REAL-TIME VIDEO OF DEAD PEOPLE YOU WANT TO HAVE COFFEE WITH: A NOVELLA
(SERIALIZED AND BROKEN UP INTO SECTIONS FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE, AS DENOTED BELOW)
Prologues and Stars:  
Ghostboy Dies in Tragic Mishap:   
Interzone:   
TO BE CONTINUED IN DIAGRAM 5.1
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Ghostboy Dies in Tragic Mishap
Our thirty-six hours over, we are able to relax.
When we stopped at midnight, I went straight to bed. Alone with myself, I didn't sleep much. The bed provided a much more pleasant insomnia than I had enjoyed in the pantry.
The three of us are in the front yard now, enjoying the wind.
Until we can close a deal on new property, we will stay in the Stafford house.
While I chased myself around the wide savanna of my bed, Wellbutrin finished his write-up. He seems lighter for it, with more color in his face. He has his stunt kite out in the yard. The kite has two strings. Wellbutrin is steering, leading it toward the ground, pulling it back into the sky. His face is soft but thoughtful, as he makes decisions based on string tension and reflex. He swings the kite in a broad circle.
"If only Yeats' falcon was this responsive," he says. "Widening gyre my ass."
Occasionally, against better judgment, he gives the reigns to me.
If I'm not doing anything active, you could watch me for days and think my hands were whole. Flying the kite, it becomes obvious that I have no fingers. Though my thumbs are strong, and I'm concentrating, I soon lose one or both of the strings and we have to chase the kite, as it bounces to the highway.
An hour or so later, they will let me try again.
These afternoons after a broadcast are not about good choices. It is better to chase the kite. Even Tito — who normally claims that exercise is a capitalistic vulture feeding on our self-disgust — runs as fast as he can.
We break sweats and turn ankles on the loose gravel.
About three in the afternoon, I fall. Something in my elbow gives. The joint gets puffy and stiff. Twenty minutes later, the boys trip over each other and end up pulling rocks out of their bloody shins with tweezers. Soon we are running again.
Tonight we will need ice for the swelling. For now we can't stop.
The burn in my calves is somehow more than information.
Even when we aren't broadcasting from the houses of dead people, Tito does his best to make the web site interesting. Every morning he takes his coffee by himself and has a few hours alone with the tech. By lunch, he lets Wellbutrin and I join him for a virtual demonstration of his improvements and modifications.
Today, the third after the Stafford transmission, Wellbutrin has prepared lamb kabobs, and Tito has a present for me. He has finally finished the Ghostboy archives. While we eat, he shows off how convenient the text is, how easy it is to see the new and tragic footage.
No one says anything — I can hear them chewing, waiting for my reaction. I haven't seen it since just after the accident happened. For that matter, I haven't seen a picture of Ghostboy in almost two years. Still, the face is just as I remember it, wide-eyed and androgynous, a younger version of my own.
And now, thanks to Tito, if you come to the web-site, you can see the famous final minutes, the explosion that history knows as the end of Ghostboy's life.
When we finish with the footage, Wellbutrin drapes a lazy leg over Tito's knee. This sort of thing has been happening more and more, usually for twenty minutes at a time. It is a strange symbiosis. It's beautiful and awkward, a mutual concession. Wellbutrin is gracious and easy but not trusting. And Tito is not a man of small interludes. But they sit like this, Wellbutrin's foot dangling against gravity, his body vulnerable and no longer solitary while Tito's knee must resist the shaking pace at which his body normally runs.
Tito cues up my accident again. He starts it from the top, lets his hand fall on Wellbutrin's arm. I know they are romantic, or at least pathologically close, but I will not ask for clarification.
I've always thought they were together, even before they started touching like this. There is ample grace and antagonism between them; both qualities spill out in unforced ways. With me, they never say much, never open wounds that they do not mean to. Even Tito has boundaries with me.
I watch them touching.
On the screen an old incarnation of myself dies.
After lunch, we move to the sun porch.
Tito made lemonade and spiked it. He has a cigar because he's been meaning to smoke them forever. Wellbutrin doesn't want the smoke in his face, says it will make him want a cigarette, so I sit between them.
"Boyfriend," says Tito.
I am not sure if I feel up to it, after seeing the last footage of Ghostboy, but I nod.
"Have I told you about Victor?"
"No," they say.
I nod again.
They are both looking at me, from either side.
"I was fifteen. He was twenty-three, a sous chef on set for Stranger Death."
"Sous-per," says Tito.
"He used to slip notes in my meals. AM HOT, ARE YOU? SAUCE BOY SEEKS SAUCY GIRL. That sort of thing."
"And you fell in love and had kids."
"We slept together twice, before he was fired."
They smile a little.
I never give them more than a few sentences. I like to watch Tito and Wellbutrin imagining the man, wondering if he had an earring, a little tummy, a pet snake.
Though Victor was very real — it was actually several months before he was let go — many of the boyfriends I give them are complete fictions.
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