Good morning Story Orgy readers! Welcome back to Monday!
*sips coffee* Brad and Clay are having a slow time of it, aren't they? Wonder if they'll get anywhere this week? Let's find out...
Heart of Clay
(c) June 2014 @Lee Brazil
Sept 15th - It was his favorite book.
Kicking off his boots, Brad stretched out wearily on the sofa. A soft knit afghan in three shades of green, another family treasured crafted by hand decades ago, lay across the back and he flicked it out over his legs. It wasn’t that he was cold so much as that the weight of it felt reassuring, like the embrace of a loved one. It even held the faintest feminine scent still, a floral perfume that might have been his mother’s, or sister's or even his grandmother's for all he knew. He just knew that the afghan soothed some of the rage he felt, comforted him.
WIth a sigh, Brad picked up a dog-eared paperback off the coffee table and let it fall open to any page. It didn't matter which. It was his favorite book, and wherever he started reading, page one or one hundred, he was instantly swept into the story- rescued from his own torments and caught up in the adventure as elves and hobbits alike journeyed far on a quest fraught with danger.
Only today, his comfort read didn’t work that way.
He couldn’t put himself in the place of the characters, couldn’t ignore Clay’s crazy claims or the niggling suspicion that if he’d only listened…
He wouldn’t be alone now. All by himself in a house full of ghosts… not real ghosts, not like Clay was talking about anyway. Ghosts were just memories, right? Listen to you. Real ghosts. You’re as crazy as he is.
Well, he had a house full of them, and thanks to his rash actions earlier, not even a beer to wash them away. Not that alcohol had done him any favors lately, not when every drunken dream brought nightmares … like Bobby fighting his way through a door. Thank god he’d woken up from that one. What would that have revealed? What was behind that door with Bobby? He shook off the half remembered dream and tried again to focus on the words on the page.
He knew this story backwards and forwards, it shouldn’t be this hard…
Maybe a movie. He could watch something… something with a lot of noise and lights and action that wouldn’t require thinking.
“Ghosts,”he scoffed aloud, tossing the book to the other end of the sofa. As if. “Ectoplasm and emotion…” Visions of green slime and shadowy figures, thing he realized he’d picked up from horror movies he’d devoured as a teen, played out across his mind. What did the ghosts in movies do?
Hauntings usually meant violence, and strange, unexplained things like cold spots, and floating objects, or weird noises and shadowy attacks.
“Nothing ever happens like that around here.” He grumbled, stuffing a cushion behind his head and glaring up at the dated glass light fixture over head. “No flickering lights or moving objects. Sure as hell no one ever tried to push me down the stairs.”
Sitting up, he tried to remember everything he'd ever heard about ghosts, but couldn't come up with much more than he’d started with. Drafty spots… sure the house had some cold spots, but what old building didn’t?
The phone rang, and he ignored that too. Likely it was either CLay calling to apologize for his bad joke, or Nan checking on him because he hadn’t come back to the table. Either way, he wasn’t up to conversation.
Maybe a shower…
The hot water could wash away the sticky mire of emotion and clear his thoughts. Rising from the sofa, Brad stretched, letting his hands brush the ceiling, jerking back and glancing instinctively up as it seemed unusually cold on his fingertips. Idiot. He sneered at himself. Just the air conditioning unit in the room above, chilling his room while the rest of the house accumulated the day’s heat.
“Ghosts.” He snorted again. If only it could be that simple. Find Bobby’s ghost, tell him how sorry he was how much he missed him, how much he regretted that his first instinct on Bobby’s death had been that he and Clay could be together.
“That’s it.” He pushed open the bathroom door and raised the window sash to let some air circulate. “That’s what I need to say…” He stripped efficiently, carefully putting his laundry in the basket in the corner.
“Need to make up for.” That’s what he’d been paying for all these years, wasn’t it? He turned the knobs on the tub until a needle pointed spray of hot water gushed through the pipes and pattered into the bottom of the tub.
Stepping into the stream, he immediately ducked his head into the hot water, let it sluice down his body and take away the tension. His eyes squeezed tight shut, he tipped his head up, and a light bulb went off.
Strange things happening? All around him the last few years…Things like strange letters written in the steam on a bathroom mirror? Like an irrepressible urge to go to the orchard, when the last thing he wanted was to see Clay Merk? Things like...
“Hello, Brad, you stubborn bastard, you.”
TO BE CONTINUED