Monday, September 29, 2014

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

77th installment content


The cat turned his ears toward Ghost and mewed.

"Are ya hungry?" Ghost asked, as he felt around in his jacket pocket, finding some leftover pieces of beef jerkey. He tore off a small bit and tossed it to the cat, which ate it and looked for more. Ghost kept tossing bits closer and closer, and the cat followed. Finally he just held a piece in his hand, and the cat jumped up in Ghost's lap, eating the offered piece.

Ghost stroked the soft, black and white fur, feeling the cat purring under his hand. He bent his head down close, to feel the softness brush against his cheek, his own hair falling down onto the cat, mingling within the fur. Steve opened the door, just then, and seeing Ghost and the cat, his heart skipped a beat at how tender Ghost was with the little creature.

He smiled, not wanting to interrupt this sweet communion. Ghost had his head laying on the cat, his eyes closed, and was humming to it. It looked like Ghost was actually falling asleep, using the cat as a soft pillow. The cat didn't mind at all; she was kneading Ghost's jeans. Steve quietly walked over - he thought Ghost was going to fall off the car...he kept nodding and jerking awake, as he swayed back and forth.

He stroked Ghost's head with one hand, and the cat with the other. Ghost, half-asleep, by this point, muttered, "Hey, Steve...I found a cat. Can I keep it?"

"Come to bed, Ghost, the cat lives here. He wouldn't like a long car trip," Steve said, hoping Ghost would understand.

"Ok, but I want a cat when we get home." He set the cat down, and let Steve lead him back to the motel room. As he lay down on the bed, Steve told him he was going to go find something to eat for breakfast. "I'll be back, sleep." He knew Ghost had probably been up all night, and it was getting weird. Their one awake, and one asleep thing wasn't working very good. They needed to get on the same page.

He woke Ghost, when he returned with the food, telling Ghost he had to try to stay awake all day, and why. He said he'd poke Ghost every time he saw him falling asleep. They had another few hours to drive until they got to the cave, in Kentucky. As they continued down the road, Ghost did pretty good - Steve only had to poke him awake a couple of times. They stopped a couple of times, for gas, food, and a small graveyard on the side of the road. At the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, they stopped to take a picture by the sign.

"Hey, we've been in three states, now...North Carolina, Tennessee, and now Kentucky, since we started out," said Steve.

"Yeah, and now we get to go in a cave. How much longer do we have to drive?"

"Not too much longer. I've already seen signs saying the cave is straight ahead," said Steve.

They drove a bit longer, then coming to the visitor's center, they joined a guided tour of the cave. Neither had been in an actual big cave, before, just little ones back at home, so they were amazed at this huge one. They didn't allow picture taking, which bummed Ghost out, but he'd brought his notebook, so he could write notes, and draw a few sketches of what they were seeing. It was pretty dark in there, with only a few lights along the path, and to spotlight the formations. Later, Steve was impressed by Ghost's drawings, and writing, done mostly in the dark, and still were pretty accurate.

"Ya want a souvenir?" Steve asked, as they looked around the gift shop. Ghost picked out a small geode, pink and purple inside, and figured it would go good with the large pink quartz crystal they had at their house in Missing Mile. It would sit on the hall table just fine, Ghost thought...the crystal could have a geode friend. They also got a few postcards to send back to Kinsey, Terry, and R.J.

Leaving the shop, they sat at a small cement table and wrote on the postcards. There was a mailbox here in the gift shop to mail them from. Steve's said...'still traveling - saw this cave - call ya later'. Ghost's was a bit more elaborate. He wrote so many words it filled up the entire card, and continued it on another one. He never got tired of writing, and the more words the better. He signed the cards with his usual amorphous, swirly signature, and lots of xoxoxox.

"Ok, I'm done," he said. They dropped the cards in the box, and headed for the car. Talking over where they should go next, Ghost wanted to find someplace to get a gig. He needed to sing for an audience. It had been quite a while since the last time. This would involve scouting around the upcoming towns for likely places.

"Ya know, Ghost, we're kinda far from any big cities, and these smaller ones don't really have much that looks like a place we can play at. I still think we should fly out west, and work our way back," Steve said.

"But, I don't want to go on a plane," Ghost reminded Steve.

"It'd be faster, and don't ya want to see the Pacific Ocean?"

"I already seen it, and I like our ocean better."

"I thought you wanted to see the desert, and famous places?" Steve asked.

"Well, I do, but not all at once. I wanted to see old graveyards, not tourist places. Maybe someday we can go see a desert...when I'm not scared to fly."

"Ok then, let's head back east and see some more graveyards," Steve said, and sighed. "I'm sure the little towns will have some, but what about singing? Where will we do that?"

"I don't know, we'll find out when we get there."

So that was settled, and Steve drove down the road toward the south east, using the large highways, in order to travel faster. If he was honest with himself, though, he was so tired of driving, he wished they were home already.

Coming into a good sized town, they stopped, when they noticed a coffee shop. It looked like most others, and it had a small stage area. Asking the barista about playing, they were told it was an open mic night the next night, anything they wanted to do. She'd add them to the roster. They decided to do it, and went to find a place to stay. That wasn't as easy. The only motel in town was full, it being the tourist season. People took advantage of the town's amenities, on their way up and down the highway.

So, they went to the edge of town, to check on camping areas. No luck there either...any open area was posted with signs, no trespassing, no camping, no loitering.
"Guess we'll just have to sleep in the car tonight," Steve said.

"Well, let's at least find a graveyard and take some pictures," Ghost said.

They stopped in at a small mom and pop store, to ask. They were told of an old cemetery on the other side of town. "Been there for many years; not used anymore," the clerk told them. They were also told of a boarding house that maybe had a room to rent for the night. So, they went over there, and did secure an available room, before heading out to find the cemetery.

It was another small one, but had some interesting headstones scattered about. Ghost wandered among them, taking pictures, and listening. Steve wrote down information in the notebook. Ghost seemed troubled, though, when he rejoined Steve.

"What's up? Did you hear anything this time?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, but I don't know how to explain it. The spirits were not happy...they were all hollering."

Steve looked around - he couldn't hear anyone. "What did they say?"

Ghost shrugged, "They want out."

"Out?" Steve asked. "Out of their graves?" He was already spooked. He felt like creepy crawlies were on him and he shuddered. "Well, they just better stay covered up, is all I gotta say."

"But, they're least their souls aren't. They're right out there on top, wafting around. They're connected to their own graves, can't go anywhere, but they want to," Ghost explained.

"And, you can see this?" Steve was looking hard at the area.

"Yeah, sure...I wish you could see it, Steve, they're all shimmery...and..."

"I'm outta here," Steve said, as he headed for the car. "Come on, before they grab us."

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Saturday, September 27, 2014

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

76th installment content


Steve wrote the time and date in the notebook, then the names and dates engraved there on the gravestones, and what years were listed. Then looking around, he wondered where Ghost had gone. Letting his eyes become adjusted to the shady cemetery, he could just barely make out Ghost, over on the far side. He watched a few minutes, fascinated by how Ghost went about talking to the spirits. Ghost would go up to a headstone, and run his hands over it. Making the sign of the cross on himself, he'd close his eyes and just listen. At least he guessed Ghost was listening...he could see Ghost's lips saying something...talking to the long dead ghosts, maybe.

He'd do this at each grave marker he came to. He was sure Ghost would tell him what he heard, so he quietly walked over to Ghost, taking the camera from him. "This needs to be recorded, too," Steve thought...the invisible bond between the living and the dead, seemed like a sacred moment. Only Ghost could look so peaceful in among the relics of another age.

Not for the first time, Steve had the feeling that Ghost was not real, not really of this world, but of some strange and beautiful neverland far away, and was just waiting for the day he could go back to his real home...maybe in the blue sky that matched his eyes. Steve was getting misty eyed, himself, at this...and way too philosophical, he realized. Shaking his head, he went back to the car and opened a soda. He got out his guitar and began strumming a tune to cheer himself up.

Ghost came back from his sojourn with the spooks, joining Steve in a song or two. It was truly relaxing being out here, just the two of them, in the hushed graveyard.

"I think I got some good pictures," Ghost said, as he grabbed a soda and took a long drink. "And, I'm not scared of this place. I guess I feel more right, me again."

"That's great, Ghost. I'm glad you're you again," Steve said, and smiled.

Sometimes their conversations were pretty one else would get it.
"You want to go check out the next town, or just go some other direction from here?" Steve asked.

"I wish we could just skip over to a completely different place. This is ok, but it's kinda the same things we been seeing around here...trees and mountains," Ghost said. "I mean, driving is fun for awhile, but it takes so long, ya know."

"Yeah, I know, especially when you sleep through most of it like 'you' do," Steve teased.

"Hummph," Ghost snorted. "I can't help it if riding around puts me to sleep. You know it does."

"Well, you want to go get on a plane and fly somewhere? We could totally do that now...leave the car here, and rent one somewhere else...then pick up this one on our way back," Steve suggested.

Ghost was already shaking his head, no.

"Why not?"

"Just 'cause."

"People do it every day...nothing to it," Steve kept on.

"Yeah, but I think I have a bad feeling about it," Ghost said. "You know how I get these premonitions, don't 'cha, Steve...well, I'm getting one now, and it says not to."

Steve shook his head, "Ok, fine, we'll just take the long scenic drive, then."

"Good," Ghost agreed. "Hey, aren't there supposed to be some creepy caves here, or is that somewhere else?"

"Let me get the map. I've heard of some, somewhere," Steve said, rummaging through the car. "Yeah, here's some...over in Kentucky...Mammoth Cave...that's the one I heard about. But,'d take us probably a day or so to get there."

"Ok, let's go, then. We're just driving around, anyway...might as well go toward something, huh?" Ghost said. He slid off the hood of the car, and opened the door.

"Right now?" Steve looked confused.

"Yeah, why not?"

"Ok, then," Steve said, taking a marker and plotting their route on the map. "I think we should try for Nashville, and stay there for awhile, get a motel, get some real rest, and then head on up to that cave."

"Yeah, let's go, Steve," Ghost said, hopping in the back seat.

Steve drove down the road, and five minutes later he noticed Ghost was out like a light...sound asleep.  "Thanks for keeping me company, Ghost...on our long drive." He continued driving, stopping twice to get gas and more snack food. Ghost slept through both stops...and on through the first part of the night.

Steve finally saw the lights of Nashville, ahead, and he'd had enough driving. The first motel he saw, he pulled in. His hands were vibrating from clutching the steering wheel so long. He was exhausted, and could hardly keep his eyes open. Ghost was coming awake, squinching his eyes up at the bright, neon sign.

"I'm gonna get us a room...stay here," Steve told Ghost.


When he got back with the key, he pulled around in the parking lot by their room. They grabbed a few things from the back of the car, and went inside. It wasn't fancy, but the bed looked inviting, and the shower even more so. There was even a tv in the room, and a small, automatic coffee pot for their use.

"Go ahead, you first," Ghost said to Steve, about the shower. He was sprawled out on the bed flipping channels on the tv. So, Steve took his time getting cleaned up, the hot water soothing his tense muscles.

"Your turn...maybe there's some hot water left," Steve said, when he came out. He fluffed a couple of pillows, then lay on the bed. He watched tv, as Ghost showered and sang. When Ghost was done, Steve had gone to sleep, but now Ghost was wide awake.

He prowled around the room, ate some snacks, watched more tv, wrote in his journal...then he was bored. He tried to feel if anything weird was left behind in the room...any leftover essenses of other travelers, but nothing specific came to him. He opened the door, looking out at the quiet parking lot, the only sound coming from distant cars going by on the highway.

He made a pot of the free coffee, drank it all, and still was not sleepy. "Bored, bored, bored," he sang to himself, making up words, as he went along. This gave him the absurd this was...strange town, strange motel, and bored to death. He thought that was a cool word - absurd - so he wrote it in his notebook...a few times...more than a few times, trying out different writing styles and colors of marker, making a design of it on the page. 

"Can't let my drawing talent get rusty," he thought, and that got him laughing, even more...and trying to be quiet was hard, the more he tried, the more it made him crack up.

"Shut up over there! Ya done woke me up," Steve shouted.

"Shit, now what can I do?" Ghost asked himself. He picked through Steve's bag, finding a couple of paperbacks. Thinking he'd read awhile, he flipped through them both, but the books looked dull and...boring. By then it was beginning to get light outside, as the morning sun rose in the sky.

Steve was still asleep, so Ghost went out to the car and sat on the hood. He'd greet the sunrise. There were so many tall buildings, though, it took awhile to actually see the sun come up above them. Meanwhile, other people were waking up and preparing to leave, carrying suitcases and such to their cars. Ghost kept sitting there, watching the passing parade of people. They all glanced at Ghost, sitting on the car, and some said hello. Ghost said 'hey' back to them.

More than a few wondered why the long-haired, hippie boy was sitting on a car. He didn't look like he belonged in this country music capital, at all. They figured he was just passing through, same as they were. 

Ghost went and peeked in the door to their room. Steve was still asleep. Sighing, he went back to the car, and looked inside. It was pretty messy, so he gathered up the trash they'd thrown on the floorboards...empty soda and beer cans, fast food wrappers, and threw them in a nearby trash can. He emptied the cooler of melted ice water, and gathered up some dirty clothes into a pile. It looked better, and he felt like he'd done something useful. Then, he sat on the car again, wrote in his notebook, and waited for Steve to wake up.

A sudden motion caught his eye, over on the sidewalk. It was a stray cat. The cat looked back at him, which made him smile. "Hey, kitty, what'cha doing?" he asked.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

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

75th installment content


The road grew less steep and eventually flattened out somewhat. It was starting to get semi-dark, and after facing the setting sun for so long, it was a welcome relief to Steve's eyes. At a distance he could see lights of the town beginning to shine.

"Hey, Ghost...we're almost there...wake up now." He jiggled Ghost till he began to come awake.

Sitting up, rubbing his eyes and looking around, Ghost said, "That sure was a long drive."

"How would you know? You slept through most of it," Steve said.

"Well, I had time to have a nice dream, for a change. It was about me and you."

"Yeah? What happened?"

"Oh, just we were the very last people on Earth, and I was glad we were together with each other and not some strangers." Ghost hugged Steve. "I love you so much."

"I love you, too," Steve said, smiling. 

They came into the town, just then, and drove around looking for a place to set up their tent, and also a place to eat. Stopping for gas, Steve asked about a campground or something, and was directed to one on the outskirts, about a mile farther down the road.

Stopping at a fast food place, they loaded up, and drove out there. After setting up the tent, they ate under the stars, which were shining, now. Ghost was happy to see them, and stared a long time, pointing out the North star and the big dipper. It was a peaceful night, the air balmy, and sounds of the woods was hushed. No other campers were nearby.

It was a perfect setting for loving each other. Steve reached for Ghost, kissing him slow, and tasting of beer and pot, the other of sweet Southern molasses, and the tartness of wine, mingled together.

Afterward, they lay panting in each other's arms, the slight evening breeze cooling them. They pulled a soft blanket over themselves, and fell asleep, dreaming secret dreams of many more nights like this.


Dawn seemed to come late...the sun had to rise above the mountains, before shining down on them. Steve, as usual, woke first, and just watched Ghost sleep. Remembering the night before, he became full of desire, again. He kissed Ghost softly on his forehead, and his eyelids, feeling the soft fringe of golden lashes against his lips. Then, parting Ghost's lips with his tongue, he kissed him awake. Ghost responded instinctively, as he became aroused...their tongues meeting.

Steve opened his eyes, seeing that Ghost was watching him. Those sky blue eyes loving him. He could feel Ghost's smile, under his own lips, and there was no need for words.

Steve slowly trailed his lips to Ghost's vulnerable neck, and then to his chest, where he could feel his heart beating faster...and down his ribs, and flat stomach. He could hear Ghost moan, as he arched his back..."Now,," He panted. And they took each other again, this time under the first golden rays of sun.


Afterward, Steve lit their campfire and brewed coffee. They were both relaxed, and neither felt like being in a hurry to start the day. They just talked about whatever came to mind, for awhile. Then Steve suggested they go find the old graveyard. They'd gotten the directions the day before, so they headed that way.

On the way, Ghost got his camera ready, straightened his notebook, and made sure his markers were still working. "Where is it, Steve? I don't see anything but trees here."

"It's still a few miles, I think...after the next town and before the one after. Between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, they said...turn right onto a gravel road...said we couldn't miss it," said Steve.

They came to the first town, where they stopped at a convenience store for snacks. They looked a bit rumpled, from sleeping outside all night, but didn't expect everyone in the store to blatantly stare at them like they were from Mars or something.
Ghost didn't notice, as usual, as he was used to being stared at. But, Steve felt awkward, and not just for the way they were dressed. He could sense people knew that he and Ghost were a couple...and didn't like it.

He quickly rounded up Ghost, which wasn't easy, and paid for their food, before something was said to them, or about them. Back in the car, Ghost asked, "Why are you in such a hurry?"

"Those people in there didn't want us in there, that's why," Steve explained, trying to gloss over a situation he felt might have become ugly.

"Why not...we just wanted to buy stuff, not rob the place," Ghost countered.

"Ghost, it's just a feeling I got...they were looking at us funny...not friendly...thought they might start something. They probably saw our license plates from North Carolina, I don't know, but I didn't want to stay in there, just in case," Steve said, hoping that would satisfy Ghost.

"Oh...ok...I get it," Ghost said. He looked down at the floorboard and sighed. He knew exactly what Steve had felt, he didn't have to say anymore. He knew Steve was still ashamed to be seen with him, no matter what he said, but he wasn't going to bring it up again, even though it hurt his feelings. That conversation had already been hashed over more than once. It still made him sad. He didn't say anything else on the drive, just stared out the side window, lost in his own thoughts.

Steve was mentally kicking himself. "I should have never said anything, now Ghost is pouting. I hurt his feelings, again." He sighed, "Maybe I should say something, now, but what...I can't help what I feel, even if I don't want to feel it...I just get so uneasy when people stare."

He reached over for Ghost's hand, but Ghost jerked his hand away...then, still staring out the window, he reached back for Steve's hand and squeezed hard. They understood each other, without needing to speak of it.


"There it is," Ghost pointed ahead to a right turning, gravel road. Steve slowed and turned, driving slowly about half a mile. Then, there among the heavily wooded area and tall grass, was the graveyard. There was no fence around it, just random headstones and crosses, put there in this shady plot, way back in the 1800s. Stopping the car, they sat in the silence of the hot afternoon, looking at what someone used to take care of, but now had been neglected for a long time. Some of the headstones were tilted, some had fallen over, and some were eroded from the many years of weather.

"Well, let's get your camera and stuff?" Steve asked, as he opened his door. Ghost followed, tramping down long strands of grass, and disturbing a myriad of insects, that hummed and buzzed and leaped about, as they passed.

"Look, here's one. It's from 1801. That's over a hundred years old," Steve said.

"You write down the numbers for me, ok?" Ghost asked, as he clicked off shots of the headstones.

Steve took the notebook and marker. He was happily surprised that Ghost hadn't mentioned being afraid...yet.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(seventy fourth installment)

74th installment content


"Hey, Kinsey, it's me, Ghost! Can you hear me?" he yelled into the phone. "I been takin' pictures, and we seen graveyards, and we stayed in a haunted house, and we got up here in the my house still there, and do you miss us?"

"Slow down, Ghost," said Kinsey. "Yes, I can hear don't need to holler. I miss you guys already, and your house is fine. Sounds like y'all are having a blast out there on the road."

"Yeah, and I wrote some songs, and I wrote some stuff for the book we're doing, and we're gonna be in Tennessee in awhile, and it's really cool up here, and I had old dirt on me, and I was scared of the haunted house, but Steve made it all better, now," Ghost went on.

"I heard...well, I'm glad you called, Ghost...let me talk to Steve, again."

"Bye, Kinsey, I'll get Steve to call you again soon." Ghost laughed, as he handed the phone back to Steve. He then ran back to the restaurant for more coffee.

"Well, he seemed happy enough," Kinsey said.

"Yeah, for now. This may be a long trip, or it may end any minute...but, it's been nice to see something new for a change."

"Well, y'all take care of each other. I'll tell everyone here how y'all are, and put another pin in the map."

"Ok, bye Kinsey...later." Steve ended the call and went to find Ghost.

In the restaurant, Ghost was regaling everyone with his stories. They were astonished at the change in him, and seemed very interested in what he was saying. Steve came in then, and Ghost begged him to go get his guitar, so they could sing a song for this little audience...for a thank you. The people all nodded and said yes, please, so he did go get his acoustic. They wound up doing five songs in all. Their audience loved every one of them, and hated to see them leave, but it was time to continue their journey. With coffee to go, they went on down the other side of the mountains.

"I asked if anyone knew of any graveyards we could see," Ghost said, in between sips of the hot coffee. "They said there was one, kind of between the next towns we come to. Guess we should check it out."

"Ok, we're gonna need someplace to stay too, unless we camp out. How do you feel about it...camping or motel?" Steve asked.

"Well...let's see what those towns look like first, ok?"

"Yeah, there's still a lot of daylight left," Steve said. He was having to concentrate on his driving again, on the steep road.

Ghost spent most of this time writing about their last stop, and then switched over to his song lyric notebook, and worked out a new song, humming out loud the music he heard in his head. Every now and then, he'd ask Steve how it sounded. Neither one could read music; they played and sang by ear, and were able to put it all together in their own unique way.

Steve mostly agreed with Ghost on the tunes, only making a couple of suggestions. He'd remember how it sounded, and pick out the notes, and chords on his guitar, later. This was a soothing activity for them both. They always fell under the music's spell.

A while later, they came upon the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. "Stop there by the sign," Ghost said. "I want to take a picture."

So, they pulled over for a bit. They each posed by the sign that said 'Leaving North Carolina - Welcome to Tennessee'. It was a bittersweet moment. They loved their home state, but looked forward to seeing other places. Back in the car, Ghost looked at the map. He'd always had a thing about maps. He loved the funny and strange names of the towns, and the changes from coastal blue, to deep green forests, to the browns of the desert regions. He was always drawing them, too. On his wall at home, and at the Sacred Yew...real places, and places he made up...places he saw in his dreams.

"Ya know what, Steve?" he asked. "This town we're coming to next is kinda big, I guess. It has bigger letters, anyway, not like our little town that's not even on a map. I'm thinking I'd rather camp out somewhere outside of this here place. We could get something to eat in town, though. But, I need to look at the stars tonight. They're calling to me." He looked at the sky, still daylight, but soon would be twilight.

"They're up there right now, just we can't see them till it gets dark, ya know. They're waiting, just like me."

"Yeah, I know," said Steve. "Camping out sounds good to me, too. We'll do that. It'll probably take another hour to get there."

"How long is an hour?" Ghost asked.

"Long've got time to think of what you want to eat."

"Ok, and Steve, when we sang for those people back there, it was good, wasn't it? I mean I thought so...and we haven't done it in awhile. Maybe we could play somewhere soon?"

"Yeah, it was good, Ghost. We'll check out some places, now that we're closer to some towns. That's a good idea. Anyway, that was our plan in the first place...and we'll find that old graveyard, too."

"Yeah," Ghost yawned. "I'm gonna take a nap...wake me up when we get somewhere." He laid his head in Steve's lap and closed his eyes. Soon he was fast asleep.

"Damn, I wish he hadn't done that." Steve thought, as he looked down at Ghost's silky hair covering his lap. He stroked the strands away from Ghost's face, and swallowed hard. He was breathing faster, and felt his heart beating in his chest. He noticed Ghost's eyelids fluttering - and a bit of drool soaking into his pants leg.

"Damn, he turns me on without even trying." He knew Ghost was mostly oblivious to how he made Steve feel. He was just being himself, and always seemed surprised when Steve let him know how much he wanted much and how often he ached for him.

"Oh my, God, Ghost, I want you so bad right now." Steve whispered. He knew it would make it worse, but he couldn't help himself...he touched Ghost's tender, pink lips with his finger, and let it slip inside Ghost's warm, wet mouth...and as always, Ghost began sucking on it. Steve had to make himself look up at the road...he couldn't just keep staring at Ghost.

"I want to pull over and take him, right now," Steve thought. But there was no place on this road. "I'll take care of this, as soon as we get set up," he promised himself. They continued on...

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Monday, September 15, 2014

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

73rd installment content


It was still kind of early, but the restaurant was already open. There were a handful of customers there, having their coffee and reading newspapers. They looked up as Ghost and Steve entered, to see who would be joining them.

They sat in a booth and looked at the menu. They'd already had breakfast, back at the haunted house, but the pancakes and eggs sounded good here, so that's what they ordered.

"What's next on  your list?" asked Steve.

Ghost fiddled with the little sugar packets on the table, tearing one open, pouring it out, then making designs in it, with his finger.

"Well, we should call Kinsey and give him an update. We promised we would," Ghost said, still drawing pictures in sugar.

"Oh, yeah, good idea...let's do that today," Steve agreed. "We'll be in Tennessee when we come down the mountain. Were there any graveyards in the next town? Did you find out, yet?"

"No, I don't know...I haven't asked anyone. Maybe when we get to the next town."

Steve got the impression that Ghost was losing interest in the whole travel adventure thing already. Typical Ghost behavior, Steve thought. His ADD wouldn't let him keep his mind on any one thing for very long. Never got around to finishing a project...only writing in his journal, writing songs, writing words, and singing were the only constants in Ghost's life...and me, Steve added to himself. God help me, if Ghost ever...well...I won't even think it...Ghost can read my mind like an open need to put ideas like that in his crazy little head.

Ghost sighed, and wouldn't look at Steve.

"What is it?" Steve asked.

"Nothing, just that thing...back there at the house. It bothers me. What if I'm scared now, of graveyards? What if I can't be me no more?"

Ghost began crying, big old tears and heartbreaking sobs, right there in the restaurant booth.

"Oh, shit," Steve thought. "Ghost, please dont...don't cry...don't let it get to you. You'll always be you. That back there was just an old lady trying to give us a scary experience, in her old rickety house. She probably does it for every tourist that comes along."

Ghost cried louder. "No, it wasn't that, Steve; something happened to me, and nothing feels right anymore...and...and...I don't know what to do to feel right again."

Steve was alarmed at how distraught Ghost was. He came over to Ghost's side of the table and took him in his arms, to comfort him. The other diners were all looking and whispering. This was not something they saw every day. They'd have a story to tell now, when they got home.

But, Steve didn't care who saw what, or what they thought. All he cared about was Ghost. It broke his heart to hear Ghost cry so totally anguished.

"I wanna go home, Steve. I miss my safe house. I hate it now, this driving all the time," Ghost wailed.

"C'mon, let's go outside...we'll talk it over, ok?" Steve said.

The waitress came over to see if she could help.

"No, we'll be ok, we'll leave and quit disturbing everyone." He put money on the table, pulled Ghost up, and walked him to the door. He took a deep breath of cool mountain air, to clear his head.

"Try to calm down, Ghost...enjoy the air, the mountain...we'll work this out, ok?"

Ghost nodded, as they walked back to the car. They sat on the hood until Ghost got a little more control back.

"Listen, Ghost, this was your idea to do this. Give it a little longer. Prove to yourself you can do it...see it through. I know you can. It'll be a great experience for us, and the book with pictures will be fabulous, I know.

I was reluctant at first, ya know, but I'm really getting into it now. Don't ever doubt yourself, Ghost. You're too strong a person to let little things get to you. You are who you are, and that won't change. You'll still talk to spooks, and like hanging out in graveyards. Nothing is changed. Please believe me, please believe in yourself." Steve pleaded.

Ghost took a shuddery breath, shaking his hair around to clear his head of the bad thoughts, but it didn't work...he was still upset and confused.

"Steve, why did I have dirt on me? I can't figure it out. If it was just a vision, why was it real, too?"

"Ok, let's go over what you did last night," said Steve, patiently. "You went exploring, first the bathroom, right?"

"Yeah, and the face in the mirror looked at me, so I got out of there. I looked at old pictures on the wall, then I went down to the living room...more old pictures. Then, the kitchen. I didn't see anything, so I was writing in my notebook, and I heard a noise in the pantry. I went to look, and it was just food and things, but I heard the noise again. Behind the shelf was a secret door, so I knocked on it, and it opened. I heard a voice say 'come in'.

I was gonna go get you, but didn't want to wake you up. So, I just made some tea and listened, and tried to think what to do. I pushed in there in my mind, ya know, and saw all that stuff I told you about. Then I was at the table again, and I came up to bed. That's it, until I woke up this morning...all dirty."

"Ok, let me think..." Steve said. He had no idea what to say about it, he realized. How do you explain something you really know nothing about, to someone like Ghost, who knows everything about it? So he just said whatever he could think of, and hoped it was good enough.

"Ok, you weren't dirty when you went to bed, right?"

"Yeah, that's right. I would have noticed."

"Then this morning, you were. What I think is, sometime after you went to sleep, you must have sleepwalked outside for awhile, and got into some dirt, which you didn't know about, 'cause you were really asleep. That's probably what happened. Nothing crazy about do weird things when you sleepwalk all the time. I've seen you," said Steve.

"Maybe you're right, Steve. That's what I'll believe happened," Ghost perked up, now that he had an answer to his questions. They both smiled.

"Whew, that was intense," Steve thought.

"That's not what happened, at all, but I'll say it was, so Steve will feel better," Ghost was thinking.

He jumped down from the hood of the car, and rummaged around in his backpack for his camera. As he turned to take a picture of the restaurant, he saw most of the diners, and the waitress, standing on the old wooden porch, watching them. He waved and took their picture.  Behind him, Steve gave the ok, all is good sign, with his fingers, to the onlookers.

"I'm gonna go to that overlook place and take a picture, Steve," Ghost said. "Find the phone, and call Kinsey, ok?"

Steve searched the car for the phone, hoping it was still charged up, and he could get reception up here.


Back at the Sacred Yew, Kinsey was cleaning up the club, getting ready for the nightly crowd, when he heard the phone ring. Answering it, he was delighted to hear Steve's voice. He'd been wondering how the guys were doing.

"Hey, Kinsey, it's Steve. I'm just calling to check in with you."

"Man, it's good to hear from you, Steve. What's happening...where are y'all, now?"

"Oh, we're at the top of the Smoky Mountains, at a place where there's a place to eat, and stuff. We're doing ok. Seen a lot of things, so far. Ghost is taking lots of pictures...uh..." Steve stopped for a second, not sure whether to tell him everything, yet, but Kinsey picked up on his hesitation, right away.

"Ok, Steve, what's going on for real? I can tell there's something you're not telling me."

"Uh, nothing, Kinsey...just, well...Ghost got scared. We stayed in a haunted house last night, for real, and it scared the crap outta Ghost. He got all crazy upset about it and wanted to come home. It's ok, now. We're still traveling some more."

He could hear Kinsey laughing, and trying not to.

"Don't laugh, Kinsey."

"But, it's funny - Ghost scared of ghosts."

"Yeah, when ya put it that way, but damn, Kinsey, he was flippin' out on me. Had to try everything I knew to calm him down. That wasn't funny."

"Yeah, I remember when y'all were kids, and you and Terry, and R.J. went out to the old haunted, murder house...and Ghost wouldn't even come within a hundred yards of the place," said Kinsey.

"I know, I know," said Steve. "That's what makes Ghost so...well...Ghost, and man he was freaking out, that he could never be himself again, after last night. Said he didn't feel right anymore. It scared me to see him like that.

Oh, here he comes...he'll want to say hi," Steve said, as he handed the phone to Ghost.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Sunday, September 7, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(seventy second installment)

72nd installment content


Downstairs, the woman had prepared a huge breakfast for them. Ghost avoided looking at the pantry, keeping his eyes on his plate. Steve kicked him under the table, prodding him to ask his questions, before they had to leave.

The woman knew what was going on though, so she brought up the subject.

"Well, Ghost, you found out our secret, didn't you? I knew you would," she said. "You and your grandmother are the only ones to have ever figured it out. Other guests have heard random noises, here and there, but in all the years, only you two have had the psychic gift to be able to get the full story." She smiled at Ghost.

"But...I didn't. I don't know what it was I saw..and I didn't move from this here table, and...and...I had dirt all over me...and...why?" Ghost said in a rush.

"It's ok, Ghost," the woman said. "Your gift is so powerful, it manifested the dirt on you from what happened in this house over a hundred years ago. It wasn't real, you just envisioned it."

"It was too real!" Ghost said. "I had real dirt on me. Steve saw it , too...this morning"

Steve had been watching this exchange, while shoveling in his food, but said, "Yeah, I saw it. What are you saying...Ghost had hundred year old dirt on him? Gross!"

The woman looked a bit startled. This had gone beyond her abilities to explain. She got off the subject of old dirt, to her main explanation.

"The tunnel and room you saw is indeed under this house, but it's been boarded up and sealed for many, many years. There's no way you could have gotten in there. This house was a stop-over on the underground railroad. The runaway slaves would know this as a safe house on their journey north.

You probably heard the voices, and saw the men down in the basement. It's just a vision, now. It runs in a loop, over and over. I've seen it myself, in a dream, of's my family's history."

"But, what about the secret door in the pantry that opened, and someone said 'come in', and the mirror person?" Ghost asked.

"What are you talking about? There's no door in there. The slaves had an outside entrance, long since done away with," she said.

"But, just go look in there," Ghost said, as he got up from the table to go show her.

She shook her head, "No, it isn't possible."

"I know what I saw, and I'll show you," Ghost said.

Steve reached out, touching Ghost's arm to stop him. "Just drop it, Ghost...there's no need to..."

"But, she's calling me a liar, Steve. You know I don't lie," Ghost said.

Steve knew he had to get Ghost out of there immediately, or he'd completely lose control.

"We gotta go now,"  Steve said, as he pushed Ghost toward the stairs, to collect their things.

"Thanks for the bed and the food," he said to the woman, as he kept pushing Ghost's back, herding him up.

"Stop pushing me, Steve," Ghost said, as he flinched away.

"Get your shit and let's get going...the old lady's getting pissed at us," Steve said.

"Well, so am I," said Ghost, as he grabbed his backpack and stomped back down the stairs, and out the front door, slamming the screen behind him.

Steve gave the woman an extra hundred dollars, "Sorry to cause you any trouble," he said.

She just stared, and nodded. She knew Ghost had been telling the truth, but he was so unbelievably gifted, that what he'd said caused her to feel afraid of her own house.

                                                 CHAPTER 16

Ghost was still fuming, as Steve gunned the engine of the car, and they sped away. "Remind me to never go to a haunted house again, Steve. Grandmother always told me to look at things, and read people, if I have to...but some don't want to hear the truth, and to keep my mouth shut. But, I forget sometimes. You believe me, don'cha, Steve?"

"Of course I do, Ghost. I've known you long enough to never doubt you about things like this. Try to let it go, though. We're gone from there, and it doesn't mean anything to us, anyway."

"Hmmph..." Ghost snorted. "Guess I will forget about it." He sat in silent rage for a bit longer though.

Steve kept driving. They were on a steady incline, going up into the Smoky Mountains. The road was kind of narrow - just a going up lane, and a coming down towns here, just lots of tall, tall trees. He had to concentrate to navigate the twists and turns, and he prayed the car wouldn't break down.

They were on the side with the trees; the down side was a drop off into the tops of more trees, and no guard rails, he could see. A sign every now and then assured them that there was a rest stop up ahead, somewhere. They could get out, get some gas, and some food. He'd need to calm his nerves after this drive.

Ghost had finally fallen asleep, and was muttering as he dreamed. Steve figured it was about his strange encounter. After the rest stop, it was downhill all the way to the Tennessee border. Steve had never been there - never really been much of anywhere. He'd been across to Virginia, though, back when he used to rob coke machines. And, a few stops on his way to find Ghost out in California. He was looking forward to seeing new places, at a more leisurely pace.

In about an hour, the rest stop was in view. It had a gas island, restaurant, gift shop, cabins to rent, and a scenic view overlook. He was all too glad to stop for awhile. His hands were stiff from being curled so tight around the steering wheel, and his butt had gone to sleep, miles back.

Ghost looked comfortable enough in the back seat, all stretched out, but Steve woke him anyway. They both needed to decide their next destination.

"Hey, Ghost, wake up...we're getting something to eat here."

Ghost came to slowly, as usual. It had always taken him awhile to come back from the wonderland of his dreams, and back to reality. Steve was terrified that someday Ghost just wouldn't come back. That would be the end of the world for himself, if that happened. That was one reason he felt he had to be Ghost's protector, and make sure he never left for good.

"Where are we?" Ghost yawned and stretched, rubbing his eyes, and running his fingers through his hair.

"We're at the top of the mountain, at a rest stop. Get out and look. We're gonna eat at this restaurant."

"Ok, hang on," Ghost said, as he searched the floor of the car to find his shoes. He also pulled on his hoodie, as it was chilly already up here.

Steve held out his hand, helping Ghost out of the back seat. Ghost was unsteady, as he was still trying to come fully awake. "I need coffee, Steve," he said.

"I do, too. Let's go up there...see what they have to eat," said Steve, leading the way.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Thursday, September 4, 2014

TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE...(seventy first installment)

71st installment content


He headed for the stairs, taking notice of the framed pictures on the wall. Mostly black and white, old fashioned images of another era. People gathered in a a formal portrait of the day, in their long dresses and severe clothes and hairdos.  Men in waistcoats and derby hats, children in pinafores with their hair styled in ringlets. They were all framed in ornate gilded frames.

He felt impressions from them, but could check them out, later. The downstairs areas were calling to him. Tiptoeing down the old stairs, he couldn't help but make them creak, but it didn't wake the old lady.  In the entryway, where they'd come in, there was a fancy coat rack, carved out of some kind of dark wood. The moonlight caused it to cast a shadow on the wall. Nothing to be scared of, he told himself.

Going farther into the house, the first room was the living room, or parlor, he guessed it would be called. An overstuffed, high-backed couch, sat in front of a fireplace. The stones that it had been made of were worn and blackened from years of use. The mantle above, held more framed photos, and a few candles in metal and wood holders. There was an art-deco mantle clock, which was ticking off the minutes quite loud, breaking the complete silence of this room. There were no windows, here, and the only feeling he got was of neglect. The fireplace was the only thing ever used, just to knock off the chill in the winter.

Walking into the kitchen, he realized it had been modernized to some extent. Probably several years back. It had a newer feel to it, even though it was decorated in kitschy items from every decade in the past, in a hodge-podge of color and design.

So, that's about it, he guessed. No ghosts yet, no knockings, no eerie faces. He felt disappointed, but took pictures, anyway. Sitting at the kitchen table, he began writing. After a few minutes, he concentrated on listening for any sounds or impressions he might receive...anything that was trying to get his attention.

Surely, a house this old, and maybe haunted, would give him a sign, a noise, or something, he thought. As he sat with his eyes closed, he finally did hear something. A small scratching sound, over by the pantry door.

"Probably a mouse," he whispered. But, he went over there anyway, opening the door cautiously. "Huh, just cans, and boxes of food, some dried herbs," he muttered as he looked around. No signs of a mouse, but he still heard the scratching noise...sort of at the back, behind the cereal boxes.

He moved a few things around on the shelf to take a better look. "Uh-oh, look at this..." he said. He saw what looked like a secret door. He reached his hand out, and knocked on it. He didn't know what to expect, but certainly not what happened. The door creaked open a bit, only stopped by the metal shelving unit.

He heard a breathy voice say, "Come in." He wasnt' sure if it was a real voice, or just a voice spoken in his head. He gasped, jerking his hand back. He looked around the kitchen, frantically hoping for a clue of what he should do.

On the one hand, he could make a lot of noise, moving the jars, boxes, and shelving out of the way, to get to the door. Or, he could run and get Steve...tell him to come down and have a look. Then, he remembered, Steve didn't want to know. Or, he could go wake up the old lady, but she surely already knew about the secret door, and she did say he could explore all he wanted to.

The thing was, he was kind of scared to really find anything...and that scared him, too, because he never had been scared to talk to spirits, or hear voices, before.

To calm himself down, he started making a cup of hot tea, while he thought of what to do. Then sitting at the table, he just stared at the pantry door...and the slightly ajar secret door. He didn't hear any more noises, in his head, or for real. He didn't know what to make of it. Why would it show him this? There must be a wanted him to find it. It had a secret to tell.

"C'mon, I can figure this out by myself," he told himself. He closed his eyes, concentrating hard, and pushed his mind into the secret room. The images he began to see were hazy at first. A tunnel dug out of the earth, shored up by bricks and wooden beams. It was cool at first, like a cave, but as he followed along, it became more humid.

Up ahead, he could make out words, just a general hum of people talking. Then he saw a room with several people gathered. There was a feeling of excitement, and also of desperation. There was talk of moving on to the next safe house. Then someone said it was time to go, and everyone left - the room was empty.

Ghost came back to himself, still at the kitchen table, left wondering what it had all been about. By now, he was getting sleepy, so decided to ask the woman about it in the morning. He went back upstairs, and slipped into bed with Steve.

"Did ya find anything, Ghost?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, it was weird. I was scared," Ghost answered.

Steve opened one eye and looked at Ghost, barely visible in the dark room. "Hmm, well, don't worry about it," he said as he wrapped his arm over Ghost in a warm, protective hug.

"Ok," Ghost whispered, as he finally fell asleep.


The next morning, Steve woke first, having had a full night's sleep. After taking a shower and getting dressed, he shook Ghost awake.

"Get up, Ghost, breakfast is in half an hour. Then we gotta get going." He yanked the sheet off the bed, and was startled to see Ghost's feet and hands, and even his face and hair. They were covered in dirt and cobwebs.

"What the hell happened to you?" Steve shook Ghost, again.

"What do you mean?" Ghost mumbled.

"Where did you go last night? You're covered in crap. Go take a shower."

Ghost sat up, saw his hands, and looked at Steve, confused.

"I didn't go anywhere, Steve...just to the kitchen for some tea. Why is this all over me?"

"Is that all? You didn't go outside and roll around in a dirt pile?" Steve asked.

Ghost thought a minute, "No, but I did go through a tunnel. It was under this house. But, I only saw it in my head, not for was something that happened here years and years ago."

"Well, go wash it off, and we'll go downstairs. You can ask about it then."

Ghost went down the hallway to the bathroom, but was leery of going in, now...the mirror person might come back.

Next installment coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing