Monday, March 31, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (twenty sixth installment)

(26th installment) content


As morning dawned, Ghost and Maxy shared more of themselves with each other. Nothing would ever compare to their first time, but it was amazing, still. Their days continued much as before, playing gigs, laughing, loving...but, some subtle shadow tinged their relationship. They both felt it, if not acknowledged yet. There was a slight pulling away on Ghost's part, and a slight tightening of control on Maxy's.

From time to time, Ghost allowed himself to think of Steve, of Missing Mile, of everything back home. Before, he couldn't have let his mind take him there. It was like poking at a deep sore, and starting the pain and bleeding all over again. But, now, time passing had formed a scar over the pain, and a gentle poking didn't hurt so bad.

He seemed to get caught up in his daydreams, spacing out, even forgetting some words to the songs on stage. He'd just stand there silent and staring, lost in a vision of his life back home. Maxy didn't understand it at all. He got angry at Ghost sometimes, and Ghost could not explain what he was feeling. Later, he would realize that he was terribly homesick. Even while performing, having good times with Maxy, and all the noise, lights and unending party atmosphere of L. A., there was an underlying sadness about him.

His eyes spoke of his sorrow, a cloud of darkness hovered over his head. He couldn't seem to shake it off. He cried himself to sleep many nights, as Maxy tried to comfort him. But, Maxy got frustrated that he couldn't make Ghost happy, even trying as hard as he the most caring of ways, then in more forceful ways.

He felt Ghost was very pliable, would go along with whatever he suggested, not caring one way or another what happened to him, and Maxy took advantage of Ghost's vulnerability at this time. Everyone who saw them perform adored Ghost, wanted to touch him, to get his attention, to have him for their own. Maxy felt jealous. He admitted it to himself. Before he and Ghost were together, he was the center of attention. Now, he felt like he was just background. So, with seemingly good intentions, he began to suggest that Ghost should see other guys, to try something a little stronger than weed, to add some variety into their relationship and performances.

It happened gradually. Maxy's plan was for Ghost to hate it, and come to realize what they meant to each other, and Ghost would snap out of his depression. He urged Ghost to go have fun with whatever guy asked for a good time with him. He even slipped mood altering drugs into Ghost's food and drinks, hoping to get Ghost to feel emotion of some kind, besides sadness; and, it didn't hurt, he thought, that most of these set up dates would pay money for a night with Ghost. He felt betrayed though, when Ghost went willingly to bed with these strangers. His plan had backfired. Ghost was not snapping back, was not feeling closer to him.

He'd hear Ghost calling for Steve almost every night in his dreams. Then, Maxy would roughly shake Ghost awake, and forcefully take him, again and again, crying for Ghost to love him, and him only. But, Ghost didn't care...couldn't care. He'd let Maxy do anything to his body, but Maxy could never quite reach his mind, or heart...they were almost completely closed off to him now.


Then one night on stage, things took a strange turn. They had played a good set, the crowd was having a good time, Ghost was again seeming to enjoy himself. Maxy was in a good mood. He'd bought Ghost a silver ring, engraved with his and Ghost's name inside the band. He knew Ghost loved shiny things, and had given him a silver chain after they'd met - it was real silver, same as the ring. The necklace had a key charm on it, and he'd gotten himself one too, with a silver heart. The meaning was obvious, even if it was a bit juvenile, but they wore them anyway.

Ghost was wearing the ring tonight, the stage lights making it gleam. The last chords of their last song were still vibrating in the air, when Ghost looked out at the audience, and said in his slow, southern, mountain voice,

"One more."

Ghost turned to Maxy and the back up band, and instructed them to play a certain riff over and over...just that, nothing else. He signaled the stage lights manager to dim the lights, all except the one spotlight on him, in a soft, filtered yellow. The special effects fog machine was still going from the last song, and that was left on. Then Ghost signaled to begin the bass line. He looked down at his audience, through white gold strands of hair. The effect was mesmerizing. Ghost looked back at Maxy, who was playing the beat with a questioning look in his eyes. He had no idea what Ghost was doing, and was just as transfixed as everyone else.

Ghost turned toward the audience again, kissed the silver ring, and raised that hand way up into the air. Leaning in, he took hold of the microphone with the other hand, and wailed the absolute loudest, soul agonizing scream anyone had ever heard amplified through the speakers.

It startled everyone. Some started screaming themselves, but couldn't look away. Some thought Ghost had been electrocuted, when he grabbed the mic, but he didn't die, he finished his scream and just stared at them. Somehow, Maxy and the band had kept playing the slow, low bass riff during all of this. Ghost kept staring at the crowd, like his sky blue eyes could pierce everyone's heart, and he could see to their very core being...and unbeknownst to them...he could.

He took a shuddery breath then, and began his "World"* song. The one he'd written years ago...the one on the Lost Souls? tape. Maxy had never heard Ghost sing it live. His heart was pounding along with the beat, and he thought he'd never heard anything so beautiful. This was what Ghost was all about, this was the true Ghost, this was Ghost's legacy...not some stale 80's covers.

"Oh, my God," he thought. "No wonder Ghost has been so sad, to never have been able until now to sing as he was born to do."

Maxy felt tears falling from his eyes. "What have I done to him? Please forgive me," he sobbed.

Ghost sang the sad, but hopeful song over and over. The audience was swaying back and forth, and singing along to the simple, yet powerful words, already. At that moment, the dimmed lights went completely out, and people brought out their lighters, and turned on their cell phones, showing their appreciation, there in the dark. Only the spotlight was left on...on Ghost, illuminating the mist swirling around him. His hair was backlit into a shimmery, golden aura that flowed and ebbed within the fog, and tears of crystal flowed down his face.

He closed his eyes, and slowly sank down to his knees. He bowed his head and sobbed, as he whispered the song one last time. Raising his hand again, the ring caught the light, and rays of pure gold fanned out from it...and Ghost was done.

*"Hole in the World" by the Eagles (Don Henley/Glenn Frey; Universal Publishing Group)

Next Installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (twenty fifth installment)

(25th installment) content

Maxy wanted to hear Ghost sing all his songs from the tape, but Ghost refused. That was over and done with, he said. Feeling a little disappointed, Maxy, nevertheless, showed Ghost their set list, mostly covers of 80's rock bands, and a few tries at originals. This was a different genre than Ghost was used to, his and Steve's sound more of a laid back, southern rock, and of course all of Ghost's original songs. But, Ghost had heard most of these songs that Maxy was including, and he had no trouble making them his own, adding a few different words, and asking Maxy to slow down the tempo, or speed it up.

The practice went well, and they were scheduled to play the next night. Maxy invited Ghost to his small bungalow, and so they took off, waving to the girl as they left. At the house that Maxy rented, they had a few beers, and talked for hours. It was a little awkward for Ghost, though. He was trying to figure out this person he'd just met. He was good looking in a goth sort of way, but he got the feeling it was mostly an act. The long, straight, black hair, the black clothes he wore, and the stage makeup he wore, that Ghost had seen in a poster at the coffee place, looked fake.

He could also see into Maxy's mind and heart. He was uncomfortable doing this, but images and thoughts kept coming...not all of them matching up with his words. He seemed all good time party boy on the outside, but looking deeper, it seemed to Ghost, that Maxy was a calculating, serious schemer; someone who had everything planned out, and would go to great lengths to see that his ideas and plans would happen. Not evil, just determined to get his way, no matter what. Ghost's inner radar sent up red flags...but, he thought he could handle whatever came about...after all, he had his early warning system.

But, he misjudged Maxy's obsessive determination to make Ghost fall in love with him. Maxy was fascinated and intrigued by the pale, blond boy that he was now sharing his house with. He'd never seen anyone like Ghost before.

Yeah, the goth kids here in L. A. painted their faces pale, and the surfer crowd had lots of blondes, but they all were tanned underneath the posing...even himself. This southern boy was a natural. He had something about him that seemed to glow, seemed very ethereal. He was drawn to his very being by something invisible, and of course his voice...his voice...he could drown in it. He wanted him. He wanted him the second he saw him. He wanted him in every way possible...and he would have him, he vowed. But, he had to go easy, and not frighten Ghost away. He was a nervous, magical being, and might disappear into the ether, just as he'd appeared. So, Maxy and Ghost began their singing partnership, and slowly began their love affair.


Maxy and Ghost were an instant hit with the coffee shop crowd, and eventually played other venues around L. A. They both enjoyed it. Ghost wrote new songs and sang old 80's ones, and his voice drew everyone in. His past life with Steve was put way back in his memories, for awhile at least, and Maxy helped him forget his pain of that time. He showered Ghost with attention...praising him, adoring him, giving him gifts, and showing him love the best he knew keep Ghost near, and to keep Ghost his...forever.

Ghost put away the voices in his head, for awhile. He needed to be loved...that's all he'd ever, ever needed. It had not come easily in his life so far, but he hoped this time it was for real. At first it was...on both sides. Their first time was on a dark, stormy night, not long after they met. . They were scheduled to play an outdoor set, but it got cancelled because of the storm.

They'd had to make a run for it, carrying guitars and microphones, and anything else they could carry, through pouring rain and crashing lightning. They were completely soaked by the time they unloaded the car at the house. Slipping, and giggling, and falling over each other in the hurry to get inside, something just clicked between them. A storm of a different kind was taking over them. They lay on the floor where they'd fallen, catching their breath, tangled limbs, wet strands of blond and black hair co-mingling in a jumble, as they lay close together in their heap of equipment.

Maxy turned his head toward Ghost, reached up with a damp hand, pulling Ghost's face to his. He tentatively kissed Ghost's raindrop spattered lips...and Ghost kissed him back.

"Oh, Ghost, I've wanted to do this forever," Maxy sighed.

Ghost nodded and whispered, "I think I've wanted you to do this forever."

They made their way to Maxy's bedroom, stripping off their wet clothes, if not quite all of their inhibitions. They lay among the blankets, and tentatively stroked and caressed each other. As their breathing became faster, their kisses warmer and deeper, Ghost moaned deep in his throat at the pleasure Maxy was giving him. Maxy's heart swelled with love for this magical creature called Ghost, this not quite innocent being with light surrounding him, yet a thread of sadness running through his life. Their bodies were growing more insistant, more demanding with sexual tension that might snap any second, and when Ghost breathed into Maxy's ear the words, "Now, Maxy, now," he claimed Ghost as his own.

It was different than either had ever felt before, as if some powerful force had taken over their bodies and minds, and melded them together. They had no control over the feelings, as wave after wave of pleasure bathed over them.

Then as the ultimate, intimate release took over their heightened senses, Ghost's subconscious shot an image of Steve, his true love, into his mind, and he called out Steve's name, then began sobbing.

He had no idea if he'd spoken aloud or if it was in a dream state. He cried for him and Steve, and he cried for his and Maxy's love, too...and what would become of himself now.

Maxy's euphoria continued, as he murmured Ghost's name and stroked Ghost's pale hair, kissed his forehead, and those sky blue eyes full of tears. He tried to soothe the sobbing boy, that still lay under him, not knowing why he cried. Had he heard Ghost call out Steve's name? He wasn't sure, but he was as sure as he could be, that Ghost would soon forget Steve. He would make sure of that. Ghost was his now, and he would do anything to keep him.

As they fell asleep in each other's arms, the storm outside abated, and it grew quiet. Only the dark of night knew what dreams and plans the two were having. One was being guided by the very essence of his psyche, and his God given heritage...the other by his greed and lust.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Monday, March 24, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (twenty fourth installment)

(24th installment) content

He was oblivious to what was going on there in the little shop. As he'd zoned out, the door opened and Maxy came in, all business as usual, as this was his home away from home, and had been for a long time. He grabbed a coffee and chatted up the barista, flirting as usual. She flirted right back, knowing nothing was serious. Maxy was into guys these days. She mentioned he had someone to interview, and that he looked like Maxy's type. She winked at him.

Maxy turned around to look, and almost dropped his coffee. Grabbing the girl's arm, he said, "Lock the door, the interviews are over."

"What are you talking about, Maxy? I can't lock the doors, this is a business with paying customers."

He gave her a look, and she more interviews. If anyone else came in, send them away.

"Ok, but what's the deal, Maxy?"

His hand was trembling, still on her arm. "I know this guy...or at least I know of him. Oh, my God, I can't believe it's him, right here in my coffee bar!"

She laughed, "Your coffee bar?"

"Well, you know what I mean. This guy...this guy...oh, my God...his name is Ghost! Yeah, he's the best singer I've ever, ever heard. But, why is he here? He sings for a band called 'Lost Souls'. I have their tape - it's amazing! But, they play out on the east coast, some southern state. Did they break up? I gotta find out. I gotta go over there and talk to him, oh shit!"

"Maxy, what's got into you? I've never seen you so star struck before. Go on over there, he won't bite. I talked to him and gave him some coffee...he's nice."

Maxy gulped, nodded, and slowly walked over to where Ghost, eyes closed, was still in his zone. Maxy stared at him a full minute, glanced back at the girl, who motioned...go on, wake him up.

Maxy whispered, "Ghost!"

At that, Ghost's eyes flew open, and he startled so much he almost droppped the coffee he held. If it hadn't been for the plastic lid, he would have spilled it all over himself. He was looking into dark blue eyes, not two feet in front of him.

"Aii, wha'cha want?" Ghost wailed, as he tried to scramble backwards farther into the plush leather sofa, pulling his knees up under his chin, feet on the edge of the seat. He was still a little in dreamland, and didn't quite yet know where he was, or why.

"Get outta my head, leave me alone!" he continued to wail.

Maxy and the barista were taken by surprise by Ghost's reaction. They stared at Ghost, she behind the counter, and he, sitting on the floor in front of Ghost, where he'd landed, as he jumped back and fell over when Ghost yelled. Ghost's outburst was winding down, as he began to come out of his dreams. He shook his newly washed hair into his face, peering wide-eyed from between the golden strands, at Maxy. His body was trembling from the adrenaline shooting through it, his brain ricocheting around, sending spiders of fright all around. He was having one of his electrical storm episodes, which hadn't happened in awhile, and Steve wasn't there to pull him out of it. His pupils dilated, and he breathed unevenly. He felt dizzy and faint.

Maxy and the girl were frozen, not knowing what was happening. Maxy turned out to be no good in a crisis, but the girl finally ran over with some cold rags, and bathed Ghost's face.

"Is he on drugs?" she hollered at Maxy. "Get up and help, Maxy," she kicked at the boy on the floor to get him moving.

At the sound of her voice, and the cold wetness on his face, Ghost began to come out of it, little by little, until he just lay there on the sofa, exhausted, and let his breathing return to normal.

"What happened?" Ghost whispered, still a little shaky.

"It's ok, you're gonna be fine (I hope). You had some kind of fit, I guess. Has this happened before? Are you on drugs? Do you need to go to the hospital?" She was so nervous, she talked fast. Ghost caught only part of it, but shook his head, saying he'd be ok in a minute...that it happens to him sometimes.

Maxy found his voice then, and said loudly, "Ghost! You're crazy, man! I love you!" and he gave Ghost a big hug. "You're hired, you're my new singer, and I hope my best friend!" he continued.

Ghost eased himself up, still reeling a little, "But I haven't done the inter..."

"I don't care. I've heard you sing before...on your Lost Souls? tape. You're mine now...if you'll have me?"

"Sorry I freaked out on y'all," Ghost said, in his Carolina drawl. "Guess I'll try singing for ya then," he smiled a crooked grin, and looked clearly into Maxy's dark blue eyes. They both felt something pass between them. Something special, something exciting, and something a little dangerous.

The barista felt it too, as she watched them. Shaking her head, she muttered, "Here we go," and went back to her coffee counter.

Ghost and Maxy sat in the alcove, talking, getting to know each other a little. Maxy told Ghost how he'd come to have the Lost Souls? tape. Seemed someone at one of Maxy's performances had been in North Carolina a few years back, and had seen Lost Souls? perform at the Sacred Yew. They'd bought one of the homemade tapes that Ghost and Steve had recorded and sold, and had given it to Maxy. They'd only made a hundred copies, and Ghost had crayoned the picture of the gravestone on each and every one, until his hand cramped. They'd listed the songs on the photocopied paper, and had put a small picture of themselves on it, too.

Ghost got quiet, as Maxy told his story. He remembered that day. They were so happy and excited; thought they'd made the big time. All the copies had sold...only five dollars each. They'd kept one for themselves, but had no idea where the rest had ended up. It was so weird to see one again. Maxy had carried his copy around in his guitar case all this time, and had pulled it out to show Ghost. Ghost felt like he was seeing a ghost, looking at it now. He didn't want to be remembering that time of his life any more...that's what he was running away from...too much had happened.

Maxy noticed Ghost, lost in thought, and hesitantly asked why they broke up - him and Steve. Ghost just shook his head, saying he couldn't talk about it. Maxy could see that it pained Ghost terribly, so he didn't ask again.

Soon, the two of them moved over to the small stage to talk business. The girl served her customers their coffees and muffins, and yet, kept glancing over at the guys. Looked like they were hitting it off. She smiled. She'd always cared for Maxy, even when he could be a little exasperating and flighty. He'd had boyfriends before, and occasionally a girlfriend, but none had lasted. She never heard all the details, but suspected none could put up with him for very long. His ego was too strong. She considered him to be family, she'd known him for so long. Sparks never flew between them...chemistry wasn't right...and she had her own boyfriends. But still, she worried that he'd never find a true love, other than his music. Maybe this blond, southern boy would be the one.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (twenty third installment)

(23rd installment) content

                                                     CHAPTER 7

He kept walking until he came to a more business area of the city. There were a few stores open this early...a coffee shop, a diner, a convenience store...but Ghost kept walking. He had no idea where he was or where he was going, but just let his feet take him somewhere else. He felt dirty, dishevelled, and hungry...and so alone. Some early risers were beginning to make their way here and there along the sidewalks. Some looked his way, but hurried on. No one said anything to him. He wondered why people were so unfriendly here. It wasn't like home in Missing Mile, where everyone knew him and would say 'hey' when they saw him. He was so tired, and so lonely. At last he had to stop to rest a bit. He collapsed on some steps in a doorway to what looked like an empty storefront.

He rummaged through his backpack. Maybe he'd buy something to eat somewhere. He needed to think of what to do next, and it was impossible on an empty stomach. He looked at the meager things he'd brought with him. There were his notebooks and markers, a flannel shirt the mountain couple had given him, a good luck rock he'd found back home years ago, which he thought had a formation on it that looked like Jesus...but, Steve had said it was just some old petrified dirt that got stuck on there, and when he'd spit on it, the dirt would not come off...and the Jesus was still there, all these years later. There was a dried up rose he'd picked from the side of the road in the mountains, where they grew wild and free...but, he did not find the money he'd been given.

He looked frantically money. That guy must have taken it. Sighing, he stuffed everything back, and just sat there staring into space. He couldn't even cry anymore.

"That's pretty bad," he thought, "too sad to cry, too sad to cry..." he started to hum a new tune. He figured that would make a good song.

Just then, a guy came bursting out of the door Ghost was sitting in front of. He almost knocked Ghost off the steps. "Oh, sorry dude," he exclaimed, "I'm running late." He peered closer at Ghost. "What'cha doin' sittin' on my doorstep, anyway?"

Ghost shrugged and said, "Jus' settin'."

The guy started laughing, a rich, deep laugh, "Oh, man! Everybody said I sounded funny with my Jamaican accent when I got here, but you look and sound like you just fell off the turnip truck, dude!"

Ghost could hardly follow what the guy said, he talked kind of fast, and he did have a strange accent Ghost had never heard before.

"Well, if you're hungry, c'mon with me, man...the soup kitchen is already open, and we need to get there before they run out of breakfast."

Ghost nodded and followed. A couple of blocks down, they entered a building where they were serving plates of food. Ghost hung back, telling the guy he had no money.

"It's ok, man, they give it for free to whoever needs to eat."

They both got their plates and sat to talk a bit. As they were finishing their meal, the guy said, "If you need a place to crash later, just open the door where you were earlier. There's just a bunch of transients that come and go there, no questions asked. I'll see ya later, if ya stick around."

Ghost could think better now, and he figured he'd take the guy up on the crash pad tonight. He wandered around, looking into store windows, watching people come and go on the sidewalks. Finding a bench in front of a store, he sat down to rest.

"Now what? " he wondered. "Guess I need to get a job, huh?" he said to himself.

The thought was foreign to him. He'd never actually had a job before. All he'd ever done was sing with Steve. "How do you get a job singing out here? That's all I know how to do. Well, this is L.A., lots of bands play here. Maybe some band needs a singer."

He looked around. He noticed flyers tacked to some of the light poles on the street, so went over to take a look. Some were for bands playing at different places around the area. In the litter barrel next to a pole, he found a discarded newspaper. He took it. Flipping the pages that were left, he was happy to see the jobs section was still intact. As luck would have it, there were even ads for singers wanted. There were phone numbers, addresses, and times to interview, he supposed, but couldn't make heads or tails of it. Stuffing the paper into his backpack, he planned on asking the guy he'd met, about the ads, later tonight.


When he entered the abandoned building later on, Ghost was surprised to see so many people there. Interesting looking people. There were a few families, their kids running around playing, a few guys and girls hanging around the edges of the large first floor of the room, talking, some were asleep on the floor..they all looked kind of like the hobos that traveled the rails back home. Homeless people, he figured.

"Well, shit," he said to himself, "guess this is right where I belong, then. I have no job, no money, dirty looking and smelling like leftover possom on the road, nowhere to go, down on my luck"...all the familiar cliches. He could have gone on, but got too depressed thinking about it. He took a deep breath to clear his brain, then nearly choked, as he got a whiff of himself, again. "God, I need a bath," he muttered.

The Rasta man came in the door, spied Ghost, and came over. After talking a bit, Ghost pulled out the newspaper and asked the guy if he could help him figure out where to go for the singer wanted jobs. The man looked at Ghost funny - like, can't he read? - but, went ahead and told him where one of the places was. It wasn't far...a coffee shop up the street. The band was interviewing the next morning at 10 a.m. Ghost nodded, but was thinking, "How am I supposed to know when 10 a.m. is?" but, was too embarrassed to ask that. They guy also mentioned that a convenience store close by didn't mind people coming in and freshening up in the restroom, just as long as they left it tidy.

Ghost smiled and said, "Yeah, no band would hire a crap smelling singer."

The guy laughed his rich, low laugh, and said, "Dude, I didn't wanna say anything, but...whew!"

As people began to settle in for the night, Ghost lay and looked at the ceiling way above him. There were flickers of red and green neon on the walls, from some all night strip joints and bars close by. He didn't sleep very well, though. The floor was hard, and it was kind of noisy with snoring, sleep talking, a kid crying...but, he must have joined them at some point, because suddenly he woke, and it was getting light outside. Most were still asleep, so he quietly gathered his backpack and slipped out the door. He made his way over to the little corner store and into the small bathroom.

One look at himself in the mirror was all it took to start washing, as best he could, with paper towels and disinfecting soap. Then, feeling better about himself, he pulled on the extra flannel shirt. He couldn't do anything about his old jeans, though. He left, making his way to the soup kitchen again. After eating, he tried to find the coffee shop where the band was interviewing. He didn't know if it was close to 10 a.m. or not, so he figured he'd just sit there and wait.

After walking past the place a couple of times, he finally found it and opened the door. The coffee bar smell was intoxicating, and he wished he had some. He did not see anyone interviewing, so he asked the barista.

"Oh, Maxy should be here can wait over there," she said, as she pointed to a small alcove. "Want some coffee?" she smiled.

Ghost looked at the floor, "Um...I don't have any money."

"That's ok," she laughed, "first one's on the house."

Ghost felt things were looking up finally, as he sipped the hot drink, and let the steam surround his face. He closed his eyes, relaxing into an almost Zen-like state, as he let his mind go wherever it wanted - up and down intricate paths that led to the past, the future, the whys and what ifs - winding their way into some sort of spaciness only he could conjure up.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing!

Monday, March 17, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (twenty second installment)

(22nd installment) content

He got up his courage to actually do this, working himself into an actual need to do this. He reached for Ghost. Ghost woke to the man's rough face pressed to his, his tender lips being forced open by the man's hot tongue. He felt his jeans being pulled down. Ghost tried to wiggle upright and push the guy off him, but wasn't able to move, or hardly even breathe. The guy was heavy, and his tongue was shoved down Ghost's throat. The trucker could feel Ghost's struggles and hear his effort to cry out, but this only served to encourage him. He came up off Ghost's face and snarled,

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way, but we are going to do it."

Ghost arched his back and tried to push the man off, but it was no use. The man pinned Ghost's arms down, putting his slobbery mouth on Ghost's again. The man's other hand fumbled with both their clothes, until they were off.

Ghost had never done this with anyone but Steve - in love, and in anger - and it had been so long since the last time. In spite of the circumstances, Ghost could feel himself giving in...letting it happen, letting the need take over his body, his thoughts put on hold for the moment.

When it was over, they both were sweaty, panting for breath. The man was coming back to his senses, and now felt a little guilty and embarrassed at what he'd done. Ghost was just resigned. All he could think to himself was. "Why does everyone want to hurt me? I'm no threat to anyone. Even my best and only friend hurt me." He lay curled up as close to the truck's door as he could, his eyes squinched shut, and the tears ran down his face, as he sobbed silently, his shoulders shaking.

The trucker kept saying over and over, "My God, what did I do? I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He looked over at Ghost, and was struck at how young he looked lying there crying. ""Oh, God, he's just a kid," he thought. He had no way of knowing how old Ghost was; Ghost always looked and seemed younger than he was. "I don't even know his name. What am I gonna do now," he thought.

He reached over to pull an old blanket over Ghost's bare legs, but Ghost flinched away from the touch.

"Sorry, dude, I don't know what came over me," he said softly. "Did I hurt you...oh, God, this wasn't your first time, was it? Please forgive me, I didn't mean for it to happen. I'll make it up to you. I'll take you wherever you want to go. I'll give you however much money you want..."

Ghost didn't answer for a bit, then he whispered through his tears, "Yes, you hurt me, everyone hurts me. No, it wasn't my first time, and keep your money, I'm not a prostitute," he sobbed.

"What can I do? I need to make this up to you," the man asked. "You probably want to get out and the hell away from me, and you have every right to, but I hate to just leave you on the side of the road in the dark."

Ghost said evenly, "Just keep on drivin'."

So, the man started up the truck and pulled out onto the highway again.

As the night crept on toward dawn, the trucker kept driving. Ghost finally fell into a fitful sleep, mumbling now and then about spooks, and molasses, and Steve. Some time later, the man got a text message on his phone. It made him jump, but didn't wake Ghost. He pulled over at the next rest stop to stretch and take a leak. Then he looked again at the message. It said, "How was your little hippie? Was he any good? Are you passing him around? Me first! Hahaha."

The trucker started to smash the phone to the ground, but then called the other trucker, instead. "Dude, I actually did it," he confessed. The man on the other end started making rude noises and comments.

"Stop it! You guys shouldn't have dared me. Now, I feel awful...he's just a kid."

"Don't worry about it," the other man said. "I'm sure he's older than he looks, and has been around the block more than once. So, how was it, anyway?"

"Shut up, dude!"

"What are you gonna do now?"

"I'm still heading to L. A. to drop my load, then pick up another, head back east. The kid's gonna be on his own then."

He hung up, and continued on his way. As the sun rose, they pulled into the freight yard to unload.

The man shook Ghost awake, "Hey, we're here, end of the line. You're on your own...or I can call a buddy of mine. He'll be glad to take over for me, but I wouldn't recommend it, if you know what I mean. I'm real sorry for what happened...take care of yourself. I wish you the best." He pulled down the ladder, and went to the loading dock with his paperwork.

Ghost hadn't said a word to him. He pulled on his jeans, got his backpack and left the truck, almost falling from the ladder. He walked away from the freight yard, looking rumpled and red-eyed from crying. He didn't care...didn't care about much of anything right now. He just wanted to get away from the huge, smelly trucks, and away from truckers.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Saturday, March 15, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (twenty first installment)

(21st installment) content

Eventually, the lights of the small town came into view. As he neared the outskirts of the burg, he noticed a truck stop/diner. He stopped there to eat and ask directions to the bus station. As he walked in the door to the place, he got curious looks from the truckers and regulars that were there. Well, he was used to getting funny looks; that didn't bother him as much as knowing he'd have to pay for his food with the hundred dollars. The money was in twenties, but he had no way of knowing that, so he was apprehensive.

He sat down at a table, and when the waitress came over with a menu, he ordered pancakes and molasses. He still had a molasses habit and needed a fix really bad. As he got involved in eating his food, he didn't notice the truckers give each other knowing looks...the leering, the elbowing, the whispered words...dirty hippie, fag, weirdo, mountain trash. Some dared others to see if he needed to hitch a ride with them.

As Ghost finished eating, he could barely keep his eyes open. He was exhausted. His head nodded a couple of times, even though he tried to stay awake, but finally succumbed and laid his head on his arms, right there at the table. He was drifting to sleep, when someone shook his shoulder. He startled awake, looking up at a fairly normal looking trucker, if truckers were actually normal looking. Ghost didn't know...he'd never met one before.

"Noticed you falling asleep, dude," said the man, as he stood next to Ghost. "Where ya headed?"

Ghost swallowed and wiped a bit of drool from his mouth, "Uh, the bus station, I reckon," he said.

The man, who had accepted the dare continued, "Well, I'm heading west all the way to California with my load. You're welcome to ride along if you want."

Ghost blinked and tried to think..."Is this a good thing or a bad thing?" He didn't know this guy, maybe he's a serial killer or something, and then..."I wouldn't have to deal with the bus thing. I could just give this guy some money to take me along."

He tried to sense if he should accept or not, but couldn't get a reading on it; his brain was too tired. So, he nodded and said, ok, but that he'd pay him for taking him along on the road. The guy clapped him on the back and said,

"Good decision, I'm leaving in about half an hour. Meet me at my truck, the one with the blue cab." He started to walk away, then turned back, "Oh, I paid for your food already, don't worry about it."

Ghost got his backpack and went to splash water on his face, trying to wake himself up more. Was what happened just now real, or a dream?

The man went over to his buddies and gave them a thumbs up sign. They guffawed and jeered and said, "Have fun with your little hippie, if you know what we mean. He's all yours. If he's any good, you can pass him on to us. We'll keep driving him around all over the country, until we've all had a turn at him," they laughed.

"No, if he's any good, I'll keep him for myself," the guy said, as Ghost came back into the room. He looked over at them, then went ouside in the still hot, but cooling night air.

He spotted the blue cab truck, but didn't go over yet. He stood in the parking lot and stared up at the stars. The smell of diesel was heavy in the air. He tried to summon up a vision of what would come next, but his mind was a blank right now. Just then the doors opened, and the man came out.

"Come on," he motioned for Ghost to follow. As they reached the semi, Ghost looked up and up...the truck was huge. He'd never been next to one before. How do you get in it, he wondered. The man had made a check of the tires and the load on the trailer, then came to the passenger side, pulled out a ladder from a hidden compartment in the side of the cab.

"Get on in," he said.

Ghost was still in awe of the huge truck though, and just stood there. Even the lowest rung of the ladder was pretty high. The man rolled his eyes, as he pushed Ghost up to the ladder, telling him to climb, and he helped boost Ghost up.

They pulled away from the truck stop and onto the highway heading west. The man didn't say much, concentrating on his driving, and soon the steady roar and rocking motion of the truck put Ghost to sleep, his head leaning on the window. He was too tired to dream. If he'd been able to though, he would have tried to get out of there at all costs.

The trucker kept glancing over at Ghost. His thoughts rambled along with the passing miles. All that talk back at the truck stop was just, he figured... trying to one up the guys.Then his mind went in a 'what if' direction. What if he was to have some fun with this little hippie hitch-hiker? He licked his lips and looked over at Ghost again. This could be interesting. He'd never had a real urge to do anything with a guy before. Hell, he'd had women from coast to coast, but it had been awhile since the last one. A sudden stirring began to seep into his thoughts. Hmmm...maybe I should at least try it, and this is a good opportunity. No one would have to know, if he didn't say anything.

His breathing came a little faster. He looked at Ghost again. He is kinda cute, I guess, maybe he knows the score and does this all the time. Up ahead there was a rest stop. He figured he could pull over and see what would happen. If it worked out, fine...if not, he'd just leave the kid there. So, he planned his move in the next few miles. He slowed the semi, pulling into the parking area. No one else was there.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing!

Monday, March 10, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (20th installment)

(20th installment) content


Meanwhile, back in Missing Mile, Steve had been having trouble of his own. As he'd left the old graveyard that day so long ago, he'd vowed he'd search for Ghost forever, if that's what it took to find him. He could hardly bear to look at the T-Bird sitting there all accusingly, like it was saying to Steve, "Look at Ghost's blood...this is your fault." He had had to drive it back home though, even if he did have to be coated in Ghost's blood that was left in the car. But, he'd tried to make his mind a blank, as he got in and started the engine.

The car smelled like Ghost...coppery red blood...and molasses. He'd steeled himself against breaking down in tears, until he could make it home. On the way, he had to pass by the stores on the main street, the only road that connected to Burnt Church Road. As he drove by, he never glanced at anything, just kept his eyes looking forward. The old guys at the hardware store saw him drive by, though. They saw the blood on the door of the car, and turned their frowns toward Steve. He could feel their stares. He kept going.

"I've made a mess of everything," he sighed.

Arriving at the house, he got a bucket of soapy water and some rags. He washed and scrubbed the car, inside and out, washing away the evidence of his crime against his friend. He cried and begged forgiveness from the powers above, but he knew it would never happen. How can anyone forgive what he'd done. He remembered a flash of that night...when Ghost had spit at him and cursed him...and he knew he deserved to be cursed for eternity.

Going inside the house, he tried to make a plan of where he would start looking for Ghost. He had no idea, but then remembered Ghost and his grandmother had come from up in the mountains somewhere. Maybe he'd start looking there. First he had to prepare for what might be a long search. He pulled together some supplies to take.


That afternoon, Ghost told the kind couple of his need to leave. They wanted him to stay, give it a bit longer, but ultimately agreed with him, when he explained how he'd been treated lately by the group of guys; that he'd been cornered more than once, and could hear their thoughts of hurting him more than just the occasional shove or suggestive words and leers.

"We'll always care about you, Ghost. Know that in your heart. Let us know how you're doing from time to time. Do not hesitate to ask for anything from us."

Ghost smiled through his tears and nodded. The man said he'd drive him down the mountain to the crossroads of the highway. As they drove slowly down the twisting, narrow road, the man said he understood he had to make his own way in the world. He stopped the car at the highway. One way led east, toward the coast and Missing Mile. The other led west, to places neither had ever been.

"Which way you wanna go, Ghost? I can take you back to Missing Mile, or you can go to the bus station to the west. It's only a couple of miles. I'm going's time for my yearly supply run to Raleigh."

Ghost sat there for a bit, then shaking his head no, whispered, "I can't go back there," as he brushed away his tears. "Maybe I never will."

"Ok, Ghost...I have a hundred dollars saved's yours. I wish you well," the man said as he hugged Ghost good-bye.

Ghost stood there watching as the man drove off...until the red taillights faded away. Now he was truly on his own, truly all alone in the world. He thought of his and Steve's 'World' song, and began singing it as he walked westward. He missed singing at the Yew, he missed singing for the kids, and yes...he missed Steve, too.

As he trod on down the road, tears fell for all that had been good in his life...and for the future he hadn't yet seen. He hadn't really tried to see ahead, even though he could if he wanted to. He thought he'd rather try to live in the present, and let what came next just be what it was meant to be.

A few cars whizzed by him on the lonely road...none stopped. A semi or two raced on down the highway, almost knocking him down with the backwash of wind from their passing. One blew his air horn, and Ghost thought for sure his heart would stop from the sudden loud sound.

He tried to stay focused on what he was doing. "Keep walking, keep walking," he reminded himself, but in spite of that, his mind began to wander. There was a half moon in the sky, and the stars were twinkling brightly, but still this road was terribly dark. The woods on both sides of him were thick...and he thought, pretty spooky.

"I'm not afraid of the dark," he said to himself, even though he kind of least of these dark woods. Back home in Missing Mile, he knew every inch of the woods, day and night, and the graveyard held nothing for him to fear.

Here though, he panicked for a second, "There might be ghosts out there in these woods!" He giggled at the crazy thought..."I'm Ghost, and I'm afeared of ghosts...well, strange ones anyway. What the hell am I doing out here...focus, focus." His eyes were opened wide from the state he was working himself into. He tried to slow his breathing and shaking knees.

"I'm gonna go to this town, to the bus place, and get a ticket outta somewhere far, far away...or at least as far away as this money will take me. But, I need to keep some of it to buy something to eat," he thought. This got him confused again, which added to his panic, because of the math thing, and he knew he'd never figure it out. He sighed, telling himself to calm down. Things would work out how they were supposed to. He tried to make himself believe that.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing!

Friday, March 7, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (nineteenth installment)

(19th installment) content

A few cars passed by, but no one in them glanced toward the angel statue. The sun was beginning it's slow descent toward the horizon, when an old, four door sedan passed by on the road. The man inside had been this way before, and always looked for the angel statue as a landmark of sorts, to know he was on the right road leading to his home. This day he smiled and nodded as he drove by, but then something got his attention, and he slowed, then stopped the car.

He tried to figure out why the young man was lying there. Was he ok? Was he asleep? Was he injured? He told himself it wasn't any of his business, and started to drive away, but he felt compelled to go back to see what was going on.

He stopped there on the side of the road, then walked cautiously over to the young man. He was shocked to see the bloody clothes and swollen face. As he reached out to touch a shoulder, trying to wake the still figure, he could see the rise and fall of the chest, so he knew he was still alive. He shook the shoulder a little more, and as the person roused, opening his sky blue eyes to a waking state, the man was startled at what they revealed.

"Ghost," the man whispered.

Ghost nodded slightly. The man had never seen Ghost before, yet had said his name as if he had. He felt a strong connection to this Ghost person, and knew he had to take him to his home in the mountains. He gently put his arms under Ghost's knees and back, and carried him to the old car. He tenderly laid him on the back seat, noticed Ghost shivering, so put an old, soft blanket over him. He brushed a golden strand of hair off Ghost's forehead, saying softly,

"You'll be ok, Ghost. You'll be home soon," and he drove off. It was over two hundred miles to the man's home, from near the coast, where they were, up wooded, twisting roads, into the mountains.

                                                     CHAPTER 6

At last he was there. He still didn't know why he'd brought Ghost home with him, but here he was. His wife would surely know what do do. She was a healer, after all. As he pulled up to their cabin, she came out, looking worried. Before she even knew about his mysterious passenger, she said,

"Bring him in here, hurry!"

They lifted Ghost from the car and carried him inside. He roused a little, but they could see there was no light left in those amazing eyes. She looked at her husband,

"You know what I need. Bring me my tonics and herbs, quickly!"

When he returned, she administered the medicines to Ghost.

"He needs to be cleansed," she said, drawing a warm bath.

The man nodded, and helped her undress Ghost. They both gasped as they saw the devastating injuries on Ghost's body. They lowered him into the warm water, bathing him gently, washing away blood and dirt from his wounds, and his hair free of blood and debris. Even more than the washing away of blood, it was washing away some of the pain.

The gentleness of their actions soothed Ghost's mind and soul. When they were finished, they clothed him in a soft flannel shirt of the man's. It was very large and hung from Ghost's thin frame, but he could feel the softness and was grateful. They took him to a small room, settling him into a soft bed there. He fell instantly asleep.

The woman and her husband sat at their kitchen table and talked.

"How did you know his name?" and "How did you know I brought someone home?" they questioned...and "What are we to do with him?"

Then, they revealed they both had felt a connection to Ghost, somehow, as if they knew him...then the wife exclaimed,

"Oh, my goodness, I think this must be Miz Deliverance's grandson! That must be it. I knew something was nagging at me, something that was familiar. We haven't heard from her in many years...maybe only once since she left the community."

The two of them continued to discuss and ponder why Ghost was here now. How it had come to be that they had been the ones to find and care for him. As they talked, the wife prepared their supper. They knew Ghost needed to eat, and this would nourish him.

She brought up a tray for Ghost, and gently woke him...told him he must eat something, to keep up his strength. She helped him to sit up a bit, and took a spoonful of the dish she'd made, bringing it up to his lips. As he tasted it, he smiled slightly, because he knew it was the same potato soup his grandmother had taught him to make.

The wife had been good friends with Miz Deliverance for years, but when the troubles had begun, things changed. She didn't know for sure, but doubted Ghost had ever been told the circumstances of his beginnings. She did hear from her friend later on, that she'd written a journal detailing everything, possibly to be given to Ghost after her passing. Just in case she'd never given it to him, the woman decided to write a note for him to find someday.

She wrote, "Ghost, your grandmother had many gifts, and was an exceptional woman. She loved you and cared for you when no one else would. She kept a secret journal, wherein everything would be revealed to you. If it has not, please search for it, possibly hidden in her house in Missing Mile. It will reveal her secrets...about her and about you, Ghost.

I know what she intended for you to know, but it is not for me to tell. The journal is very important. Do not fail in your search for it. My prayer for you is that the angels always watch over you, and keep you in their arms." Then she took Ghost's old backpack and hid the note in a small rip inside, to be found someday.

Ghost continued his slow healing, and was eventually able to join the man and wife. He told them some of his story about his time with his grandmother. Little by little his sky blue eyes were getting their light back. The couple encouraged him to go out in the community to meet people, and learn what he could of the mountain ways, which after all was his heritage.

In time his accent grew thicker, and he became knowledgeable of the ways of his ancestors. It came easily for him. But, to the community, though they were mostly accommodating and cheerful around him, they still considered him an outsider. Even though he adapted to their ways, they'd still give each other knowing looks...and Ghost, being the sensitive he was, could feel their hesitancy to accept him...could hear their thoughts, which were mostly negative.

This hurt Ghost's heart. He was such a giving person, he couldn't understand why most shunned him. His spirit grew restless. He felt it was time to move on. Toward what, he didn't know, but the leering looks, the 'accidental' touches, the name calling, the bullying, had already begun from one group of guys.

So, he decided to go from the mountains...go face his destiny. It had been one year exactly since he'd come there.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Monday, March 3, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE (eighteenth installment)

(18th installment) content
Ghost had just barely made it to the graveyard, that early morning. He had driven very slowly down the gravel path, until he could go no farther, and stopped the car just before hitting the stone marker near the edge of the path. He was feeling so weak, but had to go see his grandmother. Her stone was just a little bit farther, back off the path, into the deepest part of the woodsy graveyard. This was his sanctuary, his and Steve's secret spot. It was well hidden and secluded. Just like Miz Deliverance had wanted it.

"Ain't no reason for folks to be coming to visit me after I'm gone. Just you, Ghost...and you can bring Steve along, too. That's all." He could still her her words.

He sat there a few minutes, trying to gather enough strength to get out of the car, and go a little farther into the cool shade. He could barely stay conscious, but wanted to do this one last thing. He turned off the car and pocketed the keys, then eased his sore and aching body out. He had to grab hold of the door and hang on to keep from falling. Slowly, he stumbled to his grandmother's headstone. As he reached out to grab hold of it, he fell to the grass. He couldn't go any farther right now. Closing his eyes in exhaustion, he felt a fresh spurt of blood break open from his wounds. It seeped into the grass beneath him. As he lay there in pain and sorrow, he thought he could hear someone calling his name.

"Maybe this is a dream," he thought...and then sobbed, as he remembered that Steve would not be there to rescue him from his nightmares...would not be there for him ever again...and he faded out, as his dream took over him.

"Ghost," the voice of his grandmother entered his subconscious dream state."Ghost child, I can see you are in agony over what has happened to you. I am here with you. I will help guide you through this. I am sorry I couldn't stay in your world a little longer. I love you so much, Ghost child, maybe too much.

Things may have been different, had I not brought you to this place, those many years ago. I thought it would give you a better chance to survive in this world. It must have interrupted the path your soul was going down. Things were hard for you here...much harder than I thought they'd be.

You were born to the mountains...there were things you should have stayed and learned there. I failed you, and am so sorry. You don't remember much about the day your young friend saved you from torture. I knew your and Steve's life path would cross, even before that day." the voice paused a moment. "I told him to go away...the time was not right. You both had lessons to learn.

A few months later, you met again. It seemed the stars were aligned this time...and they were for awhile...but, something went awry. I don't know why it happened when it did, but I feared for you..and Steve. I was helpless to intervene. It had to happen as it did.

It was decided for your soul to experience hardship. I wish it wasn't so. Now, here you are at this time and this place, and I must tell you some truths. I have faith you will survive this pain. The pain in your broken body, and the pain in your heart. You are strong, Ghost, you are not are a survivor.

There is something you must do. When you awake, help will be on the way to you. You must go back to your beginnings, back to the mountains. It is not your time to join me and those who have gone before you. Your timeline is long, but difficult. There will be times of happiness and times of sorrow. Do not fear, Ghost...the one you love will cross paths with you again. There have been many meetings and partings of your souls throughout time; this must be endured for it to be so. The time will be right again.

When you awake, you must make your way to the entrance, by the gate. Rest yourself there at the angel statue. I have sent someone to help you. Trust him, he will say your name. Do not question. You will be taken to your birthplace in the mountains. The people there will help to restore you, to heal the ache in your body and mind. When the time has come, you will continue on your journey. There are still lessons to learn, Ghost child...still lessons to learn..."

The voice of Ghost's grandmother faded away, and the dream was ended.

As Ghost slept, it was as if all the souls of the dead surrounded him in a fine, shimmery mist, as he lay there. Ghost received energy from their presence, as they reached out to caress him tenderly. As Ghost's sky blue eyes fluttered open, he did feel like he could finish what he'd come there for. The dream he'd had was still in his head, but he couldn't put words to it. It was just a peaceful feeling.

He sat up, reaching for his backpack and his markers. He took out a paper and began writing a note to Steve. He cried as he wrote the words, tears dropping one by one onto the page, smearing the ink. He didn't care...he could only do this once. Reaching into his faded, old Army jacket, he took out his most prized possession, Steve's sky blue guitar pick. He'd hidden it long ago in a tiny rip inside the jacket's lining. It had been there many years, safely hidden away...only occasionally taken out to be handled, looked at, rubbed as if was a talisman...a good luck charm. 

But now...he sobbed...he must give it back. He folded the paper into a tiny square, and pushed it and the pick into a small slit at the back of the headstone. He then took his marker and wrote a message on the front of the stone, so Steve would see it. His bloody handprint was there, too, where Ghost had leaned up against it.

He whispered, "Good-bye, Grandmother. I'll see you again someday, I know," and he kissed the gravestone, slowly turned and walked painfully away. He didn't have a conscious plan, but felt his feet walking, leading him to where he needed to be. 

As he came to the entrance of the cemetery, he stopped and looked up at the angel statue.

"Help me," he prayed. He sank down there in the grass, laying his head on the angel's feet. He didn't know what would become of him, and in his despair, gave himself over to whatever fate would choose for him. 

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing!