“Am I helping you figure it out?” asks Scott innocently.
Zelda erupts in laughter.
“Well, let’s see. I love Lem more than anyone. But…if Michael persisted enough he’d have me for eternity. So would Louis. So would Harold. But they’d have to vehemently insist.”
“Forget it!” says Louis.
“What does he mean by that?” asks Lacey. “What do you mean by that?” she asks Louis.
“Why did you leave her so vulnerable?” asks a friend of Lem’s.
And at that Michael grabs Lacey’s hand, but then Lem grabs her torso and attempts to lift her up off the ground.
“Well don’t pull her arm off!” commands Zelda’s sister.
“She’ll be fine!” Scott reassures his Zelda-sister.
“Gee! What if I took one of her legs?!” Harold grabs her leg.
“Now! That’s enough!” Louis rips into the room with the sound of his voice. He slams down a newspaper on a desk for emphasis.
“Why must we put her down, oh Lord of the manor?” asks Harold Loeb.
“I’ll rip your nose off if you make another crack like that about Louis’ family.” says Michael seriously to Harold.
“I think she should have been a social worker.” a recently deceased woman from the American middle-class comments to her friend about Lacey. Her friend agrees. “She has such compassion for people, but she’s so tough too.”
“How is she tough?!” asks Michael, genuinely aghast.
Lem drops her to the floor. But Harold refuses to let go of her leg. He laughs. Lacey smiles.
But then Michael looks into Lacey’s eyes, “You’re not okay. Come on!” He suddenly grabs her and races off, carrying her. Lem’s mouth drops open slightly.
Gathering himself, “Well, I need a conversation with God. There’s much to discuss!” and at that Lem marches off to God. To talk.
Harold cries. “They’ll never understand how easy it is for us to talk to Him. But I hope they will someday.”
And as Lem has a heart to heart, so to speak, with God, Michael runs far away from everyone with Lacey. And when he reaches the beach he decides they should go swimming. It’s night.
“I’ll get too cold.” Lacey protests.
“It’s August. It was in the 90’s today.” He licks his lips.
“Do you love me?” he asks, standing by the water’s edge.
“Do you love me?” she asks.
“Yes.” he says with heartbreaking sincerity, approaching her.
She’s so overwhelmed it forces her to close her eyes and brace herself.
“Do you want to go swimming?” he asks meekly.
“Why do you want to go swimming?” she asks.
“You’re not trying to drown me are you?” asks Lacey. Half seriously.
He thinks. Laughs to himself. Blinks.
“Why would I be trying to kill you?”
“Oh I don’t know.” Lacey decides. She smiles brightly. “Maybe there’s some…plot.” she considers.
“Who? Who would be trying to kill you?” he asks.
“Do you want me to write a novel?” asks Lacey.
They stare off into the horizon.
“I can never keep ahead of my enemies. They always shock me with their…motivations and other stupid shenanigans.” Lacey says more exhausted and disappointed than anything else, except for hurt.
“I understand. I really do.” he says.