Sick

Lacey is sick. She’s getting better. But she got sick. Everyone else was, and now she is too. But it’s not terrible. Really.

And today as she sits thinking and praying…she feels fascinated.

She’d pick Lem in heartbeat but on principle she can’t. Her boundary is that he needs to assert himself. And he’s still struggling to do that. He’s working on it though…

*Harold Loeb laughs*

“These nitwits are going to think you’re Jack reincarnated now!” he says.

She’d pick Harold Loeb but he was so attached to Lady Duff still at first. Yes. Still. Being second choice isn’t a first choice.

*Louis laughs*

“We’re all nitwits on occasion.” he says.

“True.” says Lacey in sincere fear of God. Truly.

And Louis was still so attached to his second wife at first. And their memories. Even if he really wanted to progress forward in Purgatory? And Lacey has empathy for that. Truly. But she, again, doesn’t want to be a second choice.

Michael…

Michael may have chosen her. He may be only waiting for her to figure out why he’s her choice. Her only choice. It’s scary…and unclear. But she trusts God.

…Lem is baffling though. First he assumed Elliott Roosevelt and Joe Jr. weren’t going to make a sexual overture again ever. Or that they’d be resistible and not incredibly persistent…without his obvious boundaries being stated to Lacey.

“Oh! I’ll get involved with Lacey and fall in love and so will she, and I’ll encourage it. But I won’t clarify what’s going on between us or why or what I want from her. Or demand. And then even when other ghosts can see this…I’ll assume that they won’t come on to her when she’s most vulnerable to their advances. And I’ll assume that she’s a person who will assume that I’m madly in love with her…even though I’ve never expressed this clearly. I’ll rely on spiritual realities of the afterlife to do the communicating for me. Even when she clearly asks for clarification. And…it’s not like the two men who will come on to her weren’t two fairly historically notable people in terms of their heterosexual sexual exploits. Or her ideal type. Oh no. No. A vulnerable, unclaimed, confused, sad woman who can talk to ghosts…and who’s genetically potentially out of her time…isn’t someone to be really upfront with. About everything. No. Just the details of my sexual orientation. Not an explanation for how or why I find her attractive, even though I do, but…a lot of explanations for a lot of other things.” Lacey mimics Lem in irritation.

He thinks. “I didn’t tell you my current orientation. I told I was straight while alive.”

“True.”

“Which is also very helpful.” says Lem empathetically.

He goes on, “You’re very chaste. Lacey, you’re very chaste. Really. And you’re sweet and sensitive.” He pauses to think. “And I think…even if I knew Joe and knew about Elliott, that I didn’t anticipate what would happen. Me telling you my orientation while alive was an attempt to prevent you from feeling insecure.”

*Peter laughs*

“Oh joy. Now everyone will think I’m a philandering prick.” says Elliott ironically.

Elliott’s seemingly a very sensitive and compassionate man, actually…

Lem is agitated. “Why don’t you just date him then?” he asks Lacey.

“Why do you ask obtuse, hurtful questions like that?” responds Lacey.

“How would Joe have ever kept you in a relationship?!” Lem wonders outloud.

“What do you mean?” she asks.

Lem realizes that he’s just asked another painful, idiotic question.

“I don’t realize how hurtful those questions are, consciously. And that’s your point isn’t it? That I’m being…dense? And you think it’s on purpose?” Suddenly repressed rage bubbles to the surface. He stands up and thinks about kicking over an empty table at an outdoor cafe, somewhere.

“Lem, this is hurtful too, even though it’s good to see you angry.” Lacey says.

“Why?” he asks calmly.

“You’re angry at those men? Right?”

“Yes.” Then his face drops and he realizes why she’s hurt. “It seems like I’d rather crucify you than hold them accountable. And given my sexual mistakes with men it looks misogynistic, tone deaf and cruel. Like gender snobbery. Yes?” he asks.

“Yes. Mostly.”

“But I have to hold you accountable too.”

“And I want you to. But you can’t hold me accountable for things I didn’t do. And I don’t say that avoid accountability but to warn you. Truly. Warn you.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m careful Lem. Very, very careful. And I’m willing to be held truly accountable for things I don’t know I’m doing. Matter-of-fact I’d love that. But it has to be real.”

He thinks.

“So if you were merely seduced and able to be seduced because you were vulnerable…then…what? I’m supposed to just get over it? Because, being dead, I saw everything. I’m supposed to not care?!” Then he pauses and smiles.

“Yeah!” says Micheal. “Ever stop to wonder how much you’re hurting her right now? And what she’ll do with that?”

Lem thinks.

“You hurt me on purpose. Didn’t you? To express how vile you found-the way I came on to you and then left you to read about me online, so to speak. Stole you too. From Elliott. Yeah, it does take a lot of stupidity to miss all of that. And I do care.”

He turns to Joe.

“Did you help her get back at me? Was that funny to you?” he asks Joe.

“Yes.” Joe Sr. responds for both Joes.

“They owned you dude.” says Eunice jokingly to Lem.

“She shouldn’t be in this conversation.” says Lacey protectively of Eunice.

“Did you find me arrogant? Or what?” asks Lem of Lacey.

“Honestly. Yes. Incredibly lovable. But yes. And I really, really assumed you were experimenting somehow. The company you keep.” *she shrugs* “Lem you seemed like a frat bro to me at first. Like a guy who’s sweet and lovable and beautiful…but…not someone who you actually fully trust your heart with. At least not blindly.”

Silence.

“I toyed with your heart then.” says Lem.

“Of course you did. Possibly not intentionally. But that’s certainly what it was experienced as. From my perspective. And, given my state of mind, I had nothing in me left to care anymore. Given the context.”

“And that’s what repulses me about you Lem. My mother, as much as I’ve criticized her, was a victim of a very similar fate. She was so unhappy. And there was virtually nothing she could do about it. …It’s been heartbreaking watching Lacey for me. Because I get it. And you don’t? You just see a former Kennedy slice of ass? Or what? How do you even see her? What is she to you? You’ve never clarified that either. For all you know, she still secretly wonders about that too.” says Elliott.

“It might seem like we’re constantly defending you. And it feels fake and forced…but it isn’t. Some of us have been watching your life. For years. Silently. And it was getting to be unbearable.” says Louis sincerely.

“Someone may have volunteered to go to Hell.” says Joe Jr.. (instead of being forced to keep watching helplessly)

“Your life really is that disgusting.” Louis says, fuming.

“And what’s worse is that people alive today read something truthful and objective like that and instead of seeing it for what it is they want to take more away from you or kill you. Make you less pretty. Or less rich. Or hurt your kids or kill all of you. They’re like mindless, less than animal, gross as shit zombies. And yet they are human.” says Louis in his 2022 voice *laugh* “People like you who are suffering, trying to righteously survive in this disaster are why we’ve entertained blowing up the world. Because there are others. And it’s getting hard to watch for all of us.” He adds.

“So what? Because yes, she expects you to still care?! Why can’t you?!” asks Michael of Lem.

“Why don’t you care?” asks Lem of Michael about Lacey and the other men still pursuing her.

“Because I’m not looking for a husband Lem. I’m not looking for a man to save me. I’m the man. I do the saving. I’m the man. And if she can be faithful…and I know she can be…then what’s the problem?” Michael responds. “She needs to know what I want.”

“And that’s the problem. Why can’t you tell me what you want?!” asks Lacey of Lem.

“Chanel nail polish? Or Dior?” *Louis laughs* “And…iced coffee!” he teases Lacey.

She laughs.

Harold thinks she should review L’Air Du Desert Marocain already!

That’s not a joke.

“What do they offer that I don’t offer you?” Lem asks Lacey.

“Lem. She was mine first. Think about what that means.” says Joe Jr.. “I’m very picky. Who would I love? What sort of woman would I love, even? You know I may have found Queen Elizabeth II attractive. …And she is quite taken…but she was my ideal sort of woman. …Whether I expressed that openly or not. She had an awe-inspiring figure too, Lem.”

*Louis laughs*

“These were the things he maybe never got in on talking about as a participant.” says JFK, also amused.

“Lacey might be painfully objective. Far, far more objective than it seems.” says Joe Jr..

“Not that she’s devoid of passion.” Louis hasten to adds.

“Harold offers Paris and Scott and Zelda. And Hemingway. And home. He feels like the home I never and yet actually did have. He feels familiar but better. Like…home.” Lacey says.

“Louis offers home too. But myself. Maybe too much but not necessarily? …I see my heart reflected back to me when he’s kind to me. And that’s a compliment I’m paying to myself, but it’s how I experience him. He feels completely safe. Like there’s very little I’d ever have to explain to him.

Michael is…like death. But in the best sense. It’s like turning around and hearing God’s voice and seeing the end. But ahead of time. And it’s comforting. And terrifying.

What you offer is a bleak, horrific evaluation of my life before it’s even ended. Love, possibly. True love, possibly. But…if it is true love it’s shocking. Not warm and comforting and reassuring even if you can be but…like waking up after a nuclear war and realizing you’ve survived with only a few people left. And that everything that felt so urgent and real and invincible was only a joke. A sad, vain subterfuge for humanity to keep enduring itself. And it’s love but I’m terribly broken and my soul is possibly already half dead. It’s not hopeless at all but it’s…gruesome. And I hate feeling sorry for myself. I like to keep fighting.”

“No. Again, she is not JFK reincarnated.” says Lem. “No. That No is not a yes. No. It’s a no. Okay? Try to follow along this time. Mmkay?”