19 November 2004


Well, I'm back and feeling better, if somewhat lethargic after this cold and cough thing.  I want to thank those who wrote with all of their various remedies...tea with a splash of bourbon seemed to help things, or at least make them a bit more bearable. <wink>  I hope things are going well for all of you and that you enjoy the newest addition to the story.  If you have any comments, know that I try to get to all of them as time permits.

Since next week is Thanksgiving, I will be taking some badly needed time off to do the turkey thing with out-of-town family, so the next installment will be the following week.  Frankly, I'd rather be writing...the pumpkin soup they serve at this place we always go is so tasteless it hurts my feelings.  Oh, well; what can one do?

Take care and have a great Thanksgiving,

Michael Garrison

Please turn off your cell phones and pagers and remove all screaming babies to the lobby.................

This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This story also deals with love and consensual sexual activities between men. If you are not of legal age, reside in an area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by such themes, do not read further and leave this site now.

The author retains all rights to this story. Reproductions or links to other sites are not allowed without the permission of the author.

Two Lives – Two Loves

Chapter 30

Jon had a fresh pot of coffee made already. Alicia added some sugar and sighed as the caffeine hit her system.

“Oh, God, that’s good. Can I make this my regular breakfast place,” she smiled.

“Sure; why not. Everyone else is these days,” Jon said, flashing his grin.

“The menu’s a little limited but I highly recommend the chef,” I winked, putting my arm around Jon’s waist. He smiled up at me and followed my lead. It was really our first public display of affection in front of Alicia. She smiled, happy that we were becoming comfortable with her.

“Okay, lovebirds; we’ve danced around long enough,” she said. “Talk to me.”

I sighed and began slowly, telling Alicia about the night before. Not everything, of course. She was going to have to fill in the details with Ron and Hunter on her own. I told her about dinner and about the Ouija board.

“Oh, Sweet Jesus,” she exclaimed, her coffee spilling as her hand dropped to the counter. “Tell me you really didn’t fool around with one of those things!”

“Wait, it gets better,” I said, raising my hands for her to calm down.

“Better?! You must be kidding me.”

I went on to tell her about my vision, my visit with Grandfather and Fishing Bear and Dawn over Water. I watched their mouths drop as I told them about our conversation, about Grandfather’s warning.

“And he’s right, too!” Alicia said.

“Dude, just when were you planning on telling me about that part of it?” Jon asked, a little put out that I hadn’t confided in him.

Jon was right. I should have told him before now. “Sorry, babe; my bad. Thought you’d think I was nuts after the little display I put on.”

“What display?” Alicia asked.

I sighed and told her how I’d woken up, jumped up and ripped the board to shreds and thrown it away.

“Good. Go on.”

Then I told her about our little ghost hunt, about the telegraph noises, about the door opening and slamming. She and Jon hardly blinked as they stared at me. Then I told her about Grandfather’s second visit while I was in the bathroom. About Corbin. Jon slumped in exasperation and held out his hands plaintively.

“Brad, why didn’t you tell me about this?” he asked.

“What would you have done?” I asked, looking him dead in the eye. I don’t know, maybe I was still afraid Jon would think I was going insane, maybe I thought I was trying to protect him. I don’t know exactly why I didn’t tell him. The best I could manage was, “I didn’t want you to worry about me; that’s all,” I said. How lame could I get?

“Pfffft…dude, I; you know…” Jon sputtered, he was getting exasperated with me, his sentences, if that’s what you want to call them, weren’t making sense, but they were completely clear to me. He stopped when Alicia rested her hand on his arm.

“Hon,” she whispered. “Don’t get put out with him. He’s just being a typical Scorpio; it’s what they do,” she explained.

My head snapped to her, my eyebrows furrowed. “How’d you know I’m a Scorpio?” Jon looked back and forth at us, puzzled.

“Oh, you’re textbook,” she said. “The eyes were my first clue. You stare right into people; you don’t blink when you do.”

“I’ll vouch for that,” Jon said.

“And you’ve felt it, haven’t you,” Alicia winked to Jon.

“Among other things,” he grinned.

“Yeah, well; we won’t look down that street,” she smiled back.

“And?” I asked now that she had my curiosity aroused.

“You love exploring mysteries, despite what you think or say, and get upset when people poke into your business too much.”

“Got that right,” Jon smirked.

“Oh, don’t you have something to dust?” I groused at him. He winked, knowing he’d gotten to me.

“See?” she said.

“What about me?” Jon asked, the small wide-eyed child in him peeking out.

Alicia studied him for a quick second, “Cancer. Birthday next month?”

Jon’s mouth fell open, “That’s right,” he whispered.

She nodded. “You’re the healer, the caregiver. You’ll look out for Brad even when he doesn’t want to be looked out for. You two are made for each other. He’ll look out for you, too, but in different ways than yours. You already know that, though, right?”

“Yeah,” Jon whispered, looking up at me again, not quite making full eye contact.

Personally, I didn’t know what to say. It was like she knew us better than we knew ourselves, painting us as we were but would never admit to. Don’t ask me why; maybe it’s just a guy thing.

“Anyway,” she began, breaking the brief silence. “Fun time’s over. Let’s get down to business.”

“So where do you want to start?”

“First thing, I want to tell you boys, and I wish the other two numbskulls were here to hear this, that you don’t fool around with Ouija boards.”

“But Ron said…,” Jon began.

“Hon, don’t,” Alicia cut him off, waving at him. “Just…don’t, okay? I’ll talk with him, too, but what your Grandfather said,” she turned back to me, “was absolutely true. And he may be right about your resident spirit. When I first walked around this house, I thought, well, maybe this is just some lost soul Brad has to help. Then today, I walk through the front door and it’s like,” she paused, struggling to find the word, “…a heaviness that wasn’t there before.”

“So now?” I prompted.

“So now…I’m not so sure about my initial feelings and I want to have another look around. You’re coming with me,” she said to me, taking another sip of coffee. “And yesterday at lunch, I was getting some weird vibes from you, hon.”

“Me?” Jon asked.

“The phone calls,” Alicia nodded. “Up until then, Brad was pretty much the center of attention.” Jon nodded as he listened, uneasy about where this might be leading. “So I have to wonder if your friend…Corbin?”

“Corbin,” I confirmed.

“…isn’t getting impatient to have someone listen to him. But that doesn’t feel quite right and I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Sounds to me like he’s getting more than impatient,” Jon said.

I nodded, “Yeah, I mean, it feels to me like there’s something else going on here, but I can’t get my arms around it.”

“I agree, and I’m glad to see you using your feelings,” Alicia said. “That’s why we need to walk around and figure out what’s changed.”

“You need me for this?” Jon asked. I think he was getting a bit nervous about the whole thing. I let my fingers trail up and down his arm, letting him know it was okay.

“No, hon; we’ll call you if we need you.”

“Cool,” he said. “I’m going to tend to the pool; shout if you need anything.”

“If we shout, you’d better start running,” I grinned, walking my fingers up his neck like a creeping spider. He jumped from the sensation and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Cut it out!” he shouted, his smirk changing to a grin.

“Both of you cut it out,” Alicia admonished. “This isn’t as funny as you think!” We were both taken aback by her sudden attitude. I had the feeling she sensed more than what she was telling. “Now let’s get on with it,” she said, putting down her cup and heading for the entry. She turned and looked at me. “Well c’mon,” she commanded when I didn’t follow right away.

“Now what?” I asked as we stood in the entry.

“First, let’s just take a minute and clear our heads. Start by taking some deep breaths. Slow. Deep,” she intoned. “I want you to relax and open yourself up.”

I did as she instructed, closing my eyes and letting the air fill my lungs, holding it for a second as she did and then letting it out gradually. Once. Twice. We both went on like that for a minute or so.

“You’re feeling more relaxed,” she said.

I nodded, saying nothing. Slowly, I began to feel a change in the air around me. No, not the air, exactly. It was more like a change in the, I don’t know, the atmosphere of the house, if that makes any sense. It was heavier than I’d remembered ever experiencing, like the stale air in that room upstairs, but it penetrated every pore of my body, pushing down on me. The sensations increased. It was passing heavy on its way to being oppressive. I moaned and tried to shake it off. My eyes shot open and I grabbed my head.

“Oh, my God! What IS that?!” I exclaimed. I listened as my voice carried away from me and then seemed to return, reverberating through the hall but especially in my head.

“That’s the house,” Alicia said quietly. “Well, maybe not the house so much as the spirit, this Corbin.”

The feeling of oppressiveness lingered and I tried again to shake it out of my head.

“Why is it so heavy?”

“Tell me what you’re feeling; and try to be as exact as possible,” she said; her voice was calm and professional.

I stammered a bit at first. “It was a bunch of stuff. All kinds of things, all at once, and none of them felt very good,” I said as she took my hand. I calmed down, my voice steadied. “It was very surreal, like, anxiety and remorse, almost like the house was, I don’t know, sobbing, but…,” I paused, the words catching in my throat.

“Go on; say it,” she said, her steady voice bracing and encouraging me.

“There was like, I don’t know, this…it was like this heavy feeling of…” I stopped for a second; I didn’t want to say it. “No, this is too weird; you won’t believe it.”

“I’m not going to laugh at you, Brad,” Alicia soothed in motherly tones. “Just say what you feel.”

I smirked a little. I felt like a dumb kid afraid to give the wrong answer in class, but I had to. “I don’t know; it felt like…” I struggled with how unreal, how insane the concept felt and finally said, “…envy?” I whispered. Alicia nodded and smiled.

“And I think that’s partly what you boys let out,” she said.

“You mean with the board?” I asked. Alicia nodded again, her smile became wan. “How do you let out a feeling?”

You didn’t let out a feeling, Brad; you, and I don’t mean just you, I mean all of you knuckleheads fooling around with that thing; you let out the entity that is those feelings.”

“Huh? Is that even possible?”

“You felt it yourself,” she said. “But what I’m concerned about, and what you should be concerned about, too, is the intent behind those feelings,” she said.

“I say again…Huh?” Alicia smirked but was patient. This was happening a bit fast for me to take all in.

“Intent, hon. If the intention behind these feelings is driven by, say, genuine regret or sorrow, we should be able to help this poor soul get to where he needs to be.”

“And if it’s not? I mean, that sure didn’t feel like some ‘poor soul’ staring at me in the bathroom that time.”

“Then we may have a problem; there’s no easy way to say it, but that’s what we’re here to find out.”

“Great,” I muttered. “So what do I, I mean we, do now?”

“We start over.”

I wasn’t too hot on that idea. “I don’t know if I…”

“Brad, you’ve got to,” she said taking my hand in hers again.

“Alicia, those feelings are too…,” I trailed off. “It was almost like I couldn’t breathe.”

“Hon, you were… oh, God, how can I explain this? You were having a sympathetic reaction to an empathic vision,” she said. “You have to put yourself outside of that. You have to learn to be an observer or you won’t last at this. You’ve done it before in your dreams with no problem.”

“Don’t know if I can, or even want to,” I said.

“Too late for that,” she said. “You already agreed.”

Yeah, I had. I couldn’t help but feel like I was being dragged kicking and screaming into this, but I had agreed. There was no getting around it. Oh, sure; I could’ve just ended it all right there, like some schoolboy who couldn’t hack it and just walks away. If I did that, though, I’d never be able to hold my head up around Jon ever again, particularly after some of the stuff that I’d laid on him recently. I had to do this. I had to, but it was difficult finding the strength.

It was like the first time I climbed up on a three-meter diving board when I was a kid. The water looked like it was a hundred miles down and I was scared to death. I knew if I landed wrong, it’d be like landing on concrete pavement, but my mom and dad kept yelling encouragement from the side. In my mind’s eye, I could almost see Grandfather and Fishing Bear and Dawn over Water, and a score of others I didn’t recognize, doing the same thing, encouraging me, bolstering my confidence to do this. It was time for me to break through the water like it had years before. I had to.

“There’s no walking away from this,” I finally said.

“No there isn’t,” Alicia said.

“It wasn’t a question,” I said.

“I know…,” I heard a voice trailing off. I wasn’t sure whose, though.

We gathered our strength again. Well, I gathered mine; Alicia was more practiced at it and guided me along. Helping me relax, slowing my breathing, getting me in the proper frame of mind again. Those feelings returned.

If you’ve ever held a distraught friend in your arms as they sobbed on your shoulder, then you have the barest inkling of what I was experiencing. I was having a hard time pushing past it. Alicia lightly rubbed my back, calming me as I fought past whatever it was, trying to take note of them without being sucked down by them. I was feeling drained by them already but I had to muscle through it. At least I thought I could muscle through it.

The emotions I was feeling weren’t like a door I needed to pass through on the way to something else; they were the pool I had to swim in without getting wet. They were like a compass, a map, a direction finder and a barometer all in one. When Alicia felt I was ready, we began our walk through the house, touring it slowly, like I’d never done before. We began upstairs.

There was nothing becoming visible, no ghosts, no mists, no balls of light. At first, there were only those feelings, those heavy feelings of intense sadness and that very odd, underlying feeling of envy.

How do you even begin to describe envy? I can’t, and I was experiencing it; but envy of what? Me? Jon? Someone else? Envy of this house? Was it even envy at all? I don’t know for sure. And how can something be envious and sad at the same time? It didn’t make sense, but it was starting to give me a headache. They intensified when we entered the bedroom. Jon’s and my bedroom.

“Oh, God, it…” I said, unconsciously backing out of the door like some horrible smell had hit my nose. I caught myself on the door jamb and Alicia took my arm, steadying me.

“You feel it too, don’t you?” she asked. I could only nod. The feeling was especially heavy here and I suddenly felt nauseous. “Say, that’s a nice, solid bicep you got there, stud. Ever consider a career in law enforcement?” she said, smiling and winking as she squeezed my arm a couple of times.

“What? What do you…” I frowned, confused by her action until I noticed that the nausea had passed. She winked again. Her little trick had worked.

“Just diverting your mind a little. You were getting pulled pretty strong; I could tell,” she said. “And don’t worry, hon; I wasn’t coming on to you,” she laughed. “Of course, well…” she trailed off, smiling.

I returned her smile now that I understood that she was just keeping me from getting pulled in faster than what I could take, and another thought flashed across my mind.

“No, Alicia; I don’t have any brothers,” I laughed. She slapped my arm.

“Bad manners, young man,” she said. “No peeking without an invitation.”

“I’ll keep my eyes open, though; there’s gotta be some straight boys around town somewhere,” I winked.

“Yeah, very funny,” she chided. “C’mon; playtime’s over. Back to work.”

My thoughts turned serious again, almost like a switch being thrown.

“Alicia, why now? Why haven’t I ever felt this in here before?”

“Because it wasn’t fully here until you let it out and you weren’t really open to it until just now.”

“Alicia, I’m just not getting something,” I said. “You keep saying we let it out, let him out, let Corbin out, whatever; but I’ve been having these experiences from almost the first day I set foot in this house. What’s different now?”

She paused for a second, taking a slow breath “That depends entirely on the intent of the spirit,” she said. “I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but there’s no way for me to wrap it into a tidy little package.”

“I mean, can you give me a hint or something?”

She thought for another second or two. “Think of before like a wall, actually, more like a safety valve, between you and the spirit. You could both peek around the wall, you could even reach around the wall and, from time to time, you could step around the wall, you’ve done it before. The spirit was limited in what it could do.”

“Like how?”

“Well, to use some classic movie examples, it could make noises, move things around a little, prompt visitations, rattle chains, if you will; Jon’s phone calls are a perfect example. And it was always pretty much limited to that.”

“Why do I sense a ‘but’ coming?”

“But,” Alicia smiled, “…you removed the safety valve. Now it, Corbin, can act directly on things, drawing directly on power from both worlds, so his scope is much broader now.”

“But nothing’s happened,” I said, and I knew it was dumb the moment I said it. Alicia looked at me like I’d just grown a second head.

“Oh? What do you call what happened last night, young man?”

“Yeah, well,” I sputtered, “I mean, nothing bad’s happened.”

“Day ain’t over, yet,” she said. “You can feel that the house has changed. It’s a lot heavier than when I was first here, maybe you can’t see the difference as much because you live with it day to day, but I think you know better.”

“You’re right,” I said grudgingly. I knew something had changed. I didn’t know what, exactly, but, for some reason, I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. It must be another one of those guy things. I mean, guys just don’t readily admit to some things. An arm could be falling off and we’d still act like nothing was wrong, no need for a doctor, just walk it off, you know? But Alicia was right. The house had definitely changed.

“The real question goes back to the intent of the spirit here, and I’m just not getting a warm and fuzzy yet. It’s like I’m not being allowed to see something.”

“So what do you want to do?”

“Let’s go back downstairs. I want to try the front parlor.”

I was all for getting away from the bedroom. I knew one thing for sure, something was going to have to give because I knew I was going to have a hard time making love with Jon with that feeling in the room. It was tons worse than just seeing the image of the man in the mirror. This didn’t feel like someone just staring at you. This had the feel of something being part of you, and I didn’t like it one bit.

We went back down the steps to the entry and into the front parlor. One thing I noted was that the energy was different in different parts of the house. The feelings were still there, but their intensity varied. I felt colder when we turned the corner into the parlor. I shivered, gasping a bit as I wrapped my arms around me.

“You feel it, too, huh?”

“Feel it? How could you miss it?” I asked.

Alicia went behind me and rubbed my arms, trying to get some warmth back into them. It wasn’t working. I might as well have been naked in the snow; a little arm rubbing wasn’t going to help. Then, as quickly as it’d come over me, the feeling passed and I was warm again. The feelings were all still there, though; the connection had not been broken.

“Hmm, that was interesting,” Alicia muttered.

“Interesting?” I said. “Interesting good or interesting bad?” I was not really in the mood for vagaries.

“Let me just say ‘interesting-maybe-not-so-good’,” she said, looking around.

“Oh, you’re a big help,” I smirked. Alicia didn’t respond right away. I was expecting her to backhand me for my semi-wiseass remark but she just kept looking around the room. “What?” I asked.

“Stop talking for a sec and open up, hon,” she whispered.

I did as she instructed, taking a few deep breaths again and letting my mind go.

“Oh, God,” I muttered.

“You feel it now, don’t you?” she asked.

“OH, yeah,” I said, nodding my head as I stared at nothing in particular, turning my face towards different points in the room. “We’re being watched.”


To Be Continued