"One day after school," Steve continued, "a gang of guys trapped Ghost just as he left the building. They dragged him into the woods behind the school. I didn't see this happen, but followed the sounds I was hearing."
Steve was breathing heavily now, his heart beating in his chest like it would explode. After a deep shuddery breath, he went on.
"What I saw in those woods will haunt me forever. They had stripped Ghost of his clothes and were holding him down, taking turns torturing him. They punched and kicked and burnt him with lit cigarettes. I hollered at them to stop, and a couple of them grabbed me and called me a fag lover, and if I didn't keep out of it they'd do the same to me. I tried to fight them off, but just couldn't, Kinsey, I just couldn't take on all of them at once." Steve's voice was anguished at his helplessness to save Ghost.
Kinsey said slowly, "Did they...?"
Steve shook his head. "They were going to, all of them, but that was for later. They still had more pain to dish out. One guy had a pocket knife. He pulled it out of his dirty pocket and flicked it open. He looked around the circle of guys and they all nodded, like this had been planned all along. As they held Ghost down even tighter, the guy put the knife over Ghost's right foot and started...oh, God!...oh, God!" Steve whimpered.
"He started sawing off Ghost's little toe, back and forth, over and over, the sawing, through skin and then bone. I could hear the knife cutting through the bone, Kinsey! I could hear it! Oh, God! I could hear it even over Ghost's screams. I hear it now, in my nightmares, the screams and the cutting."
Tears were pouring down Steve's face now and he sobbed. Kinsey's eyes were full of tears, too. He even felt faint, so he sat down on the floor behind the bar where they'd been standing.
"Jesus, Steve," was all he said.
Steve went on. "Finally the toe was off and the guys were going to go to the next part of their plan...taking their turn on Ghost. But, they got scared of someone hearing them. Ghost was still screaming and I was cussing everyone as loud as I could, hoping someone would hear. So the gang decided to shut Ghost up.
They hit him on the head with a baseball bat. I heard it crack down on Ghost's head. You know, I think it was his skull that cracked, not the bat." Steve said, as if in a trance now, his voice monotone and calm. Kinsey didn't know what to think. Steve was reliving it all.
"Ghost was knocked out cold. The screaming stopped, the bleeding hadn't though. They got scared they'd killed him, so they all suddenly took off, leaving me and Ghost there alone. I'm totally freaked out. What could I do to help Ghost? I didn't really even know him, but I had to do something. I knew I couldn't drag him all the way down to the school parking lot, so I ran as fast as I could over there and got the T-Bird started on one try, drove it as close as I could over the grass and up to the tree line. I ran up to see if he was still alive. He was, but just barely.
Just barely breathing and still bleeding. I wrapped his foot up as best as I could in my t-shirt and picked Ghost up and carried him to the car. I knew he lived out of town on Burnt Church Road somewhere, so I hauled ass out that way. Ghost was moaning some, and I knew I had to hurry. Maybe his Grandmother would know what to do. Shit, Kinsey, we were just barely into our teens. We weren't supposed to be having crises like this to figure out.
So I got to the house at the dead end of the road and figured this was it. It looked kinda spooky. I'd heard all the stories about the voo-doo lady that lived there. I start honking the horn, and then scrambled out and lifted Ghost out and ran to the door. She came out and took one look and said softly "Ghost Child, what's happened?"
I told her of his injuries and she patted me on the arm and said,"Thank you, Steve. Thank you for helping my Ghost Child." I asked should I go find a doctor, or carry him to Raleigh for the hospital. She just shook her head no...said she'd take care of him. I didn't know what else to do, but I hung around awhile, just in case. She came out of the bedroom, then and said I could stay if I wanted. So I did for a little bit. Then I just drove around. We never did go back to school. That was it for us. I did wonder how she knew my name, though." Steve stopped for a minute, thinking.
"I went back up there once in awhile to check on how Ghost was...scared, really to hear that maybe he didn't make it. But, every time, Miz Deliverance met me at the door and wouldn't let me in. She said the time wasn't right, that Ghost would be ok one day. Thanks for checking on him. You know, stuff like that.
Then she said something that at the time seemed ok, but now, looking back on it, was maybe a premonition? She said the time will come one day when the two of us would be like one. Then she closed the door. It freaks me out now...how did she know? How did she know? She'd never laid eyes on me before that day I'd brought Ghost home."
next installment coming soon...
Peace, Love, & Writing