Tough As Nails

Let’s talk about Lacey. She’ll never know we’re discussing her or judging her or hating her or loving her or even thinking about her at all. And it’s fun to dissect and ridicule her behind her back. It’s comforting to twist her into into knots and distort reality in our heads or buy someone else’s distortion to make her evil, ugly or stupid. Right?

“She’s gotta be busted!” said one of three “hot” late 20 somethings as they saw her sitting in the trunk of her car with her legs crossed in the dark. It was a delayed fireworks display. They were probably lonely, lusty and intoxicated. And somehow they may have missed that she had kids. That they were seeing a single family watching fireworks and not a group of young people.

“Is the carpool still open?” they “asked” mockingly under their breath. And then they noticed the two kids and no other adults other than her ex-husband and her and changed their tune. “She’s gotta be busted.” one said to another.

After the fireworks they walked by her and probably paid closer attention. “She’s pretty.” one said to another to confirm some dire suspicion they had about life.

*eye-roll*

Of course her ex-husband noticed none of this. He never did. And she told him almost everything while they were together. And the other men are all just the dead now…of course.

Lem isn’t protective of Lacey. Joe thought he was the only man to notice her and Lacey wonders and wondered if that is and was true… And that’s how Michael found a way in. That’s why Louis is her friend and Harold winks at her and turns her head.

“What!? Harold winked at her?!” asks Lem hurt. He knows what that means…

“She’s a hot living woman. And no one is really trying that hard to be with her or ever has. And she’s hot?!” says a male victim of Covid in his 30’s. “That’s…weird.” He’s talking to Lem. He starts smiling. “Don’t you think maybe someone-“ he covers his mouth with one hand to suggest a conspiracy.

“But I know those people.” Lem says.

“No! I’m not saying that!” The man raises his hands showing his palms. “I just-I think it’s weird. I mean why is she being kept?”

Lem is shocked.

“Because I mean…I don’t like the thought of my wife being with someone else either.” He crosses his arms across his chest. “I mean I wouldn’t judge the guy and I don’t-I don’t hate her for moving on. I mean, I get it. But it’d be awfully tempting to keep someone…pure.”

“I’m not that guy! Am I?!” says Lem in anger and self-defense.

“I doubt it. I suspect you’re the opposite. You’re part of her problem, Lem. You have her cast as a sassy version of Jack. A philandering bimbo? She just can’t help it but you know she actually can? Or is she stronger and more accountable than Jack because she’s not a craphole Irish whore?” The guy laughs, shakes his head and smiles. “Look! I’m not saying I hate the Kennedy’s but when you have that much power you can’t be a loser. It bites you in the ass.”

“I don’t hate the Irish.” Lem says. “And I never did.”

“But Jack had to be allowed certain indulgences being of an inferior heritage? Right? And yet Lacey is less innocent and vulnerable because she’s…more like you?” chimes in Michael confrontationally.

“But she’s a woman, dude.” the Covid victim says to Lem.

“None of this would have happened if Ethel wasn’t so vain.” says Jackie.

Excuse me. We’re talking. I’m sorry!” says the Covid victim in growing irritation to Jackie. He turns back to Lem. “Look man, I don’t mean to judge you. But you’ve gotta get it into your head that if you were straight and Jack manipulated you into a subservient homosexual relationship…he’s not who you thought he was. Or maybe even is.” The guy shrugs. “He’s not that weak and innocent. He’s…a cunning, conniving jerk. Dude, he used you and you were too stupid to see it. He took advantage of you the same way that priest did. But you thought he was your friend and a jolly little leprechaun?” He smiles kindly. “She’s not Jack.”

“Does Michael know he’s-“ Lem asks incredulously.

“I’m not taking advantage of her, Lem. That’s the thing. Lem, she’s an actual woman. Not a man with a million diseases, a funny laugh and a silly smile.”