A Secret Grave 28: More About Victor

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Portrait of a Woman in Mourning by José Campeche (1751-1809), Circa 1807, Lisby, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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There were always women around Victor, girls who went starry-eyed in his presence, older women who worried that he didn’t eat regular meals and brought him gifts of fruit, sandwiches and cookies. I’d see him at expensive galas on the arm of a wealthy dowager with diamonds wrapped around her throat, or slumming it in a coffee shop off I-35 with someone like Rachel Glazny, his “god daughter” who’d sit as close to him as she could, like a skinny outdoor cat who wouldn’t let herself be handled by anyone else. From what I heard, none of his romances lasted long: there’d be exclamations of true love and then, within days, arguments and recrimination. He’d have a wild weekend affair with a girl he was going to spend the rest of his life with, but by Monday she’d be gone and he’d be back at the office, crisp in his button down shirt, his thin face reflecting nothing but a calm and genuine curiosity about the person on the table who’d come to him to be healed of warts or celiac disease or a certain odd tremor in their hand that no other doctor had been able to fix. I guess you could say he was a miracle worker and as with all people like that, there were questions swirling around him – who was he? Where did he get his healing powers? Was he the real deal or some kind of freak? Could he be trusted or was he a quack who’d let you down, disappoint you? He never allowed himself to be photographed, which seemed odd to me, but perhaps made sense in terms of the lawsuits that plagued him, stories of a girl who’d died in his care, another who’d overdosed, jumped off a bridge, experienced frightening personality changes, become fat instead of thin. Whatever the true story was about Victor, no one – except perhaps Emil – knew it to its full extent. My goal here, of course, is to learn as much as I can, even if what I uncover is a little dirty. The one thing I know for certain is Victor was kind. I’d see homeless people in his office whom the receptionist whispered he was treating for free. Clients brought their sick pets to him and he never charged. (He kept my dachshund, Wally, overnight to treat him for Little White Shaker Dog Syndrome. When I got him back the tremors were gone for good, and Victor refused to accept a penny.)

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Wally

Wally

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What’s remarkable is the range of clients he saw, from cats, dogs, parakeets to street people to the extremely wealthy and important who arrived in limousines. His receptionist, Helen, gave me quite a bit of information (I will have to try and find her to learn more). She herself was a piece of work, an intentionally drab, poker-faced, quick-talking lady with a red-lipsticked mouth who was sometimes there at the clinic, efficiently booking appointments and taking payment, or sometimes gone for weeks because there’d been a blowout between her and Victor.

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Helen

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In her absence, a succession of timid, pretty girls attempted to run the office, but none of them lasted long and Helen was always back, barking orders or making odd comments about the supplement you’d just bought and how you looked much better now than when you walked in an hour ago. She was particularly partial to me because of a small favor I did her that seemed unimportant at the time but had lasting consequences.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~

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