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)
THIS IS PART THREE.
PART ONE APPEARED IN DIAGRAM 4.6; PART TWO APPEARED IN DIAGRAM 5.1.
The Dead:   
Only a few hours after waking up, Tito closes the deal on an unusual three-bedroom house in Emporia, Kansas. He gets up from the box and nods at us. Without his usual pep talk, or even so much as a word, he begins to pack.
I'm not sure exactly how we agreed to buy the place. It happened quickly. I was surprised, at first, when Wellbutrin said that if were willing to alter the house, we might as well alter the history.
Tito liked the idea. He seems to think he can start his revolution by convincing the public that it has been happening for years.
I'm not sure why I agreed.
Nonetheless, in less than an hour we bought the home of Sarah Pratt-Tipkins. We had no trouble finding the place because she's never owned it. As far as I know, the Sarah Pratt-Tipkins we're interested in — a staunch Marxist who wrote seven books of poems and starred in a half-dozen monster movies — never lived anywhere.
In the van again, we are driving north on the Kansas turnpike. The man who gave us the toll ticket when we got on a few miles ago was the first stranger we had talked to, in person, for several days.
Tito is driving with his new — or former, I'm still not sure — capacity for concentration. One finger is tapping a rhythm against the steering wheel.
In the distance, on top of the largest hill in sight, is a cross made of dark, thick wood. I seem to remember my mother telling me, on our way to California, that the cross is older than the highway, that it doesn't mark anything, that it was just a landmark for driving cattle.
"See that," I say, pointing.
"Sure," Tito says.
"Got it," Wellbutrin says from behind us, his voice slow.
"Years ago," I say, "before this was paved, there a was town up there. Lincoln, Kansas. Not a big town, a thousand people or so." I pause for questions but no one says anything.
Wellbutrin is looking at the cross.
Tito keeps us perfectly steady.
"Anyway, the place was hit by a tornado. Something like half the people died. It's just a cemetery now, with a cross, so you can see it from the highway."
"A whole town," Wellbutrin says.
"Half of it," I say.
Tito looks at me briefly.
"All at the same time," Wellbutrin says.
"Five hundred people dying at once," I say. "Together."
"Terrible," Wellbutrin says.
They are imagining it.
I imagine it too.
The Pratt-Tipkins house is my favorite so far.
Before Tito bought it, it had only been on the market a few weeks. The man who lived here has done some remodeling, taken good care of the place. It is smaller than our other houses, two rooms on the main floor, another in the basement. Still there is an elegant fireplace, more than enough closets, and an efficient floor plan. The dining room has a twelve-foot ceiling that creates an unexpected largeness.
The living room has a multi-paned west window so that, during the first evening of our broadcast, light splays across the hard wood floor in five, soft fingers.
Off of the kitchen is a bay window. We removed wallpaper, and re-painted, to distinguish the nook from the rest of the room. Though, of course, a table is long gone, looking at the kitchen as the sun comes up, you can imagine Sarah Pratt-Tipkins separating a grapefruit, listening to the birds outside, memorizing lines, re-working a poem about workers at the Hutchinson battery plant.
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