (clearly I’m the polite kid). I turn back to my mom with many questions in my mind…


“So what happened to her?”


“We kicked her out…” she pauses and thinks…


“She was late for curfew 3 days in a row and we told her we’d kick her out if she was late again.”


At this point I’m confused I was an hour late for curfew twice last weekend and got nothing. Am I one night away from being tossed out? Growing up I couldn’t get in trouble if I tried, I skipped school, missed curfew. A year later I would tell dad I went to a church party and drank while underage and he was only upset he wasn’t invited. As I said I couldn’t get in trouble.


“How old was she?”


“Old enough to make bad choices”.


“Wonderful, where did she come from?”


“Your dad brought her home from work one day.” – Dad worked at the Juvenile Detention Center as who really knows what. (I think he worked for the CIA)


“How long did she live here”.


“A couple of years. She’s the reason we decided to have kids of our own.”


“Yet, you never mentioned her, except to Andrea.”


“It must have slipped our minds, she was never around you kids. This was years before you.”


Dad comes back in the house. No longer excited and now upset.


Mom asks “what did Kathy want?”


Again back to we are a normal family tone. Dad responds “Raunch”. They are talking in some sort of code now. Sits down and starts watching X-Files like nothing happened.


I put on my best frustration voice, “what is Raunch”.


“Your brother”. My mind uses some of the words I learned from watching dad play Nintendo growing up. And with that it was clear this was not a conversation I was going to be a part of. I’ll work on mom later.


A few days slide by. Nothing about Friday is mentioned. One day the next I got the mail after school and there is a padded envelope addressed to my dad with a return address of “Texas Department of Correction – Death Row”. Like a good child I feel and search the envelope for clues. It is obvious that it contains a cassette tape and that’s all I now. I put it on the table with the rest of the mail and wait. Mom comes home ignores the mail. Cooks dinner.


Dad arrives home. Glances at the table picks up the envelope and brings it out to his car. This is some strange behavior. It’s clearly attached to Kathy and whoever Raunch is.


A few days later it’s just mom and I so I decide to make my move. “Mom, who’s Raunch?”


Her reply was as useless as the rest of the conversation, “we told you he is your brother... maybe”. Oh great I got a maybe because that clears it up. She continued, “Well he is your sister’s brother so maybe he is your brother.”


“What’s his real name?”


“It’s Raunch” – this very much explains what will happen next.


“What did he do?” It’s a safe assumption it's bad because dad is upset and a letter shows up from death row.


“Well, he got in some trouble”.


Damn-it mom “death row isn’t some trouble, what did he do?”


“Don’t tell your father I told you,” – She’s using father instead of dad which that means there is serious, “he.... well… you see… he robbed a bank.”


“Robbing a bank doesn’t get you on death row in Ohio.”


“Well he killed a cleric and the security guard.” – Now we are getting somewhere – “and he fled to Kentucky.”


“So why is he on death row in Texas?” “He also killed a gas station attendant in Kentucky.”


“And…?”


“His partner and a hotel maid in Texas”.


“Oh. So what does he want?”


“Your father is a good man.” – This is someone is dying, divorced or in trouble language. “He wants your father to write a letter to the Governor to try and get a pardon. He says he only killed one of those people and that it was an accident”.


“What is dad going to do?”


“Probably tell Governor Bush to give him the death penalty, Raunch is not a good person, he killed a lot of people some they don’t know about. That’s enough of this. Don’t bring it up to your father.”


Wonderful. My long lost pseudo sister has a murdering brother. Raunch is never mentioned again. For the past 19 years I’ve set an extra plate for Kathy at the Christmas dinner Table. Every once and a while I wrap up a gift for her or hang up a stocking.


A few months back I was talking to mom on the phone and she said that Kathy wants to meet them for dinner and that they've started chatting on Facebook. Again because I'm the good kid I immediately go to their pages and try to find Kathy in their friends lists. They've made their lists private or at least non-mutual friends private. Who taught them how to do these underhanded teenager behavior and block my spying... of course dad was CIA so hiding tracks is natural to him.


A few weeks later mom sends the photo of her, my dad, my real sister, and kathy. No explanation just sent via Facebook messenger.


Enraged I phone my mother and exclaim, “what is this!! You told me that Kathy was years before Andrea.”


Mom says she doesn't remember them meeting but they must have. And says Kathy sent her the photo. This photo was not in baby books and no copy is in their house that I've seen. “She is young, how could you have thrown someone her out at that age.” - If she was pre Andrea pregnancy we are talking 2 years before this photo. - “You tossed a middle school girl onto the streets.”


“This must to have been before we threw her out.”


“So she lived her with Andrea and you?”


“I just don't remember, it was so long ago.”


“18 years mom, it's less than 18 years.”


That friends is where it stands. Kathy wants to meet them for dinner. She apparently married a successful doctor, I sometimes tell mom she threw the wrong daughter but I only say that to be mean and because having a rich sister would be nice.


According to mom they haven't met but I'm not sure I believe her. I am resigned to never knowing the real truth about Kathy or Raunch. To be clear the timelines don't line up, the story about Raunch isn't true and my mom didn't make it up on the spot. It was rehearsed and practiced. It wasn't invented on the spot. It was premeditated. Was dad her handler? Who is she and was she? and who on earth is Raunch and what did he really do?


I've searched Texas death penalty cases and found nothing that matches the name Raunch or the mom's story. We can joke about Kathy but must never mention Raunch.