The prologue introduces our narrator, 22-year-old Jamie Conklin, who is writing about his past experiences. He warns us that this may be a horror story.
Chapters 1 – 4
A 6-year-old Jamie is with his mother, Tia Conklin, right before Thanksgiving. He is clutching a picture he drew of a green turkey. His mother, 35, is an independent literary agent, who took over the business (the Conklin Agency) from her brother (“Uncle Harry“, who has Alzheimer’s) a year prior.
As they approach their apartment, their neighbor, Mr. Marty Burkett, is standing outside. Mr. Burkett is a professor of English and European Literature at NYU. He informs Tia that his wife, Mona Burkett, has died of a stroke.
From Jamie’s perspective Mrs. Burkett is also there, but he’s the only one who can see her because she is deceased. In other words, he sees ghosts. It can be hard for him to tell living and dead people apart, since ghosts look the same except they are dressed in the clothes they died in. Dead people are also compelled to only tell the truth, even if the truth is unpleasant or impolite. (Mona tells him his picture of a turkey is no good and that turkeys are not green.) Also, the ghosts fade away, typically in a few days or less after their death.
Mr. Burnett says he doesn’t know where Mona’s rings are, but Mona tells Jamie they are located on a shelf in her closet. Afterwards, Jamie tells his mother what Mona said about the location of the rings. (Tia later “suggests” the possible location of the rings to Mr. Burnett without revealing where the idea came from.) Jamie has told his mom about his special ability before, but she never entirely believed him until this incident.
After the funeral, Jamie’s mother tells him once again to never tell anyone about his abilities, and not just because they might not believe him. If they do believe him, they might be worried about what those dead people could say, and it could put him in danger.
While Mona’s ghost is not scary, there was one from before that did scare Jamie. It was also this incident when his mom started suspecting that maybe Jamie’s claims weren’t entirely false. It was near Central Park and there had just been an accident.
A body is laid on the floor with a bicycle twisted up next to it. Despite it being covered from the waist up, Jamie tells his mom that the biker’s face is in two pieces, the his shirt had a lighthouse on it and that the man had white hair. Later, an obituary confirms that Robert Harrison, CEO of Lighthouse Foundation, died in an accident.
When Jamie is 8, things take a turn for the worse, financially. Uncle Harry had previously invested the Conklin Agency’s money in the Mackenzie Fund, run by a guy named James Mackenzie. After Tia took over, she continued putting money into the Fund.
But at a book party, Tia gets wind from Elizabeth “Liz” Dutton, her romantic partner and an NYPD detective, that there is something off with the Fund. Around the same time, Tia’s investments lawyer Monty Grisham also recommends to Tia she take her money out. The Fund turns out to be a Ponzi scheme, and when the economy then collapses in 2008, the scheme unravels.
Tia finds herself financially strapped, while paying for a Park Avenue apartment, Madison Avenue office and an upscale care facility for Uncle Henry. From 2009 – 2010, to make ends meet, Tia cashes in on her and Uncle Harry’s life insurance policies and closes down her office. They move into a smaller apartment, and Harry is moved into more modest accommodations. Jamie starts attending public school. Tia also sells her car and many collectibles, along with adopting other lifestyle changes.
When Tia finally lands a major book deal, she relaxes a little, but then Uncle Harry trips and ends up with a fractured skull. Tia purses the case against the facility, but it declares bankruptcy, and Tia is out hefty legal fees as well as the cost of the medical bills. Then, the IRS starts pursuing back taxes that Uncle Harry had neglected to pay.
Chapters 7 – 9
Then, in Fall 2009 (Jamie is 9 now), as a final blow for Tia, Regis Thomas, the “crown jewel” client of the Conklin Agency, passes away.
Regis Thomas was the author of The Roanoke Saga, a popular adventure-and-romance series consisting of nine novels at the time of his death. Regis himself is an unattractive agoraphobe who is very secretive about his work and doesn’t permit any edits to his texts.
At the heart of the series lies the secret of why the Roanoke settlers disappeared in colonial North Carolina. When Regis dies, he is has only 30 pages written of the tenth and final book of series, The Secret of Roanoke, a 700-page tome meant to answer all the answered questions of the series. Regis received a three million dollar advance for the book, but without a finished book it would need to be paid back, including the portion paid to the Conklin Agency.
Immediately after Regis’s death, Tia pulls Jamie out from class. He then finds himself in the backseat of Liz Dutton’s unmarked police vehicle. Liz is a Roanoke fan, which is how she met Tia. Jamie realizes that his mom has told Liz about his ability to see dead people. (Liz seems to be humoring Tia as opposed to a true believer.) In her financial desperation, Tia is determined to track down Regis’s ghost. Together, they head toward Regis’s house, hoping he’ll have stayed at the location where he died.
Chapters 10 – 13
As they drive, Liz makes a comment about “Thumper” having killed someone, referring to a serial bomber that has been terrorizing New York City for many years, starting from before Jamie was even born. Liz says she may join the task force to track him down (though she doesn’t end up being selected).
At Regis’s house which is named Cobblestone Cottage, Jamie finds Regis’s ghost standing outside his study, a small cabin branching off of his house where he does his writing. Ghost Regis wearing a yellow sash with a blue ribbon he once won for a spelling competition, which Regis explains he always wears when he is writing. Jamie explains to Regis that his mother would like to know what he planned for the final part of The Secret of Roanoke, so she can complete it and finish the book. Ghost Regis agrees.
An hour and a half later, just as they finish getting all the notes and outline of the book from Ghost Regis, the cops show up at the house. Liz covers for them, and the cops seem unperturbed. Ghost Regis jumps in to tell Jamie that there was no foul play. He died of a heart attack.
Before they leave, Jamie thanks Ghost Regis. Jamie also asks him if there’s something he could do to prove to Liz that he was really there, since she is still skeptical. Ghost Regis accommodates him by blowing on Liz’s face.
Chapter 14 – 16
For the next four months, Tia works tirelessly to write The Secret of Roanoke, and she hires Barbara Means, a recent Vassar graduate, to work as her assistant during this time. In the fall of 2010, the book is released, and there’s no suggestion that Regis wasn’t the true author.
By now, Mr. Burkett is retired. Tia continues to keep in touch with him even though they moved. They spent Christmas in 2009 with him when his daughter Siobhan wasn’t able to, along with Liz. Jamie remembers this as one of his favorite childhood Christmases.
Meanwhile, Jamie has mixed feeling about Liz because she can be kind and caring, but he recognizes that he also sees her as a rival for his mother’s time, love and affection. (Jamie’s father has never been in his life, and he doesn’t know who he is.) Still, he knows Liz makes his mother happy.
2010 is when Liz and Tia start getting into heated arguments. Liz thinks Tia is too focused on sales and money instead of quality writing, but Tia says she’s just trying to pay her bills. Also, Liz and Tia have differing politics. Liz is conservative and Tia is liberal, and around this time the topic of police brutality is starting to rear its head (though it’s pre-BLM). Jamie also starts to notice around this time that they are both drinking too much, which exacerbates the arguments. Later, as an adult, the smell of alcohol still upsets him.
In retrospect, Jamie recognizes that after the day at Cobblestone Cottage, Liz’s attitude towards him starts to shift. She started seeing him as a bit of a freak, and he believes she became a little scared of him as well.
Much later, he also comes to see that Liz was not liked by her bosses, often getting stuck with the least desirable shift. It would later turn out that she some suspected she was a “dirty cop”, and they would prove to be correct.
Chapters 17 – 19
There are two times notable times that Liz came to pick Jamie up from school.
In the first instance in March 2011, she takes him to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, a large cemetery where a few funerals are going on. She peppers him with questions about his abilities, ignoring his discomfort and request to go home. Her line of questioning is about whether the dead typically attend their funerals, but he doesn’t know (and he can’t tell by glancing if people are dead or not, since it’s only apparent if they died in a gruesome or disfiguring manner). She also instructs him not to tell Tia about it. When they drive off, Jamie sees a dead girl with a hole in her throat sitting next to her mother at the funeral, but Jamie declines to tell Liz.
Eventually, Liz and Tia break up over Liz bringing cocaine, roughly two pounds, into the house. Tia accuses her of “couriering” drugs, though Liz denies it. Tia immediately throws Liz out. After that, Tia’s excessive drinking stops, and later Jamie learns that Tia went to AA briefly after the breakup.
Chapters 20 – 21
The second instance is when Tia reappears in 2013. By now, Tia and Liz have been broken up for roughly a year, and Jamie is in middle school. Barbara Means is now full-time, and the agency’s finances have stabilized. Liz shows up at Jamie’s school, and she asks for Jamie to use his skills to help her. At first, he refuses, but Liz reminds him of how she’d helped them out regarding the Regis situation long ago. Jamie finally agrees, and Liz explains that the situation involves Thumper.
Thumper’s first bomb was in 1996 in Eastport. It was followed by a slew of destructive, but non-fatal bombs over the years, all created with sticks of dynamite, totaling around 50 wounded victims. The 20th bomb was the Lexington Avenue one in 2009, and it marked the first death, that of Richard Scalise, who happened to use the wrong pay phone at the wrong time. After Scalise’s death, Thumper goes on overdrive. From 2010 to 2013, there’s 10 more bombs, larger and deadlier, totaling 20 wounded and three dead. Thumper appears on security cameras as a guy in a coat, sunglasses, a Yankee’s cap and possibly white hair or a wig. Two task forces were organized and later disbanded to try to catch him (Liz was in the second one).
A third task force was set up in 2011. Unbeknownst to Jamie at that point in 2013, Liz is not on the Thumper task force, and Internal Affairs is looking into her. She needs a win professionally and hopes Jamie can deliver one.
Two days before, there was a major break in the case. They learned that Thumper’s real name is Kenneth Alan Therriault, due to his building super spilling trash, finding bomb components and reporting it. The super also found a piece of paper with the word “CANACO” written on it, referencing a Canadian dynamite manufacturer.
On this day, Liz takes Jamie to the Alexander Hamilton statue in Central Park. Earlier that day, Kenneth came to this spot and shot himself in the head. Saliently, he was found with a note, taunting the police about the one last big bomb. Now, Liz wants Jamie to talk to Kenneth so they can stop the bomb, but Kenneth is not there. Knowing the task at hand, Jamie’s attitude towards Liz’s request changes, and he’s under the impression that Liz’s motivations are pure.
Chapters 22 – 24
After Central Park, they head for City of Angels Hospital on 70th, where Kenneth had worked as an orderly. (He was also a former construction worker.) No dice. The next destination is The Frederick Arms apartment building in Queens. When Jamie finally spots him sitting on a park bench, he vomits.
Jamie notes that a man almost sits in the spot where Kenneth is, but then decides against it. He suspects that the man must’ve felt Kenneth’s presence on some level. When Jamie finally approaches Kenneth and asks where the last bomb is, he is surprised when Kenneth responds with “I don’t want to tell you” instead of answering directly, since he hasn’t received that type of answer before. Kenneth’s face contorts as Jamie keeps pushing for an answer, until he finally responds with “The King Kullen Supermarket in Eastport”, which is where the first bomb was since he wants to bring things full circle. When Jamie asks why he did all of it, Kenneth merely responds that he “felt like it”.
Chapters 25 – 26
Liz is delighted. Before they leave, Liz runs into a nearby store to pick something up. When she’s gone, Kenneth beckons Jamie. Then, he tells Jamie that Liz is using him to save her job and doesn’t care about him. Kenneth’s final words to Jamie are “I’ll be seeing you…Champ.”
Afterwards, Liz calls into Detective Gordon Bishop the tip to check out the Eastport supermarket, leaving the source of it vague. It also turns out that Kenneth had once worked as a bagboy there, but was fired for stealing.
Chapters 27 – 30
When Jamie gets home, his mother is furious, not know where he’s been, but she soon comforts him when he starts crying. Jamie confides in her about what happened. Kenneth’s final words scare him. As the news broadcasts updates on the search for Thumper’s last bomb, Tia calls Liz and threatens her to stay away from Jamie. After an extensive search that Wednesday night, the bombs which were set to go off on Friday are located and defused. Afterwards, Tia asks Jamie if they can stop talking about all this stuff in the future, as in Jamie’s special abilities.
That night, Jamie is asleep when he hears cats yowling, and he looks outside the window to see Kenneth grinning at him. He beckons, but Jamie ignores him. Instead, he tries to comfort himself with the knowledge that Kenneth will likely disappear in a few days. But he doesn’t really know that for sure, and Jamie doesn’t know if Kenneth is capable of hurting him somehow.
Chapters 31 – 33
On Friday, Kenneth appears briefly outside Jamie’s school. Two weeks later, Jamie thinks he’s in the clear. He’s on the YMCA junior league swim team and going to practice when the elevator doors open to reveal Kenneth there. Kenneth tells him that his mother has cancer and will die in six months.
Horrified, Jamie wonders if there’s some sort of loophole or circumstances when ghosts are able to lie. At home, he asks his mother about the last time she went to the doctor, and she reassures him that she was checked out recently and is fine. Jamie is reluctant to say anything more, since he doesn’t want to scare his mother.
Jamie soon has a math test, and Kenneth shows up again. Jamie bombs the test as well as another test later that day. At the swim meet that weekend, he does miserably as well. Jamie fears that Kenneth is purposefully trying to ruin his life. When the last day of school rolls around, Jamie finally talks to Kenneth again. He tells him to go away, but Kenneth says that he’s “never” going away, which scares Jamie even more.
Chapters 34 – 37
In June, Jamie and his mother visit Uncle Henry. Uncle Henry asks “Who’s that?” as he looks in Kenneth’s direction. Kenneth takes the opportunity to tell Jamie that he’ll also end up with the same disease as Uncle Henry.
In July, Mr. Burkett has an accident, and Tia asks Jamie to bring him a casserole. By now, Jamie is determined to someone what’s going on. When he sees Mr. Burkett, he opens by telling him about Mona’s rings. Jamie then starts from the beginning and tells Mr. Burkett everything.
As they sip tea, Mr. Burkett doesn’t necessarily believe him, but he doesn’t disbelieve Jamie either. Instead, he seems to regard it as an intellectual exercise to get to the truth. Mr. Burkett wonders if Jamie is hallucinating Kenneth or if it’s a spirit that’s been overtaken by a demon. Eventually, Mr. Burkett asks if Jamie is familiar with something called the Ritual of Chüd.
Chapters 38 – 40
In present day, Jamie contemplates how Kenneth was trying to destroy his sanity, but Mr. Burkett likely saved his life. He also now knows that Mr. Burkett did so by telling him things that were partially false and partially true, and he did so by thinking creatively on his feet.
Mr. Burkett (truthfully) explains that the Ritual of Chüd is practiced by a sects of Buddhists, for the purpose of achieving serenity and clarity. Then he adds (not entirely truthfully) that it can be used to combat “demons” both internal or external. So, regardless of whether Jamie is crazy or not, this could be useful. He also says (entirely falsely) that yetis for example, haunt people for life if encountered, but this ritual can stop it.
(Editor’s note: Ritual of Chüd is totally fictional, it’s something that appears in some of Stephen King’s novels.)
According to Mr. Burkett, the ritual involves the person and the demon biting each others’ tongues and then engaging in a telepathic battle of wills. The first to withdraw loses. When Jamie expresses disgust at the idea of biting Kenneth’s tongue, Mr. Burkett adds that he think that it’s meant symbolically.
Before Jamie leaves, he gives Mr. Burkett more details on what Ghost Mona said to him, and by the time Jamie’s gone it seems like Mr. Burkett is a believer.
Chapters 41 – 43
After a while, Jamie feels he’s getting used to Kenneth. Kenneth doesn’t seem to be able to pop up close to him (Jamie thinks about how in stories about vampires, you must invite them into your home which makes sense if you think of them symbolically), instead he generally stands at a distance, staring at him. Jamie is certain now that people can feel his presence and stay away from the spot he’s in. Jamie is still scared of him, but slowly feels more ready to engage in this ritual with Kenneth.
In October, Kenneth appears at the end of a hallway in their apartment building. Jamie thinks about how Mr. Burkett said that the “tongue-biting” was likely symbolic of any type of gesture to indicate to the other being that you intended to engage them in battle, such as just grabbing ahold of him.
Jamie charges forward. When he latches onto Kenneth and pins him to the door, the world around him seems to vibrate. He senses a presence inside Kenneth (which he starts referring to as the “deadlight”). Jamie suspects that it entered Kenneth on that day outside the store when he saw Kenneth’s face contort as Jamie questioned him regarding the location of the bomb. Some time passes and the demon finally offers to leave him alone, but Jamie says it’s not good enough. Instead Jamie tells the demon that when he calls, the demon must answer. The demon resists, but finally accepts (it can’t lie).
Before Kenneth leaves, he says that he’s not afraid of Jamie, but it’s not true. Instead, when Jamie asks him directly, he admits he is scared of Jamie. (Ghosts can’t lie in response questions, but it can lie if it’s just saying random statements.) Jamie feels emboldened by this.
Chapters 44 – 51
After the battle, the electricity is out in the building and it appears there’s been a power purge that blew out the circuits. Jamie figures that deadlight must’ve done it. At any rate, it gets fixed later that night, so Jamie is not worried. That weekend, Jamie and his mom drop by Mr. Burkett’s, and Jamie updates him on what happened.
Later, Mr. Burkett e-mails Jamie with his thoughts. Mr. Burkett says that he finally truly believes Jamie about what he said about his abilities. He warns Jamie not to actually ever call out to the demon. Instead, he tells Jamie to just leave it alone.
They make plans to meet up later in the week, but it gets pushed back when Mr. Burkett’s old friend has a stroke, and Mr. Burkett plans to go to Florida to see him. By that time Jamie ever talks to Mr. Burkett again, Mr. Burkett has died. Apparently, while on the flight to see his friend, he had a heart attack. Tia ends up helping to make the funeral arrangements. Jamie sees Mr. Burkett at his funeral and cries.
Five days after Mr. Burkett’s death, Jamie heads to Mr. Burkett’s apartment building and finds Mr. Burkett sitting outside. Mr. Burkett reminds him not to ever call out to the demon. Together, they surmise that perhaps that being was able to possess Kenneth because Kenneth was evil to begin with. Before he fades away, Jamie asks Mr. Burkett why his daughter never came to see him. Mr. Burkett says it’s because she is catatonic, living in a mental institution after she killed her baby and then tried to kill herself.
Chapters 52 – 55
Kenneth disappears from the news and from Jamie’s mind. Time passes, and Jamie turns 15. He recalls one day seeing a lost little boy ghost who is looking for his home. Jamie shows him the way back, and when the boy gets there he starts fading away.
Jamie is now dating a girl named Mary Lou Stein, and financially Tia is doing well again. One day, Tia gets a call from Liz’s former partner, Detective Jesus Hernandez, to let her know that Liz was caught transporting a large amount of heroin and had lost her job. Despite Liz no longer being a part of their lives, Jamie feels sad for her. She’ll likely end up in jail, though she’s out on bail. A few weeks later, Liz kidnaps Jamie.
Liz shows up when Jamie is on his way home, demanding his help. She has a recordings of Jamie describing the plot of the Regis book to his mother, and she’s threatening to reveal them. Jamie reluctantly goes with her, and she says they are going to Redfield, a town a few hours away. As she drives, she snorts some drugs, a blend of cocaine, heroine and a little fentanyl. Liz admits that she started using after Tia kicked her out.
When Jamie goes to call his mother to let her know where he’ll be, Liz grabs his phone and tosses it out the window. Liz doesn’t want his mother freaking out and calling the cops, plus she tells Jamie that his mother has always had a tracker on his phone.
Chapters 56 – 57
As Liz drives, she continues using and her driving gets progressively worse, and she mentions how her septum is gone as her nose bleeds. She also talks about how the financial crisis in 2008 affected her. Her sister, Bess, was married to a guy named Danny Miller, who had an entry-level job at Bear Stearns. They had a large mortgage and were putting in a pool for their home when the crash happened. They ended up with a house worth less than what they owed. Liz needed more money to help out with payments so they wouldn’t lose the house.
When they arrive in Redfield, she explains how the dope business works and it’s pyramid structure, like most organizations. Junior street dealers are at the bottom and more senior dealers above them, who service clubs and sell in bulk. Above them are suppliers, accountants, executives, lawyers, etc. Then, there’s the people at the top.
Liz was a transporter who existed outside the hierarchy, since she only really deals with the people at Point A and Point B. However, because of her work she had access to NYPD and DEA databases. She was able to learn the name of the guy at the top of the pyramid, Donald “Donnie Bigs” Marsden, who lived in Redfield. Liz tells him that he died yesterday. His wife is on vacation.
Liz knows he got a huge shipment in yesterday of knockoff oxycontin pills, which are easy to transport and sell. She wants Jamie to talk to Ghost Donnie and find out where he put them so she can take them and sell them. Liz hopes to use the money to move away, change her name, check into rehab and get clean. She tells Jamie that if he does this, he’ll never have to see her again.
Chapters 58 – 61
Before they arrive at his house, Liz asks if Jamie thinks he git his special skills from his father, but Jamie says he has no clue who his father was. Liz suggests that perhaps he was conceived in a way that was traumatizing for his mother, something he’d never considered before.
They arrive at an impressive gated mansion, and there doesn’t appear to be any other people there. Liz also mentions that she knows Teddy, the guy at the gate. Then, Jamie sees a skinny man with no mouth, but he knows it’s not Ghost Donnie since Liz had told him Donnie weighed over 400 lbs. Jamie pretends not to see him. Jamie suspects it’s Teddy and that Liz actually came here already and shot Teddy.
Upstairs, they find Donnie’s body sprawled out, beaten up, cuffed to a bed and dressed only in boxers. Jamie realizes Liz must’ve done this to him. Then, Jamie realizes that Donnie is alive — just before Liz shoots Donnie in the head. Jamie screams and tries to get away from Liz, but she manages to restrain him.
(Basically, Liz was previously here, shot Teddy to get in, and tried to force Donnie to tell her. When he refused, she went and fetched Jamie with the plan to kill Donnie and force the information out of the ghost.)
Ghost Donnie materializes a few minutes later. Jamie is certain that Liz has no intention of letting him go safely after he gives her what she wants. As Jamie asks Ghost Donnie where the oxy pills are, and Donnie gives the same response that Kenneth had, that he didn’t want to tell him. When Jamie presses for more information, he sees the same contorting of the face that Kenneth had done, and Jamie knows that the deadlight has entered Ghost Donnie. Still, Ghost Donnie obediently responds that the pills are in the panic room.
Ghost Donnie reluctantly guides them to the panic room in the library room, tells them the code and shows them how to get in. When they inspect the room, there’s all sorts of supplies and a desk setup, but no trove of pills. Instead, Liz merely finds a handful of oxycontin pills. More startling is a folder containing photos of Donnie and another man torturing a woman, who Liz identifies as Donnie’s wife Maddie, who presumably is dead (and not on vacation). Upon questioning, Ghost Donnie admits that there’s no big oxy shipment, it’s just some rumors that people were saying. He led Liz to believe it was true when she beat him up in the hopes she’d keep him alive.
Jamie, then, lies to Liz and tells her that there’s drugs hidden in the canned goods in the panic room. As she rushes to inspect them, Jamie runs out, but neglects to shut the door. When Jamie trip, Liz catches up to him, he screams out to Kenneth to beckon the demon to save him. There is a flash of light, followed by what he thinks was a hand that reached out from a nearby mirror to grab Liz. Liz screams and then it goes completely dark. Liz runs, crazed, until she loses balance and falls to her death.
He is kneeling beside her when Ghost Liz materializes behind him. Then, he sees Kenneth walking towards him as well.
Chapters 63 – 67
Kenneth is blackened with deadlight shining from inside him. Mustering courage, Jamie orders him to stop and tells him to go away. Kenneth says this if he really wants to get rid of him for good, Jamie needs to fight him again, but this time Kenneth is ready for him. Jamie is tempted, but doesn’t think he can “beat the devil” twice. Finally, Kenneth leaves.
Jamie asks Ghost Liz where her phone is and what the passcode is. He then proceeds to call the police, he says he was kidnapped and he tells them the truth about who has been killed. A fleet of police vehicles show up 15 minutes later. Jamie also calls his mom who shows up, and tells him that she’s going to get him a lawyer. Finally, Jamie deletes the recordings about Regis’s last book off of Liz’s phone.
Upon questioning, the police don’t understand why she kidnapped Jamie. Jamie tells them that he doesn’t know either. Later, his mother suggests to him that if he’s asked again, to say that perhaps Liz wanted to take him with her out west. That night, when he goes to sleep he worries that he’ll wake up one night with the deadlight clutched onto him, now that he’s invited it back into his life.
As a minor, Jamie’s name isn’t released to the media, and he receives generally gentler treatment by the police. The media seem to think that Liz killed Donnie because he was a bad person, putting aside that she was a junkie who’d lost her job due to drug charges.
Chapters 68 – x
Time passes. In 2018, Jamie is now over six feet tall, has been accepted to Princeton and will be turning 18 in November. He lets his mother believe that his special abilities seem to be fading away, because it’s what she wants to hear.
Tia calls saying that Uncle Harry has pneumonia and will likely die soon. Jamie heads over to Tenafly, where the care facility is. When he gets there, Tia is outside and says that Uncle Harry died ten minutes prior to her arrival. When Tia asks if he sees Harry, Jamie lies and says no.
When she goes inside, Jamie talks to Ghost Harry and asks who his father is. Ghost Harry says that he’s Jamie’s father. Jamie immediately turns around, walks inside and never sees Ghost Harry again.
Jamie’s grandparents (“my only set of grandparents, as it turns out”) were killed by a drunk driver. Harry had just started the agency at the time. After the funeral, both Harry and Tia were grief-ridden and drank excessively, and they ended up having sex just once. Tia then ended up joining the agency as they raised Jamie.
Jamie wonders if his special abilities are the product of that inbreeding. He also wonders if the story he told himself — that the illicit hookup was some combination of grief and alcohol — is what happened or if it was really an older brother raping his younger sister. He avoided further questioning of Harry because he didn’t want to know the truth, in case he didn’t like it. Jamie also hasn’t yet taken the test to find out if he has Alzheimer’s yet.
Jamie also thinks that he’s not going to let Kenneth, or the rather the prospect of him showing up again, hang over his life, instead vowing to continue living it. Still, he imagines some day the time will come when he will have engage it in battle and try to fight it and banish it permanently — later.