TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Terry had been trying to find something to eat, in his darkened refrigerator. He was using a flashlight to see inside. Nothing but leftovers, but he grabbed some anyway. He thought he may have to put everything outside to keep it cold. Then he heard a loud banging on his door.
"Let me in, Terry...hurry!" Ghost was yelling.
"Ghost...what is it?" Terry asked, as he opened the door, pulling Ghost inside.
"Terry, you have to help. Steve is hurt, and I walked all the way here, and Kinsey said he couldn't help me, and you have a big truck, and maybe you can drive it to our house, because the phone is out, and no doctor can come, either, and Steve is freezing on the floor, and maybe he won't wake up, and...and...please help, Terry!"
Ghost was collapsing fast, and now his voice was raspy. Terry could hardly hear him. The cold and the yelling had taken their toll.
"Slow down, Ghost. Steve is hurt...how bad...and you came to get help?"
"Yes, I think he broke his leg. It was all crooked, and he hit his head...and there was blood all over, and he wouldn't wake up, Terry!"
Terry was thinking fast. The old truck hadn't been driven in quite a while. He didn't know if it would even start. And then, the roads were slick and snow covered, but if he could get the truck started up, it might just make it.
"Ok..ok, I'll try to get it started, hang on," Terry said. He got his coat, and they both trudged out to the lot. The doors were frozen shut, but Terry grabbed a can of de-icer from his storage room, and squirted it all around, and on the windows. They got in, and he turned the key. It took a few seconds, but finally started. Letting the engine warm up a bit, he looked over at Ghost.
"I'm not making any promises; this old truck might make it out there, or not, but I'll try. And, even if we have to walk part way, we'll get to Steve and help, however we can."
Ghost nodded, and whispered, "It's bad, Terry. He needs a doctor." He looked at Terry with such pain, that even Terry's eyes stung a little.
"We'll do everything we can, Ghost, and as soon as we can, we'll get a doctor for him, ok?"
"Ok..." Ghost said, as tears spilled down his cheeks.
Terry put the truck in gear, and slowly began driving through the deep snow. He couldn't even tell where the road was, now, and they kept loosing traction, as they kept slipping, on the ice under the snow. He definitely didn't want to run off into the bar ditch. He kept driving, though, and so far the truck was plowing on through.
"Ghost, I'm not sure where the road up to your house is...all the landmarks are covered up. You gotta let me know when you think I should turn."
After a long half-hour, Ghost told Terry to stop. He looked hard, trying to see if this was the opening to the dirt road. "I'm pretty sure this is it," he said.
"Ok, hope you're right," Terry said, as he made the turn.
"Yes! This is it," Ghost said. See how the trees are on both sides, but not in the middle? Keep going!"
Soon, they did find the house. The truck's headlights were pointed right at it. They jumped out, and carefully walked up onto the porch. Ghost opened the door. The house was dark, except for the group of candles, still flickering on the kitchen counter, almost burned out.
Ghost went over to Steve, still laying on the floor. Terry was hesitant, and came in slowly...afraid of what he'd see, afraid Steve was dead already, and afraid he'd have no idea what to do. He'd brought his flashlight, and he propped it up by the candles, to give a little more light in the room. He went to see about Steve.
"How is he, Ghost?"
"He's still alive, Terry, but he won't wake up."
"Is he still bleeding?"
"I don't think so...hand me the flashlight," Ghost said, then shined it over Steve, to check.
He had stopped bleeding from the cut on his forehead, but his leg was still crooked, Terry noticed.
"Why won't he wake up?" Ghost asked.
"I don't know. Maybe it's better that he doesn't...at least for now. He'd know how much pain he was in, if he was awake," Terry said.
"Can we move him off the floor? It's so cold, maybe put him in bed?"
"Well, I don't think we should move him around too much...what if it makes it worse?"
"Yeah, but what can we do, now?" Ghost asked.
"Just wait, I guess, till the storm is over," Terry said. "You said Kinsey was still trying the phone, right?"
"Yeah, that's what he said."
"Well, he'll send an ambulance or something, when he can get through. The storm has to stop sometime." Just keep talking to him, I guess. He probably can hear you, even if he is out of it."
So, Ghost did. He talked as much as his throat would let him, and even tried to sing a little. Every now and then, Steve would flutter his eyes, and moan a word or two. Terry paced around the house, trying to think what else they could do. He found the broken apart cell phone, and put the batteries back in, tried it, but it still wasn't working. He could hear Ghost, still talking to Steve.
"Ghost, I'm gonna lay down on the couch, for a little while. Call me if something happens."
"Ok, Terry, and thank you for helping. I was so scared, I didn't know what else to do."
"It's ok...I'm glad you made it to town, and didn't freeze yourself." He got a blanket and settled on the couch. The only sounds were the wind blowing the ice and snow against the windows, in gusts. Ghost's voice was growing fainter, and Steve kept moaning off and on. Even so, Terry dozed off.
Sometime in the night, Terry woke; something was different. Then he realized the wind had stopped blowing. He got up to check on Ghost and Steve. Ghost was asleep, his head on Steve's chest. Steve was either asleep, or still unconscious, but breathing at least. He grabbed another blanket to spread over the two of them.
The house was so cold, ice had formed on the inside of the windows. He looked outside. The clouds and wind driven snow had gone, leaving behind a bright moon. If they hadn't ben in so much trouble, the winter wonderland would have seemed beautiful. He sighed, running his hands over his tired face, hoping somehow, someone would be able to get to them, soon. He went back to the couch, but couldn't get back to sleep.
Finally, the long night gave way to a bright dawn. Terry could hear Ghost waking up, over in the kitchen, so he went in to see how Steve was. "How is he doing?" he asked.
Ghost sat up, groaning. He was in a lot of pain from his fall, and from plowing through the deep snow. "He's breathing...and hot, Terry." He barely croaked out. He tried to swallow, but his throat was so raw, he couldn't.
"You ok?" Terry asked.
"My throat hurts so bad, Terry, and I hurt all over from falling and walking, and I can't hardly talk."
Terry smiled to himself. Not talking was a huge deal to Ghost. "Yeah, y'all had a rough day. Well, the storm seems to be over, so someone will get out here, I'm sure. I'll wait awhile, then if I can, I'll try to drive back to town."
Ghost just sat there feeling awful, for himself and Steve. Tears were falling down his face.
"Ghost, don't...it's gonna be ok, you'll see..." Terry said, with a catch in his own throat.
"But, Terry..." Ghost whispered. "I ain't never seen him hurtin' before. He's the one always helping me outta trouble, ya know?" he swiped at his tears.
Terry could tell how upset Ghost was...his mountain accent got thicker, every time he was in pain.
"I know...and Steve will tell you later how much he was glad he could count on you...that you were here to help him, when he needed you," Terry said. He sat on the floor, by Ghost, giving him a hug. "He adores you, ya know. I know y'all had that trouble back then, but everything's good now, right? He doesn't drink as much anymore, does he? He seems a lot better, anyway."
"Yeah, it's good. He only has a couple now and again. He hasn't tried to kill me much. And he did keep his promise."
"What was that?" Terry asked.
"That he'd go get help for his drinking and being mean to me...and he did go, over in Raleigh, and it helped a lot I think. But, he don't want me to say anything, and now I just did, so now he's gonna get mad at me again. And, I just want him to wake up and be ok, and if wants to hit me, he can...and I'll let him, 'cause...'cause...Terry...why won't he wake up?" Ghost was sobbing now, and coughing.
Terry felt Ghost's forehead, then Steve's. "Y'all are both burning up, Ghost... damn it...we need some help out here." He got up, and went to the front window, wiping his own eyes on the way.
"Hey, Ghost...what was in that thermos Kinsey gave you? It's still out in the truck."
"It's coffee," Ghost answered.
"I'm going to go get it, maybe it's still good," Terry said. He bundled up, and made his way out to the truck.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing