TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
The cat turned his ears toward Ghost and mewed.
"Are ya hungry?" Ghost asked, as he felt around in his jacket pocket, finding some leftover pieces of beef jerkey. He tore off a small bit and tossed it to the cat, which ate it and looked for more. Ghost kept tossing bits closer and closer, and the cat followed. Finally he just held a piece in his hand, and the cat jumped up in Ghost's lap, eating the offered piece.
Ghost stroked the soft, black and white fur, feeling the cat purring under his hand. He bent his head down close, to feel the softness brush against his cheek, his own hair falling down onto the cat, mingling within the fur. Steve opened the door, just then, and seeing Ghost and the cat, his heart skipped a beat at how tender Ghost was with the little creature.
He smiled, not wanting to interrupt this sweet communion. Ghost had his head laying on the cat, his eyes closed, and was humming to it. It looked like Ghost was actually falling asleep, using the cat as a soft pillow. The cat didn't mind at all; she was kneading Ghost's jeans. Steve quietly walked over - he thought Ghost was going to fall off the car...he kept nodding and jerking awake, as he swayed back and forth.
He stroked Ghost's head with one hand, and the cat with the other. Ghost, half-asleep, by this point, muttered, "Hey, Steve...I found a cat. Can I keep it?"
"Come to bed, Ghost, the cat lives here. He wouldn't like a long car trip," Steve said, hoping Ghost would understand.
"Ok, but I want a cat when we get home." He set the cat down, and let Steve lead him back to the motel room. As he lay down on the bed, Steve told him he was going to go find something to eat for breakfast. "I'll be back, soon...you sleep." He knew Ghost had probably been up all night, and it was getting weird. Their one awake, and one asleep thing wasn't working very good. They needed to get on the same page.
He woke Ghost, when he returned with the food, telling Ghost he had to try to stay awake all day, and why. He said he'd poke Ghost every time he saw him falling asleep. They had another few hours to drive until they got to the cave, in Kentucky. As they continued down the road, Ghost did pretty good - Steve only had to poke him awake a couple of times. They stopped a couple of times, for gas, food, and a small graveyard on the side of the road. At the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, they stopped to take a picture by the sign.
"Hey, we've been in three states, now...North Carolina, Tennessee, and now Kentucky, since we started out," said Steve.
"Yeah, and now we get to go in a cave. How much longer do we have to drive?"
"Not too much longer. I've already seen signs saying the cave is straight ahead," said Steve.
They drove a bit longer, then coming to the visitor's center, they joined a guided tour of the cave. Neither had been in an actual big cave, before, just little ones back at home, so they were amazed at this huge one. They didn't allow picture taking, which bummed Ghost out, but he'd brought his notebook, so he could write notes, and draw a few sketches of what they were seeing. It was pretty dark in there, with only a few lights along the path, and to spotlight the formations. Later, Steve was impressed by Ghost's drawings, and writing, done mostly in the dark, and still were pretty accurate.
"Ya want a souvenir?" Steve asked, as they looked around the gift shop. Ghost picked out a small geode, pink and purple inside, and figured it would go good with the large pink quartz crystal they had at their house in Missing Mile. It would sit on the hall table just fine, Ghost thought...the crystal could have a geode friend. They also got a few postcards to send back to Kinsey, Terry, and R.J.
Leaving the shop, they sat at a small cement table and wrote on the postcards. There was a mailbox here in the gift shop to mail them from. Steve's said...'still traveling - saw this cave - call ya later'. Ghost's was a bit more elaborate. He wrote so many words it filled up the entire card, and continued it on another one. He never got tired of writing, and the more words the better. He signed the cards with his usual amorphous, swirly signature, and lots of xoxoxox.
"Ok, I'm done," he said. They dropped the cards in the box, and headed for the car. Talking over where they should go next, Ghost wanted to find someplace to get a gig. He needed to sing for an audience. It had been quite a while since the last time. This would involve scouting around the upcoming towns for likely places.
"Ya know, Ghost, we're kinda far from any big cities, and these smaller ones don't really have much that looks like a place we can play at. I still think we should fly out west, and work our way back," Steve said.
"But, I don't want to go on a plane," Ghost reminded Steve.
"It'd be faster, and don't ya want to see the Pacific Ocean?"
"I already seen it, and I like our ocean better."
"I thought you wanted to see the desert, and famous places?" Steve asked.
"Well, I do, but not all at once. I wanted to see old graveyards, not tourist places. Maybe someday we can go see a desert...when I'm not scared to fly."
"Ok then, let's head back east and see some more graveyards," Steve said, and sighed. "I'm sure the little towns will have some, but what about singing? Where will we do that?"
"I don't know, we'll find out when we get there."
So that was settled, and Steve drove down the road toward the south east, using the large highways, in order to travel faster. If he was honest with himself, though, he was so tired of driving, he wished they were home already.
Coming into a good sized town, they stopped, when they noticed a coffee shop. It looked like most others, and it had a small stage area. Asking the barista about playing, they were told it was an open mic night the next night, anything they wanted to do. She'd add them to the roster. They decided to do it, and went to find a place to stay. That wasn't as easy. The only motel in town was full, it being the tourist season. People took advantage of the town's amenities, on their way up and down the highway.
So, they went to the edge of town, to check on camping areas. No luck there either...any open area was posted with signs, no trespassing, no camping, no loitering.
"Guess we'll just have to sleep in the car tonight," Steve said.
"Well, let's at least find a graveyard and take some pictures," Ghost said.
They stopped in at a small mom and pop store, to ask. They were told of an old cemetery on the other side of town. "Been there for many years; not used anymore," the clerk told them. They were also told of a boarding house that maybe had a room to rent for the night. So, they went over there, and did secure an available room, before heading out to find the cemetery.
It was another small one, but had some interesting headstones scattered about. Ghost wandered among them, taking pictures, and listening. Steve wrote down information in the notebook. Ghost seemed troubled, though, when he rejoined Steve.
"What's up? Did you hear anything this time?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, but I don't know how to explain it. The spirits were not happy...they were all hollering."
Steve looked around - he couldn't hear anyone. "What did they say?"
Ghost shrugged, "They want out."
"Out?" Steve asked. "Out of their graves?" He was already spooked. He felt like creepy crawlies were on him and he shuddered. "Well, they just better stay covered up, is all I gotta say."
"But, they're not...at least their souls aren't. They're right out there on top, wafting around. They're connected to their own graves, can't go anywhere, but they want to," Ghost explained.
"And, you can see this?" Steve was looking hard at the area.
"Yeah, sure...I wish you could see it, Steve, they're all shimmery...and..."
"I'm outta here," Steve said, as he headed for the car. "Come on, before they grab us."
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing