How Much

“How much did he like me?” Lacey wonders to Lem and Michael.

“What he doesn’t understand is that you can be persuaded. I’ve persuaded you. Away from everyone. In a matter of months.” says Michael.

“But you still love me. And you can’t figure it out. You aren’t likely to die but if you do, I killed you.” says Lem chewing on a toothpick provided by Ed.

“How would my kids look at you if they found out that you killed me?” asks Lacey.

“You’re still alive.” says Lem.

“He liked you.” says Michael. “But he might not have liked your intangible femininity. The part of your soul that looks like a character played by Helena Bonham Carter in a 1980’s Merchant Ivory film.” He smiles. “Can’t you see her falling in love with ghosts and getting killed by one of them if they lost their temper about her wretchedly lonely life.” He pauses. “Saw her stifle weeps too many times. Alone.”

“What’s funny is that people read my blog. But they leave me alone if they’re good-hearted and I appreciate that, as I like my privacy. But I do wonder why no one ever reaches out more.”

“They have nothing loving to say.” says Michael.

“They may even have helped ruin your life.” says Paul T.

“It’s ironic if I die, and hopefully I won’t. But it’s ironic. Considering Lem supposedly saved JFK’s life.” says Lacey.

“Maybe he’s just a fool who likes having company.” says a dear lady. “Does desperate things just to avoid being alone.”

Lem laughs.

“I doubt you’ll die. But I would rather you were dead if not for your kids. I’m sick of watching your heart get broken by men who don’t necessarily deserve you anyway.” Lem says.

And it was at this church after her grandmother died that Lacey saw a ghost. A full body apparition. In the parking lot.

Aunt Maria and her mom were chatting behind her and she looked up and into Maria’s car and saw her. Or some woman who looked like her. Sitting in the backseat.

She saw her. And then when Lacey figured out who she was she disappeared.

“I think there’s an explanation for that.” said Joe B. Joe Patrick B. He’s alive. “I mean, when we’re grieving our minds can imagine things that aren’t there just because of the state of mind we’re in.” he said in an somewhat angry dismissal. In 2010.

“Oh well.” says Simon Johnson.

Lacey knew it was nonsense.

“And that’s why I love you. You refuse to accept what people tell you if it doesn’t square with reality. So no matter how much Satan hates you and desperately tries to kill or torture you, you just keep going.” says Louis.

“I don’t know what I saw. But it looked like what people would describe as a ghost.” says Lacey.

“You’ll find out someday.” says Lem annoyingly. Intentionally.

“What gets me is that he wore my shirt. I hate that. How dare he call himself a writer. He’s a false prophet.” says F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“Who?” asks Tonette. Tonette who feels terrible about all of it.

“A fool.” says Scott.

“If you felt better would you care?” asks Lem of Lacey.

“No.” says Lacey.

“You’d just be waiting to die for the next 40 years. Out of innocent, truly normal love for your kids. Like a sane, useful adult from the last century. Before men like that fool roamed the Earth looking for souls to suck from to survive.” says Lem.

“Like a vampire.” says a ghost.

“Narcissists are vampires, Lacey. Zombies. That’s what that was about. Narcissism. They suck people’s life out of them using people’s empathy.” Lem considers. “Empathy being a vein… Maybe I’ll just have to blow you all up and bring my family home thanks to that little sick buzzard.”

“Or maybe I will.” says Michael.

“People can’t handle their responsibilities anymore. They want to blame everyone else. And in some cases that’s not unfounded or without merit.” says Lem’s father.

“Real merit.” says Pat.

“But you know-“

“Mark put in air-conditioning and better lights.” says a dear lady. And so they all sit there in the church, and it feels sort of like Norway.

“I love it!” says Lacey.

“I convinced him to do it.” says the dear lady.

“God let him pay for it in the afterlife?!” asks Lacey.

“Yes!” says Johnny.

“My mom should definitely be here too then.”

“Well, we’ll see.” says Ron.

“It might still be me.” says Michael.

Lacey knows what he means.

“Why don’t you guys figure out who’s best?” asks Lacey.

“Isn’t the church nice looking?” asks Michael.

Lacey let’s it go for now.

They put in the ceiling in the 80’s? To keep it warmer in the winter. Maybe in Heaven there’s a vast improvement. …My great grandfather helped build the church in the 1910’s.