Per the usual setup, the Gray Family sits in the living room in order to listen to the songs playing from the basement the ghost has chosen. We get his snippets of DJing in echoes around the bottom floor of the house, forever covered in dust.
There are some wiggling feet and the clink of the glass Coke bottles Clyde keeps passing around. The ghost usually reads us our business as cleanly and effectively as a crystal ball.
“Why is he apologizing to you?” Nick asks, and Adam supplies the answer.
“He stopped because Evelyn was bored during the last, uh, show.”
Dean snaps his fingers during his song, and smiles although his eyes look thoughtful. He tells Joshua that he’s been trying to find something like this for the mix he’s making with Rosie.
Jack looks self-conscious during her song, and looks from person to person to see how we’re all reacting. Mostly, the heads of the Gray Family all bob without reading much into the sexual subtext of the song, and Rosie mouths some of the words across the giant sunken sofa to Grady, who mouths them back.
At Severed, Brad groans.
“He likes this one, this isn’t the first time he’s played it,” he comments. He’s sitting next to Evelyn, who is biting her nails.
“I love this song,” Rosie and Adam say together, and most of the family agree.
“It’s really sexy.”
“It means something important, I’m just not sure what.”
Dean rises, unable to sit, and looks out the back windows over the pond in the backyard. He moves his hips gently, like he’s just thinking about dancing and not really invested in doing it right now, but Matthew’s eyes stay glued to his movements where he’s slumped in a corner seat with his legs out, and shirtless.
The music goes quiet and after a few beats, the song from Lost Boys starts, and Joshua raises his hand like he’s in school.
“I think this is about me, or anyway, about Coney Island,” he says, his face sheepish.
“Put your hand down, pet,” Nick scolds him. “We aren’t in school, for fuck’s sake.”
“I don’t know,” Grady considers, leaning forward next to Clyde and lighting one of his cigarillos. “I pretty much feel like Ossito took my ass to school.”
The room chuckles, but it’s an uncomfortable chuckle, because of all the things the Fun of Coney Island drove us all to do.
We’re quiet for the rest of the song, John rolling his Coke bottle in between his palms. It’s the kind of song no one wants to admit is emotionally impactful, because it’s basically cheesy, but no one knows what we know about Coney Island, and so we sit in silence and ignore that our lives are being ruined. It’s just the kind of song the hauntings are famous for.
Matthew’s tattoos mark up his bare skin so he looks like an afghan in the shadows, sitting just removed from Grady and Clyde. Rosie lays her head down in Joshua’s lap when the next song starts, and Adam and Grady tease the ghost about his song choice.
“Hey, cabron, isn’t this your jam?” Grady asks Adam, and he clears his throat and laughs. Because it’s Sunday, Adam’s left the suits in his closet and has spent the day in jeans fixing bikes with Grady in the garage.
“I think if it was, no one would know,” he teases, which for Adam is what passes for a joke.
Evelyn sits between Brad and John, and Dean settles on the floor in front of Adam and Nick, and Nick absently pets his hair.
Tunnel of Love brings averted glances. The couples that floated through that particular dark ride of Coney Island were abnormal at best and aberrant at worst. Evelyn squeezes Brad’s hand in his lap. Clyde smirks at Rosie, and she rolls her eyes. Adam takes Nick’s cigarette out of his mouth and begins to smoke it so Nick has to light another, and Nick stares at him with murder in his eyes as he does.
“This is about home,” Evelyn says when Cello Song begins. The ghost confirms it, his sly lilt wafting through the living room.
“Pritty,” Clyde mutters from behind his knees. “John.”
He’s folded himself at the sound of the cello into a stone, and Rosie is now looking at him with a squint of knowing.
“I was going to say more like you, old friend,” John counters, and Clyde’s eye slips a tear.
“Nuh,” Clyde argues, and Rosie holds out her arms for him to cross the room and lay around her waist, already laying across Joshua’s lap. They pile onto him, and he stays as still as he can.
“Nick put this on my mix,” Jack tells the room, although there isn’t a person in the house who doesn’t know it and wasn’t struck by it’s sending.
“I did, that, love,” he agrees. “Sort of our mantra, innit?”
“He’s talking about you coming home,” Grady tells her, and she folds her hands in her lap like she is remembering to not be dangerous. “You’ve done just that, hundred times or more now. Do you remember the storm that brought you, mija?”
“Yes,” she says to her hands, and we all look at her until we realize she isn’t going to say any more.
Evelyn sings along to Get Out, and in parts, Brad picks up the harmony, their voices the same passably juvenile quality of the singer. On the tail of Jack’s coming home song, it’s too clear of a reference to the house’s collective reaction, but it’s the kind of thing that would hang in the air, unexplained.
Every member of the family has their own interpretations of the song, but no one comments on it, for fear of being misconstrued or misunderstood.
The Suburbs brings another round of Cokes, and the gaseous pop of the lids.
“I think he’s calling us whores,” Brad says, his defensiveness fake, and Evelyn laughs.
“Nobody’s getting any while we aren’t creeping around, I guess.”
“I gotta lotta slack to pick up,” Clyde jokes from Rosie’s thighs, and Matthew stifles a giggle.
“You wanna get on that already?” Adam asks, throwing his Coke lid at Clyde, who catches it in mid-air.
Dean asks Jack to help him switch off lamps and light candles, so the light slips from the room as the song for Matthew begins.
“Super,” is his response, and he tents his elegant fingers over his stomach. Rosie and Evelyn begin to do synchronized ballet with their arms on opposing sides of the square couch to the beat of the song with serious faces. The rest of the family watches them and wonders what it is they might be communicating.
Brokenhearted brings a chorus of male voices in four-part harmony perfected only through idle and drunken practice. Adam, Clyde, Brad, Grady, Nick and Joshua carry the entire song, stomping their feet and clapping along to the sound of the music and inventing new parts for one another. John’s voice sings along quiet in Evelyn’s ear. Matthew either pretends, or actually does, put his cigarette out on his arm. Jack watches the show, delighted.
Dean asks Jack to dance through the next song, and he leads her in a gentle swing, keeping his face in a stoic frown as he concentrates on what he can learn about her by dancing with her.
“I never feel cool,” John murmurs, and smiles softly, watching them.
“I ALWAYS feel cool,” Matthew scowls. “But that is because I am so cool.”
Provider is a song which leads Evelyn to cry and Brad speak into her other ear, his expression dark. She nods often.
Dean settles back at Nick’s feet, and Jack sits back beside him.
“We should make s’mores,” Dean suggests, and Clyde winks at him, which is message enough to get marshmallows and chocolate from the pantry. He trots off to the kitchen, and the room’s light changes while he switches the lights on and off.
“Wait,” Joshua protests. “Can we make s’mores during rap songs? Is that allowed?”
He looks around and when no one answers, he answers himself.
“Wait, what am I thinking, s’mores are thug life.”
“Duh,” Rosie agrees.
Dean brings back skewers and marshmallows, and moves candles around closer to us. An argument ensues about scented candles changing the flavor, and if it’s alright to use prayer candles or if that’s sacrilege.
Brad lights his marshmallow with his lighter until it crisps and he informs us that this is his current favorite song.
He asks Evelyn to dance with him, and she looks cornered and skeptical.
“Alright,” she agrees, and he wipes his black marshmallow onto John’s graham cracker and they sway in front of the windows like Dean and Jack did before. They press close as if they’re at prom and close both their eyes.
When the ghost begins Mr. Postman, Jack sighs, and falls over to press her face into a pillow.
“I hate that feeling,” Adam admits. “Unfortunately, I’ve become addicted to it.”
“Did you text me?” Jack asks Nick, and he nods once.
“Course I have done, twit, it were days ago.”
“Oh, god,” she exclaims.
“ONE day ago,” Matthew corrects him. “He is exaggerating.”
When Krimson begins, Brad knows it’s from Rosie, because it’s their song. He crosses the space between them, to kiss her where she’s laying between the weights of Joshua and Clyde.
“I love you too, Rose,” he tells her, and she twists her fingers into his hair. He sits back down next to Evelyn.
“I hate when he does this,” she whispers, as Krimson fades into another song of the ghost’s jealousy of her affairs. “It’s like I honestly can’t just enjoy a moment.”
The living room is filled with the sounds of grahams cracking and marshmallows lighting on fire. Jack tells Matthew she’s sent him a letter, which he doesn’t remark on until Grady elbows him in the side, gently.
“Thank you,” he says, grudgingly.
“Clyde, you’re getting crumbs on me,” Rosie complains, and Beware makes her stop dead what she was saying.
“Fuck,” is how she finishes her thought, and Clyde snakes his heavy arms tighter around her, pressing his face into the satin of her slip.
“That feels good,” she croons to him.
“They’re gonna fuck,” Evelyn says to the room in general, and Joshua sips his Coke carefully, like if he keeps still enough, they’ll do it right there on his lap.
“I don’t think I realized how sexy this song was before,” Grady admits, his eyes on them. “God damn, caballero, let her breathe.”
Bombs Away has already sent shockwaves through the house when it debuted in Gray House, each member feeling distinctly threatened by it’s message and how it related to the atomic fallout Brad and Evelyn are creating.
“This makes me feel attacked,” Evelyn says into the quiet room, and Brad lets out a slow breath.
“Yeah,” he agrees. “Except I feel attacked by you.”
“This is our song,” Evelyn tells Jack when Oh Comely begins. “Me and Brad.”
The ghost echoes her a second later.
“It happened almost on accident,” she says. “Like maybe you and Nick’s song will be Be Brave.”
Clyde blows out the prayer candles closest to him and Rosie so their corner dims, and the whole room can hear the sound of the zipper on his jeans moving.
“Do you think they’re in love?” Rosie’s voice whispers to him, and Clyde grunts an assent.
“Are they talking about us?” Jack asks Nick, and he nods.
“They might be. Could mean anyone, yeah?”
Matthew rises to open the windows and let in the slightly cooler night air and bring the heat down caused by the three dozen candles.
Grady balks at When You Die.
“Ah, si, has to give us a warning. Now he’ll end this thing three times over like a bad movie.”
“I wouldn’t if I were you, Gray,” Adam warns him. “You’ll be on the spit next week.”
“Bring it on, fantasma!” he yells across the living room.
Most the family settle their eyes on Jack during the next song, especially Brad, and don’t move until the song is over. She pretends to not notice at first, and then pretends to not care, before settling on looking at each one of us, excluding Rosie and Clyde, before moving on to the next.
She clears her throat and when the song ends, and the ghosts message makes anything we wanted to say moot anyway.
“I always thought this song should be in Rocky Horror,” Brad says, and Dean agrees. The emotions that ran high and tense at the beginning of the broadcast are now settling, the rest of us having survived and feeling comforted strangely by Rosie and Clyde fucking on the couch nearby. If we were all alive and basically unscathed and Rosie and Clyde were together, then hey, some things really don’t ever change.
“What does he mean, help?” Jack asks Adam, and Adam doesn’t answer her. She tries again, with Nick, who doesn’t reply, and in fact seems to have not heard her.
“This must be what it feels to be a ghost,” John supposes, the one of us closest to having accomplished that.
“It’s sad. And scary,” Evelyn sighs.
“I have been a ghost,” Matthew spits at the room. “I can assure you, it does NOT feel like this. It feels more as like gnawing your own limbs off to survive.”
“Uh. Okay,” Dean raises his eyebrows.
The family disperses during the last song, going back to their rooms on the clock face, Nick and Dean up far past their bedtime, and Rosie and Clyde twining quiet and hot on the couch.