My first husband was a man named Vic Latham and he lived in Key West. He was a huge, legendary kind of man who takes up too much space in the room. He drank, ate, snorted and smoked more than five men on a full moon night. If they made a movie about Vic they would have to dig up Cecil D Demille to direct the damn thing. That’s how big he was.
He was more than twenty years older than I and I was his fifth wife. (I was young and didn’t think four previous wives was a bad sign for a marriage.) vic and I had two “first meetings”.
The second introduction occurred when my brother, Granger was getting ready to go to prison. I had to take care of some shady business in the Florida Keys, for him while he was away. I was in college at the time, semi innocent and dedicated, no, devoted, to my brother Granger. He introduced me to Vic, who was one of the owners of a famous late night bar called the Full Moon Saloon (aka The Full Spoon Saloon). He asked Vic to ‘keep an eye on me” while he was behind bars.
Vic fell in love with me. Hard. I fell in love with Key West, the famous people who hung out at his house, the appearance of money and a rambunctious wildness, I fell in love with his charm, his stories and being completely adored.
After Vic and I had been dating for six months or so I suddenly remembered a picture, from a vacation my mom, dad and I took when I was a very little girl. I called my mom and asked her to dig up the artifact. And she did. And it was so spooky I was nearly speechless for an hour.
My mother, father and I had visited Key West when I was eight years old. We ate lunch at a elegant bistro called Louies’ Backyard. It was a beautiful old house on the ocean. In the picture I’m wearing a blue Holly Hobbit smock shirt and eating steak tartar. My daddy is next to me with a bloody mary and smoking a cigarette. The manager of Louies’ Backyard is standing between us staring directly at the camera with black eyes and a black goatee He’s very tall, handsome and dangerous looking. And he’s the only one looking at the camera. It was Vic. He’d taken care of us that afternoon and he posed when my mother asked to take our picture.
For years Vic joked my father would have shot him right there had he known what would happen years later.
Obviously Vic and I were meant to be together. Fate was busy orchestrating our meeting and marriage because Jack and Mary were born, two of the most inexplicably magical, talented and extraordinary people on the planet. They are so much like Vic and so much like me. And they will change the world.
Vic died yesterday, Easter. But he lives on.