They really didn't want to accuse Steve, but the rumors were flying, and they didn't know how Kinsey would react. They knew he practically considered Steve and Ghost his sons.
"Uh...have you heard the rumors going around today?" one guy started.
"Man, I've been out of town all day...just got in a bit ago. Why, what's going around?" Kinsey was wondering why they were acting strange.
"If there's something I need to know about, just tell me straight out," he said.
"Well, here it is then. Ghost had your book, and he wanted us to give it back to you. He said to tell you thanks for being nice to him all these years."
Kinsey started to say something, but saw the two guys have a look between them. "Dammit, just what is going on?" he demanded.
The guy cleared his throat and simply said in a rush of words..."We found Ghost here on the porch across the street this morning. He'd been brutally beaten. He could hardly stand up, and he was covered in blood. He said Steve did it to him. Then, he said to give you this book, and he was leaving town for good, and Steve's car would be at the graveyard.
We tried to get him to see a doctor, but he refused. It seemed to me he was in a really bad way, Kinsey. Poor guy, he was crying, and said Steve beat him up and raped him, and that he'd done it before. We said we'd go kill Steve, we were so mad. But, Ghost said no...he wouldn't remember anything he did, and that he loved Steve, and please don't hurt him. He said he was going by his grandmother's grave, then leaving, and don't try to find him. He said he's never coming back."
With that, he stopped talking, afraid of what Kinsey would say. Kinsey was absolutely stunned.
"I'll kill him myself," he said in a barely contained voice. Kinsey was livid. He started out the door, before the group could stop him.
"Steve!" he bellowed.
Steve looked up, startled to see Kinsey coming at him, with hate in his eyes. Before he knew it, Kinsey had grabbed hold of Steve's shirt, yanking him out of the chair.
"You motherfucking son-of-a-bitch...you don't deserve to live," Kinsey yelled right up in Steve's face. He threw Steve down on the floor.
"What the hell are you talking about, Kinsey?" Steve yelled back.
"You better think long and hard about what you did, and pray to God He strikes you down right now," Kinsey yelled, "because I'm gonna take you out...right here, right now."
Steve had no idea why Kinsey was acting like a raging bull, but he scrambled out of the way, as Kinsey charged at him. The other guys just barely got hold of Kinsey to restrain him.
"What the hell are you talking about? " Steve yelled, again.''
"These guys saw Ghost early this morning, and he'd been beaten and raped till he was barely alive. He said you did it to him. He said he was going away forever; said he'd leave your car at the graveyard. That's what I'm talking about. Now, you want to explain that, or should I just kill you now...either that or prison, maybe both." Kinsey ranted on.
"Oh, my God, oh, my God," Steve mumbled, as Kinsey's voice seemed to fade into the background. "I've got to find Ghost. I don't remember doing anything to him." But, he knew Ghost never lied, about anything, ever. If he said it happened, it had happened. He got up off the floor and stumbled to the door. Kinsey's voice followed him out...
"Don't you ever, ever come back in here, Steve. I swear I'll kill you. Don't try to find Ghost. He deserves better than you."
Steve fell over his own feet in his hurry to get out of there. His heart was pounding, and his mind was reeling with what Kinsey had said.
"It can't be true," Steve chanted over and over, like a prayer, to make it not be true. "Please, don't let me be too late," he thought as he ran down the street.
The graveyard was close to five miles out of town. It had been hours since Ghost was here. As he came to the cold, wrought iron gate, he slowed. Ghost's grandmother's grave was toward the back, down a gravelly path, surrounded by vines and ancient trees, dripping with Spanish moss. This was Ghost's favorite place in the world, he remembered. This is where he would hear the voices of the dead.
This is where Ghost would renew his energy, his very spirit. He seemed to gather strength from the lingering essences of long gone people. It was always kind of spooky, when Ghost would make him come out here with him...especially at night; and it was always shady back in there, even more so after the sun went down...like now.
But, he'd always gone with Ghost, when he asked. Ghost could easily go into a sort of trance, when he saw visions and heard voices here...like he was joining them, absorbing their journeys into himself. He was always there to help pull Ghost back from the edge. He had no doubt Ghost could just as easily leave this world for the other side, another dimension, just as easily as stay here. Sometimes he felt Ghost would rather be there with the spirits.
So, Steve was afraid to go in. He had to, of course, and quickly, but still he hesitated. Scenarios ran through his mind of what he'd find...Ghost would be ok, but mad at him...or he could be laying there in a trance...or...or...oh, God...he could be dead. Steve choked back a sob.
Or, maybe he wouldn't be there. Maybe he would have been somehow beamed up to heaven, already. How would he know? A nervous laugh escaped his mouth. He took his first cautious steps into the shadowed graveyard.
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing!