A Secret Grave 46: When Betsy Met Victor

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Betsy didn’t want to go into any details about Victor. She ate her meal with maddening slowness, getting up from the table at least twice to check on her stepson, Clark. She was a smart woman who’d built businesses from scratch and could deal with people and all their vagaries in her sleep. It wasn’t lost on her that if she wanted a portrait from me for her mental health gala auction, she’d have to cough up the facts on her former tenant, Victor Goodlove. Here’s his story as she finally told it to me.

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Bestsy at dinner

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Victor first appeared in her life in the spring of 2004, a handsome forty-something man in a white suit and pink tie looking for a property to rent. He was from Dallas where he had a medical practice in a northern suburb and was planning to expand to Austin. “What, are you going to cut yourself in two?” she had asked him jokingly at the time. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am,” he’d answered with utter seriousness and it was that wry sense of humor, the way his mouth twitched at the corners when he was prevaricating, that had gotten her. She liked people who weren’t quite what they seemed and to her Victor, in his white suit and shiny wing tips, could have been an utter charlatan. He claimed to be a dermatologist and energy healer. “Well, what does that mean?” she’d asked, questioning the “energy” part in their first meeting.

“See those warts,” he’d said pointing at her fingers. Back then she’d had a chronic skin condition around her cuticles that had prevented her from wearing nail polish and caused her to curl her fingers into her palms so no one could see.

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finger warts

Yummy (cropped), Charles Williams,  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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“I can cure those.”

She’d thought he meant with unguents and medication, but then and there he took her hands in his and sat holding them for a few minutes with his eyes closed and a faraway look on his face. They were in her office and normally her cheeks would have turned bright red if a total stranger had taken her hands like that and held them on the desk. But Victor had such a calming energy that she instantly felt hypnotized and sleepy – in fact, her eyes had actually begun to droop. “Okay. There, we go,”  he’d said after a few minutes, patting her hands and releasing them. She’d looked down and to her shock and amazement the warts around her nails were flattening, changing from the dark fleshy triumphant tone of permanent invaders to pale obsolescing losers about to fade and disappear. She looked at Victor who wore a smile that was both serious and very kind, the showman who really didn’t need to demonstrate his gifts and had just done her a favor. She was suddenly deeply afraid of him.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ Magician, Zappy’s Technology Solutions, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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