Me and the Devil by Soap&Skin plays.
Lem has been nearly impossible to kiss for months. And all last night and this morning every time Lacey tried to kiss Michael she couldn’t. A scream from someone outside. A phone call. An Illuminati member suddenly needing to chat. Or she’d fall asleep.
But finally…she inches closer to him and as she felt screams at her soul of accusations of ugliness…he wrapped his arms around her ghost…held her close and she felt their kiss.
And in her mind that kiss feels close to a memory of living human touch.
“Did Micheal kiss her in an Illuminati ritual in the 1950’s or 60’s?” asks a perfume hater.
But what happened?
If they was Michael Lacey has been changed.
Once in England Lacey was touched by a ghost. It embraced her. And it was the most beautiful, loving embrace her living body has ever felt. She thought of it this morning. And now it feels as if she’s been marked, possibly in the eyes of Heaven. Possibly Satan and Hell even conceded it.
Me and the Devil by Soap&Skin plays.
It’s Manhattan in 2005. Lacey has a friend her age who has had a crush on a guy for months. She’s been talking about him incessantly. And then finally…they went on a date.
And the next day she seems changed. Marked.
Have you ever noticed that? The way women lose their autonomy when they’re loved by men? Lacey has.
But for Lacey it isn’t bad. It’s…absurdly late.
“Reminds me of Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” says George Peppard.
George considers flirting with Lacey as he has in the past. But she seems…removed.
“No, it feels weird to flirt now.” he says to possibly God himself.
The song plays.
Lem still has a chance. Actually, Lem might have a better chance now. Because Michael is protected by Heaven and he’s unlikely to give her away to anyone but Lem.
Lux Aeterna by Clint Mansell plays.
“What happened?” Lacey asks.
It’s 2012 in Penzance. Lacey has been fighting with her ex-husband for hours. She doesn’t conjure anything at all…and actually has been fervently and desperately praying to God off and on for maybe an hour or so or more. God as in the God the Bible. The Holy Trinity. God the Father.
And suddenly she’s embraced. And she assumes it’s her ex-husband. But it wasn’t.
“No! I didn’t just touch you.” he said. He was too far away from her anyway.
They grab their things, race out of the room.
Road To Perdition by Thomas Newman plays.
“You imagined it! When your brain is under duress it does weird things.” says a perfume hater to Lacey.
“I doubt that’s what happened, and I bet you secretly do too.” says Lacey. “My brain has been under duress many times, possibly under worse duress and that’s never happened before and not in that exact way since.”
Gnossiennes (6), For Piano by Erik Satie plays.
Jack Kennedy stands in Red Wing, Minnesota downtown staring at the surrounding blocks. He examines the buildings nearby. He looks at the river passing under the bridge. He feels a breeze.
“What did it actually feel like?” asks a perfume hater.
And Aristotle Onassis holds JFK Jr. in his lap. As his son. The little boy cries and screams and Aristotle calms him. Rests his head on the man’s chest.
“The embrace in England?” asks Lacey.
“Yes!” says the perfume hater.
“Like an actual human hand touching me.” says Lacey.
Michael takes a walk of shame with Lacey to his car from a bed and breakfast in 2007 in Red Wing, Minnesota. Lem sits across the street on a sidewalk staring at them in shock.
“Do you still care?” Lacey asks Lem.
“Yes!” he says suddenly smiling placidly.
“I don’t think we did much. All I physically recall, so to speak, was a kiss.” says Lacey.
“Here in Red Wing anyway.” says Michael to Lem.
“They kissed passionately. Perhaps Michael intended more. But it was mostly just a very passionate kiss.” says Louis.
“That’s what I thought would happen.” says F. Scott Fitzgerald sitting on a lawn nearby. “They’ll be stuck this way now though.” he says walking off barefoot.
Lacey thinks of the men alive who she could date presumably and or depresses her. As per usual. They don’t look or act like Lem or Michael.
“You’re right. They don’t!” says Scott Fitzgerald to Lacey empathetically. “You’re a profoundly lonely person.”
But then she thinks of the touch in England.
Empty Camps by Cemeteries plays.
“I guaranteed you eternity just blocks from here.” says Michael to Lacey. “Remember?”
“Yes! I do recall.” says Lacey.
“I love you!” says Lem cheerfully to Lacey. But she can sense hidden sadness in his voice as well.
“I’m not a Kennedy, Lem.” says Michael. “It’s not my choice to be this way. I wanted you two to be happy together. You still can be. But she wasn’t going to be able to handle that much pain anymore. It was staggering. It might have killed her.”
“I love you!!” Lacey yells at him.
Michael looks Lem in the eyes. Smiles.
JFK Jr. wants to comment but Ari stops him.
“It isn’t our place to comment right now!” he says sternly but lovingly. Someday he might make his son make apologies to people he’s offended and/or been inappropriate to or even been outright mean to over the years.
“Lacey loves skiing too.” says Ari to John Onassis.
John smirks. “I’m sorry, my-mom’s-friend.” he says to Lacey.
“We need to keep the ski slopes friendly. Happy. Polite. Nothing trashy and sleazy.” says Lacey as a Norwegian.
“I’ll apologize.” he says with a smile.
“Good! Keep your drama off my slopes.” says Lacey lovingly and teasingly. “It’s far too disturbing, sweetheart.”
“We all make mistakes.” says Scott Fitzgerald. “But we can’t be cowards. Or cruel.”
“I didn’t realize she meant anything. She was just another pretty model.” he says.
“Nobody is ever just anything.” says Lacey.
He nods in agreement. “I couldn’t appreciate her, maybe.”
“That’s genuinely sad. If it’s true.” says Lacey.
“Yeah, I know.” he says.
“There are lots of rotting things. Festering. Waiting to be uncovered. I’m glad you got out of Dodge.” says Lem to Lacey. “I’m not done with you.” he says to Lacey. “But the Taxis on Broadway production staring Joe and Pat was…weird.”
To The Moon by Jnr Choi plays as Joe pulls up in a 1950’s taxi with Pat Wilson. The set and filmography is reminiscent of Sesame Street. It would be creepy if it wasn’t stupid to the point of being hilarious.
“Is it a pedophilic production of The West Side Story?” Lacey asks Joe and Pat.
They stare at her.
“Pedophilia isn’t allowed after death.” says Lacey.
They stare at her.
“Are you doing fundraising for the DNC in Purgatory?” asks Lacey.
They look awkward.
“Or is this a trap to send them closer to Hell?” asks Lacey.
“You’re trying to trick them into deeper depths of Purgatory, closer to Hell?” asks Lem of Joe and Pat.
“Maybe.” says Joe.
“So is that fair?” asks Lacey.
“Purgatory might be dangerous.” says Joe.
“So this is a production to trap pedophiles into torture?” asks Lacey.
“It’s also a very cool, internationally acclaimed musical.” says Pat Wilson.
“So if you’re not a pedophile you just enjoy the production?” asks Lacey.
“Yes!” says Joe.
“Huh.” says Lacey. “Sounds plausible, potentially.” Then she walks off.
Hope Overture by Clint Mansell plays.
“You better have good intentions.” says Lem threateningly before walking off himself.
The Escape by Max Richter plays.
“I can’t escape my evil on my own.” says Jack to Lacey as he stands in Red Wing, staring stupidly.
“That was always my worry, maybe.” says Lacey. “The more you drink of it…the drunker you become…the further you fall from God’s love. Or at least it feels like it.”
“Sin is treacherous!” he says looking worn and haggard.
“Yes!” says Lacey.
“Would you have left my brother for Michael Rockefeller?” he asks as they suddenly sit among cows in Ireland in the green grass of summer 1825.
“Your brother is handsome. Exquisitely handsome. And dashing. …But sometimes you want a man who has a heart.” says Lacey to Jack.
“Lem is handsome.” he says.
“So is Michael.” says Lacey.
“All my brother actually had with you were his looks and charm.” says JFK to Lacey.
“Did he even want me?” asks Lacey.
“Did he ever try to sleep with you?” he asks.
Lacey smiles. “No! He claimed he wanted to. But it was always in this backhanded way. Like…it was a secret.“
Joe and Pat do a 1970’s inspired disco dance on stage to the song by Nikka Costa.
Jack sits on a lawn in 2000 Red Wing, Minnesota. In June. He picks grass blades out of the ground.
“That must have hurt?” JFK asks Lacey.
“It did. He’s dead. And somehow I was…already or still or what? …Magically nothing?!” says Lacey.
“I think Pat took your spot.” says JFK.
“Yes! And I can’t die! What in the world was I supposed to do about it?!?” says Lacey.
He lays back in the grass. Thinks.
“I at least paraded Lem around.” he says. “Did you feel snubbed?”
“Yes!! She doesn’t necessarily have it in her to answer that anymore.” says Michael Rockefeller on Lacey’s behalf.
“That’s sick!!” yells Jack. He rubs his face. Looks like a slightly gentle Irish farmer. “I’m sorry he snubbed you.” he says dimly.
Like A Feather by Nikka Costa plays as Pat Wilson does a 1930’s inspired solo dance number on stage.
“A farmer is a farmer.” says Joe Jr. about matter-of-factly about Lacey, Lem, and Michael Rockefeller.
Backstage Lacey, Lem, and Michael look at Joe confused.
“We had a farm too. So did Tommy Banks.” says Louis Hill Jr..
Joe Kennedy Jr. thinks.
“Didn’t your family come from farms in Ireland?!” asks Lacey.
“Yeah, but that was back in Ireland?” he says with some slightly hesitation.
“So you thought because we had farms here in the US we were always going to be farm people?” asks Louis Hill Jr. of Joe Kennedy Jr..
“Well, you were more city people?” Joe asks the man who started North Oaks.
So Have I For You by Nikka Costa plays as Pat dances with other English aristocrats from the 1930’s on stage. They’re joined by demons pretending to be children on stage. Nothing evil is displayed. But it reminds some people of their evil and they fall into temptation and sudden blood curdling screams can be heard in the audience as they fall into a pit of snakes below the auditorium. Only Christ and protestation and penitence can save them from the hungry snakes.
Tug of War by Nikka Costa plays. The trap doors in the audience are closed to the pedophilic folks who just fell. They are dealt with by Christ and their screams end.
The demons and English aristocrats leave the stage and Pat dances in yet another solo number.
“Wasn’t Pat a farm person?” asks Lacey as Louis is too upset to continue talking politely to Joe Jr..
“She didn’t grow-up on a farm!” says Joe.
“Neither did Lacey!” says Louis.
“Look…I get it…the Rockefeller’s had a cheap farm where they churned butter. Like…there were cows.” says Joe. “So whatever. But we were city people.”
“Joe…some farms are very prosperous.” says Louis.
“But they’re still dirty!” says Joe.
“But then you own the land.” says Lana Del Rey.
“Who cares! It’s not like…a factory.” he says.
An intermission. A&W by Lana Del Rey plays softly in the background. People disperse.
“Factories can be a liability.” says Lacey trying to explain.
“But they’re far more profitable than a farm. Farms fail.” says Joe Jr.. “Droughts, pestilence, floods. They’re a risk. And then that’s all they have to live off of to survive.”
“But land matters.” says Lacey.
“So does water!” says Joe. “And factories control water. Far more than farms do, anyway.”
“But land is necessary for humans.” says Lacey.
The refrain from A&W plays. Lacey yawns.
“Okay. I disagree with you.” says Lacey giving-up.
“But that’s the reason you snubbed her? Because she’s not elite enough for you?” asks Michael Rockefeller.
“I didn’t fully snub her. Just partially.” says Joe.
Lacey internalizes that concept.
“Well…and maybe I’m misunderstanding you. But for now I’ll assume that that’s what happened.” says Lacey. “Fair?”
“No!” he says.
“Why not?” she asks.
“Because I can boss you around however I want. You’re nothing compared to me.” he says in reference to the U.S.
“Umm. So I’m waiting for your verdict?” asks Lacey.
“No!” he says smiling. “It’s more of ‘We’ll see.’”
“So you refuse to answer at all?” asks Lacey.
“Yeah!” he says suddenly dancing involuntarily as Michael has injected him with something.
It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube plays next during the intermission.
“Joe, you’re far beneath her and all of us farm people in this conversation.” says Louis.
“When does this shit wear off?” he asks Michael Rockefeller.
“It’s just a taste of what your nephews drove into my veins.” says Lem.
Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado plays as Pat joins Joe on stage for their love scene dance number. The audience has reassembled.
An enormous stained glass window is the backdrop for the scene. It’s very reminiscent of The West Side Story’s original love scene. Joe stumbles to a bed at stage right where he convulses as Pat cozies up to him.
But then the stage goes completely black as Say So by Doja Cat plays. The curtain draws close.
A group of demons dressed as little ballerinas performing the Nutcracker assemble in front of the curtain. This sends more people in the audience into the live snake pits. And there’s wailing.
“Everybody has their own way of handling things! I for one would attend the production and let God be my judge.” says a Donald Trump. He seemingly is serious. When he dies he wants to go see the production he suspects may actually be real… With Ivana?
“It’s hard to believe.” says Lacey.
“But we don’t know. And you’re not just writing nonsense.” says a Donald Trump.
“No. I’m not just writing nonsense.” says Lacey. “Nor writhing nonsense.” she says addressing the typo matter-of-factly.
Me and the Devil by Soap&Skin plays.
“Lower-Class and even most Middle-Class idioms don’t often apply to you.“ Michael says to Lacey. “Lacey…I’m dead.”
“Why?” asks Lacey, truly aghast.
“Because I’m a Rockefeller even dead.” says Michael.
“But God sees us all the same.” says Lacey.
“But He doesn’t necessarily obliterate our souls.” says Michael.
“I love you.” Lacey says to him. “But I also love Lem.”
“I know you love me.” he says. “I’m not confused…or am I?”
“Lacey…don’t cheat on Michael with living men…even accidentally. And I bet with you it is an accident.” says a Donald Trump.
“I think I get confused.” says Lacey.
“Unless God leads you otherwise. …Him and Lem are probably real dead men.” says a Donald Trump.
Lacey feels like a ditz.
“I just keep trying to get it right.” says Lacey.
“Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit. As irritating as they might be. Because they have real feelings.” he says. “I don’t think you truly are a cheater. I think you get very hurt and…if God has had to allow the dead to take you in marriage in Heaven…it’s not that He’s abandoned you it’s that life is unsustainable and unstable for many of us.” He thinks. “But even if it seems fantastic and stupid…you have to respect God. Don’t lose your sense of God.”
“You know I don’t trust you…but…that’s not bad fatherly advice. I’m not a cheater. Truly. But…I have probably hurt them in part by not believing they’re necessarily real.” says Lacey. “It’s an extremely difficult tightrope walk.”
“Yeah!” he says.
“As a born-again Christian, not wanting to lead anyone else astray who reads my blog. And not wanting to violate God.” says Lacey.
“Yes! And I’m not necessarily trustworthy. I may have even tried to kill you. …But…maybe Michael scares me. And I’m not that stupid.” he says.
“I always have liked you. I hope you weren’t involved in any plot to kill me.” says Lacey.
“Me too!” he says.
“Was Michael a sacrifice?” asks Lacey.
“I hope not!” he says.
“Was it his family or other people?” asks Lacey.
“Not his family!” he says. “That’s very unlikely. I think if anything it was someone who hated his family.”
“That makes sense.” says Lacey.
“Could you fall into genuine poverty?” he asks Lacey.
“No. Not really. But as you know, it’s not about money necessarily.” she says.
“I understand.” he says.
“It’s hard to unlearn certain things.” says Lacey.
“You liked my show?” he asks.
“I did! I enjoyed watching people hear the truth.” says Lacey.
He nods and smiles.
“Thanks for the encouragement!” says Lacey.
Fourth of July by Sufjan Stevens plays, but Lacey can’t stand the lyrics.
She isn’t a cheater.
She isn’t Jack or any other man reincarnated. She isn’t anyone but herself.
And Michael is dead. And Lem is dead.
(Adult content below)
Can You Hear Them Sing by Cemeteries plays.
What did she feel? What did she actually feel?
She was laying in bed…and she felt an impassioned made hand, specifically a thumb…grab and fondle her breast. It was the hand of a lover. But not a shallow lover. A lover who truly cared. Loved her. …Knew her body.
And it wasn’t a brief touch. It was seemingly real. It registered naturally in her mind.
She thought in her mind, “My goodness…my husband has never been so affectionate and yet passionate at the same time. …Maybe our marriage can be forever?!”
It wasn’t witchcraft. Or it certainly didn’t feel like it. …But it didn’t fit into the worldview she was given in her Charismatic church either. Yet…she couldn’t escape the reality of it. It had happened.
Looking back should Purgatory or something like it exist in Christianity as it actually is…she’s almost sure it was Lem, Louis, Harold or Michael. And it means so much now.
Like a hand reaching through the veil drawn in the Fall of Man. And then what? What to make of this waking life?
Lacey sleeps with Lem or Michael. She’s not sure which and she prays before she does it. She prays after she does it.
If it was Michael he made her cry with the comfort and grace and love…of his love for her. If it was Lem she belongs to him forever…and ever…and only God can probably separate them. Was it Lem who touched her in England? Possibly. But Michael made her cry… She could die while making love with Michael and find all her pain to be livable for each of them. He’s that comforting to her. But if it’s Lem…he’s in charge of her. Her everything. Forever. In worship of Christ. And as his rib they’re monogamous, solitary and entirely devoted to each other forever…Lacey is merely waiting to figure it out.
Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi by Radiohead plays.
Off-stage after the show Joe makes love to Pat. And she’s shallow compared to Lacey. At first…and then not…because she’s secretly quite complex. And it hooks Joe with its mystery every time.
“I’m in love.” says Lacey. She’s in love with Lem. She’s in love with Michael. She’s in love.
“I feel bad for Pat Wilson!” says a woman reading the blog.
“Why?” asks Lacey.
“She’s so accidentally funny.” she responds.
“But she won Joe’s loyalty, seemingly. And that’s not at all easy to gain.” says Lacey.
“So she basically broke-up you and Joe?” asks a perfume hater.
“When she died? Seemingly, yes?” says Lacey. “It was…very unpleasant. Joe had possibly started lying about her.” says Lacey.
“Lacey you interact with these dead people like they’re alive?” asks a perfume hater.
“Yes!” says Louis.
“And they move things and you hear their voices and get into fights and friendships and romances…and…God might be allowing it to keep you from going into death?” asks the perfume hater.
“Possibly!” says Lacey.
“Do they seem famous or just like themselves?” he asks.
“Themselves. I mean…I wouldn’t be shocked if my father was born in 1894 and that’s why I know them. But then…that’s my place. That’s how they see me. As Lacey Banks.” says Lacey. “Or maybe it’s not how they see me. Maybe it’s the oil or my Great Granduncle? It would be nice if it was me. Just my soul. But it might not be. I don’t know. I don’t know how it works. Maybe it’s the same thing, regardless.”
“I think you’re very much Tommy Banks’s daughter.” says a Suzanne in the perfume community. “What fragrances do you like again?”
“Not just love objectively but enjoy wearing?” asks Lacey.
“Yes!” says The Loudest Perfume Hater.
“I’ll make a list later.” says Lacey.
Fourth of July by Sufjan Stevens plays again.
Lacey feels differently this time.
In spring she watches Jack and Lem…and it’s horrible. Lacey, as an author can easily see Lem turning into a heroin addict. Jack getting shot. It’s…logical. Each of them represses something dark and deadly.
Lem his poverty. Jack his poverty. They were both poor.
And then Lacey and Michael.
Michael his terrifying vulnerability in the jungle. Lacey her lifelong powerlessness.
And yet they’re grand. Lacey is a delicate, sensitive and deeply romantic beauty. Michael is a Rockefeller who can make love in death…to Lacey. Bringing her to orgasm and then tears.
And yet…Lacey turns her head and meets Lem’s eyes. And in a shadowy summer place she longs for his heartache to be her own. And he walks away from time…beaten…as she crawls forward…through death….to meet him.
And so they inch toward each other…grasping at the hope of Heaven.
“I miss you.” he whispers to her, finally admitting to tears over her absence. Her possible denial of him.
“I didn’t think I could make you that sad.” she says.
“Yeah.” he says apologetically.
“I’m sorry!” says Lacey.
“No, I’m sorry.” he says.
The Fourth of July song by Sufjan Stevens plays…and they all hear their mortality. ￼￼
“We do all die.” says Lou.
“But who do I belong to?” asks Lacey.
Lem smiles. “Men don’t spread their seed. Women don’t discriminate. They die.”
“It’s all so vile.” says Lacey.
“But thanks to Jesus death has lost its sting.” says Lem.
“But Lem who do I belong to?” asks Lacey.
Does she belong to sunny hills and kissing over lemonade? Or to warm embraces on cold, rainy streets? Or to ice skating parties and fireside looks of longing?
The other day Lacey saw a hand. After praying for God to help her…because she’s been terrified of death. And sometimes it’s terrifying dealing with angry Illuminati members who don’t understand empathy.
The hand moved a lamp shade.
The Fourth Of July plays again.
And when she was kissed…something changed.
“Lem, who do I belong to? If I died…who would hold me as I came to life?” asks Lacey.
He stares at her. He’s always shocked when she wants him. Even with his glasses on.
“Me.” he says.
“Me.” says Michael.
“I can’t stand that.” says Lacey.
“Neither can we.” says Michael.
Because love is meant for two. Not dozens. Just two. A man and a woman.
And it’s nearly impossible to find. But not impossible…and certainly possible with God’s help.
“We’re all going to die.” says Louis.
“We’re going to die.” says Elliott.
“But death loses its sting with acceptance of Jesus’s sacrifice.” says Lem.
“Lem…who do I belong to?” asks Lacey once more for a Good Friday.
Because Louis is like being in Heaven. Lem…is…everything… And Michael is God’s hope embodied.
“How does it work?” asks Summertime Sadness.
“It’s awful.” says Lacey.
“We’re all going to die.” sings Louis.
Zelda stands as a ghost in the middle of Summit Avenue. Lacey joins her.
“You really can’t decide.” she says to Lacey.
“It’s Hellish.” says Lacey.
“No one is the perfect answer. No matter how many times you walk it through. Over and over.” she says.
“We’re all going to die.” sings Louis to the song.
“Yes, there’s no perfect answer.” says Lacey.
“And you’ve asked God.” she says.
“Yes! Many times.” says Lacey.
“And He never answers.” says Zelda.
“Not clearly necessarily.” says Lacey.
“No, you get lost. Very lost. Lem is so obviously the winner…but then Michael is…shocking. And Louis never gives-up.” says Zelda.
“Michael is astounding. Yes, Louis never gives-up. Never. And yet nobody else is Lem. Nobody.” says Lacey.
And at that Lem collapses in tears. Falls to the ground.
“Why?” asks Lacey.
“You don’t feel my love.” he says in torment.
The hateful fascists on the left and the hateful fascists on the right both hate sex.
And they do any and everything they can do to eat at our souls and gaslight us to strangle love.
“Don’t tell me I was gay.” says Lem.
“We’re all gonna die.” says Louis.
“But who do I belong to?” asks Lacey.
“You’re worried you can exist.” says Lem. “It’s me.”
“Not Michael?” asks Lacey. “He’s profound…as he follows so passionately in Christ’s footsteps.”
“I can be too. I promise.” says Lem. “Should this be me.”
“Lem…they’re heroic.” says Lacey.
“But you belong to me.” says Lem. “I really wasn’t gay. …I acted like it. But I wasn’t in love with Jack. …I don’t like men in that way. And I never did. But…all you really want to know is how I feel about you. And that’s so difficult for me to put into words.” he says. “But I touched you, in England.”
“The entire time?” asks Lacey.
“Yeah!” he whispers.
“Gosh…I hope I didn’t drink myself to death over you?” says Lacey to Lem.
“Michael still loves you. Louis still does. But regardless of how Jesus feels about reincarnation…you should have been my wife. Somewhere.” says Lem.
“I’d have bored you?” wonders Lacey.
“No. I lose track of reality without you. …And yet…you need me to be strong for you.” says Lem. “And I am. And that’s what reminds me of reality. Because I’m a very strong man. But it’s death without you. Just…nothing, nobody and for no good end. And yet without me you…struggle to think at all.” He thinks.
“How tenuous is our bond?” asks Lacey.
“Only Michael and God can break it.” says Lem.
“I may have touched her too.” says Michael.
“At the same time?” asks Lacey.
“Separately.” says Louis.
“And you thought of Joe.” says Lem.
“But he lost me that night in England?” wonders Lacey.
“It was a fight about lies and infidelity.” says Lem. “And you were dying inside.”