67. It Comes from Within

Jen grabbed hold of my cheeks with both hands and stared at me. Eyes, they’re the windows of the soul. Right then Jen’s eyes opened on an interior of desperate and crazy.

“You’re not just making this up?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Who could make this up?”

“Duke. He made up stories for a living.”

“Check for yourself. Verify.”

“How am I supposed to check?”

“You’ve got to go anyway.”

“Go where?”

“You want to get the old dead guys interested, you’ve got to convince them. You appear. You make your case. They listen. They decide. Your story is good enough, maybe they’re willing to exert themselves.”

“I don’t want to put on a performance. I just want Leo…”

The silence lingered. I heard Leo snoring in the living room.

“Dead,” I said. “You want him dead.”

She shrugged. “What you said. We’ve all got to die eventually. What purpose is he serving now anyway?”

“A mystery, right? Leo’s not around, things that would have happened don’t. Things that wouldn’t have happened do. Who knows what they are.”

“The old guys?”

“Maybe.”

“What’s my story? What do they want to hear?”

“It’s got to come from within, Jen. I can’t tell you what it is. You got to know.”

“The truth?”

“They sniff out a lie in a heartbeat.”

“I don’t want to save babies in Africa. I don’t care about the whales. My life. I want to enjoy it. Without Leo.”

“What I’d do? I’d think of a better way to put it.”

“When do we go?”

“Now?”

“I can’t just leave Leo.”

“Jen. You can. The way things stand, he’s good for sixteen years.”

“I know. If I’m so worried…”

“I didn’t want to say.”

“I’m dressed okay?”

“It’s the underworld.”

“I’m trying to make an impression.”

“You’re fine.”

She glanced at herself in the mirror hung over the fireplace.

“Trust me,” I said. “You’ll be the best thing they’ve seen in a couple thousand years.”

“Let’s go,” she said.

She patted Leo on the head as we passed him on our way out the door.

Tomorrow: Hum a few bars

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