by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
Alexandria, Virginia – December 15, 1990
A Stranger’s Life Stands On the Precipice
What do you do when you hold the life and soul of stranger in your hands? If you don’t make the right decision, a young, beautiful woman with a loving soul will die within a few hours. This chapter has an astonishing end, when Vivi’s life is changed forever.
There is a long list of female singers, actresses, journalists, models and magazine writers in the latter half of the 20th century, who committed suicide, died from drug/sleeping pill overdoses or who lost their career due to alcoholism or drug addiction. If their deaths were mentioned at all in the national media, their obituaries painted them as mentally unstable, flawed women, whose tragic ends were inevitable.
As Vivi and I moved from the living room of the Alexandria mansion to its guest room, she changed into the skirt, loose knit sweater and beret that she wore in her best known acting role. This change symbolized her decision for me to know the real Vivi . . . and see if I still liked her. Initially, I detested her because she had grown wealthy off of selling her talents, beauty and body. Quickly, however, I became horrified from the stories, she told me about how women in the entertainment industry were actually treated . . . worse than prostitutes. By the end of her confession, I was ashamed to be a man. Vivi was beautiful women with a borderline genius IQ, who had very little control over her own life.
Discrete descriptions of adult intimacy, depression, suicide & sadism, but no vulgarities.
Strangers in the night
At the university Vivi thought that the government was preparing her to become a female James Bond – Agent 007. She felt honored to be able to serve La République de France. After graduation, she was told that because of her beauty and musical talents, she could best serve her nation as cultural ambassador. The government bureaucrats had a very unusual definition for “cultural ambassador.”
Vivi lit up a cigarette and blew the smoke high into the air above the patio. She then seemed to be looking out to the distant horizon. I forgot her profession and observed, “Vivi, you know you look just like a glamorous, 1940s actress.” Then I remembered, she IS an actress.
She put up her hand then waved it down as a signal for me to shut up.
She smiled, “Normally, I don’t smoke this much . . . only three or four cigarettes a day . . . but I have been very nervous the past two weeks. I will tell you what happened a little later.”
“Did you know that since I was 18 have been paid by certain tobacco companies to smoke their cigarettes? First, when I was 18, a French company, owned by the government, SEITA, paid me 100 francs ($20) a month, plus free cigarettes, to smoke. When I was 19, Virginia Slims from the United States began paying me $50 a month to smoke their cigarettes. I liked them much better, since French cigarettes irritate my throat. They also gave many cigarette packages to give to my girlfriends. Almost all the girls at the university smoked anyway, but it made me popular to give free cigarettes that were milder.
“Virginia Slims also sent me to a special school to learn how to smoke sexy. This is very important for actresses. After I graduated from the school, Virginia Slims would pay for me and my prettiest friends to eat on the sidewalk tables of the very best restaurants in Paris, so everyone could see beautiful young French girls smoking Virginia Slims and having fun.”
“When I began singing pop music, Benson Hedges sponsored my concerts, so I switched to Benson Hedges Menthol, since they use the best tobacco and their menthol is very pleasant to smoke. Now they pay me much money to smoke their cigarettes in movies. It is funny. Benson Hedges did not exist when Pilar was fighting the Boche in Normandy! ”
I laughed, “Well, your cigarette teachers taught you well. You do look very sexy, when you smoke.”
She smiled and even blushed a bit, when I mentioned the word “sexy” for the first time . . . then she stared straight into my eyes with look that could melt any man. “Ree-shard, then you will have to join me for a cigarette in bed tonight. It will help you relax after we make love. <she winked> Bien . . . au contraire, you might not want to be with me tonight, when I tell you what I must tell you.”
<Gulp! I think that she just propositioned me!>
“Ree-shard, first, I have never before done things in public like I did with you, when we were sampling cheeses. I kissed your hands as a joke, but when you revealed that you were starved for affection, I kissed you on the lips. I felt sorry for you. It was fun because you appreciated it so much. You have big Indian lips like me! I really enjoyed your lips. <she giggled> Somewhere among those kisses, they stopped being fun and became sincere.”
“Second, you are a good man, who has been treated terribly by your wife in a long marriage that should have at least produced children. You are a man, who has never cheated on the woman, who pretends to be your wife . . . even though she makes you live like a monk.”
“You should know that I have been married twice. My first husband was very handsome and drove an expensive sports car. I didn’t know that he brought with him over 500,000 francs in gambling debts until he had already been with several other women. We divorced six months after my daughter was born. He has never wanted to see her since then.”
“I was told by several important men in the French movie industry to marry my second husband. He was a wealthy French actor, over 25 years older than me. They told me that it would be good for my career. They didn’t tell me that I was merely a cover for him being a homosexual. We never slept together. The man paid me to stay with him one year.”
“Since then I have become a bad woman and a bad mother, who does not deserve the beautiful six-year old daughter given me in that first marriage. I hate what I have become. Because I got another divorce after buying an annulment from the church for first man, I will never be able to have a church wedding. I cannot even take the holy sacraments at Mass, because I would have to lie to the priest in Confession about what I do do for the government.”
I interjected, “Oh come on Vivi, you are not a bad woman. You are a very likable lady, full of love for other people.” You saw how Sara and George Stuart like you.”
“Non, Non . . . You do not know the real me. I am afraid that you would not like me, maybe even hate me, if you knew the real me. Ree-shard, do you know what a courtesan is?
“Sure,” I responded. “She is a beautiful, educated woman, who is paid to be a companion for wealthy or intellectual men.”
Vivi nodded her head, “Oui! That is the same as in French. That is what I am, but now I feel more and more like what you call a whore. It started with the government, when I was 18 years, asking me to sing for official events and paying me very well. I was able to buy a car and much nicer clothes than most of the other girls at the university. The government paid for me to attend special language schools so that I would speak perfect English, German, Spanish and Italian. Now, they want me to learn Russian and Chinese!
After spoiling me with money, they also asked me to seduce married men, so they could be compromised. I was a young women, who foolishly thought that sex with any handsome man would be fun. They told me that these men were criminals, but I soon realized that they were merely supporters of opposition political parties or else executives of companies that were in competition with companies that had given money to the party in power. “
Vivi’s dark secrets
After lighting another cigarette, she continued. “At times it is obvious that I am being asked to do things for the government and am rewarded with being paid to perform for government sponsored events. However, more and more, I was not sure who I was working for. Both my secret work and my public rewards only involved wealthy families or private companies.”
“What these men do is to gradually manipulate you into selling more and more of your soul. Yes, I was paid much money, but I also became money myself. They used me as part of the payments of contracts and as bribes.“
“Then they began by asking me to be an escort for diplomats such as Monsieur Andriani or visiting premiers, presidents and government leaders. That was fun and glamorous, but after my divorces, more and more cinema executives and government officials from other countries expected sex, often perverted sex. These pigs tried to make me do horrible things that they would never expect of wives, girlfriends or mistresses. When I refuse to do something, then I am punished by having a record contract cancelled or by not being hired for a movie.”
“After government and business officials created opportunities for me in the cinema, they began asking me to seduce foreign businessmen to get their secrets. I was no longer just a friend and companion for men, but forced to lie to them also. I think many beautiful French actresses, models and singers have been forced into this same misery. Many eventually kill themselves, yet the French public never knows why.”
“So, while you have endured 16 years of marriage with fake romance and without true love, I have endured 16 years of being a woman without any romance or love . . . except maybe that last kiss we had. Yes, now I am very wealthy and can buy anything I want, but my soul is almost dead.”
“I really did go to Suisse (Switzerland) two weeks ago for skiing, but I didn’t have accident. An official with the Ministry of Culture told me that I had been nominated to sing La Marseillaise at this year’s Bastille Day celebration in Paris. It is the greatest honor a French singer can have. Normally, I am only paid to sing in smaller cities or for young people’s events. I was then told that in order to be hired I must go skiing with a prince from Saudi Arabia. That was part of his bribe for his kingdom to sign a contract with a large French engineering and construction company. It is was a one billion franc ($200 million) contract. “
I interrupted her, “Vivi, you are wearing a ski jacket. I am wearing a thin sport jacket. I thought that we were only going to be out here for a couple of minutes. There are two ash trays in the guest room, so you can smoke in there.”
Actually, though, it was more than the cold. In my bitterness over not receiving affection at home, I had turned into a judgmental Pharisee. I arrogantly thought . . . This beautiful gal really was a slut as people assumed. She is out here trying to make me feel sorry for her, because she has become a multi-millionaire, working as a high price prostitute. Give me a break. How many people in France would love to have an $80,000 house? (=$200,000 in 2020) That’s what she spent for a useless sable coat.
The last thing I wanted to hear was her bragging about her sexual exploits with a rich Middle Eastern sheik. As soon as possible, I was rejoining the main body of guests at the party. I didn’t hate her. I just wanted to get away from the whining of a spoiled, immoral rich girl.
We went inside the kitchen and then into the guest room, without anybody noticing that we were still at the party. That would later mess up a certain person’s plans to betray me. As I have already warned the readers, nothing is what it initially seemed in this campfire story.
I brought some firewood and kindling into guest room as Viva poured glasses of wine for both of us. Vivi had never seen a wood stove and was fascinated that I knew how to ignite one quickly and control its fire. Meanwhile, Vivi had guzzled her wine and poured another glass.
I sat on the floor at the end of the bed, using it as a back prop. Vivi looked surprised and asked why I didn’t want to sit on the bed with her. I told her that we might spill wine of Sara’s patchwork quilt cover. Actually, I knew that I would not be able to control myself with this “unclean” woman, if sitting on the bed.
My false pride quickly evaporated, when Vivi snuggled up against me as we sat on the floor. Having a woman snuggle with me was more affection than I had received in years. I decided that it would not be terribly immoral, if we kissed a bit.
Vivi try to continue her story about the ski weekend in Switzerland, but quickly became traumatized. Her voice was agitated, plus filled with French and English vulgarities. Therefore, I shall tell this sad story in more discrete English.
A female representative of the prince met Vivi in the lobby of the hotel, dressed in the traditional “cover all” Islamic garb. She informed Vivi that if she would convert to Islam, he would pay her $10,000 to be his “temporary wife” that weekend. Vivi didn’t know what the heck the woman was talking about and refused to convert. The Saudi woman then informed Vivi that Quran forbade her boss from dining or skiing with an Infidel woman. However, he did want to meet with her on Saturday night for two hours. So Vivi ate and skied alone on Saturday.
When she was allowed into the prince’s luxurious hotel suite at 7 PM, the prince was accompanied by two guards. He immediately told her to take her clothes off. As she had told me earlier in the evening, while changing clothes in front me, this was happening more and more. Rich men were treating her like an animal or inanimate object. Using one of these new-fangled cellular phones, she called up her contact at the French embassy in Bern. She complained about being treated like a common prostitute. He told her that if she wanted to sing on Bastille Day, she was to do what she was told to do.
Vivi had earlier told me that she had become numb inside, because of this sort of thing happening with increasing frequency. She was beginning to hate all men, but the worse was yet to come. A guard photographed her standing naked then the prince ordered her to lay on the bed. She felt like that she was under the control of the Devil.
Before she knew what was happening, the guards pulled out rope nooses from under the bed cover and tightened them around her ankles and wrists . . . Vivi kicking and screaming all the time. The prince then pulled a large curved dagger out of a sheaf and ran the blade along her belly, nicking the skin and drawing a few drops of blood. Terrified Vivi was screaming as loud as she could as a laughing guard videotaped her.
The prince then dropped his Arabic robe to reveal a chest the Vivi remembered as being hairy an ape. The prince poked, pinched and ravaged her body as the video camera continued. Vivi was still screaming, but no help came. However, when the guard pulled down her jaw to look at her teeth as one would a horse, she bit down on his fingers as hard as she could. The prince screamed as blood splattered across Vivi’s face.
Cursing in Arabic and then calling her repeatedly a Christian whore, he defecated and urinated on her body. The guard, not holding the camera followed suit . . . both of them laughing. The guard then sealed her mouth with duct tape. That guard picked up Vivi’s purse and clothing then all three left the hotel suite, laughing as the departed.
It wasn’t until about three hours later than Vivi’s personal guard became concerned. When no one answered his knocks, he called the hotel security team. The opened the door to the horrific scene then pulled the tape from Vivi’s lips. In her terrified state, she thought that she was about to be tortured or shot. After the security men untied the nooses, she raced toward the patio doors in an attempt to jump off the balcony, but her guard caught her then pushed her to the bathroom and told her to wash off. The hotel detectives locked the bathroom door and called the local gendarmes (rural police).
While Vivi was showering, the prince’s guards showed up and flashed the badges of the Saudi Arabian royal police. They told the hotel security men that Vivi’s guard was a pimp and that Vivi was deranged. They also handed wads of US dollars to each of the hotel detectives. Her guard was immediately handcuffed and taken away. Soon a doctor arrived. When Vivi stepped out of the bathroom, a hotel maid’s smock was dropped down on her to conceal her nakedness. Vivi was handcuffed then the doctor injected a powerful sedative into her arm. It had the effect of someone drinking half a tequila bottle. Vivi was pushed down the hallway by the Swiss policemen to the elevators and then the front lobby . . . appearing to all to be a drunken slut.
The gendarmes arrested Vivi and charged her with unlicensed prostitution and public drunkenness. Since 1942, licensed brothels have been legal in Switzerland, but not pimps or street prostitution. It was only after they were filling out their crime reports and asked for her name and occupation, did they realize they had falsely arrested one of Frances most popular singers and actresses at that time. However, she was kept in her holding cell until a Geneva Police Van arrived in order to prevent her from talking to the news media. The van took her to a waiting private jet, rented by the canton, which flew directly to Charles De Gaul Airport in Paris.
The French government did nothing other than make sure that she was drugged into a stupor for several days. These were the same drugs that Marilyn Monroe supposedly committed suicide with. That is probably what French officials hoped Vivi would do. It was obvious to Vivi that potential profits from business deals with the Saudi royal house was far more important to the French government than crimes committed against one of it better know citizens.
A week after the incident, when Vivi was coming out of the drug stupor, a Cultural Affairs ministry administrator told Vivi that if she did not go public about the incident in Switzerland, she would get the contract for singing background music for a planned movie in Hollywood. Her audition was on December 18. She would also be given a generous “travel allowance” to purchase Christmas gifts in New York City the prior weekend. A government doctor prescribed Valium for her “panic disorder” and sleeping pills. Large bottles were given her to last throughout the trip to the United States.
Personally, the events in Switzerland made me sick at the stomach. Keep in mind that I heard the version in which one could hear her screams as she re-lived that night. feel the pain and shame still in her from the Switzerland. I was ashamed of my lack of compassion toward her. She had been manipulated into a life that appeared glamourous from the outside, but was really living hell. From then on, I gently caressed her frequently, not in a sensual way, but as one would to comfort someone mourning or an injured pet.
What really disturbed were the drugs being prescribed to her. A few months earlier, I had watched a PBS special documentary, called “Death by Prescription.” An astounding number of people in the entertainment industry, sports and even health professionals around the world had committed suicide while taking prescribed amounts of Valium, sleeping pills and Triazolam. Many others had died of unintended overdoses. Surely a government doctor would have known that.
The Valium, combined with sleeping pills causes the victim to wake up during the night in a, extremely depressed suicidal state. The Triazolam causes their conscious mind not to be aware of what the rest of the brain is doing. There were many cases where victims drove cars, walked into highways, jumped off buildings, shot themself or started to hang themself, while essentially being asleep.
Furthermore, Vivi did not have a mental disorder (aka panic). She had been betrayed by her government, tortured and then betrayed by her government again. That’s reality, not a delusion. It just seemed to me that someone in the government was trying to kill her off via suicide in order to insure her silence. Things were going to get worse, however, as Vivi continued to tell her story.
Oh and that same week, the Swiss Embassy in Paris returned Vivi’s pocket book, but not her clothes. An “anonymous Middle Eastern man” had found it at bar, where she had passed out after becoming inebriated. Yeh right! Someone had disassembled her cellular phone, but not re-assembled it correctly. She had to buy a new one.
Once Vivi arrived in New York, the embassy in Washington, DC asked her to accompany Ambassador Andreani to a party for Washington’s intellectual elite, because his wife was ill. That is point, where Vivi has now had three glasses of wine and has calmed down enough to narrate the story again.
Goat cheese espionage
“Now Ree-shard . . . this is why you will hate me. French agriculture officials became concerned, when they learned that your Department of State had paid for Swiss yodelers and alpine horn singers to come to the United States and perform at your farm. Soon thereafter, your chevre began appearing at many stores in New York and Washington. They thought that Shenandoah Chevre was really owned by a big corporation that planned to take away the chevre business away from France in the Americas.”
“When our embassy learned that you would be introducing your cheeses to the Washington elite at the Christmas Party, I was asked to accompany Monsieur Andreani, then invite the farmer, who officially owned Shenandoah Chevre, to my hotel room. That’s you! <she laughed a bit through some tears.> Donatella Andreani didn’t have other plans. I was to get you drunk then <expletive deleted> you in order to ask you questions about you company. There are bugs in my hotel room. ”
“They didn’t tell me that you were an architect with eight years of college. They only told me that you were a farmer from the State of Georgia, tall and very muscular. I imagined you to be like the Georgia hillbillies in the movie, Deliverance. Night after night, I had a horrible nightmare of a giant man on top of me screaming, “Squeal like a pig . . .Squeal like a pig!”
“Last night I was so frightened and depressed with my life that I almost killed myself. I had tied a sheet around my neck and was about to jump off the chair, when I thought of my daughter and then thought how embarrassed Monsieur Andreani would be. Then I thought I would wait until tonight after the party to kill myself, if you were the monster as I feared.”
“When Monsieur Andriani was ashamed to be seen with me and left alone in the entrance hall, I decided to kill myself as soon as possible. I was going to climb the stairs and find a way to hang myself in a bedroom or closet . . . then you touched me!”
At this point, I cringed, but did not tell her what I was thinking. I remembered seeing Vivi look at the stairs and wondered what she was staring at. Those bruises on her neck were from her almost killing herself. She did step off the chair and hung for a long time. It’s a wonder that she does not have brain damage. She must have had seconds to live when her guardian angel untied the knot at the other end of the sheet and her lifeless body dropped to the floor of her hotel room . . . bruising her legs . . . or was she already dead?
At the time, it made be both very sad and very scared, but I did not know much about hanging suicides. I did know that if she went to her hotel room tonight, those demons would attack her again. This time she would tie the knots tighter and soon me dead. What was I going to do?
There is one thing I could do without directly discussing the suicide attempt. I think that she fashioned a noose from the sheet and stepped onto the chair, after waking up in a suicidal state. Her higher conscious mind was still in control at that point, but the anti-hypnotic drug kicked in. Her conscious mind thought that she was still standing on the chair, while in fact, her body was dying as she swayed above the hotel room floor.
Of course, back in 1990, I didn’t know the clinical details of these drugs, but I did know that a PBS program stated that they should never be prescribed together, because many people had killed themselves after taking them for several days. I discretely told Vivi about what the TV program said about her drugs. She initially protested that the government doctor knew far more about drugs than me. Then she said that I was the only man, who had ever been kind to her, so I must be telling the truth. She said that she would throw away all her drugs, but that she needed me to help her sleep.
* Before writing these horrifying passages, I thought might better know more about suicide by hanging. On the internet I found a website for pathologists and coroners, which helped them discern between suicides and murder victims. The photographs of suicide victims, who had hung for a significant period of time AFTER dying, looked like Vivi’s neck. Once the heart stops, the blood above the noose coagulates in about 15 to 20 minutes and turns blue. This is why there is a “necklace” of bruises and the whole neck above the noose turns a burgundy or purple color. The necks of people, who attempted suicide, but were rescued shortly after becoming unconscious, looked very different. Necks of murder victims, who had been strangled, look more like an interrupted suicide attempt, because the murderer typically, releases the garrote and walks away before the victim is completely dead.
It is inexplicable, but highly probable that Vivi died on the night before the party and that her dead body hung there for at least 15 minutes or more. Her soul was at the gates of heaven and then she remembered her daughter. An angel unraveled the knot. The body fell to the floor. The angel then repaired all the terrible damage done to her brain and heart, but left the bruises so I would see them. God then returned her soul to the repaired body. I never discussed any of this while I knew Vivi, because it would have been a very painful subject.
That Vivi was alive and not brain-damaged was indeed a Christmas Miracle.
“Ree-shard, I was still very frightened until you touched my shoulders taking off my coat. I knew that there was one good man in this world, who would take the arm of a whore and treat me like a lady. I felt magic electricity run down my back to my . . . well, you know. Then you escorted me in like a gentleman. I wanted to be with you all night, not knowing that you were the man I was supposed to seduce. Maybe the reason I first kissed you was because I was relieved that you were not a monster.”
Thinking it was time to take a break from Vivi’s dark conversation, I stooped over, beat my chest and growled like a gorilla . . . then blurted, “I am a monster! I am a monster.”
She started laughing, “You are a funny man! You don’t hate me, do you?”
I hugged her bosom tightly, because I knew right now, at this moment, she desperately needed someone to give her unqualified love. “No mon cheré, I do not hate you Vivi. I think it is funny. The Republic of France spent thousands of francs to send one of its most beautiful singers, to seduce a simple goatherd. Do you realize that both Japan and Sweden paid me to allow goat farmers to live with us for a month and work for free, just to learn my new efficient technology? Perhaps before I allow you to seduce me on some future visit, I should require France pay me $2000?”
She kissed me warmly on the lips and whispered, “I think that you are worth much more than that.”
“Vivi, so now you know I like you, no matter what. Actually, I am the happiest right now that I have been in a long, long time. It is still like a dream to me, but you light up my life. You should understand, though, that I have never done anything like this . . . ever. “
“Ree-shard, I have never done this before either . . . just siting and talking and kissing. I really did not know either one of my husbands before I married. At the university, we would go to bars to meet men. Most of the young men would not spend much money on a girl other than buying a glass of wine, until she had gone to bed with him <Vivi chuckled> or at least let him know that they would soon be going to bed. The next time, they might take a girl to a nice restaurant, but as soon as he paid the bill, the young man would stop talking and want the girl to come to his bedroom.”
“After my second divorce, I got tired of constantly having to fight men off from me. I just gave up and let men, who were at least handsome, do what they wanted to, unless it was painful or repulsive. I pretended to enjoy them, but really, I felt nothing.”
“Kissing you was not that way. I felt that I was a teenage girl again with my first kiss. I am bad woman. Don’t you understand? I have known many men. You need a good woman.”
I shrugged and only responded, “I found a good woman tonight. Vivi, my dear, you have the heart of an angel. You are a victim of bad men. They have put demons within you, who are trying to destroy you.” Vivi obviously did not have a clue what that last comment meant. She looked puzzled.
There was a complete collection of National Geographic TV specials on the shelves of the Guest Room. Vivi said that she knew nothing about the United States other than New York City, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California. First, though, she said, she wanted to know where I had lived.
I found a video of “Realm of the Alligator” about the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia. That was where I was born. It was hosted by actor Pernell Roberts, who like me, was born in Waycross, GA. (Originally, broadcast in 1986, this video is still popular and can even be bought as a new DVD.)
“Vivi, look! Do you know this actor Pernell Roberts? This video is about where I was born and lived the first eight years of my life.”
“O oui Richard. I love Pernell Roberts! BONANZA-A-A! When I was a teenage girl, Bonanza, dubbed in French, was very popular in France. I would go to sleep at night, pretending that Monsieur Roberts was my secret lover so would think of him and . . . bien, you know what teenage girls do.”
“Vivi, you are in luck mon cheré! Pernell Roberts and I were born in the same hospital and went to the same church. He was even a Sunday School teacher of my mother. When I was six months old, Pernell’s father intentionally dropped me head first on a concrete floor. I don’t know why he did that. So, now you are sitting beside the next best thing to your teenage fantasy.” She squeezed my hands and smiled.
We watched “Land of the Gator” and then a National Geo film on the Appalachian Mountains. During the that film, her fidgeting got to the point of rubbing her left leg up and down my right leg. The symbolism did not escape me. Maybe we should talk religion before she leaves.
In truth, I was very worried about Vivi, but didn’t tell her. We only had a few minutes before the ambassador would be leaving. She was fidgeting and smoked two or three cigarettes during the video. Periodically, she would put her cigarette in my mouth and urge me to inhale. She said that she was taught to do this in smoking school, so that we started kissing deeply, I would not notice her breath. I think also that she was not accustomed to smoking alone. Smoking is still a social practice among French women . . . kind of like passing the tobacco pipe among our Creek ancestors.
It was very obvious that she wanted to do something much more than sit and hold hands, while watching a movie. However, with such short time available, we would end up in the very same situation, she had experienced over and over again, which had driven her to the point of committing suicide. I really needed to be with her all night, even it was just watching TV and holding hands. It seemed impossible, though. She had to leave with the ambassador. I felt obligated to help Sara clean up the mess made at our cheese display and I had to eventually drive back to the farm in the durn snow. I was dreading that! I prayed silently to God for guidance, but seemed to get no answer.
I asked Vivi why she never could take the Holy Sacraments in Mass. She said that if she told the priest in confession what she really did for the French government, she could go to prison. Well, you confessed to me everything that you were ashamed of. I can be your priest and we can have communion together. She laughed and said that then both of us would then go to Hell, not just her. I asked her if she had ever read the Bible. She said no.
There were two Bibles on the book shelf. I grabbed the newest one and looked up the passage about the Last Supper. I read it to her: “Do this in remembrance of me, whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name. Vivi, nowhere does it mention a priest or having to confess your sins . . . but you have already confessed to me, anyway.”
Vivi was shocked, “Richard, no one ever told me this.”
Before she realized what has happened, I started reading the other parts of the Last Supper, which is what my church uses for communion. I broke a Norwegian Platbrød cracker, giving half to her and half to me. I then put her wine glass to her lips and she sipped. I asked her to do the same for me. I then spoke the last words of our sacrament, “God has forgiven you of your sins, go now into the world and live in peace, spreading the Gospel of good news for all men.”
Vivi was stunned. All she said was, “I must pray now. I have not prayed, since I was 18, when I started becoming a bad woman.” She kneeled before the bed, made the sign of the cross, cupped her hands in a praying mode and pressed her head down, weeping most of the time . . . for about two minutes.
Then she raised her head and smiled. “Jesus spoke to me for the first time in my life. He said that he loves me and that I am not going to Hell. He also said that I was not to let you drive home tonight, because you would be killed. Richard, please come to the hotel with me. The ambassador won’t mind. That was what I was supposed to do, anyway, remember? I will pay for the taxi tomorrow to take you back to your truck.”