The smell of burning cassette tape fills the basement, and reflects everyone’s mood. The stress of those of Gray House is evident in how they isolate from one another. No languishing on lovers tonight. People sit stiff across the basement, as if waiting for a test to begin at school. Whether the ghost would try to seduce us to relaxation or wind us all tight enough to break is anyone’s guess.
The radio crackles, loses the station, and Clyde hits the side of the radio with one of his heavy hands, and Adam tsks in his throat.
The Feelies raise Brad’s anxiety and he pulls his knife from his pocket since he can’t smoke anymore, at least in front of Rosie. Adam bites the nail of his thumb. Rosie clutches her necklace. Evelyn twists her fingers into knots. Clyde throws Skittles up into the air, to catch them in his mouth.
The ghost takes Jack to task for her self-improvement with Peter Gabriel, and her face remains expressionless as he warbles at her through static. Evelyn snorts.
“Which shows exactly how much he knows about being home,” she scoffs, and Jack gives her a small smile.
But he doubles down on Complicated Game, and the hiccupping repetition of the song smacks of the false starts and sputtering hopes of Jack’s last week, and nobody looks at each other. The family stays introspective until the vocals become obscene during the fade-out and then Nick breaks the quiet by popping a beer can open.
“Nuff of that, I think,” he mutters and the next song’s acoustic guitar rings like a salve over raw nerves. Clyde throws the red Skittles into Brad’s mouth from across the room. It seems to be always their interactions which have exacerbated or smoothed out the tension in a room. Clyde sinks his teeth deep into the neck of the room’s loosest cannon, and Brad grins and pats his chest, and Clyde throws him a red Skittle.
Suddenly everything feels different, and no so bad if Brad is tackling Clyde to tickle his last bits of candy from him. Grady passes a candle to Adam, to light their cigarettes. Gemini begins like defiance, and we all settle into ourselves like we’ve abdicated our high school finals for this burrow.
Evelyn leans over onto John’s lap, who pets her hair while Jack does the same against Matthew. He tickles her ear with a thread from his sweatshirt until she bats his hand away. Rosie presses her knees to Grady’s knees, and he blows bubbles filled with smoke from a bottle of solution she brought with her.
Brad pins Clyde because he lets himself get pinned, and kisses the last yellow Skittle from his mouth.
Jack giggles all the way through Back In Flesh and Joshua throws her knowing glances.
“So he’s the OPERATOR,” Joshua nudges Jack, and she giggles harder.
Dean dances around Brad and Clyde disentangling on the floor during Only A Shadow and we all watch him, his face serious and set into a look of concentration. Rosie pops some of the bubbles Grady has blown. The room turns dreamlike, and the lamps all dim like there is a brown-out.
Grady snorts at the ghosts advice for River of Darkness, and taps his foot along with the beat of the song, under his thighs. When Jack starts to protest, he holds his hand up to say, “not now.”
Adam rises to make Jiffypop on the small basement stove.
As Nonesuch plays, Adam transforms at the stove to the long-haired brunette woman he is sometimes, her babydoll tank top clinging to her starved ribs. As he brings his popcorn back to the room, Nick looks tortured.
“Please, my darling, don’t be that way,” he whispers as Adam passes and sits again next to Grady.
The Smashing Pumpkins begins, and Matthew informs Jack, “This is for me and it is from you.”
“Yes,” she agrees.
“It is about your tattoo,” he tells her.
“Yes,” she agrees.
Brad is across the room from Evelyn, but he fixes her with a stare during Orestes that they don’t break for the length of the song. Whatever they are saying, the room knows they are saying it inside.
Most of the family is quiet through the ghost’s next 2 exuberances, the tension now turned to a kind of stupor. The ghost becomes the one guy at the party who keeps the music going long after everyone has sat down, passed out, or gone home. Joshua slaps away a mosquito. John curls into the big bed of the basement, and Evelyn, Brad, and Clyde all join him.
My Propeller shifts most eyes to them, wondering if Jack’s request will have any affect on them. Adam is rapidly a boy again, clicking sharp his lighter shut as he watches, standing nearby in the shadows.
The eruption comes from the other side of the room, when Matthew throws a small firecracker across the room and startles us all awake. Grady swears at him in Spanish, Rosie looking around, her eyes wide.
It takes the next song to settle the room down again, but the frantic beat of the Soft Boys ruffles feathers again. The on/off pace of the show starts to wear on Joshua, who slumps on the couch. The rest of the family begins to behave like dogs, raw from the long night. The strings screech to a painful decibel and Grady winces.
Gush Forth My Tears is a false promise, and no one lets it touch them. Grady keeps his arms wrapped tight around his chest.
2BU is where emotionally most of the room stayed, and John begins to cry into the pillows on the bed. It takes most of the song again to assuage him back to a small sniffling. Haunted is another reprise, but the trust being gone, only Clyde seems fine.
When Grady catches Matthew with another firecracker, he disarms him before it’s lit, and shakes his head. Matthew scowls.
Carolina brings peace to the members in the bed, the triplets rooting under one another’s limbs to find a warm place. Rosie moves to Joshua on the couch and snuggles against his shoulder.
Adam forgives Nick whatever slight was between them, and Nick sits by his legs, where he is standing by the bed.
Placebo is angsty, but well-worn enough to be like putting on an old shoe. Matthew’s face settles into something like pride while he listens, like he’s won an award finally that he’d been passed over for many times.
“If he knew anything about me, he’d know that I’m not-” Rosie begins in a low voice to Joshua, discussing the ghost, before the song ends, and Don’t Call begins, and she falls into angry silence.
Messidor leaves the family in total silence, because it’s a mystery they all know well, to which the ghost is referring. John has fallen asleep, and Evelyn and Brad kiss in the bed. When the ghost plays John’s dedication, Grady watches his sleeping face with an expression of peace, his own eyes drooping dark.
“This is the weirdest Nowhere,” Joshua mutters to Rosie, who plays with Joshua’s mane of hair.
“I like it.”
“NOW a warning?” Adam asks the air, incredulous.