A Secret Grave 15: Whoops


“I was forty-six years old and sleepy all the time,” Alicia told me. “Usually I have tons of energy, so while Victor had fixed my insomnia problem, something else was wrong. First I thought I had Epstein-Barr. I asked Victor about it at one of our sessions and he laughed and told me to go see the gynecologist.”

We were in my studio, drinking tea and sitting close to the heater. It was late last winter and Alicia had come to inquire about portraits of her and Emil. We hadn’t seen much of each other since the days of Victor years before. “You were pregnant?” I asked in amazement.

“Yes. I still don’t quite see how that happened. Not only was I in peri menopause, but I’d been told by doctors for years that I wouldn’t be able to have children because of endometriosis. It wasn’t something I was planning on.”

“I guess Victor fixed that.”

Alicia laughed humorlessly. “Yeah and gave Emil super sperm with all those lights and supplements.”


Emil in Roshi Glasses

Emil in Victor’s treatment room


She hadn’t welcomed the pregnancy. In fact, she’d become quite angry and depressed. “I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. I was married to my work. I was just in the process of opening my gallery back then and didn’t have time for anything else.”




Alicia was one of those enviable women who was so successful at everything she did (plus so effortlessly stylish) one wanted to slap her. When she moved to Austin she decided to open an art gallery. That gallery took off, so she opened three more in three different cities and became a figure to contend with in the art world. Which was why she was visiting me in my studio. She’d come not only to commission portraits (an opportunity I jumped at without hesitation, but that I now somewhat regret since I’ve gotten so behind) but to discuss an eventual show of my work. She paid me half the money for the portraits upfront and like a fool I agreed to deliver by October, not an agreement I usually make (I like to be vague on completion dates) but Alicia was pushy. “So,” I prompted that day in my studio last February, “have you had any news about Victor? What do you think happened to him?” This was before I’d heard rumors about dead bodies beneath studios.

Alicia took a final sip of tea and wiped delicately at her mouth. “Personally I think there was foul play. I’ve said that to Emil and he agrees.”

“Really? That seems a little –“

“Extreme? I know, but think about it. He had all those secret formulas people were after. He once showed Emil a whole book of them. And the way he disappeared from one day to the next, leaving his dog behind. He loved that dog.”

“It was a mean dog.”

“Yeah, but you don’t suddenly pull up stakes and leave your dog behind. That’s not normal.”

I didn’t want to point it out to her at the time, but there was really very little about Victor that was normal.


Abandoned 5

the mayor of delaney woods, dee & tula monstah, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


To be continued…


Cover photo ~ seedling growing from rock, renee-mcgurk, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


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