September by Sparky Deathcap plays.

Lacey is a mess. As she sits in a vintage mink coat in her bedroom with the windows open she faintly smells Citristrip.

She can see why Desmond was concerned.

She shouldn’t smell Citristrip. They’ve sealed off the entire second floor. She only uses it on a shelf, a part of trim and a little bit of a wall near the trim.

“Why don’t we borrow money from my father and just buy a new house.” she says. Her e-husband is unhelpful. Every idea she’s had from the start of the mess a week ago he’s opposed. …And really he’s not been at all helpful with this situation but an obnoxious burden. She cares about him though… And it’s obviously his one weak point as a man. Him and his father are terrible at handy-man stuff although they try. Except, her ex-father-in-law has money to waste and he hires experts to redo the work on his mansions. He did let his pregnant wife carry heavy rocks for landscape around their Sewickley property though…and she complained about that for years…

“That’s weird that they lived near Lem’s childhood house, Lacey.” says a witch.

Lacey looks at the witch with an fairly indescribable look. The Citristrip is…incredibly annoying.

“I’m tired of it all.” says Lacey.

Michael relates.

“I make dumb mistakes too.” he says to Lacey. She sighs. “I don’t want to ask my father for help. But…my ex is clueless about this. And I am too.”

“Forget this!” says a poorer person reading her blog.

Lem cries in response. Why? Because Michael’s response to the hater is rage. Because Michael cares and he understands. And Lem realizes he should be angry too… Louis laughs in his face.

“It’s a mercy she isn’t able to move to North Oaks.” he says to Lem. “Or is she? You know her financial conundrum. Do you care?”

“He died there, didn’t he.” says a witch about Louis.

“Yes.” says Lacey.

“He’s right. That’s not good news for Lem. One way or another.” says the witch. “He’s everywhere there.”

“I’m everywhere she is anyway. So is Scott.” says Louis.

Michael laughs. He’s not remotely intimidated.

“The thing is Lem…she slept with us for a good reason. The only problem is…it’s a tragic reason. And it rests on her being incredibly unloved. Privileged but unloved.” says Elliott. “You can’t be so…pretentious.”

“Pretentious?!” Lem’s mother says to Elliott.

“She can’t figure out who she belongs to. It wasn’t for reasons of lust. Almost certainly. She’s really that messed-up, sweetie. She’s not sure…who…she…belongs to.” says Elliott. “Belongs.”

“And of course she doesn’t do anything poorly.” says Michael kindly, jokingly. “So of course she actually tried to make love to all of us. Out of respect, actually. It wasn’t flippant.”

“Why didn’t you just tell her she belongs to you?” the Native American asks Lem.

“Because I wanted her to just know that.” he says.

“Because you’re dead.” says the Charismatic.

“I’d have wanted that in life too.” he says.

“Lem…people don’t live like that now. And you contributed to that.” says a gay man. “Forget your ideal. Why did you expect it to spiritually work for you anyway?”

“Because I was capable of that sort of love.” he says. “I gave it to Jack…as best I could and it was sickening. I hated my life… But I was a good little soldier. …And…now…”

“Now you find out Lacey either isn’t yours or she requires knowledge you never acquired.” says the Native American woman. “Lem…women fake orgasms.” She looks at him seriously. “I doubt Lacey is that dishonest. But…it’s thing. We feel…bad. And it’s the patriarchy… And…you don’t get real feminine pain.” She looks at him. “She’s faking it somehow. To be nice. To be agreeable.”

“Actual real straight women do that?!” asks The Loudest Perfume Hater.

“It’s a coping strategy. Men…are supposed to be the leaders. And it’s a way of trying to follow them. Politely. Kindly.” She thinks. “Perhaps even lovingly.”

“So women can mean it…and yet not. At the same time.” says Lem. “It’s not just one or the other. Or rather, they don’t even need to pretend. They can truly give themselves away…and yet not.”

“In a troubling situation. And my dear…don’t you think her life is rather troubling?” asks the Native American woman. “Women have been sleeping with men to straighten out wars for centuries, my darling.” She thinks. “Women have been sleeping with men to start wars for centuries.” She thinks. “Is it being a traitor or being genuinely pragmatic?” She thinks. “Jack was a lying fuckard. …He didn’t need sex for medical reasons any more than Jeffrey Epstein, you silly, gullible jackass.” She thinks. “He was so spoiled. …Lacey is…his opposite.” She thinks. “She’s probably sleeping with Putin to stay alive. …For her kids.” She thinks. “Get your head out of their bourgeois Irish gutter.” She seethes. “You don’t get it. This isn’t Kansas anymore, byotch.” She laughs. “And don’t be shocked when she falls in love with a Putin. It happens. Royal marriages were fascinating, Lem.” She thinks. “Michael understands this. He understands the reality of her life.” She thinks. “It isn’t your meth-Kindergarten bullshit you invented with Jack, making a mockery of this.”

“Meth-kindergarten. How sick.” he observes. “Good way to describe it.”

“Right. Now what?!” she asks. “Because you didn’t tell her. And she doesn’t know. And she didn’t know. And now she’s relying on Michael, Louis and Elliott to save her. You’re lucky she’s so classy and old money Dutch. Imagine if she was Puritanical idiot.”

“And according to me, if she was Irish she’d be sleeping with her cousin or addicted to drugs.” says Frank McCourt. “Thank God she’s a well-bred, English origin gal.”

“She’s not sleeping with anyone out of that sort of trashy desperation. It’s because she’s genuinely lonely. Deadly lonely…” says Joe Jr.. “If such a thing should exist. …And please, stop trying to make fetch happen, they.” He thinks. “Satan would love to see Lacey get hurt more. But really she’s not going to do anything that gross or dumb.”

“I’m offended by that!” says Frank McCourt. “She got to be a hateful woman if she’s not capable of falling that far. Why should my mother be that morally lowly if she literally can’t be?” He sighs. “Isn’t that her ugliness and privilege?!?” He’s being sarcastic.

“I bet you can escape though, Frank!” says a Gen Z man.

“I did.” he says sadly about the state of the US.

September plays again.

“I love this song.” says Lacey.

She smiles.

“I’m sorry if it seems like I’m rambling.” she says bitterly.

“You got hurt. And so you stabbed me in the back. And I refuse to believe that that’s all it was.” says Lem. “You could have killed literally that whole family. Not that you would have. You’re loving,”

“I love his they killed the kids Lem.” says Lacey, sarcastically.

“She may be overcome by Citristrip. But not that…”. says Michael. “Filet Mignon. Easy! Easy Mac?” He laughs. She laughs.

“She not a baby dear. …She’s just not a dog.” says Louis to a hateful bourgeois woman or a demon attacking Lacey.

“Can you run a county?” Lacey asks her. “It’d be easy for me.”

“She got burned to pieces, Lem.” Jack says through an angel to a man who possibly hasn’t spoken to him since he died, despite what Lacey’s haters say. Or her accidental haters.

“Joe Jr. you were protecting us from this shitshow. Weren’t you?” asks the Native American woman.

“In a Christian way God may have been using him from the grave. Yes.” says Lacey.

“But your father was only worth $100 million!” says a hater in a whiny voice, almost sarcastic. She rolls her eyes.

“Hey! Worst case scenario, Putin bombs all of us to bits. I’m ready to die. I’m exhausted.” says the Native American woman.

“Make sure to ask Christ for forgiveness and salvation.” says Lacey, seriously.

“Is it unsafe to be loyal to Lem?” asks the Charismatic.

“It’s become that.” says Lacey.

The Charismatic rolls his eyes. “Lem, I don’t think she-“

“She’s with me.” says Louis.

“No! She’s not!” yells Lem.

A few minutes later.

“Jack, you secretly still want Lacey to love your brother. Don’t you? You’re just…miserable. I’ll pray for you, should you be in Purgatory.” says a Catholic priest.

“Well wherever he is…whatever this is…” hints Lacey.

“I’m sorry Katharine.” says an Irish origin woman.

“Thank you.” says Lacey.

“It wasn’t fair to you.” says a film producer.

“She’s not always an idiot.” says Lacey like a riddle.

“Or aging badly and married to a short comedian.” says a writer.

“It is getting old.” says Lacey.

Louis smiles. “No. Stop lying to her.”

“It’s Citristrip. Not nuclear war. Unless you make it that.” says Elliott. “Out of your depraved need for a different identity.”

“I’m not over it. I’m not.” says Lem. He laughs. “I find you attractive and I made you…weird. I’m sorry.”

“Joe is a fool!” says Jack. “Lacey was…everything he wanted. But no. No, why do that? Why do what makes sense? …Let’s go blow ourselves up. Let’s not do what’s rational and normal and will make us happy. No! That’s…what? Blasé? Uncool? Too expected?”

“You think Joe ruined his life?” asks a witch.

“Yes. He wasted his life.” says Jack. “He overcomplicates everything. He’s a genius. And I love him. A lot. …But he refuses to do what’s best. …Because he resents our heritage.” He thinks. “He hates our heritage. He wishes he was a nice, Episcopalian little brat. A little Yale darling. Not some saloon owner’s grandson.”

“Was it even possible?” asks Lacey.

“There’s a dose of reality.” says Kick.

Lacey laughs.

“But I can’t play pretend anymore.” says Lacey. “Sorry.”

“And now that she’s slept with Lem…shows over. One way or another? “ asks a heretic.

“There’s no going back.” says a dead prince.

Michael smiles.

F. I. A. S. O. M. Pt. 2 plays. Michael smiles wider.

“It’s so theatrical.” says Lacey.

“You would do drugs?!” asks a hater of Lacey.

“No. That’s the point.” She thinks. “Well, caffeine…and alcohol, and I tried pot once. And I was given an epidural.”

“Hey, don’t go too far out.” jokes Michael. “Right? It’s a slippery slope and you might not want to live. If you can’t.”

“It’s funny.” says Lacey. “Oui? Non?”

“I’m going with no, for now. Thanks!” says a Jew who sounds like Eugene Levy.


“I killed myself. Out of hatred for Jack.” says Lem to Lacey. “Or that’s what I seem to keep telling you.” He thinks, “Like because he lived I die.”

“They’d never want to believe that.” says Lacey. “Whether it’s true or not.”

He grows nervous, “Did you actually get scared?” he asks Lacey. He looks very anxious, “Did you actually think I possibly might not love you?”

“Yes, of course. I still doubt it.” says Lacey. “I feel very beholden to Michael. And loyal to Louis. And I worry about Harold. And I worry about you. And Elliott. …But of course, I wept that night because you were cold-“

He cuts her off. “Don’t keep explaining.”

“Joe gave to the idea that you were evil or ugly?” asks The Charismatic.

“I’m not sure why you keep trying to make me evil. It’s weird. Honestly… But…yes. Very decent, kind and deep but not very pretty. Pretty to him. But not pretty necessarily to anyone else.” says Lacey.

“Matronly and yet pretty enough for him to take you seriously. But not like…that great.” he says.

“Yes!” says Lacey.

“Great.” he says, rolling his eyes. “But you’re not insecure.”

“No! I think my value rests in God.” says Lacey.

“So you make people jealous and you literally have no idea why?” he asks.

“Yes, it seems so.” says Lacey, patiently.

“Nobody believes that because it’s terrifying.” he says.

“Why?” asks Lacey.

“Because no dead person should have that much authority over someone alive.” he says. “Even if my theology is off. …You shouldn’t be that confused.”

“Do you really think you’re ugly?” asks The Loudest Perfume Hater.

“No. But I don’t think my beauty means anything to anyone in a romantic way. I feel subhuman.” says Lacey. “I know I’m not. But…it makes absolutely no difference to me to better than other people. Matter-of-fact it’s gross.”

September plays.

“Would you ever say that line, ‘You should have known for a while.’?” asks an artist.

“No. I’m not a totally idiotic, whorish bitch.” says Lacey.

“True.” says Wobbly, annoyed.

I can’t stand how beautiful you are.” says a perfume hater to Lacey.

“Okay.” says Lacey, internally rolling her eyes.

“You know he didn’t really love Pat. Right?” asks a historian of Lacey.

“That’s not what you guys decided. And you’re all gods. Right?” asks Lacey.

The Native American woman laughs.

“We just felt you should go die. Because you’re…annoying. As in, why the fuck do you exist?!” says Mr. Blue to explain their mentality.

“You’re in luck! …If Purgatory exists Joe was possibly leaning toward sleeping with Pat anyway.” says Lacey.

“Really? Like…that’s what he would have chosen if you’d lived at the same time?” asks the Charismatic.

“Yes.” says Lacey.

“So if we’d just waited a while we’d have seen our heart broken?” asks an Illuminati member.

“Possibly.” says Lacey.

The Charismatic laughs. “I think you all hate her because she’s truly that innocuous and innocent but not at all what feminists portend to be today. Maybe they did in the past. But not for like…the last ten to twenty years.”

“So what do you think we should do with her?” a Bill Gates asks him.

“She’s never going to be relatable. Stop expecting that.” he says. “Second of all, you can’t control her. Thirdly, you’ve not got unseen forces controlling you all that you also have absolutely no control over. And honestly, the more you fight it the worse it will get.” He thinks. “Because your specific sense of territorial injustice is meaningless in the face of what you’ve done. And how evil it is.” He thinks. “I cannot emphasize this enough: You screwed-up.”

“I agree.” says a U.S. President angry about how this has directly affected him.

“Is everything falling apart because of this?” asks the Charismatic. “For real.”

“Somewhat.” one of them admits.

“Yeah, see…y’all think kids and orphans and widows don’t matter.” he says. “But that’s just really dumb.” He laughs. “Where did you guys get so confused??”

“Well…in all fairness things are confusing.” says a singer.

“They are and they aren’t.” he says.

“Actually, it is weird that we found her or vice versa.” says a journalist.

“Yup.” says Lacey, exasperated.

“Sorry.” the journalist says, sincere or not.

“I just want some normalcy and order.” says z Lacey.

“Did you feel forced into crushing on my husband?” asks Mrs. Blue.

“That’s insightful. …Yes. Actually, yes.” says Lacey.

“You need a bigger house.” says Batgirl III.

“Yeah.” says Lacey.

“Well, I’m sorry I was the only bespectacled man available.” says Mr. Blue.

“Possibly available.” says Lacey.

“You know, that’s why I’m mad. Why did you assume I was so incompetent?” asks Mrs. Blue.

“Good question. Honestly as terrible as it is it was probably my worldview.” says Lacey. “Well, and he seemed unhappy and I assumed the best of his character.”

“You thought their marriage was done and that they were winding down. And you thought you might be his second wife based on his perceived level of interest.” says a reader of the blog.

“You guys really can’t handle how mundane that mistake is. Why?!” asks the Charismatic.

A Millennial writer laughs. “I think we don’t like her existence. She’s too…Michaelish. …And frankly, that makes me wonder what Lem’s actual vibe is.”

“This…sweet unconquerable person who judges you for possibly all the right reasons.” says a reader.

“And there’s no way to argue. She’s often just right.” says Batgirl III.

“Hey thanks Joe.” sarcastically says a Liberal. “For those of us with a conscience: we do not appreciate you lying to her.”

“She’s right. You’ve all gotten it so wrong. Do you understand. She’s not one of you. And she never will be until Heaven.” says the Native American woman. “I’m sorry she bothered you.”

“It was an accident.” says Elliott. “On her part.”

“Don’t go there with Lem.” warns Bernie Madoff.


Michael stands on a train depot platform. Lem walks down the aisle. Louis waits in his convertible Cadillac in the parking lot. Harold watches from across the street at a cafe.

Lem sits down in the seat next to her.

“You forgot a contact case again.” he says.

“There isn’t one in any of our luggage?” she asks.

“Nope.” he says casually.

Michael sits down in the seats ahead of them. So does Louis. They turn around and look at her.

Lacey grows uncomfortable. She stands up and exits.

“Don’t you like getting attention?” asks a Boomer of Lacey.

“No.” she says.

Lem chases her down. “Just use to glasses with your solution. Or ask at the front desk.”

“Why don’t you understand what a mess I am? Why don’t you care more?” she asks.

“I do care.” He licks his lips. “You don’t get it.” He holds her close. “You’re me. And I was never good to myself.”

“I’m not you.” she says.

“Ahh…but you are. And…I’m not nice to myself either.” he says with slight innuendo. “And I expect an enormous amount from myself.”

“So the idealization of the other they ascribe to you was a farce.” she says.

“No, I love you. I just…cannot believe you’d want anyone but me.” he says.

“That’s ugly. I don’t want that love. I love myself more than you do.” she says.

“And they seem to love you the way you love?” he asks.

“Of course. But…it’s not a fair question anyway.” she says.

“I can’t imagine loving any woman but you. Literally any woman.” he says. “And certainly not any man.”

The State of the Union comes on television.

“I don’t care if you never speak to me again until you die. You’re mine!” yells Lem. Get over it.”

“Or maybe not?” says Michael.

“It’s a funny thing.” says Louis.

“No it’s not. I’m never losing you.” Lem says to Lacey.

“For eternity?” asks Lacey.

“Yes.” says Lem.