“I’m 30 miles into my bike ride. May I call you back?” asks Victor E., when he answers a request for an interview. As it turns out, a 30-mile bike ride for Victor is nothing — he regularly rides up to 70 miles at a time. Cycling, he says, is a great outlet for him since the former cross-country runner can no longer run or jump rope with bad sciatic pain.
“I get a buzz from (bike riding),” Victor says. Exercicse and church are the only two things, he says, he'll get a buzz from now that he's been clean and sober for eight years.
A conversation with Victor reveals athletics aren’t his only skill. He’s a true Renaissance man, who for 20 years sang lead vocals with a heavy metal band called Varmint, which once, he says, opened for ‘80s arena group Cheap Trick.
He plays harmonica, writes poetry, draws (look for his art in a future issue of The Contributor), describes himself as a “tree hugger,” is a skilled stagehand, and is devoted to his church.
Victor says the September 11 terrorist attacks brought him to religion. The morning of the attacks, he was working at Country Music Television (CMT) at Opryland when he saw, on one of the giant, rigged-up TV screens, the second plane hit the World Trade Center South Tower.
Shaken up, he walked out of the building and saw nearby some visitors who appeared to Middle Eastern. “The hatred I felt made me realize I needed to change,” he says. “Now, I’m at church every time the doors open.”
A stage hand for years, Victor continues to work all around Nashville. He’s spent time at the Grand Ole Opry and regularly works shows at the Music City Center, one of his favorite local venues.
In fact, it was a fellow stagehand who referred him to The Contributor just more than a year ago.
“I’d bought it before, but my friend, Chris, who used to work with me, told me to check it out,” Victor says. “I needed friends and family, and I’ve found camaraderie. I really enjoy it.”
Despite his strong work ethic, Victor remains homeless. He lives in an outdoor campsite he’s made for himself in Hendersonville, and when he makes enough money, he treats himself to a hotel room.
He remains on an emergency housing wait list maintained by Centerstone, a regional non-profit that provides behavioral health treatment, and hopes to find housing soon — some place where his current four-legged neighbors won’t keep him awake.
“I feed raccoons, possums, deer,” he says. “So, yeah, they come wake me up in the night now.”