TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
"Steeeve," Ghost wailed, from his bedroom.
"What?" Steve yelled back.
"My stomach hurts...it's on fire."
"Tough...I told ya not to drink that crap, now ya just gotta deal with it," Steve said.
"But it hurts," Ghost cried.
Steve got up from the couch, and went to stand in the doorway of Ghost's room. He had to admit, Ghost looked pretty pitiful, lying there clutching his stomach, and gritting his teeth. Sighing, Steve asked, "What was in that potion you drank, anyway?"
"I don't know...the label fell off when I picked it up. All I saw on there, it said for fevers," Ghost said.
"Ok, hang on, I'll go find it," Steve said, as he went over to the back storage room. He hated going in there. It was musty, and the light was dim. He carefully stepped in, looking around. There it was. The label was on the floor. A few more steps, and he picked it up, just as he heard a scratching noise behind a shelf. He froze for a second, then got out as fast as he could, slamming the door behind him.
Back in Ghost's room, he tried to read the writing on the label. It was a faded to yellow piece of paper that had been taped to the vial. Miz Deliverance had written in her old-fashioned, spidery way: For Fevers, Sore Throats, and Aches...Contains Alcohol, Feverfew, Extract of Jalapeno, Cayenne Pepper, Vanilla, and Wintergreen. Take two teaspoons every four hours. Caution: will be hot & make you sweat out the fever. May be taken with milk & bread.
Steve read this out loud. "Ok, I'm gonna get you some milk and bread. That should help your fiery stomach, but you're just gonna have to put up with the rest. You OD'd on it, Ghost. You took too much."
Ghost just moaned. Steve went to get the milk and bread. "Here," he said, when he got back, and helped Ghost sit upright. Ghost choked it all down, then waited for the cramping to stop.
"Better yet?" Steve asked.
"Maybe a little," Ghost said, but lay back down.
Steve left him there, going back to sit on the couch. He turned on the tv, and stared at a football game, but couldn't concentrate on it. He was worrying about that package, again. After about an hour, he heard a car driving up. It was Jimmy.
Steve met him out on the porch. "Hey, what did you find out?"
Jimmy sat on the porch step. "Well, that was definitely a camera. We played back the tape on there...it showed his face, clear as day, when he turned it on and adjusted the angle. It was that guy, Maxy, for sure. The guy is an idiot...filming his own face like that. Then, it just showed y'all coming and going. Your sister was on it, too, so he must have put it up there sometime before she even got here...probably one time when y'all were out. It looked like day time. That was about it. He just got out of jail, not long ago, so guess this is the first thing he did."
Steve was frowning. "Yeah, he left that rose not long ago, too."
They were quiet for a few moments. Then, Steve asked, "Can you put him back in jail for this?"
"Yeah, sure," Jimmy said. "You'll have to file a report, and we'll have to catch him...but, yeah. You want to do that?"
"Damn right I do," Steve said.
"Ok, come down to the station, I guess tomorrow, and give your statement. Anyway, who is this guy, and why does he want to spy on y'all?" Jimmy asked. "I mean, I know why he was in jail, but why now?"
"Because he's an asshole, that's why," Steve said. "He's obsessed with Ghost. You know that whole deal, don't you?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Well, not really...just rumors, and then the fight."
Steve was surprised, but told Jimmy the whole story.
"Man, that is sick, Steve," Jimmy said. "Now it kind of makes sense."
"What makes sense?" Steve asked.
"This package y'all got."
"Well, what was in it?"
"It's...well, it's bad...you're not gonna like it. It's a photo album. Pictures I'm assuming were taken from a surveillance camera in his own house...from when Ghost was there," Jimmy said, shaking his head. "This guy is nuts, Steve...and, well...everything you've been telling me...only in pictures." He rubbed his hands over his face and hair. "Man, I wish you wouldn't look at them. Where is Ghost, anyway?"
"Oh, he's asleep. He's pretty sick, and he took some kind of old potion his grandmother had mixed up years ago. So he's sleeping it off," Steve said.
Nodding, Jimmy said, "Good...I wouldn't want him to see it either. It's gotta be even worse for him," he said in a round-about way of warning Steve. He went out to his car, getting the box out. Before handing it to Steve, he said, "Steve, we had to look at these...not because we're perverts or anything...just part of police investigation, ya know. This is proof...that sicko should be put away for good, and believe me, if I can do anything to speed that along, I will. And, Steve...I don't know if this was a one time deal or not, but we're trying to find out if he's done this before, out in L. A....and, damn...I don't want you to see this, and Ghost...oh my God...please don't be mad at him. We all know he's a good kid...just naïve and easily taken advantage of...and..."
"Jimmy! Just give me the damn thing. Quit rambling on." Steve said, and took the photo book from him. It was heavy. He was a bit hesitant after all the things Jimmy had said, but he steeled himself to what he'd see. Opening the tooled leather book, the first page was ok...just a picture of Ghost. Then the next page was of Maxy and Ghost, smiling for the camera, at the coffee shop. Then, there was one of them playing on stage.
"What's so bad about these, Jimmy? Ghost told me about all this. I don't like it, but it was a whole year they were together." He kept turning the pages, and the pictures started to get more strange. There were pictures that appeared to be taken from cameras in Maxy's house...hidden cameras put there in every room, that apparently only he knew were there. .
There were scenes of him and Ghost, doing regular stuff. Then it turned into photos of a more intimate kind...them kissing, and touching each other, and of them in bed having sex...lots of these. Mostly, Ghost looked happy in them, but Maxy looked greedy...even possessed.
Steve was frowning, and his breathing increased, just from seeing these. He ran his hand over his face and eyes, shaking his head.
"Steve, you don't have to..." Jimmy said.
"No, I'm looking at them all, Jimmy," Steve said, and continued turning pages. At one point, it seemed as if Ghost's expressions had changed to a more frightened look. Like he didn't enjoy it any more. There were others of bondage...of Ghost being tied down, and he could tell that Ghost was crying, being hurt. The next few pages showed just Maxy, in his kitchen, mixing pills into drinks and food...and he was grinning at the camera.
In later pictures, it seemed Ghost was sedated...his eyes half closed...no light left in them. Then there were more sexual pictures...and another person...a strange man appeared in the photos...just this man and Ghost.
"Jesus!" Steve said, closing his eyes. He didn't want to see more, but he felt he had to. He turned more pages in the album. There were more pictures of Ghost being sexually abused in different ways, by many different men. In some, Ghost seemed to be completely out of it...others showed him screaming, or crying, or struggling. There must have been over fifty of these kinds of photos.
In between, there were pictures of Ghost, with marks on his body...cuts, bruises, black eyes, blood...and in all, his eyes were sad, and dead. There were some others, showing them on different stages, their shows getting bigger and more elaborate, too. Then, toward the end, there was one of Ghost, as he had sneaked out of the bedroom, and another of him on the phone.
It continued through that night, and of the beating Maxy had inflicted on Ghost...and of Ghost lying there against the brick wall, looking dead. That was the final picture, but Maxy had written a few words...
In large block letters, Maxy had written...I love him..I killed him...now he is a Ghost...I will kill him again and again until he lives inside of me...here is our blood...together. There were drops and smears of dried blood on the page.
Steve let the book fall shut, and as it fell to the porch floor, he bent in half, head on his knees, and sobbed.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing