TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
As they drove down a dirt path that led to the campsite, they saw other people camping out in their tents and RVs. There were lots of woodsy areas and a small lake. It looked like just the place for them, as they planned on staying a few days before continuing on their trip.
Finding a good spot to stop, Steve asked, "So, ok, Ghost...do ya remember how to put up this old tent?"
"Hmmph," Ghost snorted, "I remember I saw that spider and you laughed at me. I never did put up that tent. You can just do it this time, and get a spider on you."
"No, it's your job, Ghost," Steve laughed as he teased him. Ghost gave him the finger, and Steve cracked up.
"Ok, fine, we'll do it together then," he said, as he got out of the car and rolled out the tent.
Ghost had moved back a ways, not helping. "I'm gonna just get the other stuff out of the car," he said, as he walked away.
He took his time rummaging around in the overstuffed trunk and back seat. Steve had finished putting up the tent by the time Ghost returned.
"You did a good job, Steve," he smiled his lopsided grin.
"Yeah, thanks for helping, you slacker." Steve grumbled, all hot and sweaty.
They pulled out the cooler of beer and sandwich fixings, and rested awhile. The other campers were lighting campfires and some kids were throwing a frisbee around. Steve had noticed some of the people had been watching him and Ghost. Of course they'd done some looking over at them, too, but nobody said you had to get acquainted with strangers in a campground.
Ghost, of course, never seemed to mind meeting new people. He could read people's thoughts anytime he wanted, but reading subtle signs of friendship or disdain, was not as easy for him. He always thought people were nice, unless they came right out and said mean things, or hurt him.
It always puzzled him when things didn't add up, people's actions and thoughts sometimes were two different things. Steve supposed it might have something to do with numbers, in a round about way.
So, Ghost went walking around, down to the water, just looking at the stars, and moon, and saying hi to people along the way. For the most part he fit right in for once. These other campers were more of the commune, hippie class of people, he'd say...wanderers, modern day gypsies, or something.
Steve sat at their campsite and just watched what was happening, and how Ghost interacted. Some of the kids got him to throw the frisbee with them for awhile. Their parents, of course came over to check out the situation. Steve tensed up, just in case something happened, but everyone seemed friendly enough.
The weird thing was, was that Steve himself felt like the odd one out. He was still in his usual mode of dress, not decked out in his club clothes, but just in jeans and black t-shirt with a band logo. To these people, though, that made him strange, he guessed. And, he didn't know how they'd feel or act if they knew he and Ghost were a couple.
Ghost returned then, and he chattered on about the people he'd met. "I told them we were gonna try to play at one of the clubs tomorrow night. Maybe they'll come see us."
"Did you say anything about us?"
"No, why? Guess they can see we're together, don'cha think?"
"I don't know, but you have to be careful about stuff like that...some people may seem nice, but may not like the way we live, ya know." Steve looked intensly at Ghost, hoping to make him understand.
"Uh-huh, I know, Steve, I'm not stupid. I know some people don't like guys being together...or even just me. They can tell, Steve. They always know. I don't have to tell them...and they either be ok, or hate me. That's the way it's always been." Ghost spoke softly, and looked down through the long strands of hair that fell in his face.
"You should know how it is by now, Steve, and I can't hide all my life from something bad that might happen." He sighed, and bit his lower lip.
Steve pushed Ghost's hair away from his face, and raised his head to look him in his eyes. "I know, Ghost. I know...guess I'm just feeling different out here. We're a long way from home, and I want to be able to take care of you. So, I'm always watching how people react...ya know?"
Ghost nodded. They sat awhile in silence. Then Ghost asked, "Steve, do you feel bad about being with me?"
"What the hell are you talking about, Ghost?"
"You know...you know...shit, Steve...I've always been in love with you. I am the way I am. I don't know any other way, but...you've had girlfriends before - lots of them, and I know you slept with some of them...so, I don't even know what I'm saying...and now I'm embarrassed to look at you - for you to look at me," He put his head down on his knees and arms, letting his hair fall over his face again.
Steve was stunned at what Ghost had said. He'd never thought about it like that, ever. Now he was all confused. He'd always thought and felt like he was a straight, macho male. He'd had plenty of girls, and enjoyed their company, and he knew for a fact, that he loved Ghost with all his heart...and loved giving him pleasure, and receiving Ghost's love for him. So, now, what the hell was he? Maybe he was both...or maybe he was trying to prove he wasn't before. And, did it even matter? He knew he'd never have anyone but Ghost ever again, but he was still who he was, and that wouldn't change.
"Damn, Ghost," he said. "How can you even think I'd be sad or ashamed of being with you? I love you and want to be with you till the end of time. Yeah, maybe I did have girlfriends. I mean, the opportunity was there, and I'm sorry...I guess I never noticed you needing me...not like it is now. You never made any moves on me...God...I'm messing this all up. I can't say it right..." he was almost in tears.
Ghost still had his face covered, but Steve could see his shoulders shaking...he was crying.
"Ghost?" Steve put his hand on Ghost's head.
Ghost sobbed, "That's a shitty thing to say, Steve...you never noticed me?"
"No, no, no, Ghost. I noticed you...you've always been my best friend, my only friend, for real. Just, before , I didn't realize you loved me. At least like that."
"So, I'm just an opportunity in front of you, since you didn't have anyone else at the time? You know I never did it with anyone but you, Steve. I didn't even know how, or how to get you to love me back. And then, that one time, the first time we kissed...and you didn't even remember it, and then said it was an accident, and you were drunk, anyway? ...You know I told Kinsey about it? He said he knew we were in love all along, even before we admitted it to ourselves. And, you were still denying it, Steve!
And now what? Is it real for you, now? Because, it's always been real for me...so real it hurts. Even now, I'm scared you're gonna wake up and say 'well it's been fun', and Steve, I think I'd die if that ever happened. I - would - die. And, how could you do that to me? I'd never, ever leave you, Steve. Even when I went away, I didn't leave you, really. You're always in here, in my head...in my heart...forevermore, Steve!"
"Oh, my God, Ghost! You're getting ahead of yourself...that will never happen, and don't say it's some kind of premonition, or some crazy vision. It - will - never - happen! I'll never leave you, either. I know I loved you from the very first. It just took awhile for me to realize you wanted it, too. Oh, Ghost...you're the one with the words. I don't know how to make it so you really understand. I love you more than my own life. There'd be no reason to go on, if you weren't here.
I'm never trying to hide our love for each other. I don't care what anyone thinks. We are who we are, and I'm usually feeling unworthy of your love. I don't deserve it, but I'm forever thankful that you see fit to love me, too."
Ghost reached over and took Steve in a big embrace, and they kissed. As Steve brushed away Ghost's tears, Ghost said, "Steve, will you play some songs for me? I need to hear you play, and I need to sing. I can't go to sleep without it." He sighed and leaned against Steve's chest. "Please?"
Steve nodded, yes, and reached for his guitar. "I'll play for you, Ghost, but quietly. I'll play for you forevermore, anything you want."
And so, he did, and Ghost sang, his beautiful golden voice reaching up to the stars. The other campers heard this, and were transfixed at the beauty of the starry night, and the amazing voice that sang them all to sleep.
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing