Wednesday, December 30, 2015


# 261 content

Linda and the kids were looking at a large display of toys for sale. Steve and Ghost made their way over to them.

"We're ready to go, Linda. Ghost found what he was looking for," Steve said.

Ghost held up the locket so Linda could see it. "This here is what was calling to me," he said.

She took a close look at it, and the picture of Ghost inside the heart. "I'm glad you found it, but it is so strange that you sensed it was here. What does it mean?"

Ghost shrugged. "I don't know yet. Steve says maybe the other town we're going to might have a clue."

Nodding, Linda agreed.

"Y'all ready to go?" Steve asked.

"Yes, I'll go pay for the toys Stevie and Mandy want to buy," Linda said.

Steve pulled out his wallet, handing Linda some money. "Go pay, and we'll keep an eye on the kids." She headed over to the table where the couple were sitting, by the porch.

"What'cha got there?" Ghost asked Stevie.

"Just a baseball and mitt. Mama's buying it for me."

"Cool," Ghost said, and grinned.

Mandy was tugging on Ghost's shirt. "Look what I got," she said, holding up a toy tea set.

"You gonna fix me some tea, later?" Ghost asked.

"Uh-huh, and cookies."

"Ok, I'll teach you how to read tea leaves, too. It's fun," Ghost said. They continued talking about tea, all the way back to the van. Steve and Linda were following behind, listening.

"Steve, I've said it before, that Ghost is really good with the kids. He knows how to talk to them, for real, not just telling them how to do things, but being their friend."

Steve laughed. "I know...and it's because he's half way still a kid, himself. Every day is a new exciting world for him."

"I've noticed that," Linda said.

Steve frowned, and slowed his paces. "I've had some serious bad thoughts, lately, Linda."

"What? What about?"

Steve didn't answer.

"About Ghost? About you and Ghost?" she asked. "What's bothering you?"

"I don't know...I'm still wondering if it's me that's holding him back. I don't like to even think it, but Ghost has so much to give, so much love and talent...and, here I am dragging him all over the country, giving him stress...too much, Linda...too much." Steve sighed, and rubbed his face, shaking his head to try and get the thoughts out of his mind.

"You've seen him...the seizures, the hospital, and how tired and thin he's gotten. It's not good. And, it's because of me...I know it, but I just can't...well...sometimes I think I have to, you he'll be better, feel better. Shit, I don't even know what I'm saying anymore."

"Steve...don't..." Linda started saying.

"You know that thing they say? The one that goes if you love someone you have to let them go, and not hold them back, and they'll come back to you if it's meant to be? That one? That's how I think. I don't want to hold on to him so tight that he'll break, and I see him breaking already. Oh, can I do that? I can't let him go, and I can't keep him." He choked back a sob, before it became a moan.

"Steve, stop torturing yourself over this," Linda said. "Ghost is going to be fine. He has a mind, a free will...if he didn't want to stay, he'd have gone already. Oh, crap." She clapped her hand over her mouth. "Sorry..." She realized what she'd said...Ghost had left before.

"I didn't mean to say or imply that, Steve. He came back of his own free will."

"I know, I know," Steve said.

"Now, you just shut up about it, Steve. You know he can read your thoughts. If he hears how you're thinking, well...I truly believe it would destroy him...for good...and you, too."

Steve sighed. "But, I don't want him to feel he's trapped, being with me. It's been just the two of us against it all. Yeah, we have a few friends, but is that all there is? Is this all we were meant to be, to do in life? Shit, Linda, I'm too old to be going on a self-discovery tangent. I should have it figured out by now."

Linda grabbed his hand. "Listen to me...nobody's got it figured out...nobody. The rich, the poor, the famous, the regular folks...everyone just does the best they can, and if you find happiness in your work, in your love, then you've got it all. As I see it, you and Ghost...that's what y'all have already. So, if I were you, I wouldn't go messing it up." She hugged him tight. "I love you, brother."

"I love you, too, Sis, and thanks for setting me straight."

They were at the van, now, and Ghost was buckling in the kids. He was teasing them about something, and they were laughing. Steve and Linda watched and smiled.

" two have it," Linda said.

Steve nodded, his eyes watching Ghost...wanting Ghost.

Then, Ghost turned toward them. His eyes found Steve's, and the look Steve saw in them, chilled him to the bone. He knew then, that Ghost had heard every word he and Linda had spoken. Steve started to say something, anything, to get the hurt look out of Ghost's eyes, but Ghost just shook his head, no, and turned away...walking away from them all. He didn't look back.

Linda was speechless, watching the drama play out, between her brother and Ghost, as Steve ran after him.

"Wait...Ghost...wait...damn it, stop." He reached out catching hold of Ghost's arm. Ghost jerked it away, but faced him.

"What? What'cha want me to say, huh? Yeah, I heard you back there. I get it. I understand what you were saying, and I'm not an idiot, Steve. And, I'm not your charity case. You don't have to feel trapped either. If you want out, fine, we agreed on that years ago. Just say'll be over, but it will be you that has to do it." He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.

"I love you, Steve, and I would let you go if that's what you wanted. But, I'll never leave again, unless you tell me to. I'll get mad, I'll hurt, but I won't stop you from doing what you want. And, you aren't stopping me, either. If I want to do other things, I will. I don't feel trapped, Steve...I feel loved and wanted, like I never was before. You're not my caretaker, you're my friend, my life..." He began sobbing. He couldn't go on, and fell into Steve's arms.

Steve held him close. "I'm sorry...I'm sorry, Ghost. I just want you to be happy. I love you so much, I don't ever want to drag you down. You are amazing, and I'm the lucky one to have you. I don't ever want you to leave me, Ghost. Not ever."

After another minute or so, they walked hand in hand back to the van. Linda looked back and forth at their faces, waiting to hear that all was resolved.

"We're good," Steve said.

She hugged them both. "I'm so glad. I love you both so much."

"So, we ready to go?" Steve asked.

Linda nodded.

"Ok, then, we have to go find the other puzzle piece, right Ghost?"

"We don't have to. I have the necklace, now. I...well, I'm kinda scared to go find out more weird stuff. I got a weird feeling..."

Steve rolled his eyes. "Well, make up your mind. Is it still calling to you, or whatever it does?"

"Yeah, but in a creepy voice," Ghost said.

"A creepy voice? What does it say in your head, this creepy voice?"

Ghost looked at Steve, with frightened eyes. "It says to come and find it, like some kinda game it's playing. But instead of me finding it, it will find me." He saw the way Steve looked at him, though. "What?"

"Nothing...if you don't want to go, we won't," Steve said, as if this was final. He knew it wasn't, though. Sighing, he said, "Come on, let's go find it, then. Guess we're going to Forrest City, Linda. You ready?"

"Yes, let's do it," she said, and started the van. She followed behind, as Steve drove the U-Haul out to the highway.

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Sunday, December 27, 2015


# 260 content

The little town of Ozark was quaint. Large trees, expanses of green lawns, and two-story houses with screened front porches, lined the main street. Ahead, Steve and Ghost could see the small town square. There was a grocery store, a laundry, a diner, a five and dime, and right in the middle was a statue, which was possibly the founder of the town.

Steve drove slowly through, waiting for Ghost to give him directions. Ghost was staring out the window. "Keep going, it's past this part," he said. After a couple more blocks, he said, "Ok, turn right at the next corner." Then, as they turned, they could see a crowd of people on the front lawn of a large Victorian house. It was a yard sale.

Steve found a place to park on the side of the road, and they walked over to look around. Linda and the kids followed their lead. Stevie and Mandy headed for some toys they'd spied.

"Is this the right place?" Linda asked.

Nodding, Ghost said, "Yeah, it's here somewhere. I feel it."

"Ok, I'm going to look around, then," Linda said. She followed the kids.

"So, ok," Steve said. "Go find whatever it is, Ghost. Do your hocus-pocus, then let's go."

They walked over to a table full of items. Ghost ran his hands above the things there, not touching any. "Not on here," he said, and moved on over to the next table. Just as he got to it, he was shoved hard from behind, and almost fell down.

"Hey, stop pushing me, Steve," he said, looking back. Steve wasn't there; he'd gone over to look at some t-shirts hanging on a rack. Ghost frowned, and started his hand routine, again. He was pushed from the side, now, and he stumbled sideways, into a bearded man. "Sorry," he said to him.

"Watch where you're going," the man said.

Ghost was realizing that something didn't want him at this table. Standing there, he just looked at the items on the table, trying to get a sense of what was calling to him, and what was pushing him. Everything looked pretty ordinary. There was the usual yard sale jumble of things, in no kind of organization. The impression he got was that this was the selling off of a recently deceased family member's possessions. Maybe the family needed the money, and were selling the house, property, and contents, to break even on taxes owed, and funeral expenses, and were moving away.

Ghost felt sadness coming from the porch area. People were going in and out of the house, while the old screen door creaked open and shut. There was a middle aged man and woman sitting at a table near-by. He thought they must be the sellers. They didn't look in the least familiar to him, though. Why would something of his be here? And, what was it?

He tried again, to hover his hand above the items on this table, saying, "Not this...nothing...maybe this?...couldn't be that..." He didn't feel anything over the old purse, or the scarf and hat, or the display of ceramic knick-knacks. Neither did the lace handkerchiefs, nor the dresser set of mirror, brush, and comb give him a clue. It didn't make sense...and he'd not been pushed again.

As he moved down the side of the table, though, he began to feel hot. Prickles of sweat broke out on his scalp, and he could feel it start running down into his face and eyes, stinging a bit.  He wiped it away, noticing no one else seemed to be bothered by the heat.

He moved back a little bit, the way he'd come from, and he felt shivery. One step forward, step back, cold. Ok, he thought, a game. The hot and cold game. You get close to the item, you get hot, then you get farther away from it, you get cold. So, he stood in the middle area, and was neither too hot, or too cold. On the table right in front of him, was a shoebox, containing quite a few pieces of costume jewelry.

He was going to paw through it, but as he touched the box, he felt a quick, tingly jolt in his hand, which made him jerk it back. A few other people felt around in the box, pulling out pieces to examine. They had no problem.

Ghost sighed, and prepared himself for a jolt, then plunged his hand into the box. He gritted his teeth at the sharp pain in his fingers, but didn't stop. When he pulled his hand out, he was holding a necklace...a gold chain, with a heart-shaped locket on the end. There was a small price sticker on the back of the heart...$5.00 it said. His hand were shaking, as he opened the locket.

What he saw inside made his heart lurch, and he couldn't breathe for a second. It was a small picture of himself.

"Steve...Steve..." Ghost yelled. "I found it." He was holding the necklace up in the air...the heart swinging back and forth.

The other shoppers stopped to look, surprised at the outburst. Steve felt a weird panic rising up inside him, as he tried to run toward Ghost. Why, he had no idea, but the way Ghost had yelled, had sent goosebumps down his spine.

"What is it? Show me," he panted, as he reached Ghost.

"This, this is it, Steve, look." he handed the necklace to Steve. Taking it, Steve shuddered, as a quick chill ran up his arms. This was definitely a picture of Ghost.

" is this possible?" Steve asked. He looked wildly around, looking for an answer from somewhere. "This is you. How did a picture of you get in here, in Arkansas? We've never been here, before."

"I don't know," Ghost said. "I just felt it calling to me."

"Have you ever seen it before, at home? Maybe it was your grandmother's?"

"I don't remember ever seeing it, and look, this picture isn't very long ago. It's kind of how I look now," Ghost said, as he looked closely at the small picture. "Did you take it? I didn't have a camera for very long."

Steve shook his head, thinking. "I think I get it now. Someone took a picture at one of our shows at the Yew...maybe one of the college kids, and they were from here."

"Oh, yeah. That's gotta be it, Steve," Ghost said, smiling. "I thought it was some weird happening," he said, trying to spook Steve.

"Don't," Steve yelped, as Ghost goosed him. "There's still the part where you heard it calling to you."

"Oh, yeah, that part. I wonder why...and there's still the other part, in the other town. It has something calling to me, too. And, why did it push me?"

By then, Linda had come to hear the last part of the conversation. "Well, why don't y'all just go ask the people?" she said. "They're right over there by the porch." They all looked over that way. "Well, go on..." she said, giving them both a push. She watched, as they slowly made their way over to the owners.

"Ya think? No, that's not right," Ghost said.


"I'm just gonna buy it, ok? It's not really mine, yet. Ya got any money?" he asked Steve.

"Here," Steve said, handing Ghost the money to buy the necklace.

Ghost approached the man and woman, who were still sitting at the small table. "I want to buy this," he said, handing the money to them. The woman glanced up, and caught her breath.

"It's the picture," she said.

"Uh, yeah, it's me here, and in this picture," Ghost started. Steve knew he'd better cut it short, or Ghost would go on and on about it.

"We just want to know how it got here," he said, hoping the next question wouldn't be how they knew to come here.

"Oh, it's the property owners. She said I could sell it, but I had no idea you'd be the one to come buy it. Such a strange co-incident," the woman said.

"Yes, it is," Steve said. "We think we figured out part of it," he explained. The woman agreed that that was probably what happened.

"But why, and how did you know to come all the way here?" she asked.

Ghost began telling her how, he knew to come here. "We were driving on the road, and I had a weird dream, that I had to come and find something here. And here we are." The woman was even more confused.

"We have to go now," Steve said, edging away, and pulling on Ghost's shirt. "Nice meeting you...nice yard sale...thanks."

"Thank you," the woman said.

Steve led Ghost over to a little less crowded area. "You don't have to go explaining how you know stuff, Ghost," he said.

"But, maybe if I tell her, she'd tell us stuff, why it was pulling me here, then pushing me, wasn't pushing me away, it was pushing me to the right place," Ghost said. Then he frowned. "But, why? What's so special about this necklace?" He kept staring at it.

Steve shrugged, "I don't know, but you should quit worrying about it. Where's that next place? Maybe there's a piece of the puzzle over there." He looked around. "We need to go, and where's Linda?" Scanning across the crowd of people, he saw her. "There she is, let's go."

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


# 259 content

Ghost tried to sit up, now, as the cool water had revived him from passing out.

"Take it slow dude," Steve said. He helped him sit up in the front seat of the U-Haul. "How ya feeling?" He did see that the redness was about gone from Ghost's cheeks.

"Ok, I think...what happened?" Ghost asked.

"Honey," Linda said, "you passed out, maybe from the heat. We put cool water on you, thinking you'd had a heat stroke or something."

"Yeah, scared the shit outta me," Steve said. "One minute you were sleeping, the next, you were burning up and choking." He felt Ghost's face. "Well, you're cool now."

"Why was it so hot in here, Steve?" asked Linda. "I mean, it's hot outside, but not...well, you were fine, and we were fine in the van. I didn't have the air-conditioner on, either."

Steve shrugged. "Beats me. I'd have noticed if it was too hot. I was just gonna turn it on though."

"It wasn't just the heat," Ghost said. "I was attacked."

"What?...Attacked?" Steve and Linda asked.

Ghost frowned, thinking. "When I was asleep, I saw something bad. It was dark and spinning all around me, and was sucking the breath out of me. Did you see it in here, Steve?"

"Hell, I didn't see anything, just the road and then you choking, and turning red. Then I pulled over, and you'd fainted," Steve said. "That's creepy, Ghost...some evil thing was in here with us?"

"Well, it was real to me, and it was trying to kill me. Maybe the dream me...not me in here, but then it was both of us. I'm confused still...what was it?" Ghost asked.

"You're the one that dreamed it tell me," Steve said.

"I'm glad you're feeling better, Ghost," Linda said. "I have to get back to the van and the kids. I can't leave them alone over there for long. Let me know when you want to get going again."

"Why'd you say that...being what?" Steve asked.

"By the dark tornado thing," Ghost said. "It said something, too. It sounded like 'what's yours is now mine. Leave it be." He shivered.

"Is it gone, now?"

"Yeah, for now, but it'll be back the closer we get. I think it don't want me to find it...the thing we're looking for."

"Then let's just forget it then, like it said...leave it be," Steve said.

"NO...I have to get it."

Steve sighed. "Ok, then, if you want to get attacked again, let's go find it." He signaled to Linda, and they got back on the highway, heading for the state line.

They rode in silence for a few miles, without the radio music, and neither of them spoke. Ghost had leaned back, closing his eyes. Steve could tell he was concentrating on something, because he kept mumbling words in a barely audible whisper.

"What are you doing, Ghost?" Steve finally asked.

"Mapping...or GPS-ing, or whatever you call it."

"Oh, like in your head?" Steve asked. "You have a GPS in your head?" He was trying hard not to laugh.

"No, not a real one, just...I'm looking ahead of us, so I can see where we need to go," Ghost said.

"Umm, you gonna tell me where to go?" Steve asked.

Ghost snickered.

"God...not like know what I mean," Steve said, rolling his eyes.

"Ok, ok, yeah, I'll tell ya," Ghost said. "Ok, there's a road that goes to the town Ozark. Well, it's marked on the highway sign. Take it, then I'll say which way to go from there."

They soon came upon the first sign that mentioned Ozark. "There's a sign, and it says twenty miles. You got any clue of where, or what it is yet?"

"Maybe. I keep seeing an old house, Victorian with a big old porch, and a bunch of things in the yard, with people looking around."

"That sounds like a yard sale to me," Steve said. "Ya think so?"

"Hey, that's it. Oh, now I'm getting excited, Steve. I love yard sales."

"Good, because here's the turn off road," Steve said, as he took the side road off the highway. "Got your radar on?"


"Your GPS thing in your head...which way do we go?" Steve asked, as he pulled up to a stop sign.

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Sunday, December 20, 2015


# 258 content

Steve continued driving down I-40, heading for Oklahoma City. Ghost napped, and Linda was keeping up, following them. The first fast food place Steve saw, he pulled in. Linda and the kids pulled up beside him, in the parking lot of a McDonald's. Stevie and Mandy were excited that this one had a play yard, and as soon as they were allowed, they made a beeline for it. Pretty soon, Linda had to call them over to eat their breakfast.

As they sat there at the table, Steve laid out the next phase of the trip. "I want to avoid going down the middle of the city. This here road, or highway, or whatever it's called that we're on..."

"Interstate..." Ghost said, interrupting.

"Interstate, yeah...anyway," Steve said, "it goes around the city, mostly, and comes out this exit to keep going. That's what we'll do. He showed Linda on the map. "We may get separated a little, but just stay on 40 and you'll see me, after we get out in the open again. I'll pull over.

Linda nodded, "Yes, I think I've got it."

They finished eating, and Linda let the kids play for a few more minutes. As they watched, Steve said, "I figure we've got a few hundred miles in us today. It's still early, and I'm hoping to make it most of the way through Arkansas."

"With a couple of stops?" Linda asked.

"Yeah, and then we can stay the night in Little Rock." He showed her where that was, on the map.

Ghost leaned in to take a look, running his finger across the Interstate line Steve had highlighted. Then, he stopped, making a circle around a town called Ozark. It was not too far past the Oklahoma border. Then he followed the line farther past Little Rock, and stopped at another town, Forrest City. They both were just off the I-40 highway.

"What'cha looking for?" Steve asked.

Ghost didn't answer for a minute, just kept concentrating on those two towns. "We have to stop at these places, Steve."

"Huh...why? There's nothing there we need to stop for, and they're barely even big enough to be on the map," Steve said, shaking his head.

Ghost looked up. "I have to."

Steve could tell he was serious about it. "What is it, Ghost? Why these towns? I mean, we'll probably need gas and all anyway, but what's the deal with these?"

Shrugging, Ghost said, "I have to find something." He pointed, again, to the two towns. "It's there...and...there." They looked to be several hundred miles apart.

"Find what?" Linda asked. "Have you ever been to these places?"

"No, but there's something. I don't know what it is, but I can feel it drawing me to them. It's mine, and I have to get it. It's been waiting a long time," Ghost said. He was getting that far-away look in his eyes, that Steve knew so well. The look that he knew Ghost was seeing things...visions of something, something important, and he'd be telling some fantastic story any second now.

Normally, Steve loved hearing Ghost's stories, and loved that Ghost could do this, but not right now. They needed to get going, again. "Ok, so we stop at these towns. Then what?" Steve asked, trying to derail the story a bit.


"Listen, Ghost, we need to get back on the road. I don't know what it is you need to find, but we can make a quick stop, if you want to." He looked over at Linda. "Ok with you?"

"Uh, sure...I wouldn't mind. We could get out and stretch our legs, I guess," Linda said.

Sighing, Steve said, "Ok, we'll stop. For now, let's just get back on the road." He got up from the table, while Linda went to get the kids from the play yard.

"It is important, Steve."

"I know."

They were finally all back in the truck and van, and were heading east, again, to find something...something that was calling to Ghost. Steve kept trying to find a good radio station to listen to. Ghost was leaning his head back on the seat, but he wasn't asleep. He wasn't looking at the passing scenery, either. He was seeing something, though, Steve knew.

"You want to talk about it?" he asked.

"Hmm?" Ghost murmured.

"Talk - about - it? About what it is that you're supposed to find," Steve said.

"Oh, I don't know what it is," Ghost said.

Steve sighed. "This isn't some wild goose chase is it?" he said, instantly regretting saying that, figuring Ghost would start talking about chasing geese, now.

"No, I'm not gonna talk about geese, Steve. I know what you mean, but I can't explain it. I don't know what it is I'm supposed to find, but I'll know it's the right thing, when I see it." He thought for a minute. "It's for sale. I have to buy it back, because it used to be mine, or my grandmother's. It's telling me to come find it, and bring it back home." He rubbed his forehead. "It's making my head hurt."

"Well, don't think abut it, then," Steve said.

Ghost gave him a look. "Right, like I can stop it."

"Well, why don't you take a nap. It's still a long way off."

"Guess I'll try," Ghost said, and tried to get into a more comfortable position.

"Don't hang your head out the window like that," Steve said, as Ghost had done exactly that.

"Shh, I can't sleep with you talking and interrupting," Ghost said. He didn't change his position, though.

"Well, don't get all pissy about it," Steve said. Ghost didn't answer, and Steve figured he'd best leave it at that. He changed the radio channels some more, and kept on driving.

As the afternoon continued, the sun beat down on them ever hotter. Steve had gotten tired of listening to the radio; it was mostly advertisements, static, or songs he didn't like. Ghost was still asleep, slumped over in an awkward position. The window was still rolled down, letting in the hot air, and he saw that Ghost was getting a bit sunburned, now.

"Hey, Ghost, wake up." He reached over, shaking Ghost until he woke up. "You're getting all red. Sit up and roll up the window. I'm turning on the air-conditioner."

"Huh...what?" Ghost could barely say anything, his mouth was so dry. "Dry...need water," he managed to say, as he shoved himself into a more or less sitting position. He was squinching his eyes against the brightness of the day.

"Roll up the window." Steve flipped on the A/C which at first blasted hot air on them.

"Aagghh," Ghost panted, and tried to swallow.

Steve thought of how he'd love to pull over and moisten Ghost's mouth with his own. "No," he thought, "I can't think it right now." He looked over at Ghost again, relieved Ghost hadn't heard that thought.

Ghost was coughing and choking, now.

"Ghost, you gonna be ok?" Steve asked, alarmed now.

Ghost shook his head, and gasped. His cheeks were still red, but around his mouth was turning pale, tinged with blue.

"Oh God, hang on, I'm pulling over," Steve said, as he put on the brakes, grinding to a halt in the gravel on the side of the road. He needed to cool Ghost off quickly, but there wasn't any water in the U-Haul. Linda had all the drinks in the cooler, in in her van, and she was still about a mile behind them.

With some trouble, as Ghost had somehow slid sideways in the seat, Steve unfastened the seat belt. He aimed the air-conditioner vents toward Ghost's face. Then, he didn't know what else to do, until Linda caught up with them. He watched helplessly, as Ghost's eyes rolled back, and heard his jerky breathing.

"Hurry up, Linda," he begged.

When he saw her pull over behind the truck, he jumped out, running over and hollering, "Water...cold"

"What is it?" Linda asked, handing him the key to unlock the back of the van, where the cooler was.

He didn't answer, just grabbed a bottle of water, and some paper towels. She followed him, to see what was going on.

"Oh my God...he's had a heat stroke or something."

Steve wetted the paper towels, and bathed Ghost's head, face, arms, and chest with the cool water. He tried to get him to take a sip of water.

"Steve, he can't drink, he's passed out. Just keep cooling him," Linda said. She went to get more bottles of water, and to check on the kids.

"C'mon, Ghost, wake up," Steve kept saying, as he pushed Ghost's long hair off his forehead and neck, and kept blotting the paper towels on him.

Linda came back, handing Steve another bottle of water. "How is he?"

"Still out. What else can we do?"

"Try your phone. See if you can get a connection. I tried mine and it wasn't working," Linda said. "Here let me..." she took the water.

Steve found his phone and tried it. "Dammit, nothing," he said.

Ghost seemed to be coming around, now.  "Ghost, come on, you're almost there," Steve said, hovering over Linda's shoulder.

"'s cold," Ghost said, pushing Linda's hand away. "Let me up."

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Friday, December 18, 2015


# 257 content

The biker, who was talking to Steve, hadn't noticed Ghost. He kept smiling, but he gave a subtle signal to his friends. They slowly began to separate, some going behind Linda's van, and some over toward the U-Haul.

"We don't want trouble. We just are going," Steve said. He clenched his hands into fists, though, ready for anything.

"Dude...we're not bringing any...just a friendly conversation," the biker said. He took a couple of steps closer toward Steve.

Linda revved the engine...a warning. Steve turned and walked toward the U-Haul. "We're leaving. Tell your guys to back off," he said. Inside his head, though, he was sending Ghost frantic mental thoughts. Steady, Ghost, don't shoot anybody, it's ok. He saw that Ghost was in total concentration. Either that, or he was reliving the time he'd shot Nothing's head off. Oh please don't let him think this dude is a vampire ...He walked by the guy who was on the driver's side of the U-Haul, and said nothing to him. The guy just gave him a nasty look. He'd not gotten a signal to attack from his biker friend.

Opening the truck's door, Steve climbed in. ok, ok, now what? He was panicking. Ghost was still outside the passenger side door. Get in, get in, get in...He hoped Ghost would hear him think. The guy Steve had just passed, slowly walked around to the back of the truck, still on alert for the go signal. As he came around the end, he came face to face with Ghost's gun.

"Oh, Jeeze," he said, and stumbled backwards. "Don't shoot, please don't shoot. I'm backing up...oh shit, dude."

Ghost hadn't moved, or said anything, but his eyes were staring the guy down, and he was pushing hard with his mind, giving orders mentally, Get away from us...tell the others to back off...give me a reason to shoot...

"Ok, ok, I'm going, take it easy," the guy said. He turned and ran to the others. "Oh, God...there's another one of 'em, and he's got a gun. Shit, he had it right up in my face. Let's get outta here."

"What, a gun? Where?"

"Over there, look." They both turned toward Ghost.

Linda revved the engine again, and pulled forward a little. Steve had opened the passenger door of the truck, and was now standing by Ghost.

"Easy, Ghost, they're backing off. Don't shoot," Steve said.

"Can I just scare 'em a little?" Ghost asked.

"No, they could go report us or something," Steve said.

Ghost snorted. "Hah, these ones? They've got outstanding warrants on 'em. They ain't gonna tell nobody. I want to shoot my gun."

"No," Steve said.

The two bikers were now joined by their other riders, and were getting on their bikes. "One thing before we go," said the leader of the gang. "Have a nice day...see ya in hell."

That was all Ghost needed. He stepped out from the truck, and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck the ground right in front of the guy's motorcycle.

"Fucker," the guy hollered, then they all roared out of the rest area, spraying gravel and dust behind them.

"Damn, Ghost, ya had to do it, didn't ya," Steve yelled.

"Yeah, I did," Ghost said, grinning. "Felt good, too."

Steve shook his head, and let out a big breath. "Ok, they're gone, now put it away. We gotta go, too." He walked over to Linda's car. She had turned off the engine, and was comforting the waking kids.

"The shot woke them up," she said, as Steve came up to the car door. She'd given the kids a juice box to sip on, so she got out to talk to Steve.

"What the hell was all that?" she asked. She grabbed hold of Steve's arm, and he pulled her into a hug. He could feel her shaking.

"It's ok, hon, they're gone. I didn't know what was gonna happen...and then Ghost had to go shoot at them. Oh, Lord, this could have gotten serious real fast," he said.

She nodded, and brushed away a few tears. "I know, Steve, and the kids...I was so scared, but I would have run over that guy if he'd come for you. You know that?"

"Um-hmm, and I'd be glad you did."

"And, Ghost?," Linda said. "You know he's a wild card. You just never know what he's gonna do, Steve." She was calming down some.

"I know," Steve said, "but he wasn't gonna really shoot them. He said he just wanted to scare them a little. Maybe you don't know, but he knows what he's doing with a gun. He never misses what he's aiming for."

"I had no idea," Linda said. "Didn't even know he had a gun...all this time?"

"Yeah, Sis, and so do I."


"Yeah, Ghost taught me how to use it, and I'm pretty good, too."

"Good grief, I'm here with two outlaws, and I feel safe," she said, and laughed away some tension.

"Ya got that right. We'll protect you and the kids. Don't worry." He looked at his watch. "So, you ready to get back on the road?"

"Pretty much," she said, "but I want to take the kids over there to the rest room, and wash off a little. Then we'll be ready."

"Ok, we'll do the same, and then go find somewhere to eat breakfast, on down the road," Steve said. He headed off to the truck. Linda got the kids out of the van, and got them a fresh set of clothes to wear.

Back at the truck, Steve saw that Ghost had already changed, and freshened up, so he grabbed his own clean clothes, and did the same.

"Did you put it away?" he asked Ghost, when he returned.

Ghost nodded. "Yeah, back where it was. Are we going, now? I'm hungry."

"That's the plan," Steve said. They all drove out of the rest area, heading east.

"I'm glad you didn't shoot those guys, but I'm glad you had your gun. It scared them off. Linda was really scared," Steve said. "Oh, she didn't know either of us had a gun with us. I guess I never mentioned it."

"Are you mad that I shot it?" Ghost asked.

"No, not really. You weren't aiming for them, anyway," Steve said, laughing.

"I know, and if I was, I'd have hit 'em," Ghost said. He was smiling again.

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


# 256 content

Ghost kept on talking about the way animals acted in the wild. "You know you should be friends with all of mother nature," he said, when he saw Steve rolling his eyes at him. "Yeah, Steve, you should always talk nice to animals, even if you don't really like them much, like skunks."

Steve raised his eyebrow, "Yeah, what about spiders, Ghost? What about them?"

"All but them. They're nasty and mean," Ghost said. "Don't squish them, but don't get to be friends with them, either, 'cause they are traitors." He shivered at the thought of them.

"We'll keep that in mind, for sure," Linda said.

Steve was yawning, now. "I need to get some sleep. How're we gonna do this?"

"I'm clearing a place in the back of the van, so the kids can stretch out," Linda said. "I'll do my best up front, and I'll be locking the doors." She looked over at the kids. "Ok, you two, let's out in the car tonight." Stevie and Mandy scampered over to the van, with Linda following.

Steve had stood up, stretching. "You go ahead, Steve," Ghost said. "You can lay down in the U-Haul seat. I'm not really sleepy, yet, and I'm gonna write awhile."

"I'm not even going to argue with you," Steve said. "If you do get ready to sleep, just crawl on in, and I'll scootch over."

"Ok, I will," Ghost said. They went over to the U-Haul. Ghost got out his back pack, and their flashlight. As he reached for a couple of candy bars to snack on, Steve grabbed him around the waist. Pushing back the hood of Ghost's shirt, he entwined his fingers through his hair, and pulled him close, for a kiss.

"We need to be alone, Ghost. I need you real bad, and soon," Steve said, breathing warm breath on Ghost's neck.

"I know, me too," Ghost whispered. "It's ok."

"Umm,, here," Steve said. "I'll get a blanket." He went around back, and unlocked the door, then rummaged around for a couple of blankets. He got a couple for Linda and the kids, too. He took those over to the van.

"Here, sis," he said, when she rolled down the window. "Now, roll the window back up, and make sure all the doors are locked up. If you need something, call on the phone, or just start honking the horn, ok?"

"Ok, thanks, Steve, I will," Linda said. "Good night..."

Steve went back to Ghost.

Ghost was watching, as Steve walked back to him. His breath came faster, and he licked his lips. He grinned, when Steve kept walking on by, heading to the front of the truck, motioning for him to follow. There, in front of the U-Haul, but not quite to the bushes and tall grass, Steve spread out a blanket.

"Come here, Ghost," he whispered. They sank down onto the blanket, and kissed.

"It's been so long. I was wanting to be with you so much," Ghost said.

"Mmm, me too, with you. It's just hard to find a time when we can be alone together," Steve said, as he ran his hands up under Ghost shirt.

Ghost closed his eyes, and sighed. "Don't stop...keep going." He tugged at Steve's clothes, and soon they were skin to skin. As they made love under the stars, the warm breeze gently caressed them, then cooled them. Steve pulled the other blanket over them, and they fell asleep, with only the wild animals keeping watch.
As dawn broke, the sun tinged the sky a soft pink. Linda woke, feeling stiff from her night in the car. The kids were still sleeping soundly, so she eased herself out, wishing she had some coffee. In the back of the van, she looked into the cooler. It was just melted ice water, now, but floating around in it was a can of coke. She grabbed it, wiping it off on her jeans.

She walked over to the U-Haul, to peek in, wondering if they were awake. Standing up on the running-board, she was surprised to see neither of them in there. "Huh?" she murmured.  Stepping down, she looked toward the picnic table, but no one was there, either. Frowning, she looked around the area, which was still mostly in shadows. She was getting worried, now, and confused. She walked back toward the table, and looked back toward the truck, finally seeing the two blanketed forms there in front.

"Oh, there they are," she said. She walked closer, noticing clothes flung haphazardly around. "Ohh...." she said, realizing what she was walking into. Turning away, she tip-toed back toward the van, trying to stifle a giggle, but she didn't quite manage either one. She tripped on a stick, the same one Ghost had used earlier. Falling down, she scraped the palms of her hands on the ground.

"Oww," she hollered, then just rolled on over, half giggling and half crying. She was making enough noise, now, that it woke up Steve and Ghost.

Steve, forgetting he was without clothes on, ran over to help his sister up. Ghost just sat and stared. "Steve, Steve..." he hissed, "your pants." But, Steve didn't hear him.

He grabbed Linda's hands to help her up, and she hollered again. "Oh, my God, Steve...get your pants on." She had covered her eyes, and now was laughing aloud at what they must look like.

"What? Are you ok?" he asked. Then it registered, what she had said. "Oh, shit." He ran back toward the U-Haul, to get his clothes, but still thought Linda was hurt, so he turned back toward her. This made Linda laugh even more, but she pointed, and said, "Go...I'm ok."

He went, but was so flustered, he couldn't find his clothes, so jerked the end of the blanket to cover himself, not seeing that Ghost had wrapped it all around himself, with only his face showing.

"Hey, stop," Ghost yelled, as Steve ripped the blanket from him. It came unwound.

"Oh, for Christ's sake, Ghost," he said, then started laughing. Ghost was scrambling to cover himself with whatever he could find. Finally finding his jeans, he stood up, turned around, and calmly put them on.

"Y'all are the crazy ones," Ghost said, as he faced Steve and Linda, again. Going over to Linda, he held out his hand to help her up. She was wiping her eyes of tears from laughing so hard.

"I'm sorry, Ghost. I couldn't help it...Steve was so funny." Ghost laughed too, now the the incident was winding down. Steve, by now, had gotten dressed, and he stalked over to the picnic table.

"Laugh, go ahead, both of y'all," he said, as he passed by them.

Ghost and Linda looked at each other, and shrugged. "Well, it was funny," Ghost said.  He went over to Steve, sitting by him at the table.



"You're not mad, are you?"

Steve lifted a shoulder, and shook his head. "Naw, but it was embarrassing," he said.

"I know," Ghost said. They sat there a few minutes.

"We need to get back on the road, and find somewhere to eat breakfast," Steve said.

"Yeah, I'll go see if Linda's about ready," Ghost said.

Steve gathered up their scattered blankets, and began checking the U-Haul, while Ghost talked with Linda. They were just about to get going, when several guys on motorcycles rumbled into the rest area. They pulled in, one by one...five of them...two with their biker babes on the back.

"Let's," Steve said. He saw Linda safely to the van. "Lock the doors," he said. He walked toward the U-Haul, urging Ghost silently to get in. One of the bikers noticed Steve.

"Hey, out here all night?" he hollered over. "Got any grub ya wanna share?" another guy asked.

Steve wanted to ignore them, but didn't think it would be a good idea, so he just said, "We're just leaving. No grub left, sorry." He kept walking.
"Wait up. Who's that pretty mama in the car? She yours? She got anything to eat?"

Steve stopped, facing the guy. "She ain't got any food, either. Leave her alone."

"Hey, you got a funny accent, dude...where ya from?" the guy asked. Then spying the license plates on the van, he said, "Oh, Cal-I-For-Ni-A," he laughed.

"Yeah, and we gotta get going," Steve said. "Nice talking to ya."

Giving him a look, the guy said, "Well, ain't you friendly." He nudged his buddy. "Ain't he?"

"Leave him alone," said one of the biker's women. "They're leaving, and we got things to do."

He brushed her hand off his arm. "Go back over there, now," he told her. At that, they all turned to look at Linda.

She had started the van's engine, and gave Steve a nod. He knew she would run the guy down, if he gave her a signal to. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Ghost was just out of the biker's sight, by the U-Haul. In fact, he'd not been noticed, yet.

Ghost was holding his pistol, and it was aimed right, straight at the biker.


Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Sunday, December 13, 2015


# 255 content

Stevie and Mandy ran across the truck stop parking lot, with Linda running after them. As they approached the horse trailer, a man came around from the back. He was laughing at the eager kids.

"Hey, hey...hold up there," he said.

"I'm so sorry," Linda said, out of breath. "They wanted to see horses, and got away from me."

The man laughed. "Oh, no bother, ma'am. I was just about to take the ponies out for a walk around that grassy area over there. The kids can come watch."

"Well, ok..." Linda said. "But, stay back, Stevie...Mandy...don't get in the way." She smiled at the man. "We haven't been around horses, before."

"These are just little ones," he said. "They're Shetland ponies. They are going to a nice little farm." He opened the back of the trailer, and backed out the first of two. "This little guy is very calm. The other one is, too." He tied the first one up, and went back into the trailer for the other one. They were both tan, with white mane and tails.

"They're so cute," Mandy squealed. "Can we watch them, Mommy?"

"Yes, we will, but just for a few minutes," Linda said. She looked around for Steve and Ghost, seeing they were over by the U-Haul, talking. She waved and motioned that she'd be over at the grassy area. She and the kids followed the man and the ponies.

Over by the U-Haul, Steve and Ghost watched Linda and the kids. Steve thought the guy looked harmless enough, but he wanted to keep a eye on them. Looking over at Ghost, who was leaning against the door, he could tell he wasn't in a good place.

"Look, Ghost, I'm sorry. I should have remembered. We shouldn't have come near this place." He took Ghost's hand.

"It's didn't happen at this place. Just the smell of those makes me remember, and feel sick," Ghost said. "I just wanna get out of here."

"We will," Steve said. "Get in the U-Haul, and I'll go get Linda. It's time to get going, anyway." He went over to where the kids were now getting a pony ride. He smiled, as they hollered, "Look, Uncle Steve." They were having fun.

"It's time to go, Linda...round 'em up," he said.

"Come on kids, we have to go now. Tell the man thank you for the ride," Linda said.

The man helped the kids down from the ponies. "Y'all have a nice trip, ya hear." He led the horses back to the trailer.

They walked back to Linda's van, the kids chattering all about the horses. Before buckling them into the car seats, Linda washed their hands off, then got them settled with their little toys.

Turning to Steve, she asked, "What were you going to tell me?"

"About what?" Steve asked.

"About Ghost...what was bothering him in the truck stop. Is he ok, now?"

"Oh, yeah, he's's just he said the diesel fumes from the trucks was making him sick...and brings back bad memories...uh, of that time he was lost in California. It was a long time ago, Linda. I thought I told you about it."

She shook her head. "Not much, just that he hitchhiked..." she paused..."oh, with truckers?"

"Yeah, and one of them raped him." Steve closed his eyes. "God, why did I even come to this truck stop? I should have remembered."

"Oh, Steve...that's horrible. I didn't know. Now I understand why he was feeling so bad."

Steve nodded. "He said he's ok...just bad memories, but really, we need to get out of here. I didn't like the way those guys were in there, ya know. Don't want to be around when they come out."

"Yes, let's get going," Linda said, as she got into the van.

Steve went back to the U-Haul, started the engine, and pulled out, heading for the highway.

"You told her, didn't you?" Ghost asked.

Steve nodded. Ghost sighed, and leaned his head back against the seat, closing his eyes. Out of the corner of his own eye, Steve couldn't help but notice that Ghost would every few seconds reach up and wipe the tears away. No words would help, he knew, so he just kept driving.

It was getting on toward twilight, when they finally crossed over into Oklahoma. Steve had told Linda that at the next town that was big enough to have a motel, they'd stop for the night. He was getting tired of driving, and was sure Linda was too, but there weren't any towns coming up that would have a place to stay. The next one he could tell, was in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, and it looked like it was still several hours away. Up ahead, he saw a sign for a rest area, and he signaled that he was pulling in.

When they were there, and parked, he and Linda talked about what they should do. "The next motel is still a long way off, Linda. I'm not sure I can stay awake until then. I need to stop...somewhere," he told her.

"I know, me too," Linda said, and yawned. "But where? This out west business is weird...big empty spaces and no towns to speak of. How do people live here?"

"I don't know, but we gotta do something."

Linda was looking around the rest area. "Well, we could just stay here, and maybe get a little sleep. Would it be safe, though?"

Shrugging, Steve considered it. "I guess, if we lock the car doors. It'll be pretty uncomfortable, but we could do it."

"I know," Linda said. "The kids are already asleep, but they need to stretch out awhile. We have drinks and'll be ok."

"Ok, but let's pull over closer to the back of this area...more out of sight," Steve said.

She agreed, and followed as they drove slowly back into the area. After parking, Stevie and Mandy woke up, and were hungry. Ghost was walking around, stretching his legs. Steve and Linda got out snacks for all of them, and they sat at a concrete picnic table. It was growing dark, and there had not been even one car driving down the highway since they'd arrived.

Linda turned on her flashlight, the only light they had out there, setting it on the table. Stevie and Mandy were at the other end of the table, and were giggling at their kid's conversation.

Whispering, Linda leaned over toward Steve and Ghost. "I don't want to scare them, but this is really eerie out here, guys."

"I know," Ghost whispered. "There's wild animals out here, back behind those trees. I can tell...they're watching us." He shivered, and pulled his shirt's hood up over his head.

"Wild what?" Steve asked, trying to sound skeptical and brave, but not quite pulling it off. He stared at the darkness, behind them.

"Don't you hear them?" Ghost asked.

They were silent...listening...and all three jumped, when they heard a rustling sound, back in the bushes.

"Oh my, God," Linda said, holding her hand over her heart. "That scared me half to death." She looked at the kids, but they hadn't even noticed or heard anything.

Steve got up, shining the flashlight around, over toward the dark shrubbery, his hand shaking. Linda started laughing.

"What?" Steve asked.

"He looks like the grim reaper," she managed to say, and pointed to Ghost.

Steve looked, and laughed, too. "You're right. Hey, what are you doing over there?" he hollered at Ghost.

Ghost had found a long stick, and was poking around in the tall grass by the trees. In his hoodie, and with only his face lit by the flashlight, he did look like the grim reaper come to life.

"Huh?" he asked, as he waved the stick around.

"What are you looking for," Steve asked.

"Oh, the wild's here somewhere, but it's scared and hiding, now." Ghost said.

"What kind is it," Linda asked. She'd gotten closer to the kids, in case they had to make a run for the car.

"I think it's just a little rabbit, or lizard, maybe...'cause they don't really say much," Ghost said. "If it was a turkey or a goose, they'd be making noise...and if it was a coyote, or a wild cat, they would have already run away. They don't freeze-frame...or if it is a raccoon, it would be trying to get our food...and..." he went on naming animals, and how they'd react.

Steve nudged Linda, "Yeah, and if Ghost don't stop naming things, he'll just talk it to death...hahaha, grim reaper..." he laughed along with Linda, and both had a hard time stopping.

"Ok, ok...we get the picture," Steve said. "Come back over here...leave the poor thing alone."

Ghost wasn't quite done, though. He began a little chant he was making up as he spoke.

"By the light of the stars, by the light of the moon, we mean you no harm, we'll be gone soon." He held up the stick, pointing at the night sky, and turned around three times.

"What's he doing now?" Linda asked.

"Beats me...he's just weird," Steve said. Linda giggled.

Ghost came back to the table. "I'm finished," he said, then sat down, grinning.

Linda cleared her throat..."Um...interesting..." she said. Steve kicked her under the table.

"No," he mouthed to her. "He'll never stop talking."

But, it was too late.

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing

Friday, December 11, 2015


# 254 content

Steve grabbed his things from their motel room, and went to help Linda and the kids with their packing up. Ghost got his backpack and jacket, and paused a minute, looking around the room. He knew he'd gotten everything, but it felt like he was forgetting something important.

"You ready," Steve asked, when he got back. He was ready to lock up the door and turn in the key.

"I think so," Ghost said, "but something feels weird. I can't remember what it is."

"Well, maybe you'll think of it later...let's get going," Steve said, as he locked the door. "I'll be back in a minute...need to turn in the key."

Ghost got up in the U-Haul, and was flipping through his journal, when Steve got back.

"It's here somewhere...I know I wrote it down," Ghost said. "Or, maybe I didn't, but it was part of the cowboy story."

" need to get all worked up about it," Steve said. He started the truck up. "You'll either think of it or not."

Ghost sighed, and stopped flipping the pages of his book, and stared out the window. Steve concentrated on his driving, getting them out onto the highway. Soon, they were at cruising speed, and there wasn't much traffic. When he relaxed a bit, he saw that Ghost was still staring out the window...or maybe sleeping...maybe both...his eyes were half shut.

"You awake?" he asked.

"Um-hmm, but it won't happen like I said," Ghost said.

"What won't?"

Ghost looked over at Steve. "The cowboys...they won't. We can't stop at all in Texas, so just keep going, ok?"

"Huh?" Steve asked. "I'll try, but we probably will need to stop, you know, to get gas, go to the bathroom, get snacks. Anyway, why can't we stop?"

"'Cause I remembered," Ghost said. "The story I told the kids was fun, and they got to see the horses, but if we stop and go in the diner, it won't be fun. They'll be mean, and it will scare Stevie and Mandy."

"The horses?"

"No, the cowboys. They will be mean to us, and call us names, and hit us with a bat, and cut us, Steve." Ghost was getting really upset, now. "Don't let them...I'm scared." He was breathing hard, and he reached over, clenching his hand on Steve's arm.

"Ghost, snap out of it...nothing's gonna happen," Steve said. He could tell that somehow, Ghost was somewhere else in his head, and was reliving the past. He was getting alarmed, now, himself. "Wake up, Ghost. You're getting mixed up. That all happened in the past...a long time ago. It's not happening now. I will pull over, if you don't wake up...I swear I will," Steve shouted.

Ghost kept staring at Steve, but Steve could tell he wasn't seeing him, yet. He needed to think of something fast, to bring Ghost back to the present. He started singing one of their oldest songs, one they both knew by heart, but purposely left out some of the see if Ghost would pay attention. It had worked before, when Ghost was lost in his head. Sure enough, it worked this time. Ghost shook his head, reminding Steve of the right words.

"Huh? I was singing it wrong," Steve asked. "So, how does it go, then?"

Ghost sang it to him the right way. "Why you not remember, Steve? We sing it all the time." He started laughing. So did Steve...seeing Ghost was acting normal again.

A half hour later, they passed a big sign saying 'Entering Texas - Welcome to the Lone Star State'.

"Well, it don't look any different," Ghost said.

"We're still on the same road...what did you expect?"

"I don't in the movies or something..."

"Oh, you mean like cattle drives, and shoot-outs at saloons?" Steve asked.

"Well, something like that..." Ghost said. He kept looking at the passing scenery...dried grass in the fields, mesquite trees, a cactus or two...then a sign, saying the next town was twenty miles farther on.

"You know I have to stop up there for gas, don't you?" Steve asked.

"Yeah, I know."

"I'm hungry too. I'd like to find a place to eat, and take a break from driving," Steve mentioned casually.

"Why are you telling me this?" Ghost asked. "We already planned on it, this morning."

"Oh, right...I forgot," Steve said, but really, he felt like he was in the twilight zone, or something, after their conversation a little while ago. "You ok with it?"

Looking at Steve, a bit confused, Ghost asked, "Why wouldn't I be? I'm hungry too, and I think Linda and the kids are, too. Just find somewhere we can eat."

Steve shrugged. "Ok, no problem...I will."

The city they were entering was a big one...Amarillo. It was easy to find a place to stop for food and gas. While Steve and Linda filled the gas tanks, they discussed where to eat. Steve told her of what Ghost had said.

"Oh, I get it...the kids were going on about seeing horses and cowboys, because Ghost said they would," Linda said, looking around. "I don't see any, though, do you?"

"Nope, at least not right here. Maybe I could ask inside, see where they hang out," Steve said.

"Ok, you go do that," Linda said.

When he got back from inside the little convenience store, he said, "They said there's a truck stop about a mile east, with good food, and he said there's usually a cowboy or two hauling cows or horses, who have stopped there."

"Good, let's go there, then," Linda said.

"Ok, but I hope they're not mean, like Ghost said," Steve said.

"Me too, but we're hungry, so we have to stop somewhere," Linda said. They got back in the van and U-Haul, and arrived soon, at the truck stop.

"Come on, let's go in and eat," Steve said.

"I'm gonna stay out here," Ghost said. "Just bring me something."

"'re getting out, too. Let's go," Steve said.

Reluctantly, Ghost got out, and they all went inside the truck stop.

Steve did feel eyes staring at them, as they walked around, looking for an empty booth. The place was pretty crowded. Steve led the way, with Ghost close behind, his head down, and his long hair obscuring his face. Linda was herding the kids, behind Ghost. Steve had immediately felt out of place here. He had on his usual black outfit, and looked more like a biker, than anything else. The other people there were mostly long-haul trucker types, and must have been regulars on this I-40 route, because the waitresses were joking and calling them by name. Steve did hear a few rude comments, as they passed by the tables, but he didn't acknowledge them. ...hey, studly...who's your sissy boy?...come over, he ain't no stud...they both a couple'a queers...hahaha...ain't 'cha? ... Pretty mama, we got some real men who'll show ya around... There were a few wolf whistles, too.

After sitting down at their table, the waitress came over with the menu. "Don't pay no attention to those jerks...they holler at everybody that comes in here. They're a bunch of assholes," she said loud, looking the truckers' way. "Ok, y'all look over the menu...I'll be back."

Ghost had still not looked up. Stevie and Mandy were cutting up, punching each other's arms, and giggling. Steve had a frown on his face. Linda took a menu, and decided what she and the kids would order. "Here, Steve...find something...let's just eat and then get out of here."

Steve took the menu, but didn't look at it. "Let's go somewhere else. I don't like this place."

"Steve, we're here, we're hungry. It's a public place. I'm staying and will not let rude people upset, hurry up," Linda said.

"We wanna see horses...we wanna see cowboys," the kids were saying over and over.

"Hush, you two, behave yourselves. We're eating politely, and then leaving," she scolded them.

"Fine...I'll just get a hamburger. Ghost...what do you want?" Steve asked, sliding the menu across the table.


Steve sighed. "Listen, Ghost, you have to eat. We're pick something."

Ghost shook his head. "These people are mean. I feel sick." He put his head down on his arms, on the table.

The waitress came back, bringing water for everyone. "Y'all ready to order?" she asked.

Steve looked at Linda. "Let's get it to go, ok?" he asked.

She nodded, and told the waitress what she and the kids would have, and Steve ordered two burgers, fries, and cokes for him and Ghost. "Make it all to go," he said.

"Ok, no won't be long," she said, and was gone again.

Linda had brought out coloring books for the kids to keep busy with. "Ghost, you going to be ok? Drink some water, honey." Ghost just moaned. She looked at Steve, shrugging. "I'll tell ya later," Steve mouthed back to her.

Their order was ready, and put into bags, so they all filed out of the truck stop, amid more heckling.

"Look, horses," Stevie hollered, and ran toward a truck, with a horse trailer, that was parked over to the side of the parking lot.

"Stevie, come back here...leave them alone," Linda yelled, as she hurried after him.

Next part coming soon!

Peace, Love, & Writing