TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
It was still kind of early, but the restaurant was already open. There were a handful of customers there, having their coffee and reading newspapers. They looked up as Ghost and Steve entered, to see who would be joining them.
They sat in a booth and looked at the menu. They'd already had breakfast, back at the haunted house, but the pancakes and eggs sounded good here, so that's what they ordered.
"What's next on your list?" asked Steve.
Ghost fiddled with the little sugar packets on the table, tearing one open, pouring it out, then making designs in it, with his finger.
"Well, we should call Kinsey and give him an update. We promised we would," Ghost said, still drawing pictures in sugar.
"Oh, yeah, good idea...let's do that today," Steve agreed. "We'll be in Tennessee when we come down the mountain. Were there any graveyards in the next town? Did you find out, yet?"
"No, I don't know...I haven't asked anyone. Maybe when we get to the next town."
Steve got the impression that Ghost was losing interest in the whole travel adventure thing already. Typical Ghost behavior, Steve thought. His ADD wouldn't let him keep his mind on any one thing for very long. Never got around to finishing a project...only writing in his journal, writing songs, writing words, and singing were the only constants in Ghost's life...and me, Steve added to himself. God help me, if Ghost ever...well...I won't even think it...Ghost can read my mind like an open book...no need to put ideas like that in his crazy little head.
Ghost sighed, and wouldn't look at Steve.
"What is it?" Steve asked.
"Nothing, just that thing...back there at the house. It bothers me. What if I'm scared now, of graveyards? What if I can't be me no more?"
Ghost began crying, big old tears and heartbreaking sobs, right there in the restaurant booth.
"Oh, shit," Steve thought. "Ghost, please dont...don't cry...don't let it get to you. You'll always be you. That back there was just an old lady trying to give us a scary experience, in her old rickety house. She probably does it for every tourist that comes along."
Ghost cried louder. "No, it wasn't that, Steve; something happened to me, and nothing feels right anymore...and...and...I don't know what to do to feel right again."
Steve was alarmed at how distraught Ghost was. He came over to Ghost's side of the table and took him in his arms, to comfort him. The other diners were all looking and whispering. This was not something they saw every day. They'd have a story to tell now, when they got home.
But, Steve didn't care who saw what, or what they thought. All he cared about was Ghost. It broke his heart to hear Ghost cry so totally anguished.
"I wanna go home, Steve. I miss my safe house. I hate it now, this driving all the time," Ghost wailed.
"C'mon, let's go outside...we'll talk it over, ok?" Steve said.
The waitress came over to see if she could help.
"No, we'll be ok, we'll leave and quit disturbing everyone." He put money on the table, pulled Ghost up, and walked him to the door. He took a deep breath of cool mountain air, to clear his head.
"Try to calm down, Ghost...enjoy the air, the mountain...we'll work this out, ok?"
Ghost nodded, as they walked back to the car. They sat on the hood until Ghost got a little more control back.
"Listen, Ghost, this was your idea to do this. Give it a little longer. Prove to yourself you can do it...see it through. I know you can. It'll be a great experience for us, and the book with pictures will be fabulous, I know.
I was reluctant at first, ya know, but I'm really getting into it now. Don't ever doubt yourself, Ghost. You're too strong a person to let little things get to you. You are who you are, and that won't change. You'll still talk to spooks, and like hanging out in graveyards. Nothing is changed. Please believe me, please believe in yourself." Steve pleaded.
Ghost took a shuddery breath, shaking his hair around to clear his head of the bad thoughts, but it didn't work...he was still upset and confused.
"Steve, why did I have dirt on me? I can't figure it out. If it was just a vision, why was it real, too?"
"Ok, let's go over what you did last night," said Steve, patiently. "You went exploring, first the bathroom, right?"
"Yeah, and the face in the mirror looked at me, so I got out of there. I looked at old pictures on the wall, then I went down to the living room...more old pictures. Then, the kitchen. I didn't see anything, so I was writing in my notebook, and I heard a noise in the pantry. I went to look, and it was just food and things, but I heard the noise again. Behind the shelf was a secret door, so I knocked on it, and it opened. I heard a voice say 'come in'.
I was gonna go get you, but didn't want to wake you up. So, I just made some tea and listened, and tried to think what to do. I pushed in there in my mind, ya know, and saw all that stuff I told you about. Then I was at the table again, and I came up to bed. That's it, until I woke up this morning...all dirty."
"Ok, let me think..." Steve said. He had no idea what to say about it, he realized. How do you explain something you really know nothing about, to someone like Ghost, who knows everything about it? So he just said whatever he could think of, and hoped it was good enough.
"Ok, you weren't dirty when you went to bed, right?"
"Yeah, that's right. I would have noticed."
"Then this morning, you were. What I think is, sometime after you went to sleep, you must have sleepwalked outside for awhile, and got into some dirt, which you didn't know about, 'cause you were really asleep. That's probably what happened. Nothing crazy about that...you do weird things when you sleepwalk all the time. I've seen you," said Steve.
"Maybe you're right, Steve. That's what I'll believe happened," Ghost perked up, now that he had an answer to his questions. They both smiled.
"Whew, that was intense," Steve thought.
"That's not what happened, at all, but I'll say it was, so Steve will feel better," Ghost was thinking.
He jumped down from the hood of the car, and rummaged around in his backpack for his camera. As he turned to take a picture of the restaurant, he saw most of the diners, and the waitress, standing on the old wooden porch, watching them. He waved and took their picture. Behind him, Steve gave the ok, all is good sign, with his fingers, to the onlookers.
"I'm gonna go to that overlook place and take a picture, Steve," Ghost said. "Find the phone, and call Kinsey, ok?"
Steve searched the car for the phone, hoping it was still charged up, and he could get reception up here.
Back at the Sacred Yew, Kinsey was cleaning up the club, getting ready for the nightly crowd, when he heard the phone ring. Answering it, he was delighted to hear Steve's voice. He'd been wondering how the guys were doing.
"Hey, Kinsey, it's Steve. I'm just calling to check in with you."
"Man, it's good to hear from you, Steve. What's happening...where are y'all, now?"
"Oh, we're at the top of the Smoky Mountains, at a place where there's a place to eat, and stuff. We're doing ok. Seen a lot of things, so far. Ghost is taking lots of pictures...uh..." Steve stopped for a second, not sure whether to tell him everything, yet, but Kinsey picked up on his hesitation, right away.
"Ok, Steve, what's going on for real? I can tell there's something you're not telling me."
"Uh, nothing, Kinsey...just, well...Ghost got scared. We stayed in a haunted house last night, for real, and it scared the crap outta Ghost. He got all crazy upset about it and wanted to come home. It's ok, now. We're still traveling some more."
He could hear Kinsey laughing, and trying not to.
"Don't laugh, Kinsey."
"But, it's funny - Ghost scared of ghosts."
"Yeah, when ya put it that way, but damn, Kinsey, he was flippin' out on me. Had to try everything I knew to calm him down. That wasn't funny."
"Yeah, I remember when y'all were kids, and you and Terry, and R.J. went out to the old haunted, murder house...and Ghost wouldn't even come within a hundred yards of the place," said Kinsey.
"I know, I know," said Steve. "That's what makes Ghost so...well...Ghost, and man he was freaking out, that he could never be himself again, after last night. Said he didn't feel right anymore. It scared me to see him like that.
Oh, here he comes...he'll want to say hi," Steve said, as he handed the phone to Ghost.
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing