Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(3)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(3)
Author: Amy Harmon

I listened, letting him talk. I didn’t know how his sister had died any more than he did. That wasn’t what the dead wanted to share. They wanted to show me their lives. Not their deaths. Not ever. When Tag finished talking he had looked at me with sorrow-filled eyes.

“She’s dead, isn’t she? You can see her, so that means she’s dead.”

I nodded, and he nodded too, accepting my answer without argument, his head lowering, my esteem for him rising. So I showed him the things Molly showed me, drawing the images that flitted through my mind whenever she was near.

Then Tag told his father about me. And for whatever reason—desperation, despondency, or maybe just a desire to placate his adamant son—David Taggert Sr. hired a man and his dogs to cover the area I had described. The dogs caught her scent quickly, and they found her remains. Just like that. In a shallow grave piled high with rocks and debris, fifty yards from where I’d once painted her smiling face on a highway overpass, the remains of Molly Taggert were uncovered.

Tag had cried when he told me. Big, wracking sobs that made his shoulders shake and my stomach tighten painfully. It was the first time I’d ever done something like that. Helped someone. Found someone. It was the first time my abilities, if that’s what they were, made sense. But Tag just had more questions.

One night after lights out, he came and found me, creeping down the hall undetected, the way he always did, seeking answers that none of the staff could give him, answers he thought I had. Tag was usually quick to smile, quick to anger, quick to forgive, quick to pull the trigger. He didn’t do anything in half measures, and I wondered sometimes if the facility wasn’t the best place for him, just to keep him contained. But he had a maudlin side too.

“If I die, what will happen to me?” he’d asked me.

“Why do you think you’re going to die?” I’d responded, sounding like one of our doctors.

“I’m here because I tried to kill myself several times, Moses,” he confessed.

“Yeah. I know.” I pointed at the long scar on his arm. It hadn’t been a hard deduction. “And I’m here because I paint dead people and scare the livin’ shit out of everyone I come in contact with.”

He grinned. “Yeah. I know.” He’d figured me out too. But his smile faded immediately. “When I’m not drinking, life just grinds me down until I can’t see straight. It wasn’t always that way. But it is now. Life sucks pretty bad, Moses.”

“Do you still want to die?” I asked, changing the subject.

“Depends. What comes next?”

“More,” I answered simply. “There’s more. That’s all I can tell you. It doesn’t end.”

“And you can see what comes next?”

“What do you mean?” I couldn’t see the future, if that’s what he meant.

“Can you see the other side?”

“No. I only see what they want me to see,” I said.

“They? They who?”

“Whoever comes through.” I shrugged.

“Do they whisper to you? Do they talk?” Tag was whispering too, as if the subject were sacred.

“No. They never say anything at all. They just show me things.”

Tag shivered and rubbed the back of his neck, like he was trying to rub away the goose flesh that had crept up his back.

“Do you see everything? Their whole lives?”

“Sometimes it feels like that. It can be a flood of color and thought, and I can only pick up random things because it’s coming at me so fast. And I can only really see what I understand. I’m sure they would like me to see more. But it isn’t that easy. It’s subjective. I usually see pieces and parts. Never the whole picture. But I’ve gotten better at filtering, and as I’ve gotten better, it feels more like remembering and less like being possessed.” I smiled in spite of myself, and Tag shook his head in wonder.

“Moses?” Tag pulled me from my thoughts.


“Don’t take this the wrong way . . . but, if, you know, there’s more, and it’s not bad, it’s not scary, and it’s not the zombie apocalypse. If it’s not fire and brimstone . . . at least, not as far as you can tell, then why do you stay?” His voice was so quiet and filled with emotion, I wasn’t sure if anything I said would help him. I wasn’t sure I knew the answer. It took me a minute of thinking, but I finally had a response that felt true.

“Because I’ll still be me,” I answered. “And you’ll still be you.”

“What do you mean?”

“We can’t escape ourselves, Tag. Here, there, half-way across the world, or in a psych ward in Salt Lake City. I’m Moses and you’re Tag. And that part never changes. So either we figure it out here, or we figure it out there. But we still gotta deal. And death won’t change that.”

He’d nodded very slowly, staring at my hands as they created images neither of us really understood.

“That part never changes,” he whispered, as if it resonated. “You’re Moses and I’m Tag.”

I nodded. “Yeah. As much as that can suck sometimes, there’s comfort in it too. At least we know who we are.”

He never asked about his own mortality again, and in the weeks that followed, he’d donned a confidence that I suspected he’d once had in spades. He seemed to be making plans for what came next. I still didn’t have a clue.

“When you get out, where you gonna go?” Tag asked one night at dinner, his eyes on his food, his arms on the table. He could eat almost as much as I could, and I was pretty sure Montlake’s kitchen staff would enjoy a little reprieve when we left.

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