The ride was uneventful, save for Kyle squirming from curiosity as to just what was going on, and for Mrs. Pritchard and her mouth which never seemed to tire. Upon arriving at the Pritchard residence we unloaded the car of its Epicurean delights, and retired to Kyle's bedroom.
"So, dude," Kyle said, "What the hell was that going on in your room?"
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"I mean that zoned out look, that whole passing out thing, that's what! Whatta ya mean 'what do you mean?'" he answered.
"Well, I'm not real sure yet, but I will fill you in when I have more...information."
"Hold it," Kyle began, but got no farther due to Mrs. Pritchards timely intrusion.
"Ok you two, come on down and set the table," she turned to Kyle, "you know your father has been cooking while we were gone so the barbecue is just about done."
And with that said, the boys dutifully trooped down, Kyle shooting inquisitive looks the whole way.
The next twenty minutes were filled with the idle chatter of Kyle's parents getting to know me, nothing too serious, just general questions about home and family, grade, age, name rank and serial number.
As we sat down to eat, talk turned more substantial.
"Muriel, I want to change insurance companies," began Kyle's dad.
"Why, what happened?" she asked.
"When I went in today he had a sign that he was collecting names for a marriage amendment, and to ask for details. So I asked him what that was for. He leans over like some kind of spy, making sure no one overhears him...
"It's about the homosexuals," confided the salesman, "They got too much power as it is. Why do you know you are more likely to get a job in this state just because you're queer? That is an outrage to people with families. And now they want to get married. Well sir, that goes against the bible, goes against everything good God fearin' people believe in and I don't think we should have to change to recognize them. This petition would amend the state constitution to only recognize marriage between a man and a woman, as it should be."
"And I don't want to deal with that when I go to pay my car insurance, dear. That is just too much. While I understand there will always be that portion of any group that will abuse the system in order to get ahead, he is stereotyping an entire segment of the population and trying to do them harm because of it. I don't want to lend my money or an ounce of credibility to people like that. As mayor, continuing to do business with him would be seen as an endorsement."
"Goodness, I had no idea he felt that way. I have no great love for the gay community, but I don't wish any harm to them either. My God, they are just people. And the nerve of using the bible to defend his actions! The bible clearly tells us it is not our place to judge, that should be left to God alone," she finished indignantly.
All of this was somewhat uncomfortable. Were they staging this? Had Kyle told them? I no sooner looked at Kyle than his eyes rolled back in his head and he fell bonelessly to the grass next to the picnic table.
"Kyle!" I shouted, leaping from my place at the table.
"Hang on, don't crowd," his father growled, "Give me your belt, quickly!"
I complied and watched mutely while his father pushed the belt between Kyle's lips. No, between his teeth. Kyle was shaking on the ground, arms and legs moving spasmodically, tics moving the facial muscles. His mother and I moved the picnic table, so that his thrashings would not come into contact with its wooden legs.
After what seemed to be an eternity, Kyle seemed to slowly lose energy and become still. His father picked him up, looking like an old war movie where a shell-shocked soldier carries a wounded comrade to safety. Mrs. Pritchard smoothed her skirt, and coughed quietly.
"Kyle will be tired, not very good company I'm afraid. He'll be quite sore tomorrow from the muscle spasms. Maybe you would like to go home?" she asked.
"No," I said, "Thanks, but I'll stay. If that's ok, I mean."
She smiled and nodded.
The rest of the evening was quiet, and I felt tired myself after watching the seizure, and hearing the dinner topic, so I went to Kyle's room and nestled in the sleeping bag he had provided. I lay in the semi darkness thinking of everything Julius had said and of the occurrence in my room. And of course the seizure tonight. Kyle had never mentioned he was epileptic, and this was probably not the way he intended to tell me. Although it was killing me not looking for answers at home, Kyle would have been even more embarrassed if I had gone home afterward. So I stayed.
But sleep refused to claim me, and Julius's words kept coming back to me, and gradually I realized that he planned to do something about Jake and his own restlessness, but what could that be? How many options for a bringing peace to a ghost were there? And what of the peace that Julius always spoke of? What method did he have in mind to finally deliver himself into a peaceful existence? That one came immediately. Julius was going to kill himself, and probably on the day Jake died. When was that? Soon I think, at least we were approaching the time. Resolving to get a few things straight with Julius tomorrow, I rolled over.
"I'm surprised you're still here. Almost everybody leaves after one of those," came a soft voice.
I rolled over to see Kyle sitting up in bed looking down at me. More like through me.
"Why wouldn't I stay? You're my friend." After a moments thought I added, "You stuck with me through my troubles, so I'll stick with you through yours. That's fair, isn't it?"
Kyle nodded in the darkness, and his chest moved in a sob. I moved to him and sat on the edge of the bed, where he met me and I put my arms around him. I comforted my friend.
Kyle and I slept in in the morning, and he did move slowly as his mother had predicted. After breakfast Kyle had excused himself to go shower. At this point Kyle's parents seemed to study me. After an uncomfortable silence, his mother spoke.
"I guess Kyle hadn't mentioned his seizures to you before?" she asked.
"Um, no. No he hadn't," I replied.
"I hope you won't judge him too harshly for hiding it from you. He has lost a lot of so called friends for telling them, because they were all concerned about not knowing when he would 'freak' and embarrass them."
I remained silent as the thought occurred to me that Kyle probably felt just as outcast as I have so often, feeling as if there were no one he could tell for fear of them ridiculing him, and then leaving him alone again.
"You mean a lot to Kyle, and it meant a lot to me and to him that you stayed last night. You showed more character in that single act than most people do in a lifetime," his father interjected.
"My father works in casino marketing," I began, "and he just signed a deal with the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. And he got tickets for a show two weeks from now, with the casino picking up the bill. And he said I could take a friend. Can Kyle go?"
After we were both cleaned up, Kyle started about my vision again. After the events from the past twenty-four hours, I had no qualms about filling him in on my suspicions. He agreed that we should pay my friend Julius a visit.
"But one question first," Kyle said.
"If this ghost likes you, how do you feel about him? Or it? Or whatever?"
"I...I'm not sure. I hadn't really thought about it. I mean, Jake is a vision to be sure, but then again, he literally is a vision, isn't he? What he chooses to show to me is attractive, but I really don't know him. Just his story, and that does make me care and that makes me want to help him."
"Ok, so lets go find Julius," Kyle stated.
We wandered slowly through the park, mostly due to Kyle's aches, and eventually we spotted him, sitting on a park bench. The Jethro Tull tune 'Aqualung' suddenly seemed relevant. We sat on either side of him and he seemed to consider this for a moment, mentally chewing over the possibilities for this particular meeting.
"Well you two sure have been spendin time together." He looked at me, then at Kyle, then resumed staring at the empty space between us. "I s'pose you two know each others' secrets by now, the epilepsy and the sexual tensions, hmm? Yes I expect you do. So I guess you'll want to know my intentions, and you figure I'll have to tell you since I need to get into one of your houses in order to do my work. But I have a question first."
Silence held the moment, much the way surface tension will keep water in an overfilled cup so that if you look at it just so you can see the water sitting higher than the brim of the cup.
"Are you going to help Jake?" he asked.
After a moment of meaningful glances between us, Kyle and I both nodded our assent.
He sighed. "Ok, this weekend is when it'll have to be, try to get the house empty, and we'll get started."
"Start doing what?" Kyle asked.
"Looking for Jake's body," Julius replied.Previous Chapter Next Chapter