A Secret Grave 30: Party Time

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When I went for my rescheduled appointment with Victor a few days later, Helen was bursting to tell me a little more about their secret visitor. She had two secret service guys with her. She wore a pantsuit. Her name began with an ‘H’ like Helen’s. She was very gracious. She signed one of her books for Helen (a signature Helen must treasure in this crazy election year). She looked better in person than on camera. “So what was Victor treating her for?” I asked.

I might as well have asked for the person’s private cell number. “I couldn’t possibly tell you that,” Helen said, shaking her brown curls indignantly. There was no one in the waiting room, but she lowered her voice a notch. “Let’s just say it had to do with the L word: lib-ee-do.”

Helen managed to get photos of this H-named person before and after treatment that I was able to get copies of and use for portraits a few years later, and that I suppose might now have some value.

Hillary before 2 PS

Hillary, Pre-Victor Treatment

Hillary after 2 PS

Hillary, Post-Victor Treatment

Victor had treated her, sign that he’d been vetted by the government and passed clearance. Only thing was, he disappeared and his clinic shut down a month or so after that high-profile visit. I never saw either him or Helen again.

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What happened at the party? Well, it went by, as these events always do, in a blur. At first it seemed like there was no one there, and then I turned around and there was a crush of people.

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I was pulled in all directions and never had a chance to spend a good amount of time with anyone. These four things stand out, however:  1) I had a brief conversation with Emil that went as follows:

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Emil Portrait

Emil

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Nicole: Remember Victor Goodlove from all those years ago? What do you think happened to him?

Emil: Oh, no question. I think he was murdered.

Nicole: By whom?

Emil: Could have been one of those crazy people who was always stalking him. Could have been (he coughed, embarrassed) his landlady, Betsy whomever. He sure as hell had the goods on her. Could have been a family member – he had an older brother, Roy, who was very jealous of him.

2) I kept an eye on Caroline, wanting to see her reaction to my portrait of Victor and to the portrait I’d quickly thrown together of her son, Mercer, that I’d placed on the opposite wall.  (I placed Joe’s portrait next to Mercer’s – no resemblance whatsoever.)

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Josiah Portrait

Josiah

Mercer portrait

Mercer

Victor portrait

Victor

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She peered at the three pictures, went white as a sheet just as she had when she saw Victor in the audience at the house concert years before.

The next thing I saw was her back as she hightailed it out of the party. Her husband, Joe, apologized, saying she’d been taken suddenly ill and not to worry, his driver would come pick him up later.

3) My friend, Peter Martino, approached me not long after Caroline fled the party to say he recognized her from her portrait and knew for a fact that Victor had had an affair with her many years before.

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And 4) Gharith Pendragon, the psychic, who followed me out to my studio and told me, unsolicited, that my life was in danger.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ Most of the main characters’ models

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