TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
As the afternoon wound down, Steve went to admire his car some more. By himself, he let the memories come. First of them was the last time he'd driven the car, before today. The day he had the wreck...so drunk with liquor and despair of ever seeing Ghost again... and then the older memories...the good ones...with Ghost. He smiled at those good times.
Up on the porch, Ghost was on the swing with Linda. He was making the swing rock, as he overheard Steve's thoughts. Linda could tell there was something going on between them, at this very moment. Steve looked over to them, catching Ghost's gaze with his own. She'd never seen anything like it, before.
Then, Ghost began talking...to her...to himself...she didn't know, but she didn't interrupt. She'd heard Steve tell their story, and now she listened, as Ghost told his.
"Steve saved me in that car. I think I was dead 'cause I saw it all from another place. He was so scared. But, I was so hurt, and because he was with me, I wasn't scared...I was at peace. My soul was happy, because we'd finally found each other again." He sighed, remembering.
"Later, we were always riding around in it. It sometimes would break down, but Steve knows how to fix it. I'd sing to him while he worked. He said it helped. And that big 'ol back seat...uh...well, it's big...and, we've been in that back seat a lot..." His eyes were closed, and he licked his lips, and smiled. "Well, he loves that car, and I had to find it for him." He trailed off, then, curling up on the swing, with his head on Linda's lap. As he softly hummed a song, Linda smoothed back his hair, and stroked his temples. He was almost asleep, when Steve came up the porch steps.
"Don't go to sleep, Ghost, it's almost time to go," Steve said. "Linda, you've put a spell on him...ever since you've been here." He smiled, shaking his head.
"No...he's put a spell on me, Steve," Linda said. "You're magical, Ghost," she whispered.
Ghost smiled, and sat up, hugging her. "Thank you for listening, Linda."
"Ok, y'all, let's get our stuff and get going," Steve said, opening the screen door. Inside, he found a box, and Ghost and Linda put the gifts inside, to take over to the Yew. Then, they were on the road, headed for town.
Steve cranked up the radio, and they all sang along to the songs, on the oldies station. The car drove like a ship, floating on the ocean of the night's darkness...it was so smooth. As they arrived at the club, they could see that Zach's car was already there, and inside Zach, Trevor, Terry, R. J., and Kinsey were sitting at the bar, having a drink and telling stories.
"Hey, y'all," Terry yelled over at them. "Just in time for story hour," he laughed, already feeling his beers.
Steve carried the box of gifts over to the Christmas tree, adding them to the others under there. Linda and Ghost found a seat, and Kinsey got the drinks all around. The storytelling continued...each telling of when this or that happened, while they all chimed in with their own versions of the tales. Linda even told a few of her own.
"Anybody hungry?" Kinsey asked. "Let's go get a plate; I didn't cook all afternoon for y'all not to eat," he said, leading the way to the kitchen. He'd made spaghetti for the occasion, and everyone filled their plate, gathering again at a nearby table. The stories continued, amidst laughter and jokes.
Linda had only met Zach and Trevor once, at the show, the night she arrived, so hadn't gotten a chance to know them. And, they had a new listener to tell their stories to. She came to understand how they connected to Steve and Ghost. She was astounded at their story of the séance and the haunted house. She remembered the house...it had been a topic that many of her friends from school had talked about. Now she was hearing the real story.
They soon finished their meal, and Steve urged everyone to come see his T-bird, and so they all trooped outside.
"Never thought I'd see it again, Steve," Terry said. "In fact, it looks a lot better now...there ain't a bunch of trash in there," he cackled.
"Yeah, well, I'm gonna keep it clean, now," Steve said.
"Who's ready for presents?" Ghost asked. He headed inside, and they all followed, gathering at the Christmas tree. "Hey, there's a lot of presents here," he said, getting excited. "More than what we brung."
"Yeah, we put some under there," said Zach.
"Me, too," Terry said.
"Well, so did I," Kinsey said. "Who's gonna start?"
"Wait...I have to take a picture," Ghost said, running to get his camera. Everyone posed, and acted silly for a few minutes. Then Terry grabbed a gift.
"This one says it's to Kinsey...and what do you know...it's from me," Terry said, handing it to Kinsey.
When Kinsey tore off the wrapping paper, he found a photo album with all the pictures he and Terry had taken while on their vacation. "Hey, this is neat, Terry. We sure had a good time. Thanks, man." He got up to find his present from him, to Terry. "Here ya go, Terry, open it."
It wasn't a very large package, but when Terry opened it, he seemed stunned for a second. "What? How? Look, y'all...tickets to the rock concert over in Raleigh next month. Wow, this has been sold out for awhile...how did you manage to get these, Kinsey?"
Smiling, Kinsey said, "Oh, I have my ways. The promoter is an old friend of mine."
"Well, gee thanks...and there's two of them. Guess I'll have to find a date," Terry said.
Now, Zach reached into the pile of gifts, getting one out. "This one is for you, Steve," he said.
Steve took the package, opened it, and grinned. It was a set of guitar picks, in several colors, embossed with his name in gold. "These are so cool, Zach. I never had one with my name on it. Thanks."
"I have something for you Zach," Ghost said. He brought out the gift he'd bought at the New Age store awhile back. He then handed out all the other presents under the tree, for everyone to tear into.
Steve had held his gifts back for last. Then, handing them out, he said, "Y'all got the same thing from me, so open 'em all at the same time."
They tore into them, each wanting to be the first to reveal what it was. For a second, it was a flurry of wrapping paper flying through the air.
"Oh, wow, look at this," Zach said, holding up his keychain. Then, they all held up their own, so the others could see.
"Thank you, Steve...it's just what I wanted," Kinsey said.
"And, it's so useful, too," R. J. said. They all laughed at how corny that had sounded.
"These things real?" Terry asked, as he eyeballed the diamond chip.
Everyone got quiet at that statement, yet they all wanted to know.
"Hell, yeah," Steve said. "So, if ya go pawning it, make sure they give ya good money for it." He laughed.
They kept talking, after the gift-giving was done, then Kinsey went to get trash bags, for the clean-up. Ghost and R. J. went back for more dessert, and Steve and Linda went upstairs to get her suitcase.
"Steve, it's been so much fun here with you and Ghost, and your friends. I have to get back to my kids, but I am coming back here...just as soon as I can."
"Well, Sis, I'm glad you came, and I enjoyed it too. I was really nervous about it, but now, I can't wait for y'all to get back here," Steve said. She gave him a hug. "I think it's almost time for the bus, isn't it?" she asked, looking at her watch.
"Yeah, better get out there," Steve said. "What time does your plane leave from Raleigh?"
"About an hour after I get to the airport, so I'll have enough time to get checked in and all," Linda said.
"You're not afraid to fly?" Steve asked.
"No, why? I love flying on a plane."
Steve shrugged. "Oh, well, Ghost and I was gonna do that one time, but we got too scared, and so we didn't. It was a mess."
She laughed. "Well, someday maybe, y'all can try again."
They went downstairs, and she told everyone good-bye. She and Steve went out and over to the hardware store's porch, to wait for the bus. The bus did arrive on time, and Steve hugged his sister one more time, then waved, as she looked out the window. He stood there a few minutes, wishing she was already moved here.
Ghost came out of the club, and walked over to Steve. He hugged him, and put his head on Steve's shoulder. "Can we go home, now?" he asked.
Steve nodded. "Yeah, looks like you're pretty tipsy, and about to fall asleep, Ghost."
"Yep," Ghost giggled, and swayed, as they began to walk back to the club.
"Go on and get in the car. I'll get our stuff, then we'll go home," Steve said.
"Ok," Ghost said, as he climbed into the car, shut the door, and leaned back, half asleep already.
Steve went in, and gathered up their gifts. "We're going, guys. Linda got on the bus ok, and Ghost is already asleep in the car. Thanks for supper Kinsey, and everyone for the presents," he said.
"Y'all get home safe...and Merry Christmas," Kinsey said.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing