At first, Georgia deludes herself into believing her lover isn’t gone. She walks around in a daze, often questioning when Jeremiah will step through her front door? When a week passes, and all her prayers go unanswered, reality smacks her in the face like a drenched sob cloth. The woman had done her share of crying, until tears flooded her thoughts, until remorse formed cesspools of hateful anger. She continually re-assessed these thoughts in order to find a Jacob’s Ladder out of personal pity and its never-ending spiral of despair. Questions start to resonate in her inquisitive brain. Who shot Jeremiah? Why hasn’t anyone spoken up about seeing an unnatural light emanate from Bailey’s Swamp? Why didn’t his murderer take the gun or dispose of it? The gun is practically an antique, and would bring good money—even on the black market!
Georgia’s forehead gains premature furrows. Will I ever love again? She finds some solace in working, paying bills, and developing positive thoughts as a survivor. That is, until Jeremiah’s stepmother shows up at her door and declares, “I think Jeremiah meant for you to have this.”
Georgia shudders. Fumbling fingers about drop the delivery as the woman backs up to the closed door clutching a large and old bible. She draws months of want and rage up to her chest, while feeling comfort in a renewed sense of the object’s longing and wonder. The woman’s olfactory intakes the leafy taint of acid paper age, thereby causing her thoughts to shutter a dusty smell; a smell enticing her to discover the lives of Jeremiah’s Kin. A Kansas song takes Georgia’s mind back a way. Dust in the wind…All we are is dust in the wind…Everything is dust in the wind.
At first, Georgia pushes the large brown doorstop away; she becomes overwhelmed with increasingly strong emotions, as she touches its scarred surface. When she gets enough courage to open the ancient family bible, the action opens an artery to every Beaumont descendant that lived the previous hundred and fifty years. Something peculiar eats the woman to the core. Age and intrigue fills Georgia with courage, courage to spill out the long anticipated spiritual life gathered and flattened between two old weathered covers, freely offered like a self-contained collage of memories.
Georgia asks herself, “What’s this?”
She deduces that someone in the past attended an early Elvis Concert, upon seeing a smudged ticket stub resting between Leviticus and Numbers. A dedication, written on the back of the ticket, speaks volumes. I met the King!
“Who?” Georgia wonders. “Why in this place of the bible?”
The woman closes her eyes and imagines Elvis Presley singing and gyrating his hips in front of one of Jeremiah’s kin; an individual with enough foresight to save the ticket, brand it, and slip it into the old family bible. Although dead, his or her mysterious spirit and connection to the family remains to awe and inspire future generations along the living Beaumont Tree.
Georgia quickly flips to the middle of the tome and finds an old Valentine Card—which falls into several pieces. I’m so in love with you Paul! Handwriting on the object reads. It is affectionately inscribed…Your dearest Abigail.
The wielder flips the card over, only to find a price of ten cents.
“Oh, my!” Georgia sighs. “This has got to be from the early 1900’s.”
More research into Beaumont History reveals the card was written from one second cousin to another, or two relatives so enamored and lovelorn they had gotten married. Georgia smiles and feels the surface of the card, causing the couple to dance before her—in her mind, a couple dressed in elegant flowing fashion from another era. A moment later, Georgia finds herself confused as to whether the couple appeared—temporarily, or she succumbed to a trick of her well-taxed imagination?
She returns the Valentine to its proper page, and then closes the giant book without applying her signature SNAP! to its spine.
“OMG…There’s worlds in here!”
The young woman’s hands traverse more than a century of age, stain, and one hefty book; a book that doesn’t hold a candle to the four-thousand-pound unabridged dictionary belonging to Mark Twain. She places the tome, carefully, onto the kitchen counter. Her mind re-considers, upon thinking about what could happen ‘if it fell from such a height’.
Georgia opens a swinging glass door, turns on a music center receiver, and finds her heart seized with a re-make of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ ringing out on the stereo. Not able to hold her emotions in-check, sobs hiccup from her pouting lips. When will I get to the stage where I don’t feel him at every turn? She can only wonder. To calm herself down, the young woman eats ice cream and consumes large amounts of Starbucks. Georgia often chews her fingernails like a woodchuck. She tallies a month and a half since escaping the confines of the totally safe world she once found herself within.
Meanwhile... Her mind transports her thoughts back to the hot tub at the resort, and a time both their lips locked, when neither had noticed a Nevada Sky—fragile as blue porcelain. Their loving thoughts were easily submerged in the mystic aura of Baileys Resort, and the comfort of its natural hot spring’s tub. Everyday stress melted away, as added jets caressed several couples and masked the sensation any were being watched. Georgia closed her eyes, completely comfortable in her fiancées strong embrace. Jeremiah Walters closed his own, feebly aware of a legendary grandfather. Acting Kin considered the rimfire, long passed through the generations, or how completion of Cledus Beaumont’s infamous act energized his thoughts. Only a spa locker stood between Jeremiah and a Model 1851 Navy converted .38 caliber rimfire handgun. Although well worn by time, the piece reflected beauty and power. Cledus came to cherish the barking iron enough to name it “J J”—for judge and jury. Jeremiah is made aware of the name from a clue he discovered inside the thick and old Beaumont Bible.
Jeremiah sometimes awoke thinking about the relic, as if it called to him in several fleeting dreams. It was something he knew he couldn’t tell Georgia, because she would have thought it crazy. He never fired the weapon. But he kept the bore clean for just the right occasion. Ironically, he often pictured the heirloom exploding violently in his face or maiming a limb. Still…He often had vivid dreams of holding the rimfire and firing at a rodent making foraging noises at the reedy bank near Bailey’s large swamp.
Jeremiah’s train of thought broke when Georgia spoke.
“Tennis was fun, dear.”
The young woman’s hand reached for the man’s crotch.
“You’re a feisty one, today!” Jeremiah remarked.
“Only for you…Babe.”
Jeremiah loved how she filled out a bathing suit.
Georgia sensed the adoration, and quickly added, “I chiseled this body smooth for you!”
Her eyes locked onto her significant other, before she added, “And, I so want to kiss you!”
Jeremiah dispensed a sappy look; a look as if his fiancé withdrew a piece of mistletoe from her swim trunks.
“You don’t play fair,” he said as he bobbed up and down in the adulating current of the hot spring.
The two necked, neither noticing the picturesque mountains and sagebrush looming over them. Neither knew of past resort visits by Ulysses S. Grant, Baby Face, or Mark Twain.
Neither noticed strange bubbles form in the water underneath them. Not bubbles expelled by an underwater fart or any sort of man-made pump, although they arose from somewhere within the depths of the tub water. A third party may have witnessed the percolating—below, had their eyes been alert—instead of basking in close-eyed relaxation. The couple may have noticed agitation, had they put their tongues in their mouths or if either of them came up for air.
The outline of a man shimmered as it sluggishly formed. A hat on the phantom’s head defied the water and helped shade a well pocked and weather-worn face. Hands extended from the depths of the water, reached out to secure the couple’s legs, sought the substance of their bodies, and motioned for solstice. The water clouded with each added pigment of the man’s form. Several seconds passed, before bubbles dispersed. And just as quickly, the water phantom dissolved back through the hot tub overflow vent.
Baileys developed its own ghost stories—over the years. Odd phenomenon proved common in a resort that bore witness to several generations of men. Legend had it an inhabitant’s spirit could find a way back. That all one needed is a little help.
Jeremiah offered his bride a glance she easily read. Her discerning eyes did their best to bore right through him.
“What if you’re caught shooting on the grounds?”
The ebullient man was (well) aware the statement would have been laughable, a century before.
Jeremiah batted his eyes.
“I’m only gonna’ fire the thing once. A single shot will not bring in the Cavalry.”
She watched his excited thoughts shift.
“Besides, I have a permit to carry a weapon!”
Georgia looked at him, skeptically.
“Aim it away from Baileys.”
“Yes. Mam.” Jeremiah said, as he tipped an old-school brimmed hat on his head.
He tilted his noggin to draw her attention.
“I have something to show you—later.”
Georgia found the mystery intriguing. She was complacently unaware how quickly future events could shift. Her significant other pocketed a locker key, tightened the laces of his leather boots, and smiled like a child about to try out a surprise gift.
“I love you,” Georgia said, while she walked over to a bay window.
“Love you lots!”
Jeremiah took her hand from behind, spun her around, and pulled the woman towards him.
“We will soon be married.”
Georgia looked into her significant other’s deep-set eyes, and found scattered thoughts in considering the toils of planning a lavish wedding. Jeremiah moved to give her a quick peck on the cheek. The feminine side of the woman would always remember touching the spot with the back of her left hand, or how happy tears filled infatuated eyes as she watched him go.
The phone often reached into the woman’s self-pity and demanded acknowledgment from the reluctant bill payer. Georgia always picked up the handset, within two rings. If she couldn’t, she often let the call go to voice mail.
“Hello.” She says this time.
A sudden paralyzing fear engulfs her.
“HELLO!” She shouts into the phone—once again.
The other end of the line falls deftly silent. Silent of breathing. Silent of static. Completely dead.
Georgia jumps at a hollow, far away, childish giggle.
“Who are you?”
“Who’s you’re pappy?”
“You know what happened to Jeremiah?”
“Haps so…” The voice shifts. “I want to keep cutting up didoes.”
“But…” Is all the woman gets out of her mouth, before the line fizzles dead.
Georgia checks if there is a number left. The phone blinks, but the Digital read-out shows nothing. Not a number, or a name. Completely nothing. There is a burst of paranormal she feels in the voice’s mischievous intrusion. Georgia’s eyes are drawn to the old bible, which sticks out a gold-edged tongue. Intuition tells the woman the book’s labored breathing may indicate something is terribly wrong. She imagines she’s a prophetess as she places her hands on the old relic’s extremities. In many unforeseen ways, early Nevada surges to life in front of her electrically charged eyes. And Georgia Alexandre is slow to believe them.