TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
"The dead soldiers?" Linda asked. "Is that possible?" She was getting a little bit spooked now, as she, Steve, and Ghost, sat out in the old graveyard behind their house. "How does he know where to look to see them and hear them?"
Steve shrugged. "How he does it, I don't know. Where he sees them, is all around here. He knows all their names, and has regular conversations with them," Steve said. "It's not scary to me anymore. That's what our book is about. We went all over on a road trip, and Ghost talked to ghosts, and we got some pictures of them too. You'll see when you read it."
Ghost had wandered off out into the cemetery, stopping at every one of the granite headstones, and crosses of all kinds. "Look at him, Linda," Steve said, "he's talking to them, now."
Linda stared hard out into the distance. "Do you see them?" she asked.
"No, but I've heard 'em...sometimes I can."
"I wish I could see them, or something, anyway," Linda said, and shivered.
Steve spread out the blanket down by their favorite tombstone, and they sat on it, wrapping the other blanket around their shoulders. Steve started rolling a joint, as Linda watched him.
"Do you smoke?" he asked.
"I have before, but not a lot," Linda said.
"It helps relax us," Steve said.
Ghost came up, getting under the blanket with them. Steve lit up, and they passed it around, the fragrant smoke curling up into the crisp, night air.
"They're in a good mood, tonight," Ghost said. "And, I'm in a good mood, too." He leaned over, putting his head into Linda's lap. She was surprised, and looked over at Steve.
Steve was smiling. "He likes you, Linda," he said.
She brushed strands of Ghost's blond hair off his face. "Oh, Ghost, I like you, too," she said.
Ghost sighed, looking up into the sky. "The stars are out, again...guess the snow is over. They're really bright tonight, too; they're happy stars. That's why they wink at us...well twink...twinkle...winkle...whatever they do. They like to get our attention," he said.
"It's like they are on the sky's stage, putting on a show, and saying look at us. And they sing to us every night, only sometimes behind the curtain of clouds...but, there they are anyway, wanting us to notice them," Ghost said. His voice was soothing the rough edges of the day. Linda felt the tension leave her, and she drifted on the words.
Still musing about the stars, Ghost wove a fantastical story, of how the stars were really diamonds. "You see, the stars have always been there. They're real big diamonds up there...and sometimes one falls down...starfall...falling star, and it crashes into the Earth and shatters, and scatters it's pieces all over...and some get buried in the ground. Then later, people make a diamond mine to get them out, so they can see them. They polish off the dirt, and sell them...ya know...stuff like that. But really, they came from stars, and they are happy everyone likes them."
He had Linda and Steve really believing the story. "I always wondered about, Ghost," Linda said, softly.
Steve, though, mentioned the time Ghost had told him they were driving the car through the sky of diamonds.
"Yeah, we did, Steve...for a few minutes, we really did...'cause if you think of it , you can do it. That's how things get done, and invented, ya know."
"I love your stories, Ghost, and I want to hear more," Linda said. "But, I'm getting cold. Can we go back inside, now?"
"Yeah, let's get some hot cocoa," Steve said. He stood up, stretching. He reached out both hands to help Linda and Ghost up. Leading the way, Steve lit the path. Back inside the house, Steve found a t-shirt and pajama pants for Linda.
They made themselves comfortable on the couch. "For breakfast, I'm making pancakes," Ghost said. "You'll like them, Linda."
"I'm sure I will. What time do y'all usually get up?"
"Oh, whenever we wake up," Steve said.
"First one up gets coffee brewing. That's the rule around here...and feeds Spirit," Ghost said. Then he whispered in Linda's ear. "I still need to talk private with you, ok?"
Linda nodded. "Yes, in the morning, ok? Well, guys, I'm going to bed. I'll see y'all in the morning." She walked down the hall to Steve's bedroom. Getting settled in Steve's bed, she realized how tired she was, but she'd enjoyed every minute of it. She heard Steve and Ghost closing up the house, and moving into Ghost's room. A bit of talking, then all was quiet for a bit. She listened to the wind begin to blow outside, through the tall pine trees, and a couple of floorboards creaked, as they settled. She hoped a graveyard spirit wasn't roaming around.
Then she heard Ghost laugh, in the other room. Steve was saying something, in his deeper voice, and she couldn't make out the words, but there was no mistaking what they were doing in there. "Oh, my God," she said to herself. "This is so awkward...here I am in my brother's bed, listening to him make love to Ghost, in the next room." She pulled up the covers, and tried not to hear, but they were pretty loud...like they'd forgotten she was in the house. She giggled. "At least they're happy." Eventually, all was quiet again.
Linda did happen to be the first one up, the next morning, so she started making the coffee. She was just pouring her first cup, when Steve came into the kitchen, all mussed hair, and sleepy eyed.
"Hey, Sis, how'd you sleep?" he asked. He grabbed a mug from the cabinet and poured himself some coffee.
She was looking for the cat food. "I slept good, Steve...that is after y'all quieted down in there." She winked at him.
"Oh, well...ya know...glad you got some sleep," he said, a bit embarrassed .
Linda scooped out some cat food into a bowl, setting it on the floor. "I'm just glad y'all are happy, Steve. Isn't Ghost up yet?" she asked.
"Not yet. Guess I'll get in the shower," he said, taking his coffee with him.
She sat at the table, thinking of the day ahead. She'd be back in her own home, with her kids and sister, by late tonight. It had been an emotional couple of days here. As she sipped her coffee, she heard Ghost, calling from the bedroom.
"Steve...Steve..." he kept calling, but not loud enough for Steve to hear him, over the shower water running.
She went to check on Ghost, to see what he wanted. She peeked into the bedroom doorway, and was surprised to see Ghost was wrapped in a sheet, with only his left arm sticking out, and handcuffed to the bed railing. His eyes were closed.
"Ghost?" she asked
His eyes flew open, and he grinned. "You're not Steve."
"No, he's in the shower, and I heard you calling him...uh...is there something I can help you with?"
"Yeah, you can get me loose, ok?" Ghost said, shaking his arm. He didn't seem to mind her seeing him like this. "The key is over there somewhere," he pointed to the dresser.
She found it, but saw that she'd have to lean totally over Ghost, or crawl up in the bed, to reach the handcuff holding him. "Maybe you should wait for Steve to do this?"
"Naw, you can do it...just climb over me," he said.
So she did, very carefully, but could just imagine what it must look like. She unlocked the cuffs, then scrambled off the bed. Ghost rubbed his wrist, and shook his arm, to get the tingling to go away.
"Ghost, why were you...no...none of my business...forget it," she said, as she turned to go back to the kitchen.
"Linda, it's ok. It's well, yeah, it's what you're thinking, but it's more than that. Mostly, it's 'cause I sleepwalk, and Steve don't want me to get lost in the woods at night. He'd have to go looking for me, so this makes me stay inside." With the sheet still wrapped around himself, he went over to the dresser to find some sweatpants to put on. "Anyway, thanks for helping me. Is the coffee ready?"
"Yes, it's ready," Linda said. She went on down the hallway, so Ghost could get dressed.
When he'd gotten his own cup, and Linda had refreshed hers, Ghost said, "Let's go out on the porch. We can sit on the swing." He took the crocheted afghan off the couch to bring with them. Their steaming cups of coffee warmed their hands, even as their breath misted out into the cold air.
"The sun is all pink...look," Ghost said.
"It's beautiful...peaceful, out here...not so much in L. A." Linda said.
"I know...I been there once," Ghost said, "but this here is home."
Linda remembered what Steve had told her about Ghost's time in L. A. ...how terrible it had been. "I'm really thinking about moving back here, you know?"
Ghost nodded. "I know, and I'd like that, and I know Steve would, too," Ghost said. They stayed outside, enjoying the new morning, while they waited for Steve.
"So, last night, you said you needed to ask me something. What is it?" Linda asked.
Ghost took a deep breath, trying to get his thoughts in order. He felt a zing of anticipation, now that he remembered Steve's surprise. "Ok...it's about Steve's Christmas present, and how to do it like I want to...to surprise him," he said.
"Ok, what can I do?" Linda asked.
"I need you to take him somewhere, but I don't know how long, or where, or...well, I need him to not come home down the driveway...just from the back door only," Ghost said. "That's 'cause his prize is gonna be outside here, and I gotta open the front door, and say surprise...but he can't see it until then." he shrugged. "I just don't know what to do." He was looking at her for some kind of answer.
"Wow, that's complicated. Let me think," Linda said. "So, it's not here now, but will be delivered?"
Ghost nodded, "Yes, between lunch and supper, but I don't know when, and I have to be here, but not Steve."
"Ok, I can get him out and away, but getting back, only through the back way, is tricky," Linda said.
"Yeah, that's why I can't figure it out."
"Let's see...I do need to get my things packed and ready to go, over at Kinsey's, so I'll get him to drive me over there, after lunch. Then we'll stay awhile," Linda said. "Is there some way you can call, and let me know when it's ok to come back?"
"Yeah, I can say I have to have the phone, here. I can call Kinsey, and he can tell you," Ghost said.
"Ok, good. I'll get Steve to drive back here after you call, but not into the road or driveway. Is there another way in...a back road or something?"
"Well, there's a path, but a car can't go on it...no wait...there is another little road. It's before our road. Steve knows it, but we haven't been on it in a long time. It does come up here to the back...on the other side of the graveyard. There used to be a house there, but not any more, and the road goes there, if it's not all weeds by now," Ghost said. He took a moment to think. "Yeah, tell Steve you want to look around the woods, back there. Make up some reason to, and he'll do it. Just for a little bit, 'cause I'll have everything ready by then. Come in the back door, ok?"
Linda laughed. "Ok, I think I can do this, at least I'll try. Don't get mad, if it turns out wrong, though...please?"
"I won't get mad, Linda. I think it will work just fine."
"Good...and you know I have to get back home, Ghost, but I want so much to stay," Linda said.
Ghost smiled. "You'll be back." He gave her a hug, then jumped up from the swing. "I'm making breakfast, now." Linda followed him in.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing