TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Down in the hospital waiting room, Stevie and Mandy were enjoying playing and talking with the volunteers.
"Hey, y'all...it's time to go," Linda said, as she and Steve returned. "Thanks for watching them," she said to the young ladies.
"It was no problem," one said. "Stevie and Mandy are lots of fun. We had a good time."
"We had fun, Mom," Stevie said.
"I'm glad, honey. Now, thank the ladies and get your things. We need to go," Linda said.
"Can Ghost come, too?"
"In the morning, Stevie. We'll pick him up, then."
They all went out to the van to go back to the motel. "It's late, kids, so I want you to go brush your teeth, and get into your pajamas...it's bedtime," Linda said. "Are you going to turn in now, Steve, or feel like staying up awhile?"
"I'm staying up. I'm too hyper to go to sleep...you?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, same here, too tired to go to sleep right now, and I need a snack. Do you have anything?" Linda asked.
"No, but there's that convenience store on the corner. I could go get something," Steve said.
"Ok, you do that, while I get these kiddos in bed. Get me some milk and a do-nut, or a sweet roll, ok?" Linda asked.
Steve said he would, as he went out the door. Linda tucked the kids into bed, and read them a short story from one of their books. They were both asleep by the time Steve got back, so they talked while eating.
"I really want to play some on my guitar, Linda, but I'm afraid it'll wake them up. But, if I go outside, it'll bother the other people," Steve said.
"I don't think it will wake them up, if it's not too loud...go get it," Linda said.
"Ok, I'll try to play quite," Steve grinned, and went out to the U-Haul.
Then, settling on the other bed, he began to play, just random chords and humming along, stopping once in awhile to write some words down in a small notebook.
"What are you writing?" Linda asked.
Steve looked up. "Oh, just playing around, trying to make up some lyrics and noting what chords go with what I'm kinda hearing in my head."
She laughed. "So, that's how you do song writing?"
Steve shrugged. "Well, that's how I do it. I don't know how anyone else does it."
"When did you learn to play?"
"A long time ago...I guess maybe when I was ten or eleven years old." He laughed, remembering. "Man, I found this old beat up guitar in the alley, by the trash barrels, one day. It had a couple of strings missing, but I thought I was Elvis or somebody."
"Wait," Linda said, "I think I remember that. It was not long before I left. You carried that old guitar around everywhere."
"Yep, and then I guess it was after you all had gone...Dad actually did something nice...he got me a decent guitar. I think it was from the pawn shop or somewhere, but it had all the strings. So, I kept practicing. I'd make songs up, and trying to make it sound like what I'd hear on the radio," he said. Then he smiled. "A few years later, I met Ghost...like when I was fifteen? Anyway, I had my old T-Bird by then. You know, Linda...it wasn't all bad with him...Dad...there were some ok times, too. Just...the drinking...well, when he wasn't beating me up, he was ok...I thought I was pretty lucky, I mean, I had a car and a guitar. I had big dreams back then. And, when I heard Ghost sing...well, that was it. We were gonna be big rock stars," he said.
"Tell me some more, Steve. I love hearing about it," Linda said.
"Well, Ghost and I would go all over the town, and we'd go up into Kinsey's bar to hear the bands play on Saturday nights. We weren't supposed to even be in there, being under-age and all. That was before he changed it to a...whatever...PG rating? Hah...weird, but back then it was an adults only place. Ol' Kinsey knew us, of course. He knew Ghost's grandmother for a long time, and that was even before she and Ghost moved to Missing Mile. Anyway, he'd let us stay and listen, just out of sight in the back room. So when the bands would take their break, there we'd be, just in awe of them. They'd kid around with us, and showed me some cool licks on the guitar...stuff like that. Then, one night they brought us out on the stage. The guy told me to play this song we'd been practicing, and he told Ghost to sing it. So we did. It was amazing, Linda. And, Kinsey was about to have a fit, that we were up there, but we finished the song, and people clapped and liked it. I guess that was our debut, of sorts. So people asked us to play at their parties and things around town...no bars, though...until we were legit, anyway. We still went to Kinsey's to listen from the back room every chance we got."
"That is a wonderful story, Steve. I wish I'd have been there to see y'all in those early days. Now look at y'all...big stars, with CDs and a book, and playing on that same stage...it's your dream come to life. I'm proud of you...both of you, for sticking with it, and never giving up on it."
"Thanks, Sis...it's been a long way of hard work, but yeah, we did it," Steve said. He strummed some more songs, then they both felt they could sleep. Tomorrow morning was fast approaching, and they'd be on the road again.
Morning did come sooner than they wanted. The kids were full of energy, but Steve and Linda were still tired, and were slowly getting it together. Steve ran across to the little store, for coffee. They'd go for breakfast in a little while.
"Are we going to be traveling today? Will Ghost even be up for it, or should we wait another day?" Linda asked.
"Good question," Steve said. "I would think he'd be ok with it, since the doctor is releasing him today. We'll see how it goes, though...see how he's feeling. If possible, though, I'd like to push on toward home."
"Me too," Linda said. "Ghost can sleep can't he, in the U-Haul?"
"Yep, Ghost can sleep good anywhere, and especially when we're driving around," Steve laughed.
"Ok, let's go eat, then we'll go pick him up," Linda said.
They packed up everything, and checked out of the motel. Taking both the U-Haul and the van, they found a place to eat, before driving over to the hospital. Steve went up to Ghost's room, and as he pushed open the door, he could hear the doctor talking. He went in quietly, and listened. Ghost was sitting on the edge of the bed, sort of listening, but mostly twirling a strand of his hair around his fingers, and staring off into space...daydreaming, Steve figured.
"Are you getting this, Ghost?" the doctor asked. "It's important you take your meds, as directed, and keep up with therapy when you get home."
"Uh-huh, I know," Ghost said.
"Steve, you make sure he does."
"I will," Steve said.
"Ok, Ghost, your discharge papers have been signed and you're free to go. I've given you enough medicine to get home on, more in fact, but get them filled again as soon as possible. Now, good-bye, have a safe trip home."
Ghost got up, and was going to go on out, wearing the hospital gown, but Steve stopped him. "Wait, I brought ya some clothes," he said, handing Ghost a paper bag. "Get dressed. I'll be out in the hall."
Steve and the doctor went out of the room. "Ok, tell me for real...how is he, and is it ok to travel...like starting when we leave here?" Steve asked.
"Oh, he's fine to travel, and to do anything now, same as usual. I don't want him driving, though, until he see's how the new medicine is working," the doctor said.
"He don't drive," Steve said. "Well, he has before, but he don't like to, so that won't be a problem."
"Ok, good. Now, I know he has his own doctors at home, but I sure would appreciate your letting me know how he's doing, sometimes."
"I 'll get in touch, doctor. You've done so much to help him." Steve said.
They shook hands, and the doctor went on to see other patients. Steve went back into the room. "You ready to go?" he asked Ghost.
"Did I have anything I need to get?" Ghost asked, looking around the room.
"No, I don't think so," Steve said. "Everything is already packed up in the truck, and Linda and the kids are waiting down stairs. Let's go." He held open the door, and they got in the elevator to the waiting area.