Lacey woke up loving Lem. But then she thought of Michael.
“Why?” asks a hater.
“Because he understands me.” says Lacey. “And he understands how terrified I am.”
“You seem…reticent. As a personality. You don’t seem terrified.” says a hater.
“If you knew Hell exists and worried humans were going there, including your family, you’d be mortified too.” says Lacey.
“That sounds crazy.” says a hater.
“It’s not though.” says Lacey.
“You do love me though?” asks Lem.
She glares at him. “Do you love me?!”
Lem seems understanding. “No! She can’t be that-No!!” he yells.
Awake My Soul plays.
“Oops, Lem. Now what, sweetheart?” asks a Gen X Jewish woman. “Were you gay?”
“No!!!” he yells.
National Anthem by Lana Del Rey plays.
Listening to the song Lem smiles. “You abhor the life I led if I was straight.” he says to Lacey. “And Michael is your hero.”
Michael looks at Lem without his glasses. He’s incredibly handsome.
“Who’s hotter? Me, Jack or Joe?” he asks sourly of Lem.
Lem laughs. He looks at Michael objectively. He really did hide gorgeous eyes. He resembles a young Desmond, slightly. Joe Sr. too. He’s shorter, but he was…beautiful.
“Born…to die.” says DFM.
“There was so much more.” says Lacey to Lem.
The song plays.
“I need someone to hold me.” says Lacey to Lem.
“It’s a great song.” says Michael. Is being serious or facetious? Serious.
“Now what?” Louis asks Lem.
Lem laughs. “You don’t know how far away you were from Joe. All those years. I’m shocked he could see you.”
“That’s why I could walk in and take her. Easily.” says Scott.
“Why didn’t you?” Lacey asks Lem in bitterness. “I don’t respect your sweetness and willingness to bend over backwards when it comes to my heart in the hands of the wrong people.”
“My name doesn’t bother her. She loves it.” spits Michael.
“Burdens don’t bother you. You embrace them.” Lem says Lacey.
“Why can’t you?!” Lacey cuts at him in icy rage.
His eyes open wide. “You are very handsome.” he says to Michael.
“I don’t hate you but you don’t have a clue how difficult I am.” says Lacey. “I hide it.”
“You mean actually difficult. Not like…untrustworthy. Or mean. Or cruel.” says Lem.
“Yes. I know few people can love me? …But…it’s just the way I am.” she says.
“Do you mean to repel people?” he asks.
“It’s far more funny.” says Lacey menacingly. “I’m hilarious.”
Michael looks at her warningly.
“I thought you knew. It’s why I loved you.” says Lacey to Lem.
“I do. Mostly.” he says. “But you do. You know Hell exists. You refuse to forget that. And you feel deeply betrayed by my life.”
“It’s not a joke.” says Lacey. “And when it is it always surprises me.”
“But you had fun. Right?!” she says mockingly of her own soul to please him. “So damn much good fun. The best!” She thinks. “I warned you months ago not to test me.”
“You did.” he says smiling. Then he drops his smile. He winces.
National Anthem plays.
“She’s mine. Until you apologize.” says Michael to Lem. “Let me sort out her real sins.”
“Apologize for what?” he asks Michael.
“Her immense, unspeakable pain. That you caused.” he says. “She looked at you and knew you were straight. At age 12. And in response she only saw Jack smiling cruelly in the face of her incredible poverty and you sucking his dick for…Hellish reasons. Until you begin to even vaguely fathom that…don’t expect her body to come for you ever again.” He grows very angry. “I won’t stand for it.”
“Bro code!!!” yells a Mary, humorously.
“I don’t think bro code worked out well for Lem.” says Michael, laughing. “But I’m trying.”
American by Lana Del Rey plays.
Lem sits down on the side of a bed. “Thank you.” he says to Michael, sadly.
“I’m incredibly sorry. And for all you know I killed myself with the idea that I didn’t deserve to live. Or rather, I didn’t want to live. I felt I was a fool. …My mother had always told me to get married. …And yet I thought not to because I wanted to be honorable and I didn’t want to ruin someone’s life with my own issues. …I thought I was a sort of pervert and I wanted to be honest about that. Be honorable in my every word and gesture. …I didn’t believe homosexuality existed.” Lem laughs. “I thought all or most homosexual men simply preferred to ignore their heterosexual impulses. It sounds so strange and impossible. But…it was a long time ago.” He thinks. “It doesn’t matter though in regard to you. What you care about is whether or not I love you. More than anyone. More than anything. Except for God, of course. And the answer is yes. And I’m sorry. I’m just starting to understand…possibly…the truth.” he says.
“Which is what?” asks Louis.
“That you’re not evil in the way I used to think you were.” says Lem.
“I bet you feel like an absolute traitor?” an actress asks Lem.
“Where did you learn all your mannerisms if they were fake?” asks an actor.
“No, just a fool. And a coward.” He thinks. “Teachers. Friends. …People I met.”
“Met where?” asks the man.
“In the Village in the Beatnik Era. In cafes, clubs, etc..” says Lem.
“So you seemed progressively more gay in your mannerisms as you aged to a certain point.” says a witch.
“Yes. And there was the priest who molested me. Or we’ll say there was. Lacey can’t tell if it was a teacher, a parent, a priest or someone else. But she gets the sense I was molested and that that’s why I had the idea I was gay.” says Lem.
“So it’d be like if you were able to experience arousal during a violent rape and you came to the conclusion you were in love with your rapist?” asks the man.
“Right on the money.” says Lem.
“Okay.” the Boomer covers his mouth with his hands and looks glum.
“We don’t understand your generation’s sexuality.” laughs the female Boomer.
“You’re not supposed to have to!” says Lem.
“Yeah, I don’t know if you’re a ghost or not either. …But if you are…I’m sorry. We don’t know you. It’s true.” says the woman.
“I was a very confused man.” Lem says. “Truth is though, I’d have been a lot less confusing and confused if Lacey had been there.”
“Would you have just thought you were bisexual?” asks another Boomer.
“No, I’d have thought I was either wrong or that homosexuality didn’t exist at all.” he says. “That it was like eating ice or dirt when you have an iron deficiency.”
“I’m sorry, but he seems so gay.” says a Gen Z gay man looking at Lem’s photo.
“Yeah, not really. It looks so pretentious to me. I’m sorry. It’s extremely subtle but it looks fake to me.” says Lacey. “I mean, obviously I could be wrong…but it’s just…a very strong sense I get.”
He looks at her thoughtfully, mouth open. The. He closes his mouth. “You’ve obviously never had a gay friend who was in love with a so-called straight person. Because if you did you’d either have been their worst nightmare or their source of strength.” He thinks. “Or have you experienced that?!”
“Not that but I’ve been right about a great many things that upset people.” says Lacey.
“Do you ever get people’s orientation wrong?” he asks.
“Possibly almost never.” she says.
He laughs. “I feel like you could sell that ability. But I know you wouldn’t.” He sighs.
“I think I thought that my abilities would enable me to be loved by Joe Jr..” says Lacey. “Had he lived at the same time.”
He thinks. “That’s interesting! In what way?”
“Like, I could get in his head and figure him out better than most women.” says Lacey. “I thought maybe he was like a hidden gem that just needed a little mining.”
He almost cries. “But no?” he asks.
“No. No, I don’t think it worked.” says Lacey. “He refused to let me in.”
National Anthem plays.
A hater laughs. “Do you know what that song is about?!” they laugh. It’s an old joke. A long dead attempt at cool-kid gatekeeping.
Bad Girls plays.
Al Capone laughs. “I was a choir boy. It’s true. She’s like…a house cat by nature.” He thinks. “I mean her parents are either psychopaths or something else. And if they’re something else…I wonder. Why wouldn’t she know more than you do?”
“Because it’s not genetic. Or inherited. It’s all learned. And our parents and older siblings were cooler.” says a Gen Z hater sarcastically.
“Why do lie?” a hater asks Lacey.
“You can understand without being evil.” says Lacey. “Innocence isn’t about ignorance.”
“Ha!!!” says Joe. “I resented your understanding.” he says to Lacey.
Desmond looks at Lacey protectively.
“Is that why I wondered if I should just be with your father?” asks Lacey.
“He made you feel like a freak.” says Joe Jr’s sister.
“Yes. But I was used to it.” says Lacey.
“Like you…understood way too much.” says a hater to Lacey.
“Like I was an ugly, matronly old cow.” says Lacey. “At age 10.”
The gay Gen Z man laughs. “I’m sorry. They were so toxic!” He says covering his mouth with both hands. “He was gorgeous though. Wasn’t he?” he says of Joe Jr..
“He was. And I always thought I could crack him open somehow.” says Lacey.
He smiles. “Mmhmm.” He thinks. “Why his father though? I have a feeling that’s why you fell down the stairs.”
“Yeah, but why?! He resented me being too maternal.” says Lacey.
“Because he’s lying. He secretly loved you.” says the Gen Z gay man.
“Why lie?!” asks Lacey.
“You know why.” he says.
“Because he’s incompetent and insecure about it?” asks Lacey.
He looks at her in surprise. “Like what?” he asks eating a bagel.
“Things that matter to him. He’s deep but also disappointingly shallow.” says Lacey. “But I suppose they do matter regardless. If he’s supposed to be this demi god like his father built him up to be.”
“Like what?” asks Michael.
“Managing people.” says Lacey. “Planning ahead.”
“What else?” asks Al.
“If the US Presidency was a machine he failed at the most technical mechanics of it. Especially the more intuitive portion. That requires a certain maturity and comfortability with one’s sexuality, to be honest.”
“Do go on.” says Michael.
“You can’t be a fraud. It bites you. You can’t be a prude. You can’t be a coward or a cheat. You have to be healthy or tough as nails or both.” says Lacey. “Something about leading the US requires it?”
“True.” says Lem.
“How so?” asks a Frenchman.
“Americans rely on the innate value of their human nature to save them from class issues that plague other countries. And a huge part of that is our sexuality. Thus our leaders have to possess unusual courage and strength in that regard or they become problematic.” says Lacey.
“The Asmat art fascinated Michael for that reason.” says a Freemason.
“Possibly. The clear sexuality of human power. Their inherent understanding of what we never openly discuss.” says Lacey.
“And on that note…I can see how if Lem was straight it ruined the Kennedy Administration. One way or another.” says a female Freemason.
The gay Gen Z man nods his head. “He was straight. As far as we know. And that’s why it’s so hard to write about. …You doubt it and don’t both but we only partially doubt it.”
“You really think that’s him? And that he’s telling the truth?” asks Lacey.
“Oh! Sweetie…who have you made love to? …God can’t be that shoddy at protecting you.” he says. “It’s possible you’ve been lied to. Or it’s possible it’s not him. Or etc.. But I’m a good gauge. They rely on me. And I can read him in your presence as straight. Very straight, actually.”
“Did Jack introduce you two?” asks a witch.
“Yeah, you think it was your idea that you crushed on Lem. I doubt it.” says a witch. “I think Jack pushed you somehow without you knowing it. Or someone else did. Like Jackie.”
“Why would Jack do that?!” asks a Ron.
“To kick Joe in the ass.” says a military man.
“I bet Jack knew there’d have been someone close by who’d you have been with for years for comfort if you never left Joe. …And he secretly knew it might be Lem.” says the witch.
“He lied. He acted so shocked.” says Lacey.
Louis nods and smiles in understanding.
“Like…he couldn’t believe you’d pick Lem?” asks the witch.
“Yes. He literally said, ‘Lem?!’ like it was weird.” says Lacey. “Permissible but…totally beneath me.”
National Anthem plays again.
“That only made you love Lem more. Didn’t it?” says Louis.
“He didn’t act offended by you dating his dad either?” asks an artist.
“No. Not really.” says Lacey.
“Dang it.” says Lacey smelling her house. “I hate this. Trying to do home repairs now was idiotic. I totally screwed-up.” she says.
“Anyway, you need to realize that we play games. We don’t just come out and say things, hardly ever.” says Joe Jr. “And then you have to understand that I loved you. …But…I got too jealous when you got married. I never got married. And…I wasn’t good enough for you. Really. I was never that deep. …I wanted to be. …But you’re my first real heartbreak.”
“I’m sorry it became that.” says Lacey.