As morning dawned, Ghost and Maxy shared more of themselves with each other. Nothing would ever compare to their first time, but it was amazing, still. Their days continued much as before, playing gigs, laughing, loving...but, some subtle shadow tinged their relationship. They both felt it, if not acknowledged yet. There was a slight pulling away on Ghost's part, and a slight tightening of control on Maxy's.
From time to time, Ghost allowed himself to think of Steve, of Missing Mile, of everything back home. Before, he couldn't have let his mind take him there. It was like poking at a deep sore, and starting the pain and bleeding all over again. But, now, time passing had formed a scar over the pain, and a gentle poking didn't hurt so bad.
He seemed to get caught up in his daydreams, spacing out, even forgetting some words to the songs on stage. He'd just stand there silent and staring, lost in a vision of his life back home. Maxy didn't understand it at all. He got angry at Ghost sometimes, and Ghost could not explain what he was feeling. Later, he would realize that he was terribly homesick. Even while performing, having good times with Maxy, and all the noise, lights and unending party atmosphere of L. A., there was an underlying sadness about him.
His eyes spoke of his sorrow, a cloud of darkness hovered over his head. He couldn't seem to shake it off. He cried himself to sleep many nights, as Maxy tried to comfort him. But, Maxy got frustrated that he couldn't make Ghost happy, even trying as hard as he could...in the most caring of ways, then in more forceful ways.
He felt Ghost was very pliable, would go along with whatever he suggested, not caring one way or another what happened to him, and Maxy took advantage of Ghost's vulnerability at this time. Everyone who saw them perform adored Ghost, wanted to touch him, to get his attention, to have him for their own. Maxy felt jealous. He admitted it to himself. Before he and Ghost were together, he was the center of attention. Now, he felt like he was just background. So, with seemingly good intentions, he began to suggest that Ghost should see other guys, to try something a little stronger than weed, to add some variety into their relationship and performances.
It happened gradually. Maxy's plan was for Ghost to hate it, and come to realize what they meant to each other, and Ghost would snap out of his depression. He urged Ghost to go have fun with whatever guy asked for a good time with him. He even slipped mood altering drugs into Ghost's food and drinks, hoping to get Ghost to feel emotion of some kind, besides sadness; and, it didn't hurt, he thought, that most of these set up dates would pay money for a night with Ghost. He felt betrayed though, when Ghost went willingly to bed with these strangers. His plan had backfired. Ghost was not snapping back, was not feeling closer to him.
He'd hear Ghost calling for Steve almost every night in his dreams. Then, Maxy would roughly shake Ghost awake, and forcefully take him, again and again, crying for Ghost to love him, and him only. But, Ghost didn't care...couldn't care. He'd let Maxy do anything to his body, but Maxy could never quite reach his mind, or heart...they were almost completely closed off to him now.
Then one night on stage, things took a strange turn. They had played a good set, the crowd was having a good time, Ghost was again seeming to enjoy himself. Maxy was in a good mood. He'd bought Ghost a silver ring, engraved with his and Ghost's name inside the band. He knew Ghost loved shiny things, and had given him a silver chain after they'd met - it was real silver, same as the ring. The necklace had a key charm on it, and he'd gotten himself one too, with a silver heart. The meaning was obvious, even if it was a bit juvenile, but they wore them anyway.
Ghost was wearing the ring tonight, the stage lights making it gleam. The last chords of their last song were still vibrating in the air, when Ghost looked out at the audience, and said in his slow, southern, mountain voice,
Ghost turned to Maxy and the back up band, and instructed them to play a certain riff over and over...just that, nothing else. He signaled the stage lights manager to dim the lights, all except the one spotlight on him, in a soft, filtered yellow. The special effects fog machine was still going from the last song, and that was left on. Then Ghost signaled to begin the bass line. He looked down at his audience, through white gold strands of hair. The effect was mesmerizing. Ghost looked back at Maxy, who was playing the beat with a questioning look in his eyes. He had no idea what Ghost was doing, and was just as transfixed as everyone else.
Ghost turned toward the audience again, kissed the silver ring, and raised that hand way up into the air. Leaning in, he took hold of the microphone with the other hand, and wailed the absolute loudest, soul agonizing scream anyone had ever heard amplified through the speakers.
It startled everyone. Some started screaming themselves, but couldn't look away. Some thought Ghost had been electrocuted, when he grabbed the mic, but he didn't die, he finished his scream and just stared at them. Somehow, Maxy and the band had kept playing the slow, low bass riff during all of this. Ghost kept staring at the crowd, like his sky blue eyes could pierce everyone's heart, and he could see to their very core being...and unbeknownst to them...he could.
He took a shuddery breath then, and began his "World"* song. The one he'd written years ago...the one on the Lost Souls? tape. Maxy had never heard Ghost sing it live. His heart was pounding along with the beat, and he thought he'd never heard anything so beautiful. This was what Ghost was all about, this was the true Ghost, this was Ghost's legacy...not some stale 80's covers.
"Oh, my God," he thought. "No wonder Ghost has been so sad, to never have been able until now to sing as he was born to do."
Maxy felt tears falling from his eyes. "What have I done to him? Please forgive me," he sobbed.
Ghost sang the sad, but hopeful song over and over. The audience was swaying back and forth, and singing along to the simple, yet powerful words, already. At that moment, the dimmed lights went completely out, and people brought out their lighters, and turned on their cell phones, showing their appreciation, there in the dark. Only the spotlight was left on...on Ghost, illuminating the mist swirling around him. His hair was backlit into a shimmery, golden aura that flowed and ebbed within the fog, and tears of crystal flowed down his face.
He closed his eyes, and slowly sank down to his knees. He bowed his head and sobbed, as he whispered the song one last time. Raising his hand again, the ring caught the light, and rays of pure gold fanned out from it...and Ghost was done.
*"Hole in the World" by the Eagles (Don Henley/Glenn Frey; Universal Publishing Group)
Next Installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing