A Secret Grave 85: Vying for the Spotlight

 

Victor didn’t have many close friends growing up. He was an odd kid, very quiet, his voice a little high pitched, the sort of kid who did his best to fly beneath the radar. He was brilliant in school but sometimes tried to hide that fact, not wanting to draw attention to himself. Animals loved him. He first thought he wanted to be a veterinarian and would practice on wounded birds and small rodents, the family dog and neighbor cats. ‘Practice’ for him meant touching the animal, smoothing its fur or feathers, singing to it, administering drops of water mixed with an herbal solution he’d found in his father’s greenhouse. Miraculously most of the animals in his care not only survived, but were cured of their ailments. Victor’s father noticed his son’s gift and began to pay special attention to him. This caused a problem with Victor’s older brother, Roy, who, other than his extreme good looks, didn’t have a similar talent to distinguish himself by.

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Roy (left) & Victor

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The two boys never got along. Roy was much more sociable, but in a superficial way, gathering friends as if he were putting together a team to convince himself of his popularity. He was physically bigger than Victor and far more athletic, though Victor, with his slim build and quick reflexes, was a good skier and tennis player. According to Janet, who knew the brothers well, Roy was every bit as smart as Victor, just not as bookish or intellectually curious. He would rather hang out in the local pizza parlor with his buddies after school than run home to conduct a science experiment with electrolytic iron oxide and aluminum in his backyard. Of the two, Janet preferred being with Victor who was more interesting – “like a little pyromaniac with some of those experiments,” she told me drolly. “There’d be these sudden scary bursts of flame and we’d have to rush like hell to put them out.” But Roy was the dreamboat, the boy every girl wanted to impress, captain of the football team, a good dancer, schmoozer, driver, kisser. The lucky girl who went out with him was gold on the market… until he had enough of her and dropped her, usually without warning, from one day to the next. (In this regard, the brothers were similar, both unable to sustain romantic relationships for long.)

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Teenage Roy

Janet described experiences with both boys – as well as with the extended family – that clarified certain questions I had about Victor and his complex history, experiences that, as she recounted them, made me hungry to know more – because with each answer came another question, another mystery.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ https://blackcomicguy.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/top-5-bullies-in-fiction/

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