I Become – Part 3
Twelve years before I fell in love with Barry and a year to the day after Vic’s death on Valentine’s Day, 1985, I felt wrung out with grieving and despairing of ever finding the kind of love I’d found with Vic again. That morning, I awoke in the wee hours, compelled to write about him. Hours later, when I lay my pen down, I felt a little less lonely and a little more connected to my memories of Vic. This is my way to stay in touch with him, and remember.
As days turned into months turned into years, the story of Vic, Jaku and me grew, first into a novel with names changed to protect us fire department people from Jaku’s revenge should he find out what I’d written about him, then into a memoir after Jaku died in 2015 of a massive heart attack. (An appropriate death, I thought, for a man who murdered his buddy in cold blood.)
My heart swelled whenever I felt Vic near, by the prickling of tingling across my scalp or a sudden wind where no wind had any right to be, or by electric lights blinking in the assistant chief’s office beside the alarm room when I worked the midnight dispatching shift. These manifestations comforted me with confirmation that Vic’s essence continued to exist. My heartbreak at his passing and hatred of Jaku for killing him lessened as time slipped steadily into the future. Gratitude overflowed in me when I thought about my Angel Hero Vic saving me from Jaku, about his open-hearted friendship and for the ecstasy he brought me, about his great love living past the grave. Gratitude, too, for the example of Vic’s fearless life, which propelled me to tell my whole truth for him, leading me to remember my dream, realize that muscular arm belonged to Vic, and discover the heart-breaking truth that Vic lost his life protecting mine.
The month before my memoir was published in April, 2014, I consulted a psychic named James who was purported to be a clear channel when communicating with the spirits of people “no longer encased in a physical form.” When I asked about Vic, James said he was waiting with words for me.
“Vic thanks you for keeping his memory alive. He says being a book protagonist makes him a celebrity of sorts among the other spooks.” James laughed.
I smiled. “Thank Vic for me, for saving me from Jaku, for being the inspiration for my book, for being such a ‘righteous dude’.”
My eyes teared up when James relayed Vic’s message, that he wouldn’t hesitate to stand up for me all over again against that lily-livered liar Jaku. My face heated up when James added, “Vic says he wants you to spice up his book with a steamy dream love scene between him and you. He says, since you promised to tell the truth about all things spiritual, you should describe his and your sizzling soul connection, yeah?”
I thought about Vic shaking me to my roots so beautifully every time he moseyed on by. “Can Vic hear me?”
“Not every word, but some of them, and he senses others, and hears inflections,” James said. “He experiences events holistically, in a much deeper, richer way than we do.”
“I kind of understand. Well . . . maybe I can share what it was like for me when his joyful energy tingled through me, like bubbling champagne fizzing up in my cup, and I got giggly drunk on him.”
James chuckled. “I’m turning red. Your pal says, ‘Yes she can, and I can give her more than bubbly to dream about.’”
“Vic’s still a tease. He already did. What could be more alluring than true love? He’s the Adonis I fantasized about, the knight who courageously fought for me, the joy of his presence lifting me up when missing him brought me down, the inspiration to keep writing until I finally fulfilled my promise to get him in print or die trying. I carry a blazing torch for him.”
After a pause, James said, “Your friend is surprisingly eloquent for a gentleman with a firefighting background.” He remained silent for a minute or two. Then, his voice breaking, he repeated Vic’s words, “Decades from now, this ‘righteous Italian dude with a stylin’ walk’ will offer an old lady his arm.’”
My heart beat faster. James cleared his throat a few times, “Rarely have I encountered such a beneficent spirit. Give me a moment, please.”
Seconds slipped slowly by, each one punctuated by the sound of my heart’s loud pounding. James said softly, “You’ll take his arm and smile at the dude who loved you more than his life.”
Tears stung my eyes and tingles exploded across my scalp as James continued, “Then he’ll fly you across to the other side.”