TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
When Ghost finally fell back asleep, Steve went into the kitchen to fix them some soup. He was exhausted, but wanted food to be ready when Ghost woke up. As he stirred the pot on the stove, he could barely keep his eyes open. Everything he did seemed in slow motion. As soon as it was done, he went to lay down beside Ghost, just for a little while, he told himself. He listened to Ghost's raspy breathing, and fell asleep himself, for a couple of hours.
Ghost began to move around, after awhile, then woke to find he was drenched. His fever had broken, and now he was shivering in his damp clothes. Weak and woozy, he managed to find a dry t-shirt, and make his way to the bathroom. Steve had heard him get up, so he went to get their supper on the table.
Setting a bowl of the soup in front of Ghost, he urged him to eat it. "You need food in you, before you faint," Steve said.
Ghost put his face over the steaming liquid, and inhaled, which seemed to help his sinuses open up. He only took a few bites of the soup, finding it hard to swallow. "I can't talk," he whispered.
"I know," Steve said. "You don't have to talk right now." He was watching him closely, though.
"Why I'm sick all the time?" Ghost asked.
"Shh...it's just the way it is. Now, eat...and drink your water...you're dehydrated."
Ghost coughed and sneezed. "I'm so tired. My eyes hurt...my head hurts," he said with his eyes closed and breathing through his mouth.
Steve knew there wasn't much more to be done to make Ghost feel any better, so he just listened to his complaints and misery. He didn't want to admit it, but his own throat was starting to get that raw feeling, too. He tried to ignore it...to will it away.
"You gonna eat any more?" he asked.
Ghost shook his head.
"Then go get back in bed. I'm gonna turn in early, myself."
Ghost scraped his chair back, and shakily got up. Cracking his eyes open, he wobbled down the hallway to his bed. Sighing, Steve gathered up the dishes, planning on doing them in the morning. Checking the doors, he then turned out the lights.
"You want me to stay in here with you?" he asked. Ghost nodded, so Steve got in the bed, and tried to go to sleep. The wind had gotten up, and was again whistling through the windows, sounding eerie and mournful. He fell into a fitful sleep, and would jerk awake every time Ghost moved. It seemed like the longest night ever, or the shortest...he couldn't decide which, when the phone rang.
It was daylight, by now. Steve made his way to the living room to answer the incessant ringing. "What?" he croaked into the phone.
"Well, don't you sound chipper this morning," said Terry. "Y'all aren't up yet? Hell, it's almost noon, Dude," he laughed.
"Fuck you, Terry," Steve said, hanging up. It rang again. "You heard what I said," Steve began, but Terry started talking louder.
"Hey now, just a minute. Why you being so crabby? I was just teasing."
"We're both dying, Terry...for real. I'm sick as a dog, and Ghost has been running a fever for two days now. Leave us alone," Steve said, which started a coughing fit.
"Aww, poor babies," Terry said, "y'all just sit tight...I'm coming over. I ain't scared of germs." Then he hung up.
Steve stared at the phone, wondering if he heard right. "Damn him," he said, then went into the kitchen to make coffee. While he waited, he took some Motrin, and itemized all his aches and pains, starting with the top of his head, which felt like a bass drum beating inside his skull. He got meds and water for Ghost, and brought in a mug of coffee to him.
"Ghost, wake up. Take these pills, and I brung ya some coffee."
"Steve...I'm dead, aren't I?"
"No...so get up."
Ghost rolled over. With his bleary eyes, he looked at Steve. "You look dead."
"Yeah, you gave me your crap sickness, and I'm dead now. Take your meds, and drink your coffee...it's getting cold. You feeling any better at all?"
"No," Ghost whispered, still unable to talk much. "Did the phone ring?"
"Oh, yeah...Terry's coming over. He wants to see what he'll look like after he catches this crap, too."
Ghost managed a smile, at that.
"I'm gonna fix us something to eat," Steve said. Just as he got in the kitchen, though, the sound of Terry's loud car driving up, rattled the windows. Steve went to unlock the door.
Terry came in, took one look at Steve, and said, "Shit, you really are sick, Dude." He was carrying a large bag, which he set on the coffee table. "Sit down," he said. "I brought y'all some breakfast. I had to bribe that waitress over at the diner to fix morning food, seeing that it's lunch time, but I told her it was for y'all...and she gave me the works." He took the take-home containers out of the bag, setting them on the table.
"Ghost, where are you? Come and get it while it's hot," Terry yelled.
Ghost slowly walked down the hallway, holding onto the wall to keep from falling over.
"Damn, Ghost...you look worse than Steve," Terry said, going over to help Ghost to the couch.
"I can't talk," Ghost whispered.
"Yeah, well just eat, then. There's pancakes, grits, and eggs. I'll get y'all some milk," Terry said. He went into the kitchen.
Ghost leaned against Steve, his head on Steve's shoulder. His eyes were closed. Steve was leaning back, his eyes closed, too. Terry came back in, setting the milk down. He saw Ghost's camera there on the table, so picked it up and snapped a picture of the two of them.
"This is the picture of misery," he said. "Ok, guys, wake up...eat."
Ghost moaned, as Steve pushed him upright. "I hurt all over..."
"Yeah, well...eat and go back to bed, then. I'm gonna camp out here and take care of y'all. Don't worry about a thing...Terry to the rescue." He laughed.
Ghost coughed again. "We got germs...you'll get 'em."
"Yeah, well, then y'all can take care of me," Terry said.
They all managed to eat some of the breakfast. Terry decided to actually stay over, so went to clean up the kitchen. Coming back through the living room, he said, "Hey, look at me...playing nursemaid." He laughed, trying to get a smile out of them. He put clean sheets on the bed, and helped them back into the bedroom. "Y'all rest...I'll check on ya later. Holler if you need anything."
"Thanks, Terry," Steve said. He got under the blankets with Ghost. They were both asleep within seconds.
"Damn, I hope I don't catch it," Terry said.
Back in the living room, he sat down on the couch and pulled out his phone. He called Kinsey. "Hey, Dude...Terry here. Guess where I am?"
"You're at home?" Kinsey asked.
"Nope, over at Steve and Ghost's house. I'm their nursemaid for a few days. I'm staying over."
"Why, what's up?"
"Oh, man...they're both dying of something...so sick they can hardly move. I made them eat and they're taking something for the fever, but I ain't never seen two such pitiful people in my life. In fact, I took a picture when they were out of it."
"You need some help? I can come out there," Kinsey said.
"Naw, I'm probably gonna catch it, too. No need for you to expose yourself to the plague, or whatever it is. I'll call if it gets too bad."
"Ok, keep in touch," said Kinsey.
"Yeah, just wanted you to know what was going on," Terry said, then hung up the phone.
It was still a little windy and chilly outside, and he hoped it would blow away any cooties.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing