I clicked through Lem's business e-mail. Nothing but complaints. “Your love spell was crap! I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life” — that sort of thing.
It wasn't my fault. I tried to keep up the Internet business but the fact that none of my spells ever worked drove away all the customers in a matter of months. A black list is really easy to apply in such a niche market. Even the placebo effect won't get you far when your customers realize you've been cutting and pasting together incantations from the Sent file. There hadn’t been any money coming in for about three months.
I clicked over to the online checking account and entered the password, Hooters4. The household account was in the negative numbers because of overdraft fees and I drained the savings weeks ago.
There was about $200 in the freezer and I’m pretty sure Lem had a couple of dollars on him when he died. I gave him the change from the last video store run just before I said good night to him for the last time. I had, maybe, $220 on hand, plus whatever I could get out of the spare-change jar in the kitchen. Call it $400. There is no way I could make up the missed rent payments with that; most of my freelance work was of the pro bono variety. We’d lived in the apartment for nearly 80 years under various identities but the building had been purchased by one of those soulless real-estate conglomerates last year. You will get no mercy from a business who sees you as a low-yielding cash cow and a possible barrier to progress. There was no way around it, we’d have to go.
I had a few friends on the outside, but few of them knew much, if anything, about the real me. None of them was going to offer me a couch and storage space for a dead body, and I couldn’t afford to let Lem go. It’s completely possible I was being maintained by whatever magic remains in Lem’s corpse, and if that was true, it was in my best interest to keep it handy and intact. I needed a cheap, corpse-friendly place to move into, fast.
Out of ideas, I decided to have lunch with John.
John Bell was a former Harvard philosophy professor turned Cambridge bum. He knew a few of my faces and the fact that he had a tendency to see things and talk to inanimate objects didn’t bother me any more than it bothered him. He knew the city and, when he had his head together, he offered good advice. Besides, he was a cheap date.