Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Triton's Tavern: Never Too Late

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by J.R. Turner
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Kaylee followed Davey into Triton’s Tavern. They weren’t supposed to be there, but then, they often were in places they weren’t supposed to be. Davey still limped a bit, his left leg not as strong as his right yet. All in all, after spending the majority of two years in a wheelchair, it was a miracle he could walk again.

“Peanuts, I love peanuts.” Davey sat at a small table beneath a dusty window and grabbed a handful of nuts. He tossed them in his mouth and munched happily. “Oo fould haf ome.”

Kaylee shook her head. Since they crossed the threshold, a shiver ran up and down her arms and back. She peered into the corners, into the darker areas, hunting for the dead thing that must be lurking there. She never got these types of chills from the living.

“What’s wrong?” Davey raised his brows as she sat down. “I thought you wanted to come here.”

“I know.”

“Well, it’s not because we’re too young to be here because if that bothered you, we wouldn’t have come at all. So tell me, why are we here?”

Okay, time to spill her guts. “I had a dream…”

“All right, Martin Luther, let me guess, this dream didn’t have anything to do with the future of our country.” He grinned to show he was trying to lighten the mood.

She shrugged, not feeling lightened at all. “Maybe, maybe not. So much can happen from such small things, like that movie, The Butterfly Effect.”

“Tell me about your dream then.” Davey gave up trying to cheer her up and stuffed his face with more peanuts.

Kaylee scowled at the scarred tabletop. Her dream seemed farfetched, even by her standards. Maybe she just had too much Mexican food before bed. “I dreamed about pirates boarding a ship and then…I think…one of them took the gold or treasure, or whatever, and screwed over the rest of the crew.”

Davey’s eyes got wide. “You actually dreamed about treasure? As in, we’re rich kind of treasure?”

She shook her head. “Only if we were so lucky. No, listen…the treasure isn’t the issue. That’s probably been spent long ago. The guilt of the traitor…” She looked up as the lights buzzed and flickered.

Davey whispered, “I think you figured out why you were supposed to come here.”

“Yeah.” She gulped.

A rhythmic thump-scrape, thump-scrape grew in volume. The bowl of peanuts rattled with every thump and Kaylee’s teeth clenched on every scrape, the sound like nails on the back of her brain. The sound of a limp—she knew from listening to Davey.

She whispered, “Do you feel that?”

He nodded. Several other patrons glanced around, some peering outside as if they would find the source of the noise. Chatter died as the temperature dropped rapidly. Breath plumed in white clouds as everyone turned toward the center of the room as if drawn magnetically.

Black smoke, hazy and not really there, swirled in the air, forming a shape with a scraggly bearded face, a bald head, and glinting silver eyes. His tattered shirt, the back shredded and bloody, and a pair of stained pants came in and out of view as he formed and reformed.

Kaylee asked, “Do you see him?”

Davey stared at the same spot, but shook his head. “All I see is a shadow. It’s a him?”

She nodded and stood, trembling. This was the thing invading her dreams, pulling her to this place. While he seemed frightening, she sensed no animosity, just a desperate longing. The traitor, she knew—though she wasn’t sure how she knew.

With trembling fingers, she reached toward the black smoke. The bartender, frozen in his spot, whispered, “Don’t…”

But this is what she came for and she ignored him. Ice crept over her skin as her hand touched his. The room twisted sideways, making her seasick as she stood on dry land. The ghost shrank, then solidified into flesh and bone. Sun shone on a windswept beach. The scent of salt and water was so strong, she tasted it on her tongue.

“T’was One-Eye Pete who took what be yours. Not I, not I,” he wailed. He leaned against a pole and at first Kaylee didn’t see his hands were tied. He spoke to a larger man, dressed much more elegantly and wearing a tri-cornered hat. Not a pirate, but some sort of law guy, she figured.

“Keep your lies for hell, pirate. You’ve breathed your last breath of civilized air.” The man nodded to another, younger man, dressed in the same sort of clothing. “Finish this.”

The younger man obeyed, stepping forward and holding up a clunky looking gun. Kaylee thought it could have come from a cartoon, it appeared so awkward. She wanted to yell at them to stop, but before she could speak, he pulled the trigger. A cloud of black smoke burst from the weapon and the man tied to the post slumped, the back of his head blown off.

The daylight disappeared and the darker gloom of the tavern returned. She sent the ghost her most trustworthy vibes, unsure if that would work or not. Then she said, “I will make sure the truth is known.”

He gave her a grateful gaze, smiled slightly, then swirled away through a spot on the ceiling.

Kaylee sat again, slumping in her chair. The tavern came alive as conversations started again. Her skin warmed and she shook herself to cast away the last of the willies. “Well, I guess that settles it.”

“What?” Davey asked around another mouthful of peanuts.

“The ghost.” She stared at him. “I know you saw the ghost. You stared right at him.”
Davey shook his head. “I didn’t see anything.”

Geez, Kaylee thought, another thing to label her a freak. Well, if only she could remember the ghostly encounter, than only she could free the spirit trapped there. “We’ve got work to do, Davey. Let’s go.”

She would keep her promise and set the wrongly-accused man free. Justice may not have been served then, but it was never too late.

Guest post, Never Too Late, created for ...and a bottle o'rum event by J.R. Turner author of Detour 2 Death
© 2011. All rights reserved.

~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
by J.R. Turner
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Read about these characters here...

Detour 2 Death
Extreme Hauntings
by J.R. Turner
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