TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
In the kitchen, Linda was fixing plates for the kids, as Ghost and Steve came in.
"Help yourselves, it's on the stove," Lisa said. She'd already sat down by Bill.
Steve looked in the cabinet. "Hey, Ghost, look what I found," he said, pulling out a jar of molasses. "Just what you wanted."
"Yes," Ghost said, and took the jar with him to the table. He poured some onto his plate, and dipped his finger in it. "Mmm, this is so good," he said, as he tasted it. Then, as he sopped his biscuit in the dark syrup, he noticed everyone staring at him. "What?"
Lisa giggled. "I never saw anyone like molasses so much, Ghost."
"Oh, yeah...well, I do. I love it," he said, and ate some more.
Stevie and Mandy began copying Ghost, by dipping their fingers into the tiny amount Linda had put on their plates. "Mmm," Stevie said, and Mandy did the same. They all laughed.
"Ghost, you're funny," Stevie said.
Ghost looked up, "Y'all are funny too," he said, smiling at the kids.
After eating, the guys loaded the rest of the items to be moved, into the U-Haul, then shut and locked the big door. Linda took a last look around the house to make sure she had all she needed. Then it was time to go. She and Lisa looked at each other, and both burst out in tears. Everyone else was just standing in the front yard, feeling awkward, now. Then, hugging and good-byes were done. The kids were in the car, already, and Steve and Ghost were in the truck, ready to pull out.
One more quick hug, and Linda started her car, and drove off down the street. Steve followed. He'd let Linda lead the way, until they were out on the highway, headed east. Steve had mapped out their route, and had even determined where they'd stop for bathroom breaks, and stretching their legs.
In the car, Linda explained again to Stevie and Mandy what was happening. They seemed fine with the new adventure. At about twenty miles out of the city, they both pulled over. It was now Steve's turn to lead the way. They re-affirmed the first leg of the route, and started off again.
Ghost was trying to find a radio station to listen to, finally stopping at an oldies one. He sat back and sang along. Steve was surprised that the truck was so easy to drive. It was the first time he'd driven a big truck. Linda was keeping up, right behind them. Mandy was already asleep, and Stevie was coloring in his coloring book, but his eyes were having a hard time staying open.
Steve had figured everyone would appreciate a stop about every hundred miles or so, or the nearest town to that. He was enjoying driving, he always did, and even though the truck couldn't handle the fast speed he drove his T-Bird at, it was nice to see the scenery along the way, for a change. He kept looking in the rearview mirror to make sure Linda was still there. If there was some problem, they had their phones.
Ghost had been singing and chattering about this and that for awhile. Steve was only half-way paying attention, since he was concentrating on his driving and the road. When he noticed that Ghost had gotten quiet, he glanced over. He saw that Ghost had gone to sleep, as usual. He smiled. That was typical Ghost. He never could stay awake very long when they were driving the roads.
It was coming up to their first pit stop, though, and he felt ready to walk around a little. He'd wake Ghost up then. He saw up ahead, the exit to the next town, and took it. Signaling a turn in at a convenience store, he pulled in up by the gas pumps.
"Wake up, we're at the first stop," Steve said, shaking Ghost's shoulder. "I'm getting gas, and if you need to go...go...and get us some snacks from inside the store, too."
They both got out. Steve began pumping gas into the truck. Linda had pulled up to the pump next to his, and they got to talk for a few minutes.
"Let's pull over to the side for a bit," Steve said. "You can let the kids go to the bathroom, and run around a minute."
"Ok, I will. They were asleep, but better to do it now, than after we get going again," Linda said. She roused the kids, and they all went inside the store.
Steve found Ghost, who was still wandering around in the little store, gathering up snacks. "Ya, think that'll be enough?" Steve asked.
"Oh, hey Steve...these are for everybody, not just us."
Steve laughed, then paid for it all. They met up with Linda and the kids, out by the truck, where he divided up the snacks. "I think we can get a few more miles in, before we stop for the night," Steve said, looking at the map.
"We're staying in a motel tonight, right?" Linda asked.
"Yep, this town right here...there should be one we can go to." He looked at his watch. "It's about 200 miles down the road. Ya want to go for it...straight on, no stopping?" He asked.
"I'm good," Linda said. "And, it'll be getting dark by then. I'd rather not drive after the sun goes down. That town will be a good stopping place."
Steve nodded, "Ok, let's go, then." They all got situated in the car and truck, and drove on down the highway, making good time and miles.
Steve and Ghost busied themselves, eating beef jerky and peanuts, and drinking their colas for awhile. Steve was beginning to get tired of driving so many miles, though. "Hey, why don't you call Kinsey...let him know we're on our way back home," he said.
"Ok, where are we, anyway?" Ghost asked.
"Let's see...we're almost to the border. We'll be in Arizona in a little while."
"I don't see a border," Ghost said. "What does it look like?"
It doesn't look like anything. It's just the same ol' road. There might be a sign or something...you know, like when we left North Carolina, and got to Tennessee, that time."
"Oh, yeah, now I remember," Ghost said. "Where's the phone?"
"You had it...it was in your pocket when we left this morning," Steve said. "I saw you put it in there."
Ghost frowned. "Was it in my jacket?"
"No, you weren't wearing it."
Ghost felt in his jean's pockets, but it wasn't there. He looked around on the seat of the truck, and the floorboard, and the bag of snacks.
"Did you find it?" Steve asked, already knowing the answer.
"No, it's not anywhere," Ghost said, beginning to get worried.
"Ghost, you have to find it. It's important," Steve said. "I'm trying to drive, so I can't look, you have to..."
"I know," Ghost said, "but I looked all over, and it's not here. I can't find it if it's not even here."
Steve was taking deep breaths, trying to keep calm. "So, you're saying you lost it?...Ghost...is that what happened?" He glanced over at Ghost, who was now looking scared.
"Maybe...maybe it dropped, back at that store we were at. You think it did that, when I didn't know?"
"It seems it must have," Steve said, shaking his head. "I gotta pull over and talk to Linda," he said, keeping an eye out for a rest area, or a side road, or something. He didn't say any more just yet, afraid of what he might say. But, Ghost started in again, retracing his time in the store.
"Just be quiet, Ghost. You've done enough," Steve said. "We're gonna have to go back there and see if we can find it, ya know...and that will cost us time...time wasted." He was frowning, now. "But, what do you know about time, or wasting time, huh? Nothing...Ghost, you have to pay attention to what you're doing. This can't keep happening, and then you act like it's no big deal...well, it is a big deal. I'm telling ya right now...it...is...a...big...deal."
"I didn't mean to lose it," Ghost said. "Anybody could lose something..."
"No...not anybody, Ghost...just you. And quit making excuses...I don't need to hear them. Just shut up," Steve said. He saw a sign for a rest area up ahead. Turning on his signal light, he slowed, and pulled in. Linda pulled in a couple of minutes later.
Steve started explaining the problem. "I've gotta go back, Linda. That phone is probably lying on the floor, or in some shelf of snacks, back there...unless it's stolen by now," he said, as he paced around, waving his arms. "Ghost, how can you be so irresponsible?" He stared hard at him.
"But, it was by accident, Steve."
"Yeah? You're an accident waiting to happen, aren't ya?" Steve said
"Steve, stop it," Linda said. "It wasn't on purpose...stop hollering at Ghost."
Steve was still stomping around, back and forth. "It isn't just this time, Linda...it's every time. And, you know it, Ghost. Every time something goes wrong. It's so frustrating to know some stupid thing will happen...just not knowing what or when, but I always know who." Steve glared at Ghost.
Ghost had backed up to the truck's side, and was squinching up his eyes, sure Steve was going to hit him, as he came toward him.
"Steve...Steve...get ahold of yourself," Linda was hollering, and finally grabbing his arm to make him listen.
Steve whirled around then, and saw Linda's horrified look. That broke through his anger, and he looked back at Ghost, still frozen in a defensive position. "Oh, God..." he said, and backed away. "What the hell am I doing? I'm sorry, Ghost. Please...I'm not gonna hit you. I didn't mean all that...you know I didn't. Please, Ghost, I'd never hurt you."
But, Ghost knew he would hurt him, and even Steve knew he would have, if it hadn't been for Linda holding him back. Ghost sank to the ground, putting his head on his knees, and sobbed.
Steve started to go to him, but Linda pulled him aside, and over to the rest area's picnic table. "You leave Ghost alone, Mister. Give him some space. You've been going at him like a mad man for who knows how long. What the hell is so terrible that you have to act like that? Huh? So, the phone got left, and you have to go get it. Shouldn't take but half an hour. No big deal...we aren't on some written in stone timetable here. Do you understand?" she asked.
"Now, take my car...go get the damn phone, and try to think how you're gonna apologize to Ghost. You got it?"
"Yes," Steve said.
She gave him the keys, and he got in and roared off back the way they'd come. The kids were out playing in the grassy area, and Linda kept an eye on them, while she went over to talk to Ghost.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing