Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Nature Vs. Nurture

I am very seldom surprised by things.
As a researcher into the case the only things that surprise me are things I never thought about, or expected to come into contact with. Interviewing people like Brunner and Beausoleil, Stovitz and Kay- just seemed unlikely. To then become actual friends with some of them- well that surprised me.

A big surprise came out of the blue on March 5th of this year. I was at a Gallery in Los Angeles for an exhibit of paintings by Bobby Beausoleil. I've gotten to know Bobby and his lovely wife Barbara very well over the years. They are good people who wake up, struggle, and sleep just like the rest of us. Barbara was there with her grown children. There were three of them and their families. Nice, normal middle Americans.

I studied the paintings. They were good or very good. They reflected the interests of a man locked behind bars. I had spent several weeks in 1993 in a maximum security facility- I got to leave every night, thankfully. But I got to know dozens of inmates- and they just wanted to not be forgotten. Bobby's paintings reflected an interest in sex, machismo, and freedom. To be expected.

So I am sipping wine, chatting with the Master Archivist of the case, Jon Aesnihil, greeting Barbara's children, and everyone is as relaxed and normal as you would expect at an art opening. Except this opening is for a man notorious for a killing. But okay, well a swellegant party this is and all that.

When all of a sudden I see Barbara reach out and voraciously hug this small, slightly round, attractive woman in her early 30's. I get introduced. Her name is Jenet.

I am good at this case, really I am, but I can't immediately place the name. The pronunciation Barbara uses doesn't gibe with the phonics in my head. Or something.

Then she says, "Bobby's daughter."

Maybe it's the free wine we all have. But Bobby has a daughter? Tex had the conjugal visits. These other kids are all Barbara's from another marriage previous. Bobby's Daughter?

Holy Shit! I am slow.

"is Kitty your mom?" I find myself asking, surreally. Indeed she is.

This is the grown woman who as a baby was inside Kitty as she fled from Barker for her life. This is Bobby's actualy child who was born after he was arrested. OH MY GOD....

What the hell do I ask? What would you ask? She's a teacher of very young children. Just got divorced and it still obviously stung. Mom is in California and doesn't want to say too much. She has a child and they are relocating to Arizona or New Mexico or someplace like that. Etc.

Is she open? Not really. Very guarded. And indeed, she's not likely to have first hand information- she's kind of collateral damage, born after everything happened.

But the one thing I realize is- she's fine. She's just like you and me. Sort of like Michael Brunner. They are all normal people. Whatever the gene is, if there is a gene, it is not passed on.

In my head, that baby wild child is living in a tree in the woods somewhere. In reality she is a mom and a teacher with a life of her own who grew up with a dad she never knew.

I wish her nothing but the best.

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