Back at the old ramshackle house on Burnt Church Road, Steve was coming around. It was late afternoon, and the heat of the day had not dissipated. It hung in the stale air of the house. Steve woke in a pool of sweat, and stank of the night before.
"Gotta get coffee, gotta get something for this killer hangover," he thought to himself. Surely, Ghost had made coffee this morning, and there'd be some left in the pot. He moved gingerly out of bed and across the room, so as not to increase the pounding in his head and behind his eyes.
The house was deathly silent. He wondered why Ghost wasn't making noise; usually he was so noisy. Making his way to the kitchen, eyes half shut, he reached for the coffeepot. It was empty.
"Dammit, Ghost, you didn't even leave me a drop." He started another one brewing, while he fumbled for medicine for his headache. Looking out the window, at the day half gone, he tried to remember what he'd done the night before, and why his muscles were sore. The last thing he remembered was being at Kinsey's bar and meeting up with old friends.
"Well, guess I had a good time," he mused, "and evidently I made it home in one piece."
The coffee being ready, he poured himself a mug of the strong brew and took a gulp.
"Wonder where Ghost is?" he asked himself. "Probably wandering around the woods." Steve shrugged, then headed for the shower. He glanced at the disarray in the living room. "That's weird," he thought. "Ghost usually straightens things up."
The smell of stale vomit and beer hung in the air. "Guess I puked after I got home. Guess I'll have to clean up my own shit."
After showering, he thought he'd go out to the Yew for awhile, just to see what was happening. He searched for his car keys, but couldn't seem to find them. Then he figured he'd left them in the car. Walking out the front door, he stopped short.
"Where the hell is my car? Damn you, Ghost," he fumed, "if you took off with my car, you'll regret it." He stomped around the yard, then figured he might as well start walking. Ghost probably was in town with his car. He'd catch up with him.
He never did look in Ghost's bedroom, and never saw the evidence of things gone terribly wrong.
Getting into town, he was hoping to get a beer at Kinsey's, and find his car, and give Ghost an earful of scolding; but, the Yew wasn't open yet, and his car was nowhere in sight.
He went on down to the Whirling Disc, his place of employment. Terry would have a beer, and maybe some pot. That would take the edge off, Steve thought. Maybe he could even tell him what happened to his car and Ghost.
The bell tinkled as he went inside. Terry was behind the register, tending to a customer. It was a slow day, evidently. The town felt abandoned. When the customer left, Terry motioned him over, with a strange look.
"Hey, Terry, what's up? Where is everyone today?" Steve asked.
"Don't know, Steve...it's too hot out, I guess, and Kinsey's opening up late. He's out for business until later."
"Ya got a beer for me...it was a hot walk over here...and have you seen Ghost and my car?"
Steve was surprised when Terry shook his head, no. "Nope, haven't seen them, and won't have beer until Kinsey gets back. He's bringing a load from the city warehouse over in Raleigh. The supply truck broke down and couldn't deliver today," Terry explained.
Steve looked put out, and Terry asked if something was going on he wanted to talk about. "I heard through the grapevine that there's a rumor going around, that something big went down out at your place last night." He looked suspiciously at Steve.
"Not that I know of, Terry. I went into Raleigh with some guys, and got back really late, I guess. Can't really say I remember even getting home, but I was there this morning. Ghost wasn't home by the time I woke up, and he took off with my car."
"Hmmm, I don't know, Steve, sounded like something serious to me."
"Well, spit it out, Terry," Steve prodded, getting a little testy. "What the hell did you hear?"
Terry looked at Steve hard, and said, "I heard Ghost left town because of you. That's all. What the hell happened out there?"
"Aww, that's crazy...gotta be something wrong with people, making up shit like that," Steve replied, a little indignant, even though in the back of his mind, he did sense a bad vibe about the news he was hearing. And, since he couldn't remember a thing about the night before, he hoped it was just a rumor.
Just then, they saw Kinsey pull up outside the Sacred Yew. He looked tired, as he started unloading cases of beer. Steve told Terry he'd see him later; he was going over to help out Kinsey.
"Hey, Kinsey," Steve ambled over. "I'll grab one of those from ya," he joked, as he hefted a box from the truck.
"Hey, Steve, you can have one if you plan on helping me carry these in," Kinsey replied.
"Sure, sure I will," Steve said. They unloaded several large boxes into the cooler and storage room. Kinsey wiped his forehead and sat down, debating whether to open up the bar or not...didn't seem worth it, being that is was getting late, and nobody was even in town. It looked like all the club kids had other plans for the night.
So, he and Steve just got to talking. "Hey, have you seen Ghost and my car?" Steve asked
"No, I've been out of town all day. What, did you lose both of them at the same time, Steve?"
"Yeah, looks that way," Steve made a sour face. "Guess Ghost will bring it back when he gets through joyriding."
They sat there, cooling off in the darkening bar. Then, Kinsey said, "Oh, Steve, I've been meaning to ask you something. The other night when y'all were doing your show, well, before that, Ghost went to my office to take a nap, and he got a book off the shelf. I know you know the one I'm talking about? Well, what was up with that? Seemed strange to me," Kinsey said.
Steve remembered the book. It wasn't strange to him. He swallowed, and looked down at the table, running his fingers through the wet spots left by the cold beer bottles.
"Aww, Kinsey, I don't even know where to begin."
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing