Ghosts Like It Hot – Erin McCarthy

THERE IS an Irish proverb that states “Your feet will take you where your heart is.” Well, my frozen feet were taking me to Florida, where the temperatures were hot and the term “polar vortex” didn’t exist. After a winter in Cleveland that gave new meaning to the phrase “this sucks” my boyfriend Jake and I were hopping on a plane to thaw out in the Sunshine State. “Do you have your driver’s license?” my mother asked me in the rearview mirror as she drove up to the departures drop-off. Jake was in the passenger seat and I was in the back with my grandmother, who had recently moved in with me in the aftermath of the demise of my parents’ thirty-five-year marriage. I had suggested several times we could take an Uber to the airport, but my mother had insisted on driving us, and I had relented. We’d never been particularly close, our personalities vastly different, but after Mom had pulled a gun on a guy who was holding me hostage with a knife, we’d reached a new place of mutual respect in our relationship. But she was still my mother and still asked ridiculous questions. Why wouldn’t I have my driver’s license? When would I ever be anywhere without my license, let alone arriving at the airport? “Yes,” I said simply. It’s just easier that way. She put the car in park but left it running. “Say goodbye to me now,” Grandma Burke said. “Now that I’m almost ninety I can’t tolerate this March wind.” This was a new trend— Grandma rounding up her age in conversation whenever she had the chance. “You’re eighty-five.

Don’t be dramatic,” my mother said. “That’s almost ninety.” “Not really.” Mom got out of the car and Jake and I followed suit. I leaned in and said goodbye to my grandmother. Jake did the same and pulled our suitcases out of the trunk, still shaking his head a little over my two bags that dwarfed his one smallish bag. What? It was vacation. A girl liked options. I had implied to him that I had several sexy items, but the truth was, the bulk of the space was being taken up by cute shoes. I was bouncing impatiently in my high-heel boots, partly from excitement and partly from cold.

It was the typical three “c”s of Cleveland in March. Cloudy. Cold. Crappy. I was so ready to leave behind bad weather and a murderous winter (seriously, multiple murders around me since October and lots of ER visits for me) that I basically wanted to yell “See ya!” and push my mother out of the way as I tore off into the security line. Recent life changes included, but not limited to: Discovering I was a medium and ghosts were drawn to me like I was Tinder and they were fresh out of a relationship. My friend Ryan appearing as a ghost and demanding I solve his murder, previously thought to be a suicide. Falling in love with Ryan’s best friend, Jake, also known as Detective Marner. Having a steady stream of ghosts insisting I solve their murders and frequently finding myself in situations where I was tied to rattan furniture, hit by a car, locked in a storage unit with a dead mobster, brawling with Santa, and facing down a broke composer. Seriously.

A music composer had gotten the best of me. My mother having a heart attack, my parents’ splitting up, and my father announcing his buddy’s wife, Judy, was now his “golfing partner.” Try to figure out the euphemism for that and be afraid. Be very afraid. My sister, Jen, giving birth for her fifth J child. And by that, I mean she has named all her children with J names, and little bitty Jinger had just joined the crew. I know. Jinger starts with a G. But not in Jen’s world of Pinterest perfection. I’d had a lovely visit with my new niece and my sister, who cried a lot from sleep deprivation and upset over our parents.

Grandma Burke moving in with me. This is not a small change. This is a-dentures-inthe-bathroom, you-no-longer-have-privacy kind of change. Grandma’s friend Va-va-voom Vera being killed by a greedy SOB music composer and leaving me five thousand dollars, which was paying for this little detour to Key West, the land of sunsets and cocktails. It had been a rough six months, but thanks to Vera it was about to get a whole lot better. And warmer. “Thanks for the ride, Mom. Have fun with Grandma.” My mother rolled her eyes. “It’ll be a blast,” she said dryly.

“I can’t wait for bingo.” “Shirley will stiff you on the nachos,” I said, grabbing the handle of my suitcase, the wind whipping my curly auburn (okay, reddish/orange) hair across my face. I wrestled strands out of my eyes and mouth and said, “I’ll text you when we get there.” There is no hugging my mother. Hugs make her wince. She waved and said, “Have fun,” and jumped back into the car. I looked at Jake and smiled. “This may be the happiest moment of my entire life.” He smiled back. The smile that always made me feel soft and squishy and like I’d drunk six cups of coffee in rapid succession.

Heart fluttery. “Let’s do this.” He took his suitcase and one of mine. “By the way, are we flying solo or do you have some dead guy in tow?” Jake reluctantly tolerates the whole ghost thing. He didn’t like it and he wasn’t particularly curious about it. He just wanted it to not inconvenience him or put me in danger. So far, no luck on either of those wishes. In this case, I strongly suspected he was asking if Ryan was traveling to Florida with us. He’d liked Ryan a lot better when he was alive and they were partners than now given Ryan’s habit of popping into my house at random without warning. Oh, yeah, and that pesky little fact that I’d once had a substantial crush on Ryan.

“No dead guys,” I said cheerfully. Nothing was ruining this vacation. An hour and thirty minutes later I was repeating that mantra in my head as a ghost started harassing me the second I stepped foot on the airplane. To be fair, I spoke to her first. As I ducked my head to enter the doorway (just instinct, I’m not that tall), I spotted the flight attendant with a scarf wrapped around her neck. “I love your scarf,” I said, thinking she had a whole very cool retro vibe going on. When did flight attendants start wearing such amazing wide leg, high-waisted pants? She looked straight out of the seventies. Which apparently, she was. Because her eyes bugged out and she said, “You can see me?” right as the actual flight attendant in a modern boxy suit walked straight through her. Oh, no.

Not good. I frantically looked around with anyone to make eye contact. There was a woman in first class and she was wearing a scarf so I smiled at her and repeated myself. “Thanks,” she said, and smiled back, patting her purple knit wonder. I found our row and practically leaped into the window seat, well aware the dead flight attendant was following me. I could hear her frantically trying to get my attention. “Hey! Lady! With the red hair, talk to me. Please!” I yanked my coat off and clipped my seat belt into place. Then I shoved up the window shield and studiously stared out into the gloom. Jake plopped down next to me and yanked his sweatshirt off over his head.

Jake runs hot, unlike me. “Make sure you buckle,” I said to Jake, because even though I’m not sure I’m ready to be a mother, I am a worry-wart and neurotic. I didn’t despise flying but it wasn’t my favorite thing to do. I tolerated the concept of sailing through the air at thirty thousand feet in a tin can because on the other end was paradise. Maybe even a cheeseburger. He smiled at me and clicked. “Got it.” Unlike a lot of men, he actually understood I worry because I care. He didn’t perceive it as annoying, which he might be within his rights to. Speaking of annoying.

The flight attendant, whose name badge said “Barbara,” smoothed her long dark hair and leaned over my boyfriend. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to be rude. It’s just that well, no one ever sees me. Thousands and thousands of passengers and no one ever hears me and you clearly can. I died in a landing at this airport and now I can’t… get out.” “My office hours are Thursdays,” I said, trying to be firm, but my voice cracking. “One to three.” “What?” Jake asked, shoving his sweatshirt into the seat-back pocket. “Sweetie, I’m just trying to establish boundaries with a spirit.

” Marner sighed. When he sighs, he’s Marner. “What does that mean?” Barbara asked. “I can’t go to your office. I’m stuck here.” “I’m on vacation. I’ll catch you on the flight back.” Barbara sat down in the aisle and proceeded to weep while a steady stream of passengers shuffled through her, wearing boots and leggings and thick coats, hauling backpacks and carry-ons, earbuds dangling. I felt guilty as hell. I can’t help it.

I was raised Catholic. We were handed a lifetime of guilt. Free wine and a bomb dress for your first communion and boom. You were in. Guilt. I closed my eyes and reached for my boyfriend’s hand. The second we reached cruising altitude I pushed the attendant button. “What are you doing?” Jake asked, sitting up straighter and squeezing. “Are you okay?” “I’m stressed out. The… woman is crying,” I hissed.

It was relentless and horrible. Her voice was high-pitched and wringing out my nerves. “What the hell is pushing the call button going to do? Just tell this woman to leave you alone.” Easy for him to say. He didn’t hear the banshee in bell-bottoms wailing. The flight attendant appeared. “Yes, miss, is everything okay?” “Can I get a glass of whatever white wine you have? Actually, three.” I couldn’t take a chance she’d be slow in getting back to me for a second round. When her eyes widened in disapproval I said, “I’m afraid of flying.” Her lips pursed but she just nodded.

“Give me a minute.” “I don’t think she should be so judgmental,” I told Jake. “A lot of people are afraid of flying.” “You’re not afraid of flying.” Okay, Mr. Reality Check. “I’m afraid of losing my sanity.” I bent over him and tried to pretend I was looking at something on my phone. Which had to look weird to anyone across the aisle. Adult female draped over her boyfriend’s lap talking to her phone.

But I didn’t always have a lot of options when it came to interacting with ghosts. “Barbara,” I murmured. “I want to help you. I really do. I’m sorry for your… predicament. But I can’t help you pass unless you were murdered. That seems to be my wheelhouse.” “Jesus,” was Jake’s opinion. “But give me your last name and a time frame. I’ll look into it.

” Her tears cut off instantly. Faker. “My last name is Baldizzi. I died in September of 1978.” “Got it. No promises, but I’ll see what I can do. Now can you go and take your jumpseat? Or maybe read over someone’s shoulder? I really am trying to relax.” See. Totally getting better at this. She sniffed, but she wandered down the aisle in her wedge shoes.

The woman across from me was eyeing me like I was fit for a straightjacket and she wanted a seat change. I was across Jake’s lap like I was a throw blanket. “I’m afraid of flying,” I said. “My boyfriend is my comfort animal.” Jake started laughing and covered it with a cough, fist to his mouth. When the flight attendant (who took her sweet time, seriously) appeared with my wine and I handed her my credit card, Jake asked for a beer. She wrinkled her nose and disappeared without a word. “We’re being difficult passengers,” I told him. “You started it.” “You could have just had one of my wines.

” “I’m not a huge fan of white. Besides, it would be like stealing a woobie from a toddler. I can’t be responsible for that.” “Good point.” She handed Jake a beer and my credit card back. We put our trays down and I poured out my drink. Jake swore under his breath when he knocked his knees against the tray. “These seats have zero leg room.” “Agreed. But here’s to sunshine,” I said, raising my plastic cup.

“To a week without murder,” he said. He lifted his beer can, forsaking the cup. It wasn’t just me dealing with death. Jake was a homicide detective, after all. “Cheers to that.” We clinked our drinks, in love and optimistic that Florida would deliver vitamin D and zero corpses. As if to mock our intentions, Barbara started doing cartwheels down the aisle. That was new. I’d never seen such a youthful, athletic ghost. She was an ode to the past, when flight attendants were called stewardesses and were basically sexy servers.

You know, when the airline didn’t charge you for water and you didn’t need to salt your knees because they were crammed up into your mouth. “We’re fooling ourselves, aren’t we?” Jake asked me. The Irish have a question they ask whenever the answer is an obvious yes. Time to bust it out now, because, yes. “Is it raining?” I asked, and took a sip of my wine. TWO I STILL HAD a buzz when we arrived at the marina in Key West. “Jake, OMG. This is heaven.” “Wow,” was his opinion as we got out of the cab, the driver popping open his trunk. “This is a hell of a view.

” Jake had talked me into staying on a sailboat for our first two nights. After that, we were moving to a hotel just in case I couldn’t handle the rocking of the boat. I had never slept on a boat before and I was nervous about it, but it had looked romantic and cool in the photos so I’d decided to go for it. Now that we were standing there in the parking lot of the marina and boats and water sprawled out in front of me, I was totally on board with this idea. On board. Haha. I cracked myself up. “It’s beautiful. And warm. Do you feel that? Actual warmth.

” I held my arms out and stared in awe at the sun hitting them. I had stuffed my coat into one of my suitcases the minute I had retrieved them at baggage claim. “It may take me three days to thaw out.” That was not an exaggeration. Shout-out to all you folks living in the Dakotas because I don’t know how you’re alive. I’d let Jake take the lead on booking this sailboat because it had seemed really important to him to bring the romance. But as I saw Captain Mark waving to us, I had my doubts that maybe I should have read the reviews and checked out his profile. He was a colorful character, to say the least. In his sixties, he had a massive beard, with beads braided into it, an oversized button up shirt with marlins on it, and flip-flops with socks. None of which was a big deal.

What made my shoulders tense up was the lip-smacking sound he made when he ran his eyes up and down my body. “Got yourself a looker there, don’t you, son?” Yuck. Let’s be honest here. I’m reasonably attractive. Clean. Feminine. Maybe even wholesome. Not sexy in a pinup way. But even if I was strolling down the marina dock in cheetah heels and leather, he had some nerve. Marner didn’t look particularly thrilled either.

After introductions, Captain Mark grabbed one of the suitcases and started down the dock, gesturing for us to follow. “Don’t worry, he only takes us out for the sunset cruise,” Jake murmured. “Otherwise, we’re alone on the boat.” “I’m very glad to hear it.” I was not getting cozy with my boyfriend with Captain Mark anywhere in the vicinity. “I’m sure he’s very nice in a sexist kind of way.” What he was, was a talker. I took in the upper deck and had a neutral reaction to it. It was a deck. But Mark was already pointing out all the “amazing” features to the boat he was obviously very proud of.

Since I knew exactly nothing about boats, it sounded like a foreign language. I’d let Jake process all the pertinent information and assume that we could figure out the rest together. I focused on the view. The water looked like glass, the sun caressing the waves. I had high hopes of seeing marine life. A peek at a dolphin doing its thing and this vacation would meet all expectations. Mark jumped down onto the sailboat with a spryness that didn’t match his age. Jake followed and reached for my hand. I took it gingerly and wobbled a little on the landing in my high-heel boots. But I recovered quickly and tossed my hair out of my face.

“Is this your first time in Key West?” Mark asked. “Yes. We’re very excited. We left thirty-degree weather behind.” “I’m originally from Chicago. I don’t miss that. I moved down here in eighty-two and they can drag my dead body out of here as far as I’m concerned.” Mark gave me a grin. “No dead bodies,” I said lightly. “We’re on vacation.

” Mark gave a chuckle. “It wasn’t a threat, I promise. I’ve got no plans to kick the bucket any time soon. Come on down below. You have a lot of bags. We’re going to have to get creative with storage.” Jake gave me a “told-you-so” look but I wasn’t going to defend my actions. I felt confident he would appreciate my outfit changes when I looked like a model for “Living Your Best Key West Life” magazine. Which isn’t really a magazine, but you get my point. The cabin, or whatever Mark called it, I wasn’t listening, was small.

I had my doubts that Jake’s whole body would fit on the bed without his feet dangling over the edge. Mark stacked my suitcases up on the floor, consuming about half of the walking space. I wrinkled my nose and studiously worked on not feeling claustrophobic. Mark showed us the head, which triggered my germophobia. Something was leaking so the floor was wet. The walls were sweating and the corners all had mold merrily growing. I was going to have to wear flip-flops in there and then throw them away before we left Florida. But I could roll with the punches. Sunshine. Sangria.

Sand. Sex. I had to keep my eye on the prize. Too busy working out how tough I could be in my head, I wasn’t listening to Captain Mark. “So that’s how I ended up a clown for ten years.” I swiveled my head. The word “clown” is always going to grab my attention. I’m not a fan of clowns. Who the hell just ends up a clown? I swallowed as I eyed Mark with new eyes. Was he a serial killer? Did he book this boat and then take his passengers out where no one could hear them scream? Then he killed them and tossed them into the drink? While dressed like a clown? My palms started to sweat.

“How did you two kids meet?” Mark asked, like he hadn’t just dropped the bombshell that he could be a potential murderer. That wasn’t as simple of a question as you’d think. “We had a mutual friend,” Jake said. “We met at work,” I said at the same time. Mark laughed. “Which one is it?” Jake wasn’t a guy who liked to throw his personal business around so I waited for him to take the lead on this. But he surprised me by saying, “It was both. Bailey’s friend from college was my partner, but she and I didn’t really meet until she started working at the station with us.” He gave me a smile, one I couldn’t quite interpret. “Then we started hanging out socially.

Even went to Niagara Falls, the three of us. But it took eight years for us to start dating.” Why the hell had he brought up that trip to Niagara Falls? It had been an odd impulse vacation, the three of us sharing a room because of tight finances and a room mix-up. I had felt awkward most of the weekend and at one point had woken up at three a.m. marveling I was sandwiched in a bed between two men and neither thought of me as anything other than a little sister. “Eight years? Wow. Guess you know everything about each other.” “I know everything I need to know,” I said, suddenly wondering if Jake had a ring somewhere in his suitcase. The thought made my cheeks feel hot and I wasn’t sure if I would be thrilled or terrified if he did propose to me.

“Station, huh? Police, fire?” “Police. I’m a homicide detective and Bailey was an evidence tech.” “Was being the important word,” I said, still puzzled that at twenty I’d been dumb enough to think I could swab the inside of prisoners’ mouths and bloody crime scenes and be chill about it. “I only lasted a year at that job.” “Life’s funny that way,” Mark said. “Sometimes you think you’ll love something, or someone, and you realize you don’t. But you’re smart. You got out. You know how many people just ride it out for thirty years?” “I’m sure a lot.” Then because I wasn’t sure why we were having an existential conversation on a sunny afternoon when I was on vacation, on Vera’s dime, no less, I wandered back up on the deck.

“What time is the sunset cruise?” “We’ll leave the dock at seven. Go out for two hours, then I’ll leave you two to do your thing.” Mark winked. I fought the urge to frown and reprimand him. That’s just not cute. Don’t make sexual innuendos with a total stranger. I didn’t want to think about Mark thinking about us on this boat alone. Especially now that I was fairly certain he was a serial killer. “Sounds good,” Jake said. “I’m off, then.

Let me know if you need anything. Enjoy your afternoon.” He jumped up onto the dock. I sat down on a bench and watched him walk away, waiting until I was convinced he was out of earshot. “Could he be any creepier?” I asked Jake. “I think he could be a lot creepier. Remember Nick Petrillo? The guy who drugged you? That was a creepy asshole.” Jake sat down next to me and stretched out. He closed his eyes and tipped his head to the sun. “Okay, agreed.

Nick was creepy because he came off as normal and wasn’t. But this Mark guy was a clown. That’s a red flag if I ever saw one. And he made a couple of weird sexual comments.” I jumped on the bench. “What if he has a camera in the bedroom?” Jake’s eyes popped back open. “What? How do you think of these things?” “He said he’d leave us to do our thing and he winked! What if he rents this boat out and then watches people? Gross.” Marner sighed. Heavily. “I’m going to have to do a sweep for surveillance cameras, aren’t I?” “I think that’s pretty obvious, don’t you? Unless you want to sleep fully clothed two feet away from me.

” Jake stood up instantly. “I’ll go check.” I followed him, just to make sure he was really checking and not just indulging me. I crowded behind him in the small berth. Jake turned and ended up elbowing me in the chin. “Shit, sorry! I didn’t know you were right behind me.” “See how easy it is to sneak up on someone. What if Mark comes on board and watches people sleep? Or he kills his guests?” My heart was starting to race. Jake rubbed his brow. “This sailboat was a mistake, wasn’t it? You’re spinning.

” Yes. But I couldn’t admit that. “No. We just need to be careful.” I felt instantly bad that I was jacking up his romantic adventure. “If you think we’re fine, I trust you. You know that.” I did trust him. I’m just always paranoid. He dropped his hand and just stood there for a second, like he was debating with himself what to say.

But then he just ran his hands around the perimeter of the wall at the ceiling. He bent down and did the same at the floorboards. He checked the mattress, lifted the bedding and the pillows. “There’s nothing here. The good news is, it’s very small, so I’m very confident in saying that.” I bit my lip so I didn’t say, “are you sure?” because that would be annoying and I knew it. What I did say was, “Can you check the bathroom too?” “Of course.” He thought I was bananas, that was clear, but he did it. Or maybe he didn’t think I was totally nuts because he not only did the bathroom, he went on to give the whole main cabin a sweep. “All clear.

” I sighed in relief and tried to relax. “I’m going to change. My feet need fresh air.” “I feel the same way. Should we change and go get something to eat?” I’m always up for eating. “Sounds perfect.” I went back into the tiny bedroom and realized the suitcase I wanted to open was at the bottom of the stack. I shifted the top one off and onto the floor, then slid the second one over. Which left me nowhere to stand except the entryway. I was leaning over the two suitcases and struggling to unzip the third, now free but along the far wall.

We’ve established I’m not athletic. My arms have the muscle tone of overcooked pasta. I was trying to yank the zipper, huffing and puffing, and not much was happening. Jake came up behind me. “Do you need help?” “Yes.” I grabbed the blanket on the bed and hurled myself at the mattress. I crawled up so my legs were out of the way. “Can you unzip the purple bag? And pull out my floral maxi dress?” Jake bent over and unzipped the suitcase easily. “I don’t know what a maxi dress is, Bailey. Give me a clue.” “It has banana leaves on it.” “Does that mean it’s yellow or green?” “Green.” He yanked it up out of my bag and handed it to me. “Sandals?” “This bag.” I tapped the suitcase I had moved on top of the other. “Nude leather.” He managed to find those and dropped them into the hallway. He pulled a T-shirt and shorts out of his own bag and we both ended up on the bed on our backs trying to get out of and in our clothes. I started giggling. “This is a pain in the ass,” he said, spitting my hair out of his mouth. In my roll, I’d slapped a handful of curls onto his mouth inadvertently. “We’re never moving onto a house boat,” he said. “That was never in the plans.” The skirt was twisted but I was finally in my dress. I rolled onto my side and smiled at him. We were mere inches apart. “You were right though. This is romantic. I like being cozy with you.” He leaned in and kissed me. I enjoyed it for a second before I realized his master plan. “Nope.” I pulled back. “I’m starving. All I’ve eaten today was crackers.” “And chardonnay.” “Exactly.” I rolled onto my back, intending to sit up. But, before I could, I heard a creak to the left. I froze. “Did you hear that? It sounded like someone is up on deck.” “I didn’t hear anything.” It was footsteps. I would swear to it. I scrambled off the bed and dashed up the few steps to the exterior. I almost fell, given how twisted my dress was from trying to drag it on while lying down. My eyes, used to the dismal gray of winter, were as useful as a mole’s. I instantly went blind, throwing my hand up as a shield. After my pupils adjusted, I scanned the deck. Nothing. But how hard would it be to jump off a boat when someone heard me running up the stairs? “What are you doing?” Jake asked. “Checking for intruders. What do we do if Mark is a killer?” Jake put his hand on his hip. “You do nothing. You let me handle it. You know, the man who is a foot taller than you, and is trained to take down criminals.” “But you don’t have your gun with you.” “Now you’re just insulting me. I don’t need a gun to get the better of a sixty-five-yearold man who weighs a buck fifty. I’m twenty-nine and I work out six days a week.” I winced. “I didn’t mean that. I know you’re very tough.” “Not tough enough, apparently. I’m going to have to grow my chest hair and do a shot of Jack Daniel’s to prove myself.” Fragile ego alert. “That’s totally not necessary. I’m not a fan of chest hair.” “Too late. You’re getting it.” He better be joking. He had dark hair. He’d resemble a standard poodle if he did that. “I’ll get my sandals and my purse. How do we lock this thing up?” I almost fell back down the stairs, tripping on the hem of my maxi dress. Jake started laughing. “I should have listened to my mother. She told me a sailboat stay was a mistake. She said you’re not the adventurous type.” That was insulting. Now I understood how he felt. “I can be adventurous.” I wore white after Labor Day, didn’t I? “I’ve been kidnapped and locked in a storage unit.” “That’s not adventurous as much as it’s a curse.” I slipped my sandals on and grabbed my purse, now feeling as offended as he had. We needed to reboot this trip because so far things were not exactly what I would call relaxed and/or romantic. OLD TOWN KEY WEST was exactly as I imagined and hoped. It was charming, colorful, warm. The architecture gave that Caribbean vibe that was different from home. Chickens ran wild like college girls on spring break around the streets alongside tourists. People were relaxed and having fun. Music spilled out of bars and cheap T-shirts were available on every corner. The sun was beating down on me and I was forced (oops, what a shame) to buy a straw hat to protect my fair Irish skin. Nothing would piss me off more than dying of skin cancer, so I take sun protection very seriously. We ate lunch on an outdoor patio even though it was actually almost unbearably hot. I didn’t care. This was my only opportunity to enjoy heat until probably mid-June. I tried conch fritters and was surprised how much I enjoyed them. Jake destroyed a burger and a beer. “I hope with every cell in my body it’s snowing at home,” I said, adjusting my floppy hat and sunglasses and watched people strolling down the sidewalk. There was a fudge shop across the street that I knew I would have to check out. “I’m not going to check though because if it’s not crappy at home I’m going to be devastated.” “You’d better be taking pictures and posting them. Let’s rub it in everyone’s face.” Jake didn’t do social media. It was something he couldn’t be bothered with and he didn’t think it was particularly safe with his job. He did have Snapchat because he liked to be able to control who he sent what, though he seemed to use it more for evil than good. He liked to send me weird things like him singing Elvis in an alien voice with alien eyes. “I haven’t taken one picture. I’m slacking.” I pulled my phone out and took a couple of street shots and one of Jake. That’s when I noticed the man who I could see in real life but not on my screen. He was sitting on a fence post, swinging his bare legs. He looked like he was older, clearly bald, and physique that of a man who’d enjoyed a lot of pasta dinners. He wore shorts and a white T-shirt with writing, though I couldn’t tell what it said. Damn it. “Dead guy, nine o’clock,” I told Jake. “I think we should get our check.” He swore. “Are you serious?” “Dead serious.” Then we both laughed, because we’re horrible people.


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