When we got home, my dad came up to confront me.
“Why is there a dog in your room?”
How I wanted not to lie; he’d been so much nicer lately.
“He’s Jace’s dog, Max, Dad. 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 exclaimed.
“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 hugged him, which made him very 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 my son?”
I was able to laugh. “Dad, I won’t embarrass you. It’s just the music we play. Look at this silly underwear I had to wear at the store today. I have to wear it so all these 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 one hundred bucks today,” and I showed him the cash.
“I’ll never understand retail. You look ridiculous in those things. Pull your jeans up or push the shorts down.” I complied quickly.
“It’s the band, Dad. We were in the paper today and everyone flocked to the store. Felix says I can make a hundred bucks every day while it his 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 went to my bureau, showing him my earnings. Jace showed 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 meant 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 ages. 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 this 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 added, “And thank you for protecting my dog. I love that dog with all my heart.”
Jace had good instincts because my dad was 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 said, but they said it was a co-ed who saved the show.”
“Jill got up and sang love songs. It calmed everyone after we fagged out with British gay songs. Max guarded the stage and stopped those 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 was already over with Max, cuddling his head and talking to him. My dad noticed. I thought I saw him soften. Maybe an inch. I bet he had a dog when he was my age.
I locked the stairs door and opened my window. Robby noticed and flew over through the trees. We all sat in the window, Jace in my arms, as I told Robby about Jeff coming to get Max. Robby instantly blamed John for telling him where I lived. I wanted to give John a break. A bigger problem was how to keep Jeff from Max. Even if we kept him with us all the time, Jeff could try to trap us somewhere. We were on guard. I noticed that Jace had fallen asleep. Robby kidded me about how we looked in the morning. I told him it was all the crème Brule. He tried to lick me. I told him to go home, so we could sleep. It was dark when we woke up. Max was anxious to go out to do his business and maybe hit Robby for smoke. I knew that dog well. We’d all eat when we got back.
Once we got outside, Max ran to his favorite spot by the bushes and after sniffing, settled down for a good shit. Suddenly I heard a car race around the corner with the wheels screeching. It was Jeff. He pulled right up into the yard, jumped out. He had a hand gun.
Max was pulling on the leash to get at him. I held Max behind me to shield him. Jace jumped in front of me.
“Give me that dog, or else,” Jeff threatened.
“You have to kill me before I’ll do that.’
“You have to kill me first,” I yelled, jumping in front of Jace.
“I’ll do it, you faggots,” as he waved the gun at us.
I had loosened my grip on Max, who pulled away from me to get at Jeff. Jeff fired the gun, barely missing us.
Lights went on all over the neighborhood. My dad was at our door and Susan was screaming. Dad went back in, to probably get a gun; he had several. Jeff waved the gun around and told everyone to stay back.
“I just want the dog,” he screamed.
Jace bent over to protect Max. I was 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 yelled.
“You’re the asshole who turned my brothers against me. I had to beat John to get your address, and he’s my real brother.”
“You lose the right to be anyone’s brother when you abuse them.”
His face clenched up. I realized he was so incensed that he was acting insane.
“Calm down, Jeff. Stop this now and you won’t get in trouble.”
Max started barking. Jeff took another shot at us. My dad stepped out with a rifle and in his military voice ordered, “Drop the weapon, now.”
I stepped in front of Jace, but Max had gotten loose and Jace lunged at him. Jeff fired twice more. My dad fired and Jeff went down, shot in the leg. I ran and grabbed the handgun. Max had him by the leg and was wildly shaking him. My dad ran over, putting his foot on his neck as he squirmed. I heard the police siren coming and felt a slight sense of relief. Then I thought, where is Jace?
I looked back and he was slumped over on the ground, staring at me. I dropped the gun and ran to him. He murmured, “Tim.” And closed his eyes. I screamed, “Jace.” Over and over. The next I knew, Susan was holding me with Jace in my arms. His body was too loose. I knew instantly that I had lost him. Max was at my feet, licking Jace’s wound at the back of his neck. I thought I should do CPR.I tried without a response, until the paramedics arrived. Susan put a blanket over my shoulders and led me to our front steps. I was in shock, rocking back and forth. I heard the paramedics say they had gotten a pulse back and watched them load Jace into the ambulance. I had to go, too. Susan found out they were going to Mercy Hospital. She promised me we’d go as soon as possible. I suddenly realized my dad had shot Jeff in order to protect us. It was a mess. I told the police I had to go be with Jace. He was still alive. I told them that Jeff was an abuser and Max was protecting Jace who was staying with me until Jeff left for college. Jeff had come to kill Max and had shot at us as we tried to protect him. Now Jace was shot and I had to go to him. The police were nice and said we’d have to make statements later. They had spoken to my dad. Because he was ex-military, and his weapons were properly registered, they released him pending further investigation. I hugged my dad, who for once didn’t seem to mind. I thanked him for saving me from Jeff, who was a killer. At that word, I broke down again but was able to get into the car. We raced to Mercy. I ran into Emergency. All the staff instantly ran over to me. I was covered in Jace’s blood. I repeated Jace’s name. After they saw I wasn’t hurt, we had to sit and wait for a doctor. The emergency waiting room was spinning. I had to put my head on my knees to not throw up. Jace’s parents came in and immediately confronted 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 declared.
“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 asked 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 know what I’ve been told by the boys is true.”
Jace’s father looked confused, “Where is Jace?”
“He was declared dead on my lawn but the paramedics revived him. He’s being worked on now.”
They left to get information. Jeff’s mother gave me a real mean look, like I had ruined Jeff’s life. She had no feelings for Jace. I never had seen real evil before. The rednecks last night were barely bad.
The doctor came out with blood all over his white coat. He came to 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 explained, “He was staying with us. His father is there,” pointing at Jace’s dad.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry.”
I heard the doctor explain that they were keeping his organs viable and that his parents had to decide whether to donate them. When the doctor got up to leave I asked if I could go sit with Jace while the procedures were being arranged. He told me to follow him. When I saw his still, grey body surrounded by medical equipment, the tears were unstoppable. The doctor found me a chair. I sat next to the body, holding his hand. I put my head on the gurney and lay there remembering that this was how we had been only minutes before, both alive. I wanted to die, right there. I knew I couldn’t bring him back. I didn’t want to live without him. These thoughts never stopped. I just thought die, die, die.
I heard a soft voice. Maybe it was Susan. I looked up. It was the guardian from the Grove.
“Are you ready to let go? To enter the spirit world?”
I wasn’t on drugs. How was I having this vision?
“Is Jace now in the spirit world?” I would go if he was.
“No. He is still here,” the Guardian indicated the other side of the gurney.
There he was in spirit form, ethereal, wispy, fully Jace, without the wounds and blood. He smiled. I smiled but the tears overcame me. He gave me that look, walked over and hit me on the arm. Not as hard as usual, but I felt it.
“Can you hear me?”
“You can’t speak?” Shaking his head he made hand signs. I knew instantly he had signed ‘I love you forever.’
I was crying so hard, he had to hit me five times. I tried to hug him, but he held up a hand to stop me. I knew I could not reach him, only he could touch me.
I looked up at the Guardian and asked, “Can I let his spirit take me 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 looked at Jace and asked, ‘do you want to stay with me like this?’ He signed and nodded his head yes.
I spoke aloud to the Guardian, “Thank you, friend, my true friend. The devil promised me protection. You have given me back life, mine and Jace’s.”
The Guardian smiled and slowly disappeared.
I reached out and Jace took my hand. We walked out of the treatment room together, forever joined.
Susan and my Dad rushed up to me, thinking I was in shock.
“We can go now. His soul has left his earthly body.” I told them.
“Have you made your final goodbyes with Jace?” Susan asked.
“He will be with me for the rest of my life.”
They both hugged me, thinking how brave I was to accept the reality of death. I saw in a mirror that I had the same angelic smile on my face as I saw on Jace’s .
Some evil area of doubt entered my wondering mind, ”Would I ever get sick of always being with Jace.” Not today.
Then I said, “We have to find Max.”
When we got home, I ran up my stairs, but he wasn’t there. I was terrified that he had gone back to the garage. There was no telling what Jace’s parents would do to him, to exact revenge for Jeff being arrested.
The other possibility was Robby’s. I raced over and pulled myself through the window. Everyone looked at me in horror covered in blood. All I saw was Max, his head in Mary and Robby’s lap. He looked up. Wagged his tail, and barked. I threw myself on him, crying and hugging him. Then I hugged Mary and Robby. All at once everyone surrounded me. Except John, who crouched in the corner, crying to himself. I went over and hugged him.
”Jeff told me he beat you to get our address. It’s not your fault. Jeff is insane, evilly insane.”
He hugged me and kept crying. I lay with him, our lives shattered.
“I will love you like a brother,” I told him. He curled up into the fetal position. I thought about his mother who was pure evil. I knew that wasn’t John. Robby told me to go home and get cleaned up
“Come with?” I asked.
We walked Max to my house. I dreaded my room. There were so many memories, just hours old. He waited while I showered and changed, joking about the funky underwear I now wore. Even that was a sad memory, because it was similar to what Jace was wearing. Robby dragged me back to his house where everyone was waiting. Michael was there as well.
I looked at them and stated, “We’re still playing the show on Tuesday night.”
Michael said it didn’t matter anymore.
“I disagree. I know Jace wanted to play so you could be with Jenna. We’ll do it in his memory.”
I couldn’t be dissuaded. I promised I could do Jace’s guitar role.
Michael asked if I would speak with Jimmy Olsen. He was 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 choked up. Mary came over and she held my hand. I could see Jace holding my other hand. Everyone was making me stronger. It started to sink in that I had lost him; it would never be the same. I looked over. He knew what I was feeling. He came and held me as I cried. Our hopes and dreams were shattered. He signed that it was up to me to live for him. He would never abandon me, my biggest fear. But he could never be with me again. I felt so alone even as I felt his familiar arms around me. We would find our way, not just my way. He shook his head and pointed to me. It was now just my life, no matter how much he gave to me. I swore he would share everything I did. He pointed to his garish underwear. I laughed, even that we’d share.
Jimmy came to Robby’s and we all shared a joint. It helped, not to forget, but not to feel. I told 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’d always be 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 plugged Out and Proud, how we had spent the afternoon signing gay underwear for all the ‘tweener girls to give to their boyfriends. How all the girls flocked to him while I had the gay boy posse. How he always hit me when I was 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 were ‘lunatics on the grass’ and our song was ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond.’ How much he loved Max who was the one creature to ever love him back, until we met. How Max defended him from his abusive brother; it was defending Max from Jeff that killed him. I broke down and instead of punching me, I saw Jace crying as well. How he called my name as he died. Jimmy wrote it all down and asked if he could take pictures of us in my yard where Jace died, I couldn’t do it, so he took a photo of us all on Robby’s bed. We swore we’d play our last show for Jace on New Year’s. He called in the story, taking a long time. When he came back, he had us pose another picture all around Max in Robby’s back yard. I was done. The tears had dried up, I walked Max back to my room. He slept with me the entire night. In all my dreams, Jace was there living out our adventures. I didn’t miss him in my sleep.
Robby was sitting in my window when I woke up.
“I hope you didn’t start fucking Max in your sleep.”
I threw my pillow at him. He jumped in bed with me. I saw Jace shrug his shoulders. He signed that it didn’t break our rule of no fucking without each other being there. But I wasn’t in the mood. He showed me Jimmy’s column in the Herald. We had made the front pages: TEEN GUITARIST SHOT IN GABLES FAMILY DISPUTE. Our two pictures were there and inside a high school yearbook shot of Jeff. It said he would be charged with involuntary manslaughter for mistakenly shooting his step-brother. My dad was mentioned for stopping the attack, saving me and the dog. Max growled at the picture of Jeff. I wanted him charged with capital murder and to get the death penalty. Robby said he was insane and had no friends. Jace and John weren’t the only ones he had abused. Scott’s name wasn’t mentioned in all my stories about him and his family, but I knew he’d be pissed. It wasn’t hard to know who I meant if you knew us. I really didn’t care. We went downstairs. I asked Susan if Dad was okay. I figured shooting someone wasn’t his favorite activity. She said they both had taken a sick day from work. I told her I was going to work, as I felt it might make me forget the pain. She hugged me and said if I felt ill, just call her to pick me up. Robby came with me and Max trotted along beside our bikes as we went to the Grove. When we got near the store, there was a huge crowd. People had set up a memorial for Jace. I stopped, but everybody had already seen us. We walked through the crowd to the store. Felix gave me a big hug. I saw that Phillip had 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 walked outside and tried to thank everyone for remembering Jace. They all swarmed around me and Robby, hugging and crying. People were taking photos. Girls were telling me they loved him, even if they had just learned about him. Robby was mobbed by the girls once they learned he was our drummer and singer on ‘False Gods.’ There were many boys as well. Most told me they felt like Jace, with nobody in their lives ever loving them. Pretty soon, all the boys were crying and hugging, with the girls volunteering to be their best gay friends. I think the term fag hag was born that day. They were all 12 to 14. I didn’t remember feeling that way at their age. Many people asked to come to the New Years Eve show. I said I’d ask Michael’s dad if we could let kids in but couldn’t promise it. Pretty soon TV trucks arrived and were filming. I couldn’t escape into the store because I was being mobbed. I did a couple of interviews, but they kept asking leading questions to make me cry. It was too much, Max started barking. Everyone knew about his role defending Jace. Max discovered who was holding pot. We told them to take him around the corner to get high, and he stopped barking. Max was recovering faster than me. I finally agreed to have a press conference. The Police blocked off the street. I started by saying we were going ahead with our show, which was for the kids, a big sock hop of 50’s and 60’s oldies. I said I could play Jace’s guitar. We had a surprise singing duo to do the vocals. I had to call Stu and Mike. A lot of questions were about being gay in high school. I tried to say we still liked girls. Jace and I were in love because we needed each other so much, the bro thing. They asked who was my girlfriend. I said Flo, one of the Jacettes and Tina who lived in New York City. They asked if the girls were jealous. I said we all were friends; it was more emotional than adult love.
“How did you know it was love if you didn’t have sex.”
I answered, “At our age, you know when someone has feelings stronger than friendship.”
All the kids cheered my answer. I refused to tell them Jace and I were fucking each other three and four times daily.
I said Tina’s parents listened in on all our calls. Flo’s dad only let me go out with her because I spoke nicely to him in Spanish, but he had warned me to keep my hands off her.
“It’s just easier to have a boyfriend at my age.”
All the boys cheered.
They asked 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’re really best friends. He lives next door and always climbs in my window when he comes over. Two nights ago, he woke up. He almost fell out the window when we got out of bed.”
“Well they were all covered in dried cum.”
“This interview is over.”
I asked that the last comments be edited out as we were just kidding.
At that moment, Max stumbled around the corner obviously high. He looked at everyone and ran into a corner and put his paw over his eye. That was the picture of the day.
I reiterated that our show was still on the next night.
The Police came and told us to take it into the store, so they could get traffic through. I asked Felix if I could use the phone and called Mom (Mrs. Watts). She knew everything and was concerned for me. I didn’t cry, but she knew I was close. She thanked me for all the nice things I had said to the paper. I asked what Scott had said. She confirmed he was very upset, but I didn’t 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 heard her say to stop crying to talk to me.
“I’m so sorry, Tim,” he sniffed. “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 started sniffling.
“Don’t cry, Tim.”
“You know me, just another CB.”
He laughed 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 wanted you and Mike to dance at our show tomorrow?”
“That’s okay, Tim. We know you have to cancel.”
“That’s it. We are not cancelling. The shows 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 was real quiet.
“Will you sing all those songs we love and dance to on stage?”
He was 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 could, but I’ll bet he really hates me now after the paper.”
“Yeah, he raced out of here after he read it. It was about 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 came on the line. “Did I hear right. The show is still on and 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’s always 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.”
I felt almost normal. I asked Phillip if he was unfired. He whispered that he’d had 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 anyone.”
“Well, don’t stop looking.”
“Thanks, do you still have my number.”
“Oh, Phillip. I have a broken heart now.”
Felix came over and said that sales continued to boom. Since Jace was gone, I’d get double.
I was beginning to hate him. “Give Jace’s money for today to Robby. He’ll appreciate you more.”
Felix looked 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 left him speechless.
Robby was glad to get his blood money. As we rode home, he pulled out a joint and we got high. Max started acting like a puppy, running in circles even though he was on a leash. I got paranoid that he would get hit. Robby stopped, so I could chill.
“There’s something you’re not telling me?” he asked.
We were sitting near the same spot where we had stopped while searching for our sacred grove.
“Let go to where we had the Samhain ceremony.” I told him.
We ditched our bikes and walked down the overgrown path and sat by the open crypt.
“Did you just want to reminisce?” he asked.
“Can you be the Drinker of the Blood and I’ll be the White One?” I asked.
“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 moved over and put his arm around me. I felt he was becoming a better person, so I continued, “The guardian asked me if I wanted the spirits to enter me. I asked if the spirit would be Jace and we could 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 looked over. Jace didn’t look happy about what I was sharing with Robby. I pushed 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 is 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 tell you so you will trust me when I say I can be the guitarist Jace was. The band will continue. His genius is the basis for our success. Also, I trust you. That is similar to saying I love you.”
Jace stared 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 ran his hand over Robby’s head. Robby shivered.
“Do you believe?” I asked him.
“Promise not to tell anyone?”
“What about Mary?”
“I trust her but she need not know.”
“That may change.”
“Don’t tell only for your own purposes.”
“I promise, but I may ask your permission.”
“That is acceptable.”
“You are truly the White One, a seer.”
I looked at Jace, and he nodded.
“I see Jace now. He approves.”
“Tell Jace I love him, too.”
“He knows what is in your heart if you let him in there.”
“I will try.”
“I will help.”
We smoked another joint, and Jace smiled.
We rode to Michael’s and waited so I could speak with his father.
When he got home, he saw me and rushed to hug me. I was so high it felt right but didn’t make me sentimental.
He looked at me, “You’re through crying for Jace?”
“No, but I need to speak about business with you.”
I told 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 is invitation only, but we have to play for the kids. It is 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 will first set up outside the main door and play to the crowd. After, 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 is doing the party for Jenna.”
“Have Michael speak with Jenna and explain our plans. If she asks him for the kids, he’ll probably agree.”
“Again, your wisdom and foresight blows me away.”
“It is strictly a logistical problem. I wanted you to be prepared.”
“Do we charge them?”
“No. It is a free show in honor of Jenna and a tribute to Jace. I will 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 will 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. My dad was my hero yesterday.”
“I read that. I’m glad for him.”
“I’m glad, too. Sometimes you need a gun.”
He hugged me and Michael came over. After we told him what to have Jenna do, Michael hugged his dad.