The black mist surrounding Jimmy and the spirit dispersed, but although they were no longer in the black abyss, the air around them felt as cold and as desolate as ever.
Three men stood around a table bearing a large bottle of whiskey, shares of which each of the men held in small glasses. It was a bleak, gloomy looking room, but the men were all laughing and drinking in some sort of grim celebration.
"It's a damn shame. Great loss to the music world. Great loss." A mam sighed, taking a swig of whiskey.
"Well yes and no. I'd say the ol' bugger was at the end of his rope anyhow. I don't believe we could have squeezed any new material out of him if we tried. He did that ONE reunion, and then what? A big goose egg. So much for re-inventing the wheel, eh?"
"Who do you suppose he's left the rights to his music to?" another man inquired. "His bandmates, perhaps? I don't believe he had any spouse I could name... his personal life was about as successful as his solo albums."
"Well he certainly hasn't left them to ME, that's all I know." the third gentleman said, laughing.
"Will you be attending the service? It's supposed to be big. They'll be running a week-long marathon of his videos and such on VH1... I reckon there'll be a movie or something down the road... though it wouldn't surprise me if we needed to wait for the rest o' them to die off first before we can milk THAT cow."
"Ah well... if we learned ANYTHING from that Michael Jackson chap, it's that old rockers like him are worth more DEAD."
The three gentlemen clinked their glasses together and finished off the last of their whiskey. Jimmy stared, open-mouthed and appalled.
"They speak of this poor man as though he were some kind of circus sideshow... disgraceful. Have they no respect?"he spat.
The spirit did not answer. It waved it's hand and another cloud of black mist surrounded them, and a new scene came into view. An old pawn shop of some kind, a woman carrying what appeared to be instrument cases of some kind, and a couple of sketchy looking people, a man and a woman, standing at the desk.
"Back again?" The man chuckled.
"I told you, there was more where THAT came from. I have two more boxes in the car out back." The first woman said, out of breath. "Hopefully the 10 years of working for that miserable old miser will have paid off. I never DID like that spooky old house he shut himself in. It just REEKED of bad mojo."
"Well, Sylvia, let me see some of that bad mojo, and I'll TELL ya if it's been worth all the trouble."
Sylvia gingerly put one of the cases down on the counter and opened it, revealing a beautiful, shining Gibson Les Paul. The second woman eyed the guitar greedily. "Christ... what I wouldn't have given to be in your shoes, Sylvia. I've been in love with the man since I first saw him in Liverpool... what a babe." she sighed.
"Never meet your heroes, Anna." Sylvia growled. "You wouldn't be so fond of him if you worked for him. Friendly, perhaps. For a while. But always off in his own little world concerned only with the business of the day. He never left the house, always working on rubbish for this or that... fuck lot of good it did him. Deserted by his bandmates like that. After the reunion, that was it, they took off like he had the plague. Never preformed again. Fell ill like the miserable old man he was and died cold, alone, and without a soul in the world that meant anything to him standing by."
"He had people all around the world that loved him." Anna protested.
"They loved his act is what they loved. His music, his presence, and the shadows of years gone by. That rockstar people see on the screen when they watch old concert videos has been dead for YEARS."
"Alright alright, ladies. I don't care. I really don't. I never liked his music anyway. I'm just a simple bloke trying to earn his bread like everyone else. Now what did ya bring me here, Sylvia?"
"A 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard... the same one he used at Earl's Court I reckon."
"Jesus..." the man gasped, gently rubbing the old instrument. "Won't they notice it's gone?"
"Awh Christ, he had so many up in that blasted storeroom of his, no one will ever know the difference."
"I can fetch a good price for you, Sylvia. You can be assured of that. I'll need to inspect it later, though... you know... to make sure you're not bullshitting me here. What else do ya got?"
Sylvia reached into a box she was carrying and pulled out a long, velvety fabric.
"What do you call these?" the man asked, examining them.
"Bed curtians." replied Sylvia, laughing and leaning forward on her crossed arms.
The man shot her a nervous look. "You don't mean to say you took them down, rings and all, with him lying there?" he asked.
"Well sure." Sylvia yawned. "Why not? He wasn't using them."
The man shuddered and laughed, "You were born to make your fortune, and you'll certainly do it." He lit up a cigarette and continued to examine the fine fabrics.
"Take care not to dust your ash all over his blankets now." Sylvia warned.
"...I'm sorry... HIS blankets?"
"Whose else's do you think?" replied Sylvia. "He isn't likely to catch a cold without them, I daresay."
Anna, not able to help herself, grabbed herself a fistfull of blanket, and deeply inhaled. "Oh sweet fanciful Moses, I think I can still smell him!" She sighed, lovingly.
"You're a queer one..." the man shuddered, snatching the blankets from her. "He was old enough to be your grandfather."
"All the same..." Anna shrugged. "I'd have kept him warm during those cold, winter nights."
"You make me sick." Sylvia groaned.
"I would have." Anna said. "Glady."
"You would have had a hell of a time with it. I doubt he's been able to get it up for years with the state he was in." Sylvia said, picking away at her chipping nail polish. "You would have gotten bored with him within the first 15 minutes. I know I did."
"You DIDN'T!" Anna gasped. "YOU? With HIM?"
"I did, and there wasn't much of a bustle in HIS hedgerow, I can tell you THAT much."
The man clapped his hands over his ears. "I told you sick bitches, I didn't care to hear ANY of this!"
The two ladies began to laugh in great, hearty bellows.
Jimmy felt sick.
"Get me out of here, spirit. Please... for the love of God... spare what dignity I have... show me some tenderness connected with this death." he pleaded.
The spirit waved his hand, and the black mist engulfed them once more.
Jimmy tried to swallow the sickness he felt building up in his gut, his suspicions as to who the dead man was becoming more and more confirmed, and he knew his horrors for the night were only beginning.