TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Steve and Ghost stayed out on the porch for a while longer, drinking their coffee, and listening to the birds out in the woods wake up. It was a nice, easy start to their day. After a bit, though they came in to fix some breakfast. Working side by side in the kitchen, they made pancakes and eggs. Remembering their conversation from the night before, Ghost asked, "Do you think the book store will be open?"
"Oh, yeah, by the time we get there, I'm sure it will be," Steve said. So far, that was the only plan they had for the day. They were in no hurry to leave the house, though.
The used bookstore, there in Missing Mile, was not large, but people did come regularly to buy, sell, and trade their books. As they went inside, the owner greeted them.
"Hey, Steve...Ghost...it's been awhile. Good to see y'all, again. Lots of new books have come in. Y'all look around."
Steve headed for his favorite section...the novels. Ghost went browsing the shelves, too, to see what he could find. When Steve finally emerged from the stacks, with an armload of books, he took them over to the counter. He stayed there talking to the guy, while he waited for Ghost to finish.
"I see you still like these kind, Steve," he said, picking up one of the books. "This one is good."
Steve nodded, and said, "Yeah, I tried to get Ghost to read them, but he wouldn't."
The owner laughed. "Hah, that one goes for the unusual ones, I know. I keep tabs on my customer's reading preferences. I always see Ghost head for the New Age section, then he goes to sci-fy, then he'll look through the history type. It never fails. And you, my friend, head for the novels, and your favorite authors, first, then any books that are similar, and last, you'll check out the biography for musicians true stories."
Steve laughed, and agreed. "You got it just right, man."
"I heard Kinsey and Terry are away on vacation."
"That's right, for another week or so," Steve said. "They've been calling us to say they're having fun."
"Well, Terry doesn't come in here much, but Kinsey, he's always taking sack loads out. He reads a lot, but never trades 'em back in."
"I know...he has them all lined up on his bookcase in his office. He never gets rid of any of them."
Just then, Ghost came up to the counter with his selections. Taking a look, both Steve and the man laughed. "Told ya," they both said.
"What?" asked Ghost.
"That we knew what kind you were gonna get," said Steve.
"So...this is what I like...and look, these here ones are new. I haven't read them before," Ghost said.
"Um-hum, that's the whole point of coming in here, Ghost...to get something new."
"I know, but there's other reasons, too," Ghost said.
"Like what?" Steve asked.
"Well, like seeing if somebody left junk in a book, and to see if I know who had it last, and to smell the book smells, and...to say hi to you," Ghost said, looking at the owner.
"Well, Ghost, I'm glad I was included in that list. I never thought of it that way, but you're right." He began ringing up their purchases, and sacking them up. "Enjoy your books, guys. See ya next time around."
Steve and Ghost left, and sat in the car a few minutes. "What'cha wanna do now, Ghost?"
Ghost thought for a minute, then said, "I want to go see Zach. I need to ask him something."
"Ok, we can do that," Steve said. He started the car, and drove over to Zach and Trevor's house. They didn't call first, so lucked out at finding them home. Trevor answered the door, when they rang the bell, and looked surprised to see them.
"Hey, guys, come on in. Zach...look who's here," Trevor hollered out to the kitchen.
Zach came into the living room. "Hi, what's up?"
"I need to talk to you, Zach," Ghost said. "But first, I want to say I'm sorry for the other day. I was too drunk to say it then. Anyway, I didn't ruin your house, did I?" He looked around, trying to see any wreckage.
"No, you didn't ruin anything, Ghost. In fact, you were kinda funny. We're just glad you're feeling ok, today," Zach said. "So, what do you want to talk to me about?"
Ghost grabbed Zach's arm, and led him down the hallway to the bedroom, and closed the door.
"That was strange," Trevor said, looking at Steve.
Steve shrugged, "Yeah, I have no idea what he's up to."
"Well, sit down...I guess they'll be out in a few minutes," Trevor said.
Ghost went over to the bed and sat down. Zach was still standing in the middle of the room. He'd never talked to Ghost, one on one, like this before, and was a little wary. He knew Ghost was unpredictable, and Zach was thinking to himself, that he should be ready for anything.
Ghost, of course, heard the thought. "I'm not gonna jump ya, Zach. I just want to ask ya something, and I don't want Steve to hear."
"Uh, sure Ghost," Zach said, "what is it?"
Ghost sighed, "Ok, I gotta get Steve a Christmas present." He stopped, and looked up at Zach.
Zach waited for more information. "And, what is your question?" he asked.
"Oh...how can I do that?" Ghost said.
Zach was still confused. "I'm not sure I'm following you, Ghost. What do you want me to do?"
Ghost sighed again, and tried to find the words to explain. "This is so hard...I never had to ask anybody before, and it's not coming out right."
Zach saw that Ghost was getting upset, and was on the verge of crying, his bottom lip quivering. He'd never dealt with someone like Ghost...he was usually so good with words, and talked all the time, and now was having so much trouble getting to the point.
"Ok, Ghost, let me see. So far, here's what I know...you want to get Steve a Christmas present...right?"
Zach continued, "And, you don't know how? How to what...how to get one? What to get? How to keep it a secret? How to pay for it? How to go get it by yourself?" Zach listed all the possibilities he could think of. Looking at Ghost, he could see tears falling, and Ghost brushing them off his cheeks.
"Yeah," Ghost whispered, "all of that." He looked up at Zach. "Can you help me?"
Zach was moved by how vulnerable Ghost was at this moment. He could fight demons, but found it so hard to ask for help...such an enigma. He knelt down in front of Ghost, and took his hands. "Ghost, I'll do all I can to help you...just say it."
Ghost sniffed, "Ok, first I'll need a ride to Raleigh. Then I have to go to the bank, and to the junkyard. I know what I want to do, and have the money. Mostly, I just need a ride, and for Steve to not find out." Ghost talked fast now, trying to get it all out before he froze up again.
"Well, sure, I can give you a ride. When, tomorrow ok?" Zach asked.
"Yeah, but how? Steve hardly ever leaves me alone, and if I go somewhere, he gets worried."
"I see..." Zach said. "Maybe I can ask Trevor to help distract Steve...have him come over here on some excuse or other, ya know. Or, hey, maybe Steve needs time alone to go get your secret present. This could work out ok, after all. Why don't you ask him?"
Ghost looked confused, now. "No, I can't. I like it better if he can come over here. That would work, and you can pick me up."
"Ok, we'll do that," Zach said. "I'll have Trevor call in the morning, and then I'll leave here, before Steve gets here. Then, I can drive you in to Raleigh? Sound good?" He smiled, finally understanding the problem.
Ghost smiled, too, "Yeah, Zach, and I'll pay you for your help...for gas and stuff."
"No, you won't, Ghost. I won't take your money. I'd love to do this favor for you."
That settled, they went back out to the living room. Steve and Trevor looked at them, questions on their faces. "So, what was that all about," Steve asked.
"Nothing, it's all figured out," Ghost said. "We can go now."
"Ok, then, guess we'll talk to y'all later, Trevor," Steve said. He and Ghost left.
Zach explained everything to Trevor. Ghost said nothing about it to Steve.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing