Chandeliers

I just watched “A portrait of Jennie” from 1948. It’s eerily similar to Lacey’s experiences. Almost identical, actually.

Except not quite in one less romantic, but possibly authentic way.

In “A Portrait of Jennie” she clearly belongs to him and he clearly chooses her. Falls perfectly in love with her. Perfectly yet authentically. Which is why it’s perfect, actually.

…Lem hasn’t offered a perfect love. Michael is…baffling. Joe has failed, seemingly. Elliott failed too, seemingly. …So did Louis. So did Harold.

…If they’re in Purgatory it’s real. They aren’t perfect yet.

But if they go too far again…regardless of who’s it’s with…she’s stuck with that man for eternity.

Louis laughs.

Louis can’t stop laughing.

Suddenly Lacey finds it funny too.

“And who are these living men who resemble Michael, Elliott, and Lem all of the sudden?!” Lacey asks.

Why did they emerge? They’re attractive men. Should they not be catfish. Should they be…real. But, they really remind her of Michael. And Lem. And Elliott?

“Is someone dead finding living men they think I’d be a good match with? Did someone dead hire a matchmaker?! Seriously.” Lacey asks.

Silence.

The thing is…they’re their own men, should they be. And Lacey will or would have to get to know them first. But, they aren’t Lem, Michael and Elliott really. Nobody is ever anyone but themselves.

“It’s me, hi.” sings Lem.

Elizabeth Congdon laughs. Tom is embarrassed. But it’s Purgatory and everyone seems to get along… Or they try to.

“I like that song.” says Lacey.

“You like Taylor Swift in general.” says Lem.

“There’s a part of her I relate too. And then there’s a part of her I don’t understand. Her love of sincerity either as an aesthetic or a reality or at times both…is what I relate to. Her secret nerdy aspect too, probably.” says Lacey. “And her femininity combined with a certain real ferociousness.”

“But that isn’t about gaylor.” says Michael drinking gin with Lacey.

“I don’t believe reincarnation, as part of Christianity, but I’m not Jack for certain.” says Lacey, indignantly.

Jack snickers.

“You were playing with fire, Lem.” says Michael.

“You two better be careful.” says Louis.

Silence.

“No! I’m serious. You’ll be stuck together. And what do you two know about each other?” asks Louis. “We might not know everything that God knows about how He constructed us.”

“But we know that reincarnation isn’t real. Right?” clarifies Lacey.

“Doesn’t mean we couldn’t be those people in a story that means something to God.” says Michael.

“I did ask you to trust me far too much!” says Lem. “Especially considering.”

Michael glares at him.

Lem looks at him.

“Neither of you care.” says Lacey, bluntly.

“That’s right. You’ve been drinking gin. You don’t seem intoxicated at all though.” says Lem. “You seem…”. He looks up and sees them in the chandeliers.

“You should do what we do! In situations like this!” says Jack.

“It’s smart!” says Joe Jr. sarcastically.

“Go sleep with someone else.” he says. “Some unscrupulous woman. Or a demon?”

“Exactly.” says Joe.

“Why did I let her go?” he asks.

“Do you even like her?” asks Harold of Lem.

Lem swallows brutally.

“I don’t realize where you go.” says Lem to Lacey. “When you torment yourself with the truth out of respect for God.”

“Don’t mock my intentionally bad grammar.” says Lacey.

Lacey and Lem glare at each other. Lem wins.

“You win? But I like to think I have better aim than that.” says Lacey cryptically.

“Are you questioning if Lem is the Devil or not?” asks Joe Sr..

“What do you think?” she says referring to England.

Joe understands.

“You said you were the problem.” says Lacey to Lem.

Scott cracks up laughing.

Jack looks terrified.

“I didn’t shoot him.” says an English aristocrat from the 1800’s. “I was dead.” he says…

“That’s not why I’m scared.” says Jack.

Lacey nods, fascinated.

“I’m worried I ruined Lem’s chance at love with you. For real.” he says, colloquially.

“How?” asks Lacey.

Scott nods his head to “Anti-Hero.”

“I’M A SPOILED BRAT COMPARED TO YOU!” screams Lem at Lacey.

Michael dances himself to the floor.

“This is far too dramatic.” says Lacey. “It’s just me. Can’t we work this out calmly?”

“Are you an anti-hero, Lacey?” Michael asks Lacey.

“No. I’m not that noticeable. I’m…me.” she says. “I observe.”

“I think that song is about me.” says Michael.

“Oh because you’re German?” she asks.

He nods yes.

“And the Germans cheered on Hitler.”

They listen.

“It mostly works.” says Lacey.

“I think I’m the problem.” says Michael.

Lem looks morose. Not amused.

Jackie sings “Lavender Haze.”

Lem is still unamused.

“I hate the color maroon.” says Lacey.

“I don’t like it either.” says Louis.

“Gophers?!” asks Lacey, appalled.

He laughs.

“Why gophers?!” she asks, irate.

“Is that an insult?” asks Lem.

“It is. It’s an insult to farmers, loggers. It’s an insult to all Minnesotans.” she says.

“What would be better?” he asks.

“The bears. Or the wolves. The…”

Silence.

“I think that song is about you.” says Lacey to Michael.

“No! It’s about me.” says Louis.

“It’s about a horrible color.” says Lacey.

Lem starts sobbing sincerely.

“Lem, are you being serious?” asks Michael trying not to laugh.

“YES!” he yells.

“No. It’s all a joke. Right?!” says Lacey like she’s freezing Lem to death in self-defense. She smiles sweetly.

He stops. Stops crying.

“I hate that color too.” says Louis.

“Jackie. Like Jack without a penis.” says Lacey. “Hey! Hey, did you ever consider that option?” She blinks. “You’re such a heartless brain. It’s all logic, chemistry and Hell. Right?”

She watches. Waiting.

Jack can’t stop shaking.

“Go be straight. Alone. And blond. And keep yourself alive. Go live in my body. I dare you.” Joe says to Jack.

Silence.

“And Lem I dare you to still…think he’s your…best friend.” Joe says.

“Are you accusing me of being shallow?” Lem asks Joe. He holds up his hand. “Not in love. But…in my…sense of love?”

“You bet!” says Joe.

Lacey closes her eyes sleepily.

“Lacey!” says Michael.

She refuses to open her eyes. In defiance.

“Okay! Let’s go!” says Lem protectively of Lacey.

“NO!” yells Lacey, half humorously.

Michael starts laughing uncontrollably.

“She’s laughing up at us from Hell.” sings the recording of Taylor Swift in the background.

“This is a good song.” says Lacey objectively. She starts dancing in her seat to it.

Lem stares.

“This is dumb.” she says to Lem, suddenly.

She nods her head to Taylor Swift in an alliance with the Asmats. To destroy Hell.

“I’m unimpressed.” she says to everyone but the Asmats and God.

“What about Queen Elizabeth II?” asks someone.

“Can your fucking brain comprehend me appreciating her without sex being involved in any way between us?” asks Lacey.

“Like you wish you wish she’d been your Queen?” asks an Englishman.

Lacey refuses to bother. Politely.

“Thank you!” says Queen Victoria quietly, meekly.

Lacey looks at Lem kindly.

He looks awkward. Smiles.

“Anti-Hero” is on repeat. It starts over. They all listen.

“You can hear all of the flaws and all of the beauty this way, both.” says Lacey. “I’m sorry if it seemed like I was placing myself anywhere near the honor of Queen Elizabeth II.” She throws her head back to slightly doze off, suddenly tired.

Michael opens the car door, drags her out. Arms under her armpits. Like in the movies. She’s tired. What of it?!

“I don’t-I don’t-I can’t imagine sleeping with anyone else.” says Lem.

Demons cackle.

“I can’t even believe it was possible.” he muses. He thinks. “It’s like someone just chopped off my-“. He thinks. “My-A part of my literal soul.”

“Well that’s something you should fix, Lem. Don’t you think?” asks Myrna Loy.

“Hey! Back from being Joe.” says Jack. “Lem, I don’t think you get it.”

“I don’t want to lose her. By saying something stupid.” he says. Entirely seriously, but unaware.

“Like you think she’s going to genuinely think you’re an idiot and reject you?” asks Joe Sr., meaningfully.

“I have this dream…” sings Taylor Swift on cue.

“Yes.” he says.

“She’s laughing up at us…” sings Taylor Swift.

Lem opens his eyes. Wider than he ever has. He rushes out of the car.

Louis rushes off now too.

Joe Kennedy Senior sits and listens to “Anti-Hero.” In a Land Rover. At 1:13 AM. In the dark. On the campus of that U of M. Alone.

He cries.