“Yes, ghost! I could sense that you were about. Welcome to our small séance. Yours is a most needed presence at our table. You want to know, as do our friends sitting here, if I believe he can learn to write.” His eyes bore into the eyes of each of his comrades in turn. And then, modulating his voice so that only his table mates could hear, he said, “Ideas be damned, can a beginner with common skills learn to be a practiced literary craftsman?”
Again, his eyes rested for several seconds on each round table occupant. And then, caught off guard, he looked about in search of my ghostly presence. His eyes darted here, then there, no one. He seemed to be waiting to hear the sound of my voice again. The others became restless and began to fidget in their chairs. He took a deep breath, looked downward for a moment, and slowly, with a visibly concerted effort, regained his poise.
“Yes, Rain Delux can become one of us.” Eyes fixed on Felicity, he said, “My dear, there is much room for improvement in your work. Don’t you agree?” No response. He continued, “But your command of a language not your own is immensely improved over your first days with us. Michael’s influence on you has been magical.” His eyes came to rest on the weasel. “Horace! You may drink and carouse like Ernest Hemingway–but your writing is indelibly your own. Hemingway was a man among men. No disrespect to you, Horace, but even if you win a succession of Pulitzers, you will still be . . . just a weasel. Talented, yes,” he said, his voice trailing off, “but just a weasel.” Taking his seat, his voice a mere whisper, he repeated, “just a weasel.”