When we get home, Dad confronts me.
“Why is that dog in your room?”
How I so want not to lie; he has been so much nicer lately.
“He’s Max – Jace’s dog. Jace’s brother wants to get rid of him because he defends Jace. Jeff is afraid of Max.”
“Well, that explains why the dog tried to bite your brother’s head off, Jace, when he came to get Max.”
“Jeff was here?” we both exclaim.
“He told me he came to get the dog. I wasn’t happy to find him here.”
“You didn’t give Max to him? He’ll shoot him!”
“I felt something was wrong when the dog tried to attack the boy. So I told him to bring his father over and we’d discuss it.”
“Oh, thank you, Dad, you saved Max.” I hug him, which as always makes him uncomfortable.
“And what is all this in the paper about you acting homosexual?”
“You saw the article about our band?”
“I had to see it. It was on the front of the Arts section. I saw your photo as well, but you were with a girl there. Do I get a choice, a fairy or a peacenik for a son?”
I am able to laugh. “Dad, I won’t embarrass you. It’s just the music we play. Look at this silly underwear I am required to wear at the store. I have to wear it so all the girls who read the story will buy it.”
“You’re wearing girls underwear now?”
“No. It’s what gay boys wear. The girls want to wear it too. Some make their boyfriends wear it.”
“I think you need to see a professional or something if you’re that concerned about underwear.”
“No, Dad. It’s just my job at the store. Look, we made two hundred bucks today,” and I show him the cash.
“I’ll never understand retail. You look ridiculous in those things. Pull your jeans up or push those shorts down.” I comply quickly.
“It’s the band, Dad. We’re in the paper today and everyone flocked to the store. Felix says I can make a hundred bucks every day while it lasts.”
“I want you to learn the value of a buck, not going around in silly clothes for outrageous money. You think you’re a model?”
“No, we’re musicians. We get paid to play. Our band made over $3000 this weekend playing shows. Now we’re going to be even bigger with a show at Viscaya on New Years’ Eve.” I go to my bureau, showing him all my earnings. Jace shows his as well.
“Young man, you resisted me when I said you had to get a job. Obviously you’ve done well once you started working. I want you to have a sense of values, not just about money but about doing the right thing. What about this homosexual thing? I had to ask Susan what gay means nowadays. It used to be a good thing. Men were gay blades.”
“That’s changed, Dad. But why don’t you come to our show on Tuesday night and judge for yourself. Young girls go crazy over us. We tell them to only like boys their own age. Mr. and Mrs. Watt will be there. Stu and his friend are going to be part of the show.”
“Well, I don’t know why the Miami Herald would say that it is the best ticket in town for New Year’s Eve. We will decide for ourselves.”
“I know you’ll like our show, Mr. Castle,” Jace adds, “And thank you for protecting my dog. I love that dog with all my heart.”
Jace has good instincts because Dad is a real dog lover. We just never had one. Just like I never had a brother or sister.
“I’m sorry we left Max here. We had to work and Max was asleep. He had a big night last night. He saved us from being attacked during our show.”
“That’s what the paper says, but they stated it was a co-ed who saved the show.”
“Jill got up and sang love songs. It calmed everyone down after we fagged out with British gay songs. Max guarded the stage and stopped the rednecks from attacking us by growling.”
“You might consider not acting like homosexuals if you don’t want to get beat up.”
“It’s just a fad, dad. The girls love it. The guys hate it, so we’re on the girls’ side.”
“Should Jace be sleeping in the guest room? Is it like having a girl stay with you?”
“Don’t worry, Dad. I’m not going to get pregnant and neither is Jace.”
“Well, you stay here in case Jace’s dad comes for the dog. I’m not fighting your battles for you.”
“We will. If we go out, we’ll always take Max. I thought Jeff didn’t know where we live.”
Jace is already over with Max, cuddling his head and talking to him. Dad notices. I see him soften. Maybe an inch. I bet he had a dog when he was my age.
I lock the stairs door and open my window. Robby notices and flies over through the trees. We all sit in the window, Jace in my arms, as I tell Robby about Jeff coming to get Max. Robby instantly blames John for telling him where I live. I want to give John a break. A bigger problem is how to keep Jeff from Max. Even if we keep him with us all the time, Jeff could try to trap us somewhere. We must be on guard. I notice that Jace has fallen asleep. Robby kids me about how we looked in the morning. I tell him it was all the crème Brule. He tries to lick me. I tell him to go home, so we can sleep. It is getting dark when we wake up. Max is anxious to go out to do his business and maybe hit Robby up for smoke. I know that dog well. We’ll sleep when we get back.
Once we are outside, Max runs to his favorite spot by the bushes and after sniffing, settles down for a good shit. Suddenly I hear a car race around the corner with the wheels screeching. It is Jeff. He pulls right up onto the lawn, jumping out. He has a hand gun.
Max is pulling on the leash to get at him. I hold Max behind me to shield him. Jace jumps in front of me.
“Give me that dog, or else,” Jeff threatens.
“You have to kill me before I do that.’
“You have to kill me first,” I yell, jumping in front of Jace.
“I’ll do it, you faggots,” as he waves the gun at us.
I loosened my grip on Max, who pulls away from me to get at Jeff. Jeff fires the gun, barely missing us.
Lights go on all over the neighborhood. Dad is at our door while Susan’s screams. Dad goes back in, to probably get a gun; he has several. Jeff waves the gun around and tells everyone to stay back.
“I want the dog,” he screams.
Jace bends over to protect Max. I am standing in front of them.
“Jeff, you’re going to jail in the next ten minutes. Drop the gun and you might get off.” I yell.
“You are the asshole who turned my brothers against me. I had to beat John to get your address, and he is my real brother.”
“You lose the right to be anyone’s brother when you abuse them.”
His face clenches up. I realize he is so incensed that he is acting insane.
“Calm down, Jeff. Stop this now and you won’t get into trouble.”
Max starts barking. Jeff takes another shot at us. Dad steps out with a rifle. In his military voice orders, “Drop the weapon, now.”
I step in front of Jace, but Max gets loose and Jace lunges at him. Jeff fires twice more. Dad fires and Jeff goes down, shot in the leg. I run and grab the handgun. Max has him by the leg and is wildly shaking him. Dad runs over, putting his foot on Jeff’s neck as he squirms. I hear the police siren coming and feel a slight sense of relief. Then I think, “Where is Jace?”
I look back. He is slumped over on the ground, staring at me. I drop the gun and run to him. He murmurs, “Tim,” and closes his eyes. I scream, “Jace.” Over and over. Next I know, Susan is holding me with Jace in my arms. His body is too loose. I know instantly that I have lost him. Max is at my feet, licking Jace’s wound at the back of his neck. I try to do CPR, without a response, until the paramedics arrive. Susan puts a blanket over my shoulders and leads me to our front steps. I am in shock, rocking back and forth. I hear the paramedics say they got a pulse back and watch them load Jace into the ambulance. I have to go, too. Susan finds out they are going to Mercy Hospital. She promises me we will go as soon as possible. I suddenly realize my dad shot Jeff in order to protect us. It is a mess. I tell the police I have to go be with Jace. He is still alive. I tell them that Jeff is an abuser and Max was protecting Jace, who was staying with me until Jeff leaves for college. Jeff came to kill Max and shot at us as we tried to protect the dog. Now Jace is shot and I have to go to him. The police are nice and say we will have to make statements later. They speak to my dad. Because he is ex-military and his weapons are properly registered, they release him pending further investigation. I hug Dad, who for once does not mind. I thank him for saving me from Jeff, who is a psychotic killer. At that word, I break down again but am able to get into the car.
We race to Mercy. I run into Emergency. All the staff instantly surround me. I am covered in Jace’s blood. I repeat Jace’s name. After they see I’m not hurt, we have to sit and wait for a doctor. The emergency waiting room is spinning. I put my head on my knees to not throw up. Jace’s parents come in and immediately confront my dad.
“You shot my son.”
“After he had shot your other son and was shooting at my son.”
“He would never do that,” Jace’s step-mother declares.
“Jace was staying at my house because he was so afraid of your son.”
“Jeff is a nice college boy.”
“He came to get Jace’s dog to kill him because the dog was protecting Jace.”
“Where is Max,” I ask to no one in particular.
“They arrested Jeff. It has to be a mistake.”
“I shot your son to stop him from killing anyone, but I was too late. I saw how much your dog hated your son. I believe what the boys told me is true.”
Jace’s father looks confused, “Where is Jace?”
“He was declared dead on my lawn but the paramedics revived him. He’s being worked on now.”
They leave to get information. Jeff’s mother gives me a real mean look, like I had ruined Jeff’s life. She has no feelings for Jace. I never faced real evil before. The rednecks last night were barely bad.
The doctor comes out with blood all over his white coat. He talks with us. “I’m sorry. We did everything we could to save him. It’s a miracle he was revived in the first place.”
My dad explains, “He was staying with us. His father is there,” pointing at Jace’s dad.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry.”
I hear the doctor explain that they are keeping his organs viable. His parents must decide whether to donate them. When the doctor gets up to leave, I ask if I can sit with Jace while the procedures are being arranged. He says to follow him. When I see the still, grey body surrounded by medical equipment, the tears are unstoppable. The doctor finds me a chair. I sit next to the body, holding his hand. I put my head on the gurney and lay there remembering how only minutes before, we had both been alive. I want to die, right there. I know it won’t bring him back. I do not want to live without him. These thoughts never stop. I just think die, die, die.
I hear a soft voice. Maybe it is Susan. I look up. It’s the guardian from the Grove.
“Are you ready to let go? To enter the spirit world?”
I am not on drugs. How am I having this vision?
“Is Jace now in the spirit world?” I’ll go if he is.”
“No. He is still here,” the Guardian indicates the other side of the gurney.
There he is in spirit form, ethereal, wispy, fully Jace, without the wounds and blood. He smiles. I smile but the tears overcome me. He gives me that look, walks over and hits me on the arm. Not as hard as usual, but I can feel it.
“Can you hear me? Can you speak?”
Shaking his head he makes hand signs. I know instantly what he signs, ‘I love you forever.’
I am crying so hard, he has to hit me five times. I try to hug him, but he holds up a hand to stop me. I know I cannot reach him, only he can touch me.
I look at the Guardian and ask, “Can I let his spirit take over?”
“It won’t be his spirit as both of your souls will become one with the spirit world.”
“How long will he stay with me like this?”
“Until you die and both of you are absorbed.”
I look at Jace and ask, ‘Do you want to stay with me like this?’ He signs and nods his head vigorously yes.
I speak aloud to the Guardian, “Thank you, friend, my true friend. The devil promised me protection. You’ve given me back life, mine and Jace’s.”
The Guardian smiles and slowly disappears.
I reach out and Jace takes my hand. We walk out of the treatment room together, forever joined.
Susan and Dad rush up to me, thinking I am in shock. They do not see Jace’s ghost.
“We can go now. His soul has left his earthly body.” I tell them.
“Have you said your final goodbyes with Jace?” Susan asks.
“He will be with me for the rest of my life.”
They both hug me, thinking how brave I am to accept the reality of death. I see in a mirror the same angelic smile on my face as on Jace’s .
Some evil area of doubt enters my wondering mind, “Would I ever get sick of always being with Jace.” Not today.
Then I say, “We have to find Max.”
When we get home, I run up my stairs, but he is not there. I Am terrified that he has gone back to the garage. There’s no telling what Jace’s parents would do to him, to exact revenge for Jeff being arrested.
The logical possibility is Robby’s. I race over and pull myself through the window. I am covered in blood. Everyone stares at me in horror . All I see is Max, his head in Mary and Robby’s lap. He looks up. Wags his tail, and barks. I threw myself on him, crying and hugging him. Then I hug Mary and Robby. All at once everyone surrounds me. Except John, who crouches in the corner, crying to himself. I go over and hug him.
”Jeff told me he beat you to get our address. It’s not your fault. Jeff is insane, evilly insane.”
He hugs me and keeps crying. I lay with him, our lives shattered.
“I will love you like a brother,” I tell him. He curls into the fetal position. I think about his mother who is pure evil. I know that is not John. Robby tells me to go home and get cleaned up
“Come with?” I ask.
We walk Max to my house. I dread my room. There are so many memories, just hours old. Robby waits while I shower and change, joking about the funky underwear I now wear. Even that is a sad memory, because it is the same as Jace wore. Robby drags me back to his house where everyone is waiting. Michael is there as well.
I look at them and state, “We are still playing the show on Tuesday night.”
Michael says it does not matter anymore.
“I disagree. I know Jace wanted to play so you could be with Jenna. We will do it in his memory.”
I cannot be dissuaded. I promise to do Jace’s guitar role.
Michael asks if I would speak with Jimmy Olsen. He is on his way over after Michael told him the news.
“I’ll try. Let’s just talk about Jace and say we’re determined to do the show in his honor.” Then I choke up. Mary comes over and holds my hand. I see Jace holding my other hand. Everyone is making me stronger. It starts to sink in that I have lost him; and it will never be the same. I look over. He knows what I am feeling. He comes and holds me as I cry. Our hopes and dreams are shattered. He signs that it is up to me to live for him. He will never abandon me, my biggest fear. But he can never be with me again. I feel so alone even as I feel his familiar arms around me. We will find our way, not just my way. He shakes his head and points to me. It is now just my life, no matter how much he gives to me. I swear he will share everything I do. He points to his garish underwear. I laugh, even that we share.
Jimmy comes to Robby’s. We all share a joint. It helps, not to forget, but not to feel. I tell stories, about the Christmas caroling, how Jace taught all the kids to sing ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ How he brought his dog over for Max-loving when I broke up with Scott. How Scott’s mom insisted Jace call her Mom as he was my new boyfriend. I am always her son even if I was no longer Scott’s boyfriend. How we stood in the University parking lot and sang ‘Proud Mary’ to her to make her proud of us. How the Jacettes were formed and Edi was his girlfriend. I plug Out and Proud, how we spend the afternoon signing gay underwear for all the ‘tweener girls to give to their boyfriends. How all the girls flocked to him while I have the gay boy posse. How he always hits me when I am about to cry for sentimental reasons. How we first got together after falling asleep holding hands, listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. We are ‘lunatics on the grass’ and our song is ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond.’ How much he loved Max who is the one being until we met to ever love him back. How Max defended him from his abusive brother; it was defending Max from Jeff that killed him. I break down and instead of punching me, I see Jace crying as well. How he called my name as he died. Jimmy writes it all down and asks if he can take pictures of us in my yard where Jace died, I cannot do it, so he takes a photo of us all on Robby’s bed. We swear we will play our final show in Jace’s memory on New Year’s Eve. He calls in the story, taking a long time. When he comes back, he has us pose another picture all around Max in Robby’s back yard. I am done. The tears have dried up, I walk Max back to my room. He sleeps with me the entire night. In my dreams, Jace is there living out our adventures. I do not miss him in my sleep.
Robby is sitting in my window when I wake up.
“I hope you do not start fucking Max in your sleep.”
I throw my pillow at him. He jumps in bed with me. I see Jace shrug his shoulders. He signs that this does not break the ‘no fucking alone’ rule. But I’m not in the mood. Robby shows me Jimmy’s column in the Herald. We made the front pages: TEEN GUITARIST SHOT IN GABLES FAMILY DISPUTE. Our two pictures are there and inside a high school yearbook shot of Jeff. It says he will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for shooting his step-brother. Dad is mentioned for stopping the attack, saving me and the dog. Max growls at the picture of Jeff. I want Jeff charged with capital murder and to get the death penalty. Robby says he is insane and has no friends. Jace and John are not the only ones he abused. Scott’s name is not mentioned in all my stories about him and his family, but I know he will be pissed. It is not hard to know who I mean if you know us. I really do not care. We go downstairs. I ask Susan if Dad is okay. I figure shooting someone is not his favorite activity. She says they both are taking a sick day from work. I tell her I am going to work, as I hope it will make me forget the pain. She hugs me and says if I feel ill, just call her to pick me up. Robby comes with me with Max trotting along beside our bikes as we ride to the Grove. When we get near the store, there’s a huge crowd. People have set up a memorial for Jace. I stop, but everybody has already seen us. We walk through the crowd to the store. Felix gives me a big hug. I see that Phillip has returned.
“I’m here to work if you need me, and Robby can help too.”
“Are you okay? I read the paper. Is it really true?”
“Yeah. Massive drama, huh?”
I walk outside and try to thank everyone for remembering Jace. They all swarm around me and Robby, hugging and crying. People are taking photos. Girls are telling me they love him, even if they had just learned about him. Robby is mobbed by the girls once they learn he is our drummer and singer on ‘False Gods.’ There are many boys as well. Most tell me they feel like Jace, with nobody in their lives that ever loved them. Pretty soon, all the boys are crying and hugging, with the girls volunteering to be their best gay friends. I think the term fag hag is born that day. They are all 12 to 14. I do not remember feeling that way at their age. Many people ask to come to the New Years Eve show. I will ask Michael’s dad if we can let kids in but cannot promise it. Pretty soon TV trucks arrive and are filming. I cannot escape into the store because I am being mobbed. I do a couple of interviews, but they keep asking leading questions to make me cry. It is too much, Max starts barking. Everyone knows about his role defending Jace. Max discovers who is holding pot. We tell them to take him around the corner to get high. He stops barking. Max is recovering faster than me. I finally agree to have a press conference. The Police block off the street. I start by saying we are going ahead with our show, which is for the kids, a big sock hop of 50’s and 60’s oldies. I will play Jace’s guitar. We have a surprise singing duo to do vocals. I have to call Stu and Mike later. A lot of questions are about being gay in high school. I try to say we still like girls. Jace and I were in love because we needed each other so much, the bro thing. They ask who is my girlfriend. I say Flo, one of the Jacettes, and Tina, who lives in New York City. They ask if the girls get jealous. I say we are all friends; it was more emotional than adult love.
“How did you know it was love if you do not have sex.”
I answer, “At our age, you know when someone has feelings stronger than friendship.”
All the kids cheer my answer. I neglect to tell them Jace and I were fucking each other three and four times daily.
I say Tina’s parents listen in on all our calls. Flo’s dad only lets me go out with her because I speak nicely to him in Spanish and went to their church, but he warned me to keep my hands off her.
“It’s just easier to have a boyfriend at my age.”
All the boys cheer.
They ask Robby what it was like to be in a band with gay guys. “They can really put on a show. All the girls love it. It makes their boyfriends hold on to them tighter. All the girls like them, even my girlfriend, Mary, is in love with Tim, but he knows not to get between us.”
“Do you fight about girlfriends?”
“Yeah, at first. I used to get mad when Tim teased me that I was gay too. And Mary would take his side.”
I added,“We had some serious talks, but we are really best friends. He lives next door and always climbs in my window when he comes over. Two nights ago, he woke us up. He almost fell out the window when we got out of bed.”
“Well you were all covered in dried cum.”
“This interview is over.”
I ask that the last comments be edited out as we were just kidding.
At that moment, Max stumbles around the corner obviously high. He looks at everyone and runs into a corner and puts his paw over his eye. It’s the picture of the day.
I reiterate that our show is still on for the next night.
The Police come and tell us to take it into the store, so the traffic can get through. I ask Felix if I can use the phone and call Mom (Mrs. Watt). She knows everything and is concerned for me. I do not cry, but she knows I am close. She thanks me for all the nice things I said to the paper. I ask what Scott said. She confirms he is very upset. I do not care.
“Can I speak with Stu. We’re still going to do the show with him tomorrow.”
“I had wondered. He’s right here.” And I hear her say to stop crying to talk to me.
“I’m so sorry, Tim,” he sniffs. “Are you okay?”
“Did your mom tell you everything.”
“I read it in the paper. Did you almost get shot?”
“Yeah, me and Jace were trying to protect Max. His step-brother is evil and insane.”
“Did Jace really die?”
“Yes,’ and I start sniffling.
“Don’t cry, Tim.”
“You know me, just another CB.”
He laughs remembering our joke on Scott.
“I have to ask you a serious adult question now. Is that okay?”
“Sure, Tim. What can I do?”
“Remember how I want you and Mike to dance at our show tomorrow?”
“That’s okay, Tim. We know it’s cancelled.”
“That’s it. We’re not cancelling. The show goes on and everybody has to do more because Jace is gone.”
“Wow. What can Mike and I do?”
“This is really a lot, but I know you’re ready to do it. I’m going to do Jace’s part, so you and Mike have to take my part.”
He gets real quiet.
“Will you sing all those songs we love and dance to on stage?”
He is really crying now. “Oh, ah, sure, I know we can do it. You really want us to sing on stage?”
“There’s no one else who can do it. Scott can, but I bet he really hates me now after the paper.”
“Yeah, he raced out of here after he read it. It says you and him were boyfriends.”
“You knew that.”
“Sure, that why’s you’re my real brother now. Although it’s like a divorce ‘cause I hardly see you.”
“Well, it’s up to you to do it. It’s gonna be a lot of people, but they’ll all be your age.”
“Well, I’m not sure Mike knows all the words.”
“Well, you do. He can just dance when he doesn’t know a song. It’s best if you both sing.”
“Oh, we’ve been practicing all week since you asked. We’re totally ready.”
“Thanks, Bro. Let me speak with Mom again.”
She comes on the line. “Did I hear right. The show is still on? Stu and Mike are going to be the singers?”
“The whole audience will be their age. I know Stu loves the attention. He’s worse than me. Mike will be able to keep up. Is it alright with you?”
“Of course, but no smoking pot around the boys.”
“That won’t happen. It’s a kids party. Our drummer is in love with the 14-year-old whose parents are hosting the party. By the way, my dad and his girlfriend Susan are coming. After everything, things are much better for me. Nothing like having a shootout in the front yard to bring the family closer.”
“You sound good, Tim. I know you’re hurting.”
“We’re doing the show to honor Jace. He’s still in my heart. I believe he will always be with me.”
“Oh, Tim. We’re so sad. Scott’s got to grow up and face his demons.”
“It’s okay. I don’t really think about him. Jace really loved me back. Scott loved me but it was because of the swim where he almost died. Being gay was something he did to please me. I knew it and knew we weren’t really boyfriends. I just needed it. He makes a good boyfriend. All the better for Lydia.”
“That’s okay, Tim. I just know you’re a really good person, Stop having bad things happen to you.”
“I’ll try, but I think tomorrow will be great for my little brother.”
“We’ll be there. And what’s this about a swim when Scott almost died?”
“I’ll tell you later,” and I hang up quickly.”
I feel almost normal. I ask Phillip if he’s unfired. He whispers that he had to have a three-way with Felix’s sugar daddy.
“Did you hear what I told the kids outside about only going out with someone your own age?”
“Well, who’s gay at eighteen. I’ll be old and ugly before I find someone.”
“Well, don’t stop looking.”
“Thanks, do you still have my number.”
“Oh, Phillip. I have a broken heart now.”
Felix comes over and says that sales continue to boom. Since Jace is gone, I get double.
I am beginning to distain his money grubbing. “Give Jace’s money to Robby. He’ll appreciate it more.”
Felix looks stunned. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Well, give me some more of that gay underwear. I need it to remember Jace.”
“I’ll save you some when it comes in. What’s your size?”
“Why didn’t you wear it today?”
“It’s covered with blood.”
That leaves him speechless.
Robby is glad to get his blood money. As we ride home, he pulls out a joint and we get high. Max starts acting like a puppy, running in circles even though he is on a leash. I get paranoid that he will get hit. Robby stops, so I can chill.
“There’s something you’re not telling me?” he asks.
We’re sitting near where we stopped while searching for our sacred grove.
“Let’s go to where we had the Samhain ceremony.” I tell him.
We ditch our bikes and walk down the overgrown path and sit by the open crypt.
“Do you just want to reminisce?” he asks.
“Can you be the Drinker of the Blood and I’ll be the White One?” I ask.
“I saw the Guardian again.”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me.”
“It was at the hospital. I was a little upset.”
“What did he tell you.”
“The Guardian is my friend. I never told you that the Devil came to me in the ceremony and offered me his protection. I refused.”
“This was in October?”
“Yes. After Jace died, I wanted to die with him. I was thinking, die , die, die.”
“Did you think the Devil would help you?”
“No. It was too late for his protection. I wanted to die.”
He moves over and puts his arm around me. I feel he’s being a better person, so I continue, “The guardian asked me if I wanted the spirits to enter me. I asked if the spirit would be Jace and could we share my body.”
“He said no, that Jace was already dead. I could join him and become part of the whole spirit world. He had explained that after death there is no I, you, he, she or they. Just we, all the spirits in one.
“Why have you never told me this. You said you had forgotten.”
“I haven’t forgotten, but I wanted us to work on the band thing for Jace.” I look over. Jace does not look happy about what I am sharing with Robby. I push on.
“The Guardian brought Jace’s spirit to me in the hospital. I started to cry because I was happy. Jace came over and hit me like he always does when I start crying.”
“Why did the Guardian help you?”
“He’s my friend. I call him friend. I think he likes me.”
“You are the White One.”
“Whatever. We made a deal. Jace’s spirit will remain with me until I die. I agreed to never leave him, even after death.”
“Is he here now?”
“Can he speak to me?”
“No. Only I can see him.”
“Why are you telling me?”
”You know that nobody else can know this.”
“There is danger from the spirit world.”
“More danger from this world, as I have learned.’”
“I told you so you will trust me when I say I can be the guitarist Jace was. The band will continue because he will help me play like he does. His genius is the basis for our success. Also, I trust you. Which is somewhat like saying I love you.”
Jace stares at me intently.
“I believe you. Why do you fear the band will quit.”
“All bands quit or become useless.”
“We’re not all bands.”
“That is why I want us to continue.”
“Do we need to make a pact on this.”
“We already did in Samhain.”
“No, but I can see.”
Jace runs his hand over Robby’s head. Robby shivers.
“Do you believe?” I ask him.
“Promise not to tell anyone?”
“What about Mary?”
“I trust her but she doesn’t need to know.”
“That may change.”
“Don’t tell just for your own purposes.”
“I promise, but I may ask your permission.”
“You are truly the White One, a seer.”
I look at Jace, and he nods.
“I see Jace now. He approves.”
“Tell Jace I love him, too.”
“He knows what’s in your heart if you let him in there.”
“I will try.”
“I will help.”
We smoke another joint, while Jace smiles.
We ride to Michael’s and wait so I can speak with his dad.
When he comes into the music room, he sees me and rushes to hug me. I am so high it feels right but does not make me sentimental.
He looks at me, “You’re through crying for Jace?”
“No, but I need to speak about business with you.”
I tell him about the memorial for Jace at Out and Proud and all the TV interviews we did.
“I believe there will be a considerable overflow crowd of young people at Viscaya tomorrow. I know it’s invitation only, but we have to play for all the kids. It’s for Jace that we are still doing the show.”
“How many extra kids?”
“It could be thousands, but maybe just several hundred.”
“What do you suggest?”
“We’ll first set up outside the main door and play to the crowd. After that, we should let in all the kids Jenna’s age and younger. It is up to Mr. Lombardi.”
“That sounds reasonable, but he may not be happy. He’s doing the party for Jenna.”
“Have Michael explain our plans to Jenna. If she asks her dad for the kids to come in, he’ll probably agree.”
“How do you figure all this out.”
“It is strictly a logistical problem. I want you to be prepared.”
“Do we charge them?”
“No. It is a free show in honor of Jenna and a tribute to Jace. I’ll play guitar as Jace’s replacement.”
“Who will sing?”
“I’m too grief-stricken. I have two boys, 12 and 14, who have been practicing all the songs. They are happy to sing and dance on stage.”
“It’ll really be a kids show.”
“That’s what we always planned. You should watch the local news. Robby and I did interviews at a memorial for Jace in the Grove.”
“At Out & Proud?”
“That will be interesting. Should I kill myself now?”
“My parents, and the two boys’ parents, need to be on the guest list.”
“No problem if their kids are there.”
“Thanks. Dad was my hero yesterday.”
“I read that. I’m glad for him.”
“I’m glad, too. Sometimes you need a gun.”
He hugs me and Michael comes over. After we tell him what to have Jenna do, Michael nods and hugs his dad.