TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
They traveled on down the highway, through the night, coming into Knoxville, as dawn was breaking. Steve was yawning and could barely keep his eyes open. Ghost had fallen asleep some time back.
"Ghost, wake up," Steve said, nudging him. "I'm exhausted. I need to sleep. I'm renting a room here for a couple of days, ok?"
"Ok, Steve, sounds good," Ghost muttered, his eyes still closed.
A few minutes later they were in a motel room, and were sound asleep. The next morning, they figured they should do some laundry, and get organized for the rest of the trip.
"Look, Ghost, here's where we are now," Steve said, pointing it out on the map. "Here's all the rest of the country. Where should we go?"
Ghost looked mostly at the colors, then said, "Brown."
Steve gave him a look. "Brown?"
"Yeah, to a brown place...like over there." He put his finger over on Arizona. Looking at the town names he got excited, when he saw Tombstone. "Here's a good one, and it can go in our book when we find a graveyard."
"Is that desert enough for ya, then?" Steve asked.
"Guess so, but I like the name best."
"Ok then, let's go to Tucson and rent a car, then we'll drive over there to Tombstone and check it out. Maybe we can even find a ghost town somewhere, too." Steve said.
"For real? There's whole towns with ghosts in them?"
"Well, just abandoned towns...nobody lives there anymore, but maybe there's ghosts."
Ghost had a worried look on his face, "Yeah, guess I'd like to see that."
Steve shoved Ghost's arm. "You're weird, Ghost, ya know that?"
"Yeah, ya told me before, Steve." He folded up the map. "So, let's get going."
They drove out to the airport, and Steve figured out how to leave his car there until they got back. As they walked through the entrance, they stared at all the people, and counters, taking it all in. They'd never been in such a place, before.
* "Is this gonna be like the big 'ol bus station in New York?" asked Ghost.
"I don't think there'll be any homeless bums jumping out at us here...but, this sure is big," Steve said. "Where do you think we should go, in here?"
"I'll ask," said Ghost, as he headed off to the nearest counter, dodging people who actually did know where they were going.
Steve followed, lugging their duffel bags, and trying to keep up. As he caught up with Ghost, he heard him asking where to get a ticket to Arizona. The lady was tapping on her computer, and talking fast. Ghost had already gotten confused, so Steve took over. Finally they understood they'd have to go to another counter, way off down the row, to get the tickets.
"Don't walk so fast, Steve...my head's spinnin' already."
"Well keep up, then. We have to hurry. She said there's a plane leaving pretty soon."
They did manage to get their tickets and find the right gate. Steve had checked in their bags, but they carried on Steve's guitar and Ghost's backpack. On the other side of the security check-point, they found a place to sit down.
"We've got about an hour to wait, Ghost. I'm going to go find us something to eat. You stay here, ok...don't move, don't wander off."
"I'm not going anywhere, Steve...just...I'm getting nervous."
"Yeah, me too, but food will help probably. I'll be back in a little bit." He turned away to find a bathroom and a food place. He hoped he, himself wouldn't get lost.
Ghost sat there awhile, watching the parade of people pass by. He was getting restless, though. He began fidgeting, and could feel his eye twitching, and a headache coming on...and he was hungry.
"Come on, Steve, come on Steve," he said over and over, out loud.
The loudspeaker announcements were blaring, and unintelligible. Ghost could feel his anxiety mounting. He couldn't block out all the thoughts of the people around him...all their fears and thoughts. It was getting to be too much for him. He tried leaning back in the seat, and closing his eyes, but he was still breathing hard, and could sense his panic increasing.
And still, Steve wasn't back. "Where the hell are you, Steve?" he asked nobody, and continued to wait. He wanted so bad to get up and go look for Steve. He got his back pack, and rummaged through it. There was nothing to hold his interest. He didn't want to write, at the moment. His stomach was growling and he was getting light headed; he found no snacks in his bag.
He decided to at least stand up by his seat. Maybe he could see over the heads of the crowd, and see if Steve was coming back. But, as he stood up, he could feel the whole place start to tilt, and he almost fell down. His eyes felt funny too, like huge...but he was having trouble seeing anything, just a big, blurry, noisy scene swirling all around him. His heart was pounding. He didn't know what to do.
He opened Steve's guitar case, just to see something familiar. Inside, he found the cell phone Kinsey had given them. That gave him the idea to try and call Kinsey...just to say hi, and to let him know where they were, and where they were going. He stared hard at the phone, trying to make the letters stop swimming around in his blurry vision.
"I think I remember how to do this...he said use the letters," he said to himself, as he pushed the keypad in the order he remembered. He could hear it ringing. He heard Kinsey's voice coming out of the phone.
"Hello, Sacred Yew, Kinsey here."
Ghost was always amazed that it actually worked. He smiled and began talking in his round about way.
"Hey, Kinsey, can you help me find Steve? He went somewhere, and I think he's lost. He said he'd come back, but it's been forever. I'm still here, and this place is freaking me out. There's too much noise and people, and I'm so hungry I think I'm gonna faint."
"Ghost? What's going on? Don't talk so fast. Where are you, and where's Steve. Let me talk to him, now."
"I can't find him, Kinsey. I'm scared. I'm by myself, and we're gonna get on an airplane, and go see a tombstone, and...and...where's Steve? I need help!"
Kinsey could tell by the tone of Ghost's words, that he was about to lose it. "Calm down, Ghost," he said. "Let me get this straight. Y'all are at an airport, and Steve went somewhere and hasn't come back, yet?"
"Yeah, and he was gonna get us some food 'cause we're hungry, and it's been forever, and he never came back. I'm still here where he left me. He said don't move, so I didn't. But I need to go find him, but I can't cause I'm all dizzy, and there's too many people."
Kinsey knew he had to give Ghost reassurance, and get him to calm down, before he really did go wandering off. "Just stay where you are, ok? Steve will be back, don't worry. He's going to be back to get you."
"Ok, Kinsey, but I'll probably be starved to death by then, and the plane I think already left without us."
"Where are y'all going anyway, on a plane?" Kinsey asked.
"We're going to Arizona to see the desert, but looking at graveyards, too...and other stuff. But we're scared to go on a plane, but Steve's tired of driving. Why won't he come back, Kinsey? I need him!" Ghost completely fell apart, then, sobbing and saying through his tears, "Where are you, Steve...I need you!"
He had dropped the phone, and Kinsey couldn't yell loud enough to get his attention again, so he just kept listening to Ghost cry, and the airport noises. He hoped someone would notice, and that Steve would show up, soon.
Next installment coming soon!
*a reference to a story in the book "Wormwood" by Poppy Z. Brite, called "How to Get Ahead in New York"
Peace, Love, & Writing