TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
The road grew less steep and eventually flattened out somewhat. It was starting to get semi-dark, and after facing the setting sun for so long, it was a welcome relief to Steve's eyes. At a distance he could see lights of the town beginning to shine.
"Hey, Ghost...we're almost there...wake up now." He jiggled Ghost till he began to come awake.
Sitting up, rubbing his eyes and looking around, Ghost said, "That sure was a long drive."
"How would you know? You slept through most of it," Steve said.
"Well, I had time to have a nice dream, for a change. It was about me and you."
"Yeah? What happened?"
"Oh, just we were the very last people on Earth, and I was glad we were together with each other and not some strangers." Ghost hugged Steve. "I love you so much."
"I love you, too," Steve said, smiling.
They came into the town, just then, and drove around looking for a place to set up their tent, and also a place to eat. Stopping for gas, Steve asked about a campground or something, and was directed to one on the outskirts, about a mile farther down the road.
Stopping at a fast food place, they loaded up, and drove out there. After setting up the tent, they ate under the stars, which were shining, now. Ghost was happy to see them, and stared a long time, pointing out the North star and the big dipper. It was a peaceful night, the air balmy, and sounds of the woods was hushed. No other campers were nearby.
It was a perfect setting for loving each other. Steve reached for Ghost, kissing him slow, and sensual...one tasting of beer and pot, the other of sweet Southern molasses, and the tartness of wine, mingled together.
Afterward, they lay panting in each other's arms, the slight evening breeze cooling them. They pulled a soft blanket over themselves, and fell asleep, dreaming secret dreams of many more nights like this.
Dawn seemed to come late...the sun had to rise above the mountains, before shining down on them. Steve, as usual, woke first, and just watched Ghost sleep. Remembering the night before, he became full of desire, again. He kissed Ghost softly on his forehead, and his eyelids, feeling the soft fringe of golden lashes against his lips. Then, parting Ghost's lips with his tongue, he kissed him awake. Ghost responded instinctively, as he became aroused...their tongues meeting.
Steve opened his eyes, seeing that Ghost was watching him. Those sky blue eyes loving him. He could feel Ghost's smile, under his own lips, and there was no need for words.
Steve slowly trailed his lips to Ghost's vulnerable neck, and then to his chest, where he could feel his heart beating faster...and down his ribs, and flat stomach. He could hear Ghost moan, as he arched his back..."Now, Steve...now," He panted. And they took each other again, this time under the first golden rays of sun.
Afterward, Steve lit their campfire and brewed coffee. They were both relaxed, and neither felt like being in a hurry to start the day. They just talked about whatever came to mind, for awhile. Then Steve suggested they go find the old graveyard. They'd gotten the directions the day before, so they headed that way.
On the way, Ghost got his camera ready, straightened his notebook, and made sure his markers were still working. "Where is it, Steve? I don't see anything but trees here."
"It's still a few miles, I think...after the next town and before the one after. Between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, they said...turn right onto a gravel road...said we couldn't miss it," said Steve.
They came to the first town, where they stopped at a convenience store for snacks. They looked a bit rumpled, from sleeping outside all night, but didn't expect everyone in the store to blatantly stare at them like they were from Mars or something.
Ghost didn't notice, as usual, as he was used to being stared at. But, Steve felt awkward, and not just for the way they were dressed. He could sense people knew that he and Ghost were a couple...and didn't like it.
He quickly rounded up Ghost, which wasn't easy, and paid for their food, before something was said to them, or about them. Back in the car, Ghost asked, "Why are you in such a hurry?"
"Those people in there didn't want us in there, that's why," Steve explained, trying to gloss over a situation he felt might have become ugly.
"Why not...we just wanted to buy stuff, not rob the place," Ghost countered.
"Ghost, it's just a feeling I got...they were looking at us funny...not friendly...thought they might start something. They probably saw our license plates from North Carolina, I don't know, but I didn't want to stay in there, just in case," Steve said, hoping that would satisfy Ghost.
"Oh...ok...I get it," Ghost said. He looked down at the floorboard and sighed. He knew exactly what Steve had felt, he didn't have to say anymore. He knew Steve was still ashamed to be seen with him, no matter what he said, but he wasn't going to bring it up again, even though it hurt his feelings. That conversation had already been hashed over more than once. It still made him sad. He didn't say anything else on the drive, just stared out the side window, lost in his own thoughts.
Steve was mentally kicking himself. "I should have never said anything, now Ghost is pouting. I hurt his feelings, again." He sighed, "Maybe I should say something, now, but what...I can't help what I feel, even if I don't want to feel it...I just get so uneasy when people stare."
He reached over for Ghost's hand, but Ghost jerked his hand away...then, still staring out the window, he reached back for Steve's hand and squeezed hard. They understood each other, without needing to speak of it.
"There it is," Ghost pointed ahead to a right turning, gravel road. Steve slowed and turned, driving slowly about half a mile. Then, there among the heavily wooded area and tall grass, was the graveyard. There was no fence around it, just random headstones and crosses, put there in this shady plot, way back in the 1800s. Stopping the car, they sat in the silence of the hot afternoon, looking at what someone used to take care of, but now had been neglected for a long time. Some of the headstones were tilted, some had fallen over, and some were eroded from the many years of weather.
"Well, let's get out..got your camera and stuff?" Steve asked, as he opened his door. Ghost followed, tramping down long strands of grass, and disturbing a myriad of insects, that hummed and buzzed and leaped about, as they passed.
"Look, here's one. It's from 1801. That's over a hundred years old," Steve said.
"You write down the numbers for me, ok?" Ghost asked, as he clicked off shots of the headstones.
Steve took the notebook and marker. He was happily surprised that Ghost hadn't mentioned being afraid...yet.
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing