"Fuck Jake," Kyle said, "what happened to your face?"
"Your buddy found me outside Julius’ house after you left. I guess I didn’t see him coming fast enough."
"We have to get that fucker," Kyle said vehemently.
"No, at least not yet. We need to find Jake, and I know where he is."
"I don’t want to find Jake. I don’t care about Jake," Kyle said withdrawing from me.
I studied him in silence. How I wish I could see his soul right now, to know what he was feeling, why he was acting this way. A small droplet of moisture appeared in one eye and slowly slid down the side of his face.
"Ok, we have to talk," I said, " what is up with you?"
"I don’t know what you’re talking about."
"Yes you do, but I’ll indulge you. You are swearing all the time and you normally don’t. You lost your temper about Jake, and that is also unlike you. And now you are denying it, so what the fuck, Chuck?"
"Look, maybe there is a few things that I don’t want to talk about, ok? Can’t we leave it at that?"
"No, we can’t. But I will let it go for right now."
"Ok, maybe later we can talk, but not now."
As cars go the battered Mercedes diesel wasn’t much to look at, but it had quite the history. It had, according to its owner, knocked off more demons than the Catholic Church. The car blatted and farted its way down the highway heading west. Perhaps the most curious thing about the car was its driver, a wizened skeleton of a man with a small thatch of white hair and a pencil thin moustache. And he was grinning.
After telling Kyle I would meet him at his house, I headed back to the park. After failing to find Julius there I headed to his house where he answered the door as though he had been dozing. I uttered a now familiar line. "We need to talk."
We sat opposite each other with identical cups of cooling tea in front of us. If not for our physical differences we could have been mirror images. At last I broke the silence.
"You know more than you are telling, so give or the deals off," I said, my voice steady but my nerves leaping from limb to limb.
"What exactly do you want to know?" Julius asked after a considerable pause.
"I think you know what’s wrong with Kyle," I blurted, "And you haven’t mentioned what exactly we are going to do to help Jake for starters. "
"Some things I don’t think you need to know."
"Jake told me where he is, and I won’t share until you do." I said surprising myself. I wanted to help Jake, so why was I putting the whole venture in jeopardy?
Julius seemed to consider again, then decided.
"Jake died on a Saturday, not this weekend, but the next will be the anniversary of his death. In my travels I have picked up a few things. One is that spirits only last so long. Usually they show a burst of activity before their being becomes too tenuous to hold, and they are lost. Jake died before his time, but that wasn’t enough to provide him with the energy to keep some form of himself. His blood murdered him, and blood calls to blood. Let me show you something."
He moved to the cupboards at the rear of the kitchen and produced two books. One bound in leather, one a simple pocketed notebook that was overflowing with papers. He opened the latter and produced photocopied sheets of legal records.
"What is this?" I asked.
"That there is the birth certificate for one Hubert Palmer. The other is for his cousin, who was actually a bastard son, Grayson Pritchard. Grayson had one son also, a child named Trey. Trey married Muriel Branstetter, and they begot one son."
"Kyle" I breathed.
"Indeed. And that explains Kyle’s mood swings. Jake calls him, even though Kyle doesn’t even know that right now, it’s his blood and Jake making a kind of static electricity."
"So what did you have planned?" I asked.
"That is where the second book comes into play," he said, sliding the tome across the shabby table to me.
"This book is the kind you have heard of in fairy tales and in modern horror stories. That isn’t cow leather, it’s human. Its potency is sealed with the soul of the person who once owned that skin. It is a book of the dead, a spirit book. Something like the fabled book of Amon Ra. You ever heard of that?"
I shook my head.
"Book of Amon Ra was Egyptian. Egyptians were a very advanced culture, even in ways we don’t commonly recognize today. They never bought into that Jesus Christ hoax; they had the real stuff. Book of the dead allowed them to raise dead souls, send them to peace. Or reanimate them. Most times it would work, but sometimes it was impossible. Why? Cause you needed something besides the book. You needed blood kin for the soul to feed on and gain its physical form.
And that’s what I’m gonna do for Jake. All I’m missing is one thing."
I stood. "You are not going to sacrifice Kyle!" I stated coldly.
Julius face was stunned, and then broke into a smile.
"No, I’m not going to sacrifice Kyle. Jake’s daddy on the other hand…"
"What?" I asked.
"I told you, blood calls to blood, and who’s still alive and closer to Jake than his Daddy? Oh yessir, ole dumbass hisself is speedin here right now I’d wager, sho nuff. His blood fairly boiling cause his boy comin to git him, and I’m gonna help. Now, Jake told you where he is? Tell me everything."
And I did. Julius cried silently for his friends suffering. When the tale was done Julius had just one favor to ask.
"I need to get into your house to get his body, then we have to wait for old Hubert to show up."
"How do you know he’ll get here in time?"
"Oh, this is one party Hubert ain’t gonna miss. Not for the world."
The Mercedes pulled to the side of the road behind a distressed vehicle. A lone female of about twenty emerged and thanked him for stopping and asked for a ride to the next town. She appeared to have been crying and her car was loaded with belongings. Hubert never hesitated. This girl was obviously on her way to live in sin. But Hubert would help her to see the light. By god he sure would, amen to that brother, amen to that.
I left Julius’s house with a plan. While I took the trip to Vegas with Kyle and my father, Julius would get Jake out and ready. And then there would be a judgement.
In the meantime I went to see Kyle. After all, his parents had agreed to let him go with me but I hadn’t asked him yet.
After being admitted into the house by his mother I went to his room where I found him lounging on his bed, staring at the ceiling.
"What’s up?" I asked.
"Nothing much, I get really tired after a seizure, moody sometimes and I just decided to lay down for a while, you know - relax," he replied without looking at me.
I sat in a chair near the window. I heard him sit up and then pad over to me. I felt him encircle me with his arms from behind and squeeze me for a moment before relenting the hold.
I turned and looked at him. The first thing I noticed was the dark circles under his eyes. The next was the tears standing in them, making his eyes appear to have seawater in them more that ever.
"What’s wrong?" I asked, "I wish you would tell me what’s up."
Kyle walked back to his bed and sat down. He looked down at his hands and spoke in low tones.
"If we went to bed together would you promise not to leave me?" he asked.
"Kyle, you’re not gay why would you do that?" I asked
"Because it would make you happy," he replied.
"No, it wouldn’t, " I said, "It would if you felt for me the way I feel for you, but I already know that you don’t. So why are you saying this?"
He looked at me and my heart broke for him, such fear was displayed in his eyes that only a blind man couldn’t see.
"A lot of people have walked out on me because of my seizures. I would have them at the movies or at the mall and they would freak."
"But I know about your seizures and they don’t change the way I feel for you."
"I know, but now you have Jake as a concern, and what do you suppose Julius is going to do if he kills himself for Jake? I’ll tell you what, and it is no stranger than you having a ghost in your house. He is trying to bring him back to life. One life for another. And if that happens, what happens to me? If I give myself to you, though, wouldn’t I be worth keeping then?"
I crossed the room and wiped his tears away and held him.
"I don’t know what to do," he said, "Do I take off my clothes or do you do that?"
I grinned at him.
"As much as I would like to see that, neither happens. You are my friend and you always will be. I am…flattered that you would go so far to hold onto me, but you don’t have to worry about me going anywhere. And Julius isn’t going to kill himself, but he is going to try and bring Jake back. And if he does..."
"If he does you’ll have a lover!" he blurted. "Remember when you were eleven and your friends were the most important thing in the world?" Kyle asked, to which I nodded, "And then you started to lose those friends to their growing interest in girls?"
At last I understood. Kyle thought that if I had Jake as a lover I would have no use for him.
"Kyle," I said gently, "I love you and I care for Jake, and may yet love him, but he isn’t gay either."
Kyle seemed shocked at the news. He stood and walked to the window.
"So you don’t want to have sex with me?" he asked.
"I didn’t say that," I said
He turned on his heel, and that mischievous grin was once again in evidence, "Too bad cause I was willing a few minutes ago, but now I think I’ll go back to teasing you"
I looked at him without smiling. " Were you really willing?" I asked.
His smile faltered. "I don’t think I would have enjoyed it, but I would have done it to keep you."
Then I began to grin. "I’ll keep that in mind."
The Mercedes trundled into the parking lot of a roadside diner. It was almost eleven and the diner was preparing to close for the night. The small man with the pencil moustache entered the diner and made the last order of the night. Exercise always made him hungry.
The girl was indeed having sex out of wedlock, and with more than one man. Although that confession did not come easily, but as he always said ‘confession is good for the soul’. And did she confess, lord and how can you give me a hallelujah? After he had taken her off the road and into the desert he had begun the confession ritual he had devised for exorcisms. Rarely did the demon give up the body before the body gave up, but sometimes it did. It took his biting off four fingers and breaking at least four ribs for her first confession and then by God he couldn’t shut her up! Oh the transgressions she had made! Unfortunately while confession is good for the soul, it is rarely good for the body. He doubted it would be found.
As he munched his fries he noted the animal grunting from the kitchen. The cook had been wearing a wedding ring, the sole waitress had not. He sighed. It seems, lord that my work is never done. As he stepped through the doorway to the kitchen he noted two things, A cleaver, that would speed confession he thought, and a microwave. At least he would be able to finish his meal when the confession was over. Can you say hallelujah?
On Thursday I gave Julius the key to the house, and on Friday morning my father and I picked Kyle up and headed to the airport. Friday was great, Kyle and I took the monorail over to Bally's and found that George Carlin was playing, so we happily took in that show. Then we walked to the Mirage and saw the white tiger habitat, and along the way were given handbills for the various ‘escort services’ that were available. Then we got a cab to the Hilton for the Star Trek display. Our last stop was at the Rio to see the Titanic show then back to the Grand.
We had two rooms, interconnected and both had Jacuzzis. Kyle and I got up early Saturday and went to the swimming pool where we splashed and played most of the morning. Not only did I have to endure him in a state of undress, but he also wouldn’t shut up about Britney Spears and the scantily clad images of her at the grand that promoted her upcoming show. Jeez!
Saturday afternoon we went to the Venetian for the Andrew Dice Clay show, and that sucked. At the end of the day my father took us to the EFX show at Ballys, which was really cool. Especially since his other two suggestions were Tony Bennett at Caesars Palace and Wayne Newton at the Stardust.
I think the only thing that could have been worse was David Cassidy and Sheena Easton at the Rio.
Any way we were all tired and ready to go home on Sunday.
We went to drop Kyle off, and my dad had coffee with his parents while we went up to his room. We farted around for a minute or two and then my father was calling that it was time to go. Then Kyle kissed my cheek and headed down the stairs in front of me. I stood stunned. I had been totally unprepared and I was now trying to replay the feel in my mind and found that I could not. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned up to look at me and, noticing my look of consternation, resorted to that mischievous smirk again.
The town hadn’t changed much, although this was the first time he had ever brought the Benz here. Nothing much ever really seems to change, he observed. The house, for example, still seemed to be desecrated to hold his traitorous wife and her offspring in its bowels. What timing though, praise Jesus! There was that heathen bastard Julius heading into the house through he front door, bold as you please! He couldn’t own it now, could he? So much the better, the old queer would be buried alongside his bastard lover.
What a glorious Saturday it was to bring this to a close! He followed the queer into the house, bold as you please as well. After all no better way for people to not notice you if you acted as though you belonged, was there? And he had belonged at one time, in this very place so pretending wasn’t much of a stretch. He heard the bastard ahead of him, going into the basement. Could he know? Surely not! He followed and listened. After a few minutes he received the dubious award of the swing of a pick onto stone. He did know. Well, so what? At least the heathen would do the work of digging up the remains for him. So much the better. He was tired, after all, and sitting down for a bit wouldn’t be a bad thing. Quietly he lifted a chair from the kitchen and set it near the basement door, and listened to the sounds of his family being released from their tomb.
But that wouldn’t be for long, no not at all. Can you give me a hallelujah?Previous Chapter Next Chapter