Sunday, August 31, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(seventieth installment)

70th installment content

They drove up to the house, and it did, indeed look haunted. It was a two-story Victorian, with dark shutters on the windows. There was a light on inside, so Steve used the old door knocker to announce their presence.

"Look at this place, Ghost. This door knocker is a gargoyle face...almost the same one we have on our door back home."

Ghost was hopping from foot to foot, anxious to get inside. "I know, I know! It must be a sign. We're supposed to be here, Steve."

Steve pulled back the antique, gold handle on the knocker, giving it three raps. A curtain parted in the window next to the door, then quickly closed. Locks and chains could be heard clinking open. The door opened with a scary sounding creak. A small, birdlike woman peered out.

"Y'all the one's need a room?" she asked. "Clerk down at the store gave me a call. Said he was sending a couple boys out here."

"Yes, ma'am, we're the ones," said Steve politely. "We'd appreciate a room for the night. Don't want to start over the mountains at night."

She looked at them both, carefully, weighing her decision. "What's wrong with that one, there?" she nodded toward Ghost, who was slowly turning in a circle, with his eyes closed.

Steve looked over, saw what Ghost was doing. Several answers came to mind, that he could tell the woman, but none of them reassuring.  "Uh, nothing?"

"Um-hum," she said, as she eyed Ghost. "Wait a minute...I know this one. He's Miz Deliverance's grandson, Ghost! Well, I'll be...never in all my born days would I expect to see you here on my doorstep. Y'all come on in, then." She held the door open wide.

As they crossed the threshold, Ghost stopped in his tracks - eyes wide, taking in the essence of the old house. He could smell familiar to him as his own childhood...and something else. There was a presence...of someone, or something watching them. He smiled big, as he looked all around.

"I feel like I'm home." he said reverently.

"You can feel the others, can't you, Ghost? You are a powerful sensitive...I knew you would be," the woman said.

Steve was just watching this exchange with fascination. How could this be? A random encounter, miles and miles...well, a lot of miles away from home, and a stranger knows Ghost. Impossible, but he'd just seen it happen, right in front of him. What exactly was he dealing with, here?

Sure, Ghost was psychic, but he was usually such a goofball, it was hard to take him seriously...usually.

Ghost and the woman were chatting about Miz Deliverance, her passing, and how the woman knew her. Evidently, she'd lived up in the same community as Ghost's grandmother, many years ago. When she'd married, her and her husband had moved here, but she never forgot her old friend, and would get updates on her where-abouts, now and then, as people drove through this little town.

She'd heard the story of Ghost and his grandmother, and all the strange circumstances that led them to Missing Mile. So they had just randomly came to this house? Maybe...maybe not. It might have been ordained that they be here right now.

"This is some heavy shit," Steve marvelled. "Too much to think about, right now." He was exhausted from driving, and asked where their room would be.

"Sure, sure...c'mon up the stairs, I'll show you," she said, leading the way.

The stairs were narrow and the wooden steps creaked as they made their way up. "Great sound effects," Steve thought.

She opened the door to a furnished bedroom with one double bed, a patchwork quilt on it, and a dresser with an old-fashioned, silvered mirror, a bedside table - probably from the last century, and a lamp, which she flicked on. There was no overhead light, and the one casement window was covered with sheer lace curtains, yellowing with age.

"There's a bathroom down the hall," she pointed out. "I'll leave you two to get settled. I serve a big country breakfast at seven," she told them. Then, she was gone, off to her own bedroom. No mention of ghosts or hauntings.

"What'cha think, Steve?" Ghost asked, as he fell across the bed, to test for softness. "It needs more pillows and blankets," he muttered.

"It smells funny old musty cellars," Steve said as he sniffed the air. "Good enough to sleep in, though, I suppose. That's all I plan on should do the same."

"But..." Ghost started.

"You do whatever you have to do, Ghost, but leave me out of it. I don't wanna know, I don't wanna see, don't wanna hear...anything. I just need to crash until it?" He gave Ghost a no-nonsense look.

"Yeah, I got it, but I have to find out stuff, ya know. It's for research, and for writing it down for our book."

"Well, be quiet then, ok?" Steve yawned. Taking off his jeans and shirt, he got into the bed, closing his eyes.

"Ok, Steve, I'm gonna be real quiet," he whispered, as he opened his backpack, taking out his notebook, markers, and camera. He snapped a few shots of the room, and of Steve, trying to sleep. Scribbling in his notebook, he absentmindedly started humming a song, and tapping his marker on the page. He got up from the side of the bed he'd been on, tripping on Steve's boots, banging his knees as he fell.

"Shit...oh, sorry, Steve..." He paced the perimeter of the room and tapped on the walls a little. Just soft little taps, he thought.

"Quiet!" Steve said, louder than he meant to.

Ghost jumped, then hurried out into the hallway, the wooden door slamming shut, before he could catch it. His intention was to go into the bathroom for a drink of water, but before he got there, he heard a knocking on the wall. He knew it wasn't himself doing it.

"It must be answering me!" he thought. He tapped on the wall again, out in the hallway...and something tapped back. "This is so cool," Ghost was grinning. After a few minutes, he went on into the bathroom.  Feeling around for a light switch, he finally found a long string, attatched to a light fixture on the ceiling. Pulling it, it turned on the bare, forty watt bulb. He looked around the tiny, dim bathroom for a cup. There wasn't one. He had to cup his hands to fill with water to drink.

As he raised up, he saw himself in the old, medicine cabinet mirror above the sink...and he saw another pale form reflected there, beside his image. It wasn't a fully formed person...mostly just a shimmery shape of a face, with dark spaces for the eyes and mouth. Looking directly at it, it mostly disappeared, but looking from the corner of his eyes, it took on more substance.

He wasn't scared...more curious than anything. He reached his wet hand up to the mirror. "Hey," he said. The figure didn't speak, and it didn't go awayWas it in the mirror, or in the room, he wondered. Turning around fast, to catch sight of whatever it was, he saw nothing there.

"Hey, mirror person, who are you?" Ghost asked, looking back into the mirror. He got no answer, and the image faded away. Shrugging, Ghost turned off the light and left the bathroom. "I gotta write this down," he said.

Sneaking back into the bedroom, he saw that Steve was sound asleep. Grabbing his notebook, he wrote what just had happened, then left again. "This might be a long night," he muttered, as he went down the hallway.

He was wide awake, and wanted to explore. He'd sleep in the car tomorrow. This was just too much fun to quit now.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing 


Sunday, August 24, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty ninth installment)

69th installment content

Steve eased the car back down the narrow dirt lane, then stopped at the highway. They could both breathe easier, now.

"Thanks for warning me," Ghost said.

"What was...why did I know that it was danger?" Steve asked. "Just out of nowhere I got, or felt something. Those words just came to me, and I had to tell you. Was that how you get your messages?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, sometimes I do...just like that," Ghost told him. "It's just a feeling, or an impression. I don't know. Hey, maybe you're getting psychic, too!"

"Lord, I hope not...that was too weird," Steve said as he shivered.

"Yeah, it is weird. Even I had a creepy feeling about that place. Oh, write down your part, like the time and all. Write down your danger message," Ghost urged Steve.

"You're the one with the words, Ghost. You do it for me, ok?"

"Well, ok, but you say it and I'll write it." Ghost poised his marker over the page. "Go on, but talk slow so I can write it like you say it."

Steve grabbed the marker out of Ghost's hand, and wrote quickly the day and time. "Ok, first I was standing by the car watching you wander around. I wasn't thinking of any particular thing...almost falling asleep. Then, the word danger came into my head. That's all, just danger. It was outta nowhere. It wasn't in my ears, it was in my head. So, then I had a weird feeling I had to tell you in a hurry. That's when I yelled over to you. I'm glad you stopped in time. You know the rest, but why me? Why did I get the word and not you? I don't like it at all," Steve said.

"I don't know, maybe you were just standing in the right place to pick up the message. There's a jillion reasons. I don't know how or why I get them, either...but I'm used to it, you're not." Ghost explained.

"A jillion?" Steve laughed.

"Yeah, that the right word for a whole bunch?"

"Yeah, it'll work" Steve said.

"You know, I don't usually feel anything creepy about hearing dead voices, or looking around in graveyards. I wish I knew why I did here. Something felt evil here, not right."

"Jeeze, Ghost...scare me some more, why don't ya," Steve said as he started the car, leaving the dirt road as fast as he could. "We need to find a place to camp, I guess. It's already getting dark."

The sun had already gone down, and it was that in between could still see, but a shadow had come over the land, making the sky turn a deep purple, streaked with pink in the west. Ghost put on his hooded jacket, and shivered, as the cool breeze flowed through the open windows.

They were in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains, right on the border of North Carolina and Tennesee. An eerie mist was forming in among the trees, cooling the air after such a hot and humid day.

Ghost was staring wide-eyed out the window, not saying anything, which was unusual, as he almost never shut up. Steve called him the noisy Ghost. He was almost never still, either... talking, singing, tapping his fingers on everything, running them through his hair; but, when he did get quiet, it was so dramatic a change, that Steve paid attention.

"What is it, Ghost? Why are you so quiet?" Steve asked, feeling a strangeness in the air, too.

Ghost raised a shoulder, saying, "I don't like it here. I don't want to camp out anywhere near here. It has a bad feeling. Keep driving, Steve, please...get us out of here."

Steve did just that. "How far should we go? We're getting higher into the mountains, Ghost...we'll have to stop sometime. I have to find a gas station pretty soon, too or we'll be stranded out here."

"Just go as far as you can. I'll let ya know when it's safe to stop."

Soon, way up ahead, they could see lights, hopefully a town of some sort. They hadn't seen any other cars for miles, and it was fully dark, now.  They kept going and the lights didn't seem any closer, as looks can be deceiving. Steve kept checking the fuel gauge, and it would be a dire necessity to get gas soon.

Finally, Steve spotted a road sign saying it was twenty miles more to the small town. He hoped they would make it, and that something would be open still. 


It seemed they coasted into the town on fumes, and luckily, the one little store was still open. They did have a gas pump.

"That was too close," Steve said, breathing a sigh of relief. He felt as if he'd been holding his breath, forever. The lights of the store were bright, after being on the dark, lonely road. They parked by the gas pump, and got out, blinking and stretching. Ghost headed inside to find a bathroom, and Steve soon came in, too.

The man behind the counter eyed them with curiosity, and a tinge of suspicion. "Say, you guys going anywhere in particular? We don't get many travelers out here this time of night. Most everybody in these parts are home all locked up until morning," he said.

Steve didn't want to give this Grizzly Adams type much information, but said, "Yeah, we're just passing through on our way to Tennessee. We're glad to see you were still open, 'cause we were about to run out of gas."

"I was fixin' to close, but saw ya comin'...figured you'd need to stop. Next place down the road is about a hundred miles over the mountain. Hope your brakes are good; there's some steep roads here and there. I wouldn't try it at night, though," the clerk said.

"Thanks for the information. We were wanting to take a break, there some place to camp, or a motel nearby?" Steve asked.

"Well, if you don't want to camp by the side of the road, there's one old lady, about a half mile up, that'll take in somebody for a night, once in awhile. Calls it a bed and breakfast, but it's just her old house. She has a couple rooms she lets. You go on over there and knock...knock loud, she's a little hard of hearing. She'll look ya over and let ya know," said the man.

He thought for a minute, then continued, "She won't tell ya the old place is haunted, though. Says there's a ghost that roams around knocking on things at night. Probably harmless, or just her imagination, but some people go for that kind of thing...especially around Halloween. We get lots of tourists come around that time of year."

Steve nodded, thinking to himself, "Just what we need on the menu - haunted house, $10 a night - just great."

Just then, Ghost came back from the bathroom and was looking around the little store.

"Well," Steve said, "guess we'll go see if she'll let us in. I got my own Ghost here." He pointed to Ghost. "Guess they can talk to each other all night."

The man looked confused, but Steve didn't explain. He paid for the gas and stack of munchies Ghost had picked out, and they left. Steve told him what he'd found out, and of course Ghost was beside himself at the luck of finding a haunted house already.

"Only for you, Ghost...only for you," Steve said.


Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Monday, August 18, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty eighth installment)

68th installment content

Steve pulled into the driveway of the little place - really just a dirt path up to the front. No one was around. This church was on the outskirts of the small town, and Steve still felt like he was trespassing on private property. Ghost had grabbed his camera and notebook already, and was heading out toward the graves.

Steve let him go by himself, while he finished his soda. He reasoned that Ghost could talk to the spooks better by himself...and he knew he was being silly, but he was a little scared, even in broad daylight.

When Ghost hadn't come back, Steve figured he'd go take a look, just to check on him. This place seemed to have a weird vibe, to him. It wasn't like back at the graveyards at home, where they were comfortable sitting in amongst the granite, marble, wood, and metal head stones.

Maybe, that was the felt too nice, too lonely and empty. He found Ghost over by a headstone, making an etching of the name and date.

"Found anything, yet?" Steve asked, as he scanned the sun dappled area.

"Hey, Steve...this here one is the oldest one," Ghost said.

Steve was confused. He knew Ghost couldn't read the dates on there, but it did look pretty old. The stone was a little crumbly on the edges, and the carvings were weather worn.

"How do you know?" Steve asked.

Ghost finished his etching, and said simply, and with total assurance, "They told me."

Steve started to say 'who', but then remembered...Ghost's ability to talk and listen to spirits unseen.

"Oh, cool," Steve said. "Did ya take a picture, yet?"

"Yeah, I took one of all of them. They were nice to let me. They thought it was interesting what we're doing."

"Yeah, uh...well...are you ready to go, yet?" Steve asked, as he began backing away farther from the area.

"Yeah, but can you write in here what time it is that we found this place?" Ghost held out his notebook.

Steve could see already written, the place, all the particulars of weather and type of vegetation, types of headstones, etc. Very detailed notes. He entered the time and date, then flipped to the next page. Ghost had drawn a sketch of a old fashioned woman, with a long dress, and a braided bun on top of her head. Next to her, was a man of about the same era, in baggy pants, with suspenders, work boots, and an old felt hat. They looked like farmers, or pioneer people.

"Who are these people, Ghost?" Steve asked.

"Oh, they're the people in this grave, right here. They told me their's was the oldest one."

" could see them?" asked Steve.

"Yeah, sure. So I drew their picture. I didn't know if the camera would do it or not."

"Where are they now?" Steve asked, looking around nervously.

"They're right there...standing by you."

Steve didn't see any such thing, but he moved way, away anyway. "Ok, time to go, now," he said. He began walking fast toward the car, trying not to run, and give Ghost something else to laugh about.

Ghost took a couple more pictures, and lured Steve back to take a picture of him by the graves.

"That was great." Ghost was smiling. "We have our first entry. Let's go find another one."


They pulled out some beef jerky and another soda, and continued down the road. They passed another couple of small towns, but didn't find a reason to stop. By now, it was late afternoon, and at the next good sized town, Steve stopped to get gas. Ghost went inside the convenience store. He asked the clerk if he had any knowledge of old graveyards, or haunted houses.

Ghost liked to talk to people, and the conversation got a little long, so Steve came to fetch him.

"Hey, Steve, Jim here says there's an old cemetery down the road we can look at. He don't know any haunted houses, though."

Steve was glad of that. "Oh, ok, we'll check it out then. Gotta go now." He held open the door, motioning for Ghost to come on.


They continued on, looking for the landmark the clerk had mentioned. It was a lightning struck old tree. They had to turn up the next dirt road, to the right. They were dodging pot holes, and low hanging tree branches were scraping against the car.

"Are you sure it's up here, Ghost?"

"Well, that's what he said. Just keep going, ok?"

After another half mile they came upon a small clearing, of sorts. It was overgrown now, but there were quite a few markers set in a haphazard manner. The late afternoon sun was getting lower, and cast shadows all around.

"For real, Ghost, I don't want to be here when it gets dark. Hurry up and take some pictures. You don't have to talk to anybody, this time."

Ghost got out of the car and wandered around, snapping pictures, and making entries in his notebook. Steve stayed by the car.

"Hurry up! I don't want to do that road in the dark!" Steve yelled over at Ghost.

"Shhh, I'm listening," Ghost said.

Steve rolled his eyes and tapped his foot. He wanted to say five more minutes, but knew it wouldn't matter. Ghost would take as much time as it took to get what he wanted. As he watched Ghost do his thing, he let his thoughts wander. Then a stray, unbidden thought came to him. It wasn't audible, but just a weird inside feeling of 'danger, danger'.

"What, the..." he didn't know what to make of it. He hollered over to Ghost. "Hey, I think I just got one of your signals. It said 'danger, danger'...what's it mean?

Ghost was walking around one old grave marker, when he heard Steve yell. He immediately stopped. Looking down to where he would have taken the next step, he saw that vines and grass had grown over a deep hole in the ground. It was a sunken grave. Erosion had caused the top soil to fall in.

Ghost squatted down and pulled away some of the vines and old leaves. At some time, rain must have washed away most of the dirt, and an exposed coffin was down in the hole. He waved Steve over to have a look.

"If you hadn't hollered danger at me, Steve, I'd have been down there," he pointed.

Steve grabbed Ghost's arm, jerking him back from the edge of the grave. "We're getting outta here, now!"

Ghost agreed.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty seventh installment)

67th installment content

"Ok, ok, Ghost, you win. I'll go along with your crazy idea, but if some haint comes after me, you better tell it to back off, ok?"

"Yeah, I'll do that. I'll tell 'em to lay off Steve, or he'll bust some spook butt!"

"Ok, then," Steve said. "Let's do it, starting tomorrow. You figure out where the first one is, and we'll go out there. Oh, does it have to be at night, or do they come out in the daytime, too?"

Ghost looked at Steve with a serious face, and making his voice deeper, he said, "They're there all the time, Steve...all the time...but, they like it best when it's daaarrrkkk!" He reached over and grabbed Steve, who jumped, almost falling off the bed. Ghost laughed even louder.

"Damn you, Ghost! Why'd ya go and do that? I'm creeped out enough, already. But, seriously, you do have a way of drawing the dead to you, you know. That's what's really eerie."

"I know I do, Steve, but for me it's fun. I get to find out all kinds of things, and now I'll write it down - what I find out."

"Ok, then...tomorrow we begin," said Steve, as he turned out the light. Ghost mentioned his headache had gone, and he was too antsy to sleep, but he cuddled up with Steve, thinking some more of their new plan, while Steve slept.

                                                  CHAPTER 15

After awhile, Ghost got up and paced around the room. He didn't turn on any lights, but he could see pretty good because of the flashing red, neon vacancy sign shining through the thin curtains. He tried to plan what they'd do the next day and night. He'd get one scenario going, then he'd go in a different direction, and his plan would morph into something totally different.

He wondered what road they should take, or should he just let the dead call out to him...lead him to them? That sounded the best - he'd be sure to hear the ones that were in a mood to talk.

He stood still, in the middle of the room, closed his eyes, and swayed a little, trying to hone in on a signal of some sort. There...over that way! Something was trying to get his attention. He turned, like a radar detector, bringing in the signal clearer. He didn't notice that he was slowly walking in that direction, too, when he hit the wall with a bang, falling backwards onto the floor.


Steve woke up, alarmed when he saw Ghost on the floor. "What the hell are you doin'?" he asked. "Are you sleepwalking, again?"

Ghost peeked up over the edge of the bed at Steve. "No, I'm awake. I just ran into the wall, then I busted my ass. I was getting a signal."

Steve gave him a look that meant he definitely didn't want to hear about it, right now. Then he rolled over and went back to sleep. Ghost leaned his head back on the side of the bed, and closed his eyes, trying to get the signal back, but it was gone. He yawned, wishing he could go to sleep as easily as Steve.

"All I got for my trouble, was a sore butt, a sore head from hitting the wall, and my headache is coming back," he muttered. He eventually did fall asleep, right there on the floor.


The next morning, Steve went to get up, forgetting that Ghost was there on the floor by the bed, and he tripped over him, and landed in the floor, too.

"Why ya falling on me, Steve?" Ghost asked, as he came awake.

"Get up, Ghost...get off the floor! You're making me crazy!" Steve said, scrabbling to get up. "We're gonna go get breakfast, then we're leaving. Five minutes, Ghost!" he said, forgetting Ghost had no idea when five minutes would be up.

They did manage to make it out the door and to the car, pretty quick. Steve drove them over to the little diner, where they ordered pancakes and coffee. Ghost was exhausted, after having only about an hour of sleep, so he kept nodding off.

"Wake up, you gotta point us in what way to go," Steve shook Ghost more or less awake. "Well...?" he asked.

"Well, what?"

"Which way?"asked Steve.

"Which way was the wall last night? In the room, the one I hit? Which way was it?" Ghost asked.

Steve took a minute, marvelling that he actually understood what Ghost was talking about. Strange how that worked. You get to know someone so well, that even their gibberish makes sense to you.

"The wall was like southwest, I think...or maybe more west."

"Ok, go that way then," Ghost said.


After eating, they stopped by the 7-11, to get road food, and put sodas in their cooler. Steve got a map, just in case, and Ghost picked out a package of markers and a spiral notebook. Then, after gassing up, they were off down the road. The map didn't have graveyards listed, so he just took whatever little roads went the closest to southwest as he could find.

"Let me know if you feel any tingling from beyond, Ghost," Steve said. He was going to be positive about this harebrained scheme, even if it killed him...for Ghost.

"Ok, Steve, uh...I'm getting a tingling, right now."

Steve looked over, then slowed the car. "Really? I don't see any place that looks like a graveyard. Are you sure?"

Ghost started shaking his foot. "Look, foot's shaking, Steve!"

"What does that mean...tell me what it means!" Steve said.

Ghost laughed..."It means my foot is's asleep!"  He couldn't help teasing Steve, even though he knew he'd get yelled at. It was too much fun, and the occasions didn't come up very often, so he took advantage of every opportunity that came along.

Steve stopped the car. "Get out! Get out now! I mean it, Ghost. I've had enough. I'm trying to go along with your idea, but crap like that - what you just did...uh-uh...this trip is over. Now, get out and find your own way home."

Ghost kept laughing, he knew Steve wasn't really mad...just annoyed that he'd been so gullible. Steve just sat staring ahead, at the road. Then he started the car up, and drove slowly on down the road...never saying another word.

Ghost folded his arms on the rolled down window ledge and let the breeze blow his hair around. He started singing a sort of road song, *Take it to the Limit". The words fit - they were going down the highway, and he was looking for a sign. "So, put me on a highway, show me a sign, and take it to the limit, one more time..." he kept singing, over and over.

"Are you concentrating, Ghost? Or, have you already forgotten what we're doing out here in the middle of nowhere, on these crappy little deserted roads?"

"I'm just helps me think. I can do that, and concentrate, too, ya know."


They continued down the road another couple of miles. It was hot and humid, and the car's air-conditioner was low on cooling liquid...and with Ghost's window down, and the broken window, covered in plastic, the air-conditioner wasn't much help.

"Reach back there and get me a cold drink. Can ya do that, too?" Steve asked.

"Yep, sure can," said Ghost, and he scrambled around in the seat, reaching for the cooler. He got a cola for Steve, and one for himself. They had just popped open the cans, when they passed a small town, that wasn't listed on the map.

"Hold up, Steve." Ghost sat up, so he could see out the window better. "Back there...behind that little 'ol church...there's some headstones. Let's go look."


*Take it to the Limit", by The Eagles, released November 15, 1975, on the album "One of These Nights", written by Randy Meisner, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey, label - Asylum

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Monday, August 11, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty sixth installment)

66th installment content

Ghost finally fell back down on the bed, continuing to sleep, although his eyelids kept twitching in dreams. Steve did manage to get a short nap, after that.

The next time he awoke, he heard Ghost in the bathroom, getting ready for their show. He drowsed in the half-awake state a little longer, until Ghost came and shook him all the way awake.

"Your turn, Steve. Go get ready, we have to be there in a little bit, I think. It feels like it, anyway."

Steve looked at his watch, "Yep, you felt right, it's time to get on over there."

He noticed Ghost looked paler than usual, and his hands were trembling slightly. "You ok, man?"

"Yeah, guess so."

Steve could tell he was still in some pain, but knew he wouldn't admit it yet...would plow on through their commitment, and suffer the consequences later. So, he didn't push it...but, he'd keep an eye out anyway. He may have to cut short their show, if he saw the signs of Ghost loosing it. If he started staring at nothing, kind of in a daze, or started forgetting lyrics, it would be time to call it a night.

Ghost told Steve he'd done a good job on the car, but didn't talk much after that, even when Steve tried to crack a joke or two.

"I have something to tell ya, later," Ghost finally said.

"Well, I have something to tell you, too," said Steve.

Ghost smiled at him with his silly, broken tooth grin. Steve was happy to see it.


The coffee shop was just a small hole-in-the-wall establishment...a tiny platform for performers, and a couple of couches and easy chairs, and about a dozen tables. The place smelled delicious, dark brews and yeasty baked goods. The two baristas were kept busy behind the counter, serving up lattes and mochas and half this and that - Steve could never remember what they were called, all those fancy coffee drinks. Just give him a regular cup of joe, scalding hot, and he was happy.

So, after hearing some other acts, it was their turn to take the stage. After checking the microphone, and fine tuning his guitar, they were ready. It was going to be a simple set tonight. The crowd was filling up the tables, but it was a pretty small area, so it looked full, even with only 50-75 people in the whole place, including themselves.

Most looked to be twenty or thirty somethings in age, a few teens...some were doing homework or surfing the internet on their laptops, but all were attentive to what he and Ghost were doing - waiting to be entertained with some music.  Steve didn't see anyone who looked like a trouble-maker.

And so, it was time. Steve began their first old love song by Extreme, *"More Than Words". Steve sang this to Ghost all the time at home. They both loved it, but Ghost would sing it tonight, with Steve coming in on the chorus. They got a nice round of applause, afterwards.

They began their next one, *"Killing Me Softly". This one they took turns singing the verses. It meant a lot to the both of them. The story of their love, more or less, set to beautiful notes of music.

They continued with a few more tunes, then closed with "*World". This was one of the best feeling shows they'd done in a long time. The audience was appreciative and welcoming, no hecklers, and the lighting was soft. The people were right up next to them, sort of like playing for friends in their living room - a very intimate setting. Steve was thinking maybe they should do more of these, rather than loud bars. He'd mention it to Ghost, later.

So far, Ghost had held it together. This place was relaxing, not stressful at all. After their set was over, people said what a good time they had, and thanked them politely for playing. They were given cups of coffee and their pay, and were soon back at the motel.

"What'd ya think, Ghost?" Steve asked. "I really enjoyed that, didn't you?"

"Yeah, I did too, Steve. I thought I'd flake out, but it was nice."

"Maybe we should just do coffee houses out on the road. I wouldn't mind that kind of atmosphere; I'm tired of loud bars." Steve mused.

"Let's do that, then," Ghost agreed. "Oh, what were you gonna tell me?"

Steve thought for a minute, "Oh, yeah, kinda just what we were saying. We should just take it slow, and don't get in any rush. We could just play places like tonight, or maybe not play at all for awhile. Just travel around, do the sightseeing thing...whatever we feel like doing."

"That sounds good, Steve," said Ghost, who was lying on the bed, with his arm over his eyes to shield them from the overhead light. "I think all the loud bars, and lights, and stuff, are getting to me. My head still hurts, too."

"I think it'd be good to ease off awhile, maybe plan where we're going to go, instead of just driving around." said Steve.  "Oh, what was your dream about? You said you had something to tell me, too."

"Uh, it was about graves."

"I heard you yelling about it," said Steve.

"I was...when? When I was asleep?"

"Yeah, you sat right up and started hollering about graves being everywhere."

"Oh, that was it. I remember, now. I didn't know I was talking in my sleep..."

"You weren't talking, you were yelling really loud."

Ghost sighed, "Well what I was dreaming was how many graves there are...all around us. We're sorta surrounded by them...every city, town..there's a cemetery...big ones, little ones, and sometimes just abandonded ones on the side of the road - no town left at all...just the dead in their graves."

"Abandoned," Steve said.

"Yeah, that's what I said," said Ghost, "abandonded, abandondead, dead people." He looked at Steve and grinned. He knew he'd just creeped Steve out.

"Ookay," said Steve. "That's a new one on me. I never thought of it like that before."

"Yeah, and what I was thinking..." Ghost continued, "was that like you said, instead of just driving around with no plan, we could visit lots of graveyards!"

"Whaat???" Steve looked at Ghost in horror!

"Yeah, and ...and...I can take pictures of the old crosses, and angels, and tombstones. And, we could write about where we found them, and who knows, maybe we can make a book out of it. We could call it 'Our Adventures in the Graveyards', or...or...'Traveling With Ghost and Steve to the Haunted Past', or.., hey, we could find some real haunted houses. I could talk to some ghosts, haha, that'd be so cool, wouldn't it?"

Ghost was getting excited about this, Steve could tell. More excited than he'd been about anything in awhile. The idea was pretty good, but he didn't know if he could handle all the spook talk, himself.

"What if I'm too scared to do that, Ghost?

"What'd'ya mean, Steve? We go to the graveyards back home, and you're not scared. What's the difference?"

"Uh...those ones are like family to us. We've known those dead people a long time. These new ones are strangers...they might not like us snooping around them taking their picture."

Ghost couldn't help it, he burst out laughing. "Listen to yourself, Steve! Oh, my funny. I didn't think you even believed in spooks, and now you're thinking they're gonna come get'cha if we take their picture!" he laughed even harder.

Steve tried to act like he didn't care about spooks, one way or another, and his speech was kinda dumb, and he started laughing, too.

*More Than Words" by Extreme, written by Nuno Bettencourt, Gary Cherone, released March 23, 1991, label - A & E.

*Killing Me Softly With His Song", by Roberta Flack, composed by Charles Fox, with lyrics by Norman Gimble, in collaboration with Lori Lieberman, released in 1973, label - Atlantic

*Hole in the World", by The Eagles, written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, released July 15, 2003, label - The Eagles Recording Company II

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty fifth installment)

65th installment content

By the time Steve got back, Ghost had managed to sit up, but was still half asleep. Steve handed him a styrofoam cup of 7-11 coffee with cream and sugar. So, while Ghost got out and sat on the curb, sipping his coffee, and rejoining the living, Steve and the man put all four tires on the car.

"Thanks, man," Steve said. "Guess we'll be out of your hair now. C'mon, Ghost, let's go."

The man wished them luck in their travels, and went inside his club.

"You awake, now?" Steve asked. "Let's find something to eat."

This town didn't have any fast-food places, but they found a small diner open for business. They debated going in. Steve was thinking those guys may be around. He and Ghost looked a mess, too, all scruffy from the fight... and sleeping in the car didn't help their looks or their smell, either.

"Ghost, let's not go in there. We look like crap and need a shower. If we're gonna play here tonight, we need to get cleaned up. Let's get a motel room. We'll just grab something from the little store where I got your coffee." Ghost agreed, and when they got into a room at the motel, dug out some clean clothes, and refreshed themselves, they felt much better.

They talked about what they'd play that night at the coffee bar. In the end, they planned on a more subdued set.

"I don't think those guys will be there, do you?" asked Steve. "They didn't look like coffee shop people."

"Probably not, but why are you so paranoid about it? We took care of the problem last night. If we have to, we can do it again," Ghost said.

"I don't know, it just bothers me, and I can't quit thinking about it...and what we talked about, too.  You know I couldn't just stand there. I had to jump in, I was so mad."

Ghost wished Steve would stop talking about it, but he knew Steve had to talk it out before he was done. So, he listened patiently.

"What bothers me, is that...well, I know you can take care of yourself. I mean, you did ok all the time you were gone, didn't you? I don't know if I could, myself...and then, I think, well, you can handle all kinds of crap people dish out...except what I did to you..." Steve had to stop, because his throat closed up and his eyes stung with tears.

Ghost put his arm over Steve's shoulders, as Steve continued. "You should probably be scared of me. I hurt you the worst...but here you are. How can you even do that?"

"Steve, just stop it. I'm with you 'cause I love you. I'm not scared of you. Besides, I could take you down, if I wanted to..." Ghost said, in an effort to lighten the mood. But, it didn't seem to make Steve any happier.

"I know you can, Ghost...and that's the thing. I'm scared I can't do right by you, when I don't even think I can take care of my own self half the time. You proved you can do it, and what have I ever proved, huh? That I can get drunk and I can beat people up? That's about it."

"Steve, you don't have to prove anything to anybody," Ghost began, but Steve went on.

"Yeah, I do. I have to prove it to myself...that I can be more than a fuck-up."

"So, what do you wanna do, then...go off somewhere by yourself for awhile, live off the land like a pioneer, or go try to make a name for yourself in a big city? Steve, you are who you are, no matter where you go. You can't run away from yourself. I know first hand how that goes.

I only had two choices - go back home - which I wasn't ready to do, or go somewhere else. And, you know how that turned out...or at least part of it...and I couldn't be anyone but me, and people either like you or they don't. Look where those two years got me...right back home to try and start over...and maybe get it right," Ghost said.

"Yeah, you're right, Ghost...I know it, but what do ya think would happen if you really were in a jam, and I couldn't help? What if I froze, and couldn't do what I needed to do?"

"I don't think we'd have to worry about it, Steve. You act on charge in and take care of business, and don't hesitate. So, don't go thinking up 'what if'. We'd do whatever it took to help each other out, and let's leave it at that, ok?" Ghost rubbed his forehead and eye.

"I'm getting a headache from thinking about it," he sighed and lay back on the bed, closing his eyes. "I'm gonna take a nap. Why don't you go get that crap washed off the car, then we can get ready for tonight."

Steve agreed to that plan and left for a do-it-yourself car wash. He had to do something about the broken window, too.

At the car wash place, he rummaged around in the trunk of the car, remembering there was some duct tape and plastic, left over from some project or other in there. Finding the items, he put a sort of patch over the broken window. Turning on the water sprayer, he started scrubbing. He found that the spray painted words wouldn't come off completely, but it did make it faded enough that it wasn't so garish and noticeable.

He rubbed soap into the rude words and slurs as hard as he could, getting some of his anger out. He thought about their situation. He thought about his deepening depression , and how much it must be effecting Ghost. Ghost was lying in a seedy motel room with a headache that would probably last for days, worsening his overall health; hadn't had one of his crazy spells in awhile, but this stress of traveling, the fight, and eating shitty food, was apt to bring one on.

He hoped when it happened, that he could help Ghost through it. He decided after tonight's show, he'd suggest that they just do whatever seemed fun - not worry about playing anywhere for awhile. It's not like we need the money, now. But, that would be tricky...convincing Ghost of that. So, after washing the car, he headed back to the motel. They had a little time, before they needed to be at the coffee shop. Maybe he could relax awhile.

When he opened the door to their room, he saw that Ghost was still asleep. Good, he thought, as he lay down on the bed, hoping to go to sleep, himself. He'd just dozed off, when he was startled awake by Ghost, who was sitting up and shrieking.

"Graves, everywhere! Graves in the mountains, in the fields, in the woods...graves in the ocean!"

Steve could tell Ghost was still asleep, having a creepy nightmare, so he wouldn't wake him, unless it got worse. He knew from experience, Ghost needed to finish his dream - would get mad if he woke him before it found it's conclusion. Ghost's dreams were the stuff of horror movies, sometimes. He would tell him about them, and write them down in a special dream journal. But, sometimes Steve didn't really want to hear...sometimes the dreams he had were not dreams, but premonitions - and sometimes they came true. Ghost wasn't scared of spooks and spirits, he talked to them all the time. But, it gave him the willies.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing 

Monday, August 4, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty fourth installment

64th installment content

As Ghost walked down the hallway, the group of hecklers were there and confronted him. He didn't know they were there to cause trouble...he'd never even noticed this group out there. There were six of them, and as Ghost passed by, they surrounded him, and started making comments about everything...the show, his singing, Steve's playing, how they looked...and, how they never should have come to their town.

Ghost didn't answer back, but he still tried to push past them. That's when one, the supposed leader, shoved Ghost up against another one, and he pushed Ghost up against the wall. Grabbing Ghost's arm, he said, "We don't like your kind here in this town. We don't like queers playing in our bars, so you and your fag boyfriend should leave now, or you won't like what we can do to it?"

Ghost shoved his knee, as hard as he could, into the guy's crotch. "Get your fucking hands off me."

The guy staggered back, looking for his group to take Ghost down, but his friends had backed up out of the way. Just as Ghost had kneed the guy, Steve had come into the hallway, saw what was happening, and charged into the guy and his posse like a raging bull, and was bellowing just as loud. He rammed the one guy into the floor, and punched him in the face a few times, before the owner of the bar came and broke it up.

The bar owner knew these hoodlums, and knew they liked to start trouble, but asked anyway if they wanted to have Steve arrested for assault. The guy held his bloody nose, and said, "No, just having some fun with them." He and his group walked out.  As they left, one of his friends asked, "Why didn't you press charges, dude?"

"Because, I don't want anyone to know I got beat up by the likes of those two...and that's the end of it, understand?"

The owner asked Ghost and Steve if they were ok, then paid them what they'd agreed on. Steve grabbed his guitar, and he and Ghost went out to the parking lot to leave. There, they found the car had been vandalized. The tires were slashed, a window was broken, and discriminatory words were spray painted all over it.

"God damn it, look what those mother fuckers did! Where the hell did they go? A bloody nose was too good for him, I should'a killed him when I had the chance!" Steve kicked at the flat tires, and ranted around the lot, looking for them.

Ghost was finally able to calm him down, then they just sat there on the curb, behind the bar.

"Ghost, what are we doing? Why are we here?" Steve asked. "We don't need this much trouble. I think we should just go back home."

Ghost understood how he felt, but wasn't ready to call it quits, yet. He stood up in front of Steve, and said, "Steve, there's trouble makers anywhere...we just ran into one the first time out. I don't like it either, but I don't want to quit, just because of one asshole. It's like they won, and they're chasing us away. We're gonna play our other show tomorrow, and they'll know we're not afraid of them. You know, like our song? We are not afraid...and even if we are, we shouldn't show it. OK?"

Steve was still down about it, and shook his head. "I don't know, Ghost. I don't want to have to fight someone everywhere we go."

Ghost waited for him to continue. He already knew what Steve was going to say, and he appreciated it, but still didn't want to hear it, or hear Steve think he had to say it...but, here it came anyway."

"Ghost, I always want to protect you, to watch out for you. I always have your back, no matter what..." he looked up at Ghost and saw the expression on Ghost's face. "Don't look at me like that. You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I know Steve, and I love you for it, but I can take care of myself, when I have to."

"But, Ghost, I want to take care of you."

"Steve, listen to me. I love you wanting to take care of me, but sometimes you don't have to. I mean, I have to know I can do what I have to do. I've always had to...maybe it turns out ok, maybe it doesn't, but I have to keep trying. I don't have to be rescued from every confrontation, like some little helpless kid. I don't think I'm saying this right, Steve, but can't you see?"

"Yeah, I think so. You want me as back-up, just in case, but I should let you take care of it when you can."

Ghost nodded, "I don't mean to hurt your feelings..."

"I know, it's when am I allowed to swoop in and kick some ass?"

Ghost smiled, "You want a signal or something? I think you'll know when to swoop in. If I'm for sure getting creamed, then ok...rescue me."

"Well, you sure gave that guy something to think about. Good job! Ghost don't play around."

"Yeah, well..." Ghost said, feeling pretty good about it, himself.

They were quiet for a few minutes. Ghost didn't say what he was thinking, though. He'd been dealing with people calling him every name in the book, ever since he could remember, and it just rolled off him like nothing, anymore...or mostly it did. Actually, it hurt like hell to be called names, but this may have been the first time Steve had been singled out, too, for the derogatory terms, and it was because he is with me. So he knew it bothered Steve - a lot - even if he wouldn't admit it.

Steve was having those feelings and thoughts, even though he didn't want Ghost to feel bad about it. He'd never been called those names before, and it did Ghost had said, words were powerful. He didn't know how Ghost could stand it, and know it from when he was a kid, and that it would never end for him. How could he continue to be calm and just take it for all these years? Ghost was so strong in that regard...way stronger than he was.

Ghost figured enough was said on the subject. He sighed, and looked at the car. "What'll we do about that?" he asked.

"I don't know, Ghost. I have one spare tire I can put on, but that's not gonna help, when I need three more. Guess we just have to wait til in the morning and go get more tires. The window, well, it's on the side, so it'll wait. Tonight...?" he shrugged.

Ghost opened the car door and started brushing out broken glass. "I'm tired, Steve. I'm gonna sleep right here in the back seat." He spread a blanket out, just in case there were tiny pieces of glass still on the fabric of the seat, and stretched out, closing his eyes. Steve guessed he'd keep watch - never know if those guys would come back. He leaned back in the front seat, but soon enough fell asleep. There were no more incidents that night.


The next morning, they were awakened by the bar owner. He was surprised to see them still in his back parking area. "Hey, guys, what happened? I thought y'all left after the show."

Steve got out and stretched. He was stiff from sitting up all night. "Well, we were going, but I think those guys that started trouble last night wrecked our car. Now we gotta get it fixed, or at least get some tires."

"Gee, I'm sorry. I know those guys. It's not the first time they've done something like this. You want to file a police report on them?"

"Guess not, man," said Steve. "We didn't actually see them do it, so...just need some tires. Where's a place to get them?"

The bar owner said he'd drive Steve over to the tire place right then, if he wanted to. Steve agreed, and woke up Ghost to tell him what was going on. Ghost could barely get his eyes open, and just nodded, and said, "Uh-huh, get me some coffee."

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Friday, August 1, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(sixty third installment)

63rd installment content


The next morning, people were packing up...some leaving, some going sight-seeing. Steve decided to try fishing again. As he was getting his fishing pole ready, Ghost was writing in his journal, and taking pictures of the lake and Steve. A couple of nearby campers came over.

"Mornin'," they said.

Ghost smiled, and offered them some coffee they'd made on the little gas stove. Steve walked over to see what was up.

"We heard your singing and playing last was great." they said. "Did you say you were playing in town tonight?"

"We're gonna try to. Maybe y'all can come," said Ghost.

Steve came up behind Ghost, then. "Hey, Steve, these are some people who liked our songs. Oh, this here's Steve...he plays the guitar."

They all nodded and said, "Hey."

"Well, we're going to be in town, so we'll look you up, then," said one. They all walked off. Steve didn't say much, but he had a wary look, as he went back to his fishing pole.

"Don't start nothin'," Ghost muttered to himself, but Steve heard him, anyway.

"What was that, Ghost?"

"Nothin'," Ghost said, as he went back to his writing.

Steve did catch a few fish, and showed Ghost, who took a picture. "You ready to eat fish for breakfast?" Steve asked.

Ghost looked appalled, but said, "Sure, Steve...not really."

"Well, which one is it then?" Steve asked, baffled at Ghost.

"Uh, they're real nice fish, but...but...I'm not hungry...ok?"

"Fine then, I'll eat them all. First I have to..."

Ghost started running away, up the embankment, and all the way to the car. Steve shook his head, but continued preparing the fish for the pan. After cooking them, he was enjoying fresh, fried fish, when Ghost came slinking back to the campsite. His eyes were dark, and Steve knew he was upset.

"These sure are good...want some?" Steve held out his plate, knowing it would creep Ghost out, but couldn't resist doing it anyway.

" can you do that, Steve? How can you catch a nice, innocent fish, and then just kill it...and then just eat it like nothing just happened?"

"Easy...I was hungry." Steve licked his fingers.

Ghost just looked sad.

"Listen, dude, ya gotta get over things like this. Somebody caught the ones in the grocery store, and you eat those just fine. This just eliminates the middle man," Steve explained. "What'd ya do, go sing a dirge to the fishies?" he snickered.

"Maybe I did," said Ghost.

"I know you did...I heard ya," said Steve.

"Whatever," said Ghost as he looked for something else to eat.


They drove into town to inquire about performing. The bar said sure, and put them on the line-up of acts. Then having the rest of the day to themselves, they went over to the coffee shop, and asked about their chances of playing there the next night. They got the go-ahead there, too.

Next, they figured they'd better do some laundry, so they gathered up their dirty clothes, and found the laundromat. As they sat there waiting for their clothes to get washed and dried, they didn't notice groups of townspeople passing by on the sidewalk, and peering in the window at them. Word was spreading around the small town, that some drifters were going to be appearing at the local bar and coffee shop.

The campers had been talking to shopkeepers, that they'd heard them sing last night, and that they were good.

Ghost and Steve, - or rather Steve - considered what he should wear that night. He didn't feel he should wear his all out rocker get up, so had to think of something that wouldn't be so in their face, so to speak. Settling on  his jeans, black t-shirt, and boots, in other words, his everyday clothes, he was done. Ghost never worried about what he'd wear, just grabbing whatever he happened to see first.

Looked like today, it was worn out, faded jeans, with holes in the knees, and a soft blue and white striped hoodie, his striped knee socks, and tennis shoes that he'd written all over. Steve thought he was cute, no matter what he wore...or didn't.

They decided to sing and play a few older songs, and maybe a new one mixed in. They only had a little while on their turn to play. They didn't expect such a big crowd, though, when they arrived. It looked like it was a packed house. This place was similar to the Sacred, game room, dance floor, and stage.

They were the last on the list of performers, so they got to hear someone else's music. They were mostly covers of country bands, some bluegrass, a pop tune or two, and one guy did a rap, and he got booed off the stage. Since Ghost and Steve's main genre was southern rock, they figured they'd do ok in this crowd.

There were some teens, some college kids from the nearby big town down the road, a few older folks, but they didn't see any kids dressed in goth clothes, like at home. They were up next, just the two of them...Steve with his acoustic guitar, and no background tape, but they were ready. Ghost felt a tingle of exciement, as usual, as they took the stage.

The announcer, a local DJ, introduced them. "Everyone please welcome a band form the east coast of this great state..."Lost Souls?"

Ghost took hold of the mic and nodded to Steve, and they began their first song, a cover of the Eagles, *Take it to the Limit".  They figured everyone had heard this one, and it'd get them off to a good start...and it did. People were singing along, and the dance floor filled up. They continued their short play-list, putting in a couple of their own songs.

Most everyone was having a good time, however there was a group of guys who were just drinking at the bar, and hollering rude comments. Steve figured it just came with the territory - gotta be someone who wasn't happy. They closed with "World", which most of the audience didn't understand at all, but seemed to like anyway.

Afterward, Ghost went back stage before Steve, who was packing up his guitar, and accepting a beer from a guy who'd liked their show.


*Take it to the Limit" by the Eagles, Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, released November 15, 1975, label - Asylum

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing