FOOTPRINT OF A GHOST

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Chapter 6

Brazos was wrapped in an American flag that he had most likely swiped off its pole in the Senator’s yard which was only blocks away from the house where Carol and her family lived. I never knew for sure, one hundred percent that that is where Brazos had gotten the flag but it was certainly the most likely place. The Senator, whose name was Kyle Benson, was a middle aged fellow who’d run for numerous state and local government offices but never been elected. His picture would frequently pop up in the newspapers or on local television because he was forever showing up at official events or rallies and important council meetings etc. to express his views on this or that or the other thing. And being the involved citizen and patriot that he was, he had an American flag in his front yard. I am pretty sure that he had a Texas Flag as well but don’t really recall. He was just sort of a local character that everybody knew and they all called to him as the “Senator”.

I recollect and reconstruct that like Adam in the Garden of Eden, Brazos’s eyes had been opened to the fact that he was naked, so he’d made a patriotic if not larcenous attempt to cover up his bare ass as he ran though the Senator’s yard. There would be a black and white photo of Kyle Benson in the paper the next day standing next to his denuded flag pole. He sported a big bushy moustache and wore glasses and flashed a look of total incredulity at the camera. “Perennial Republican Candidate Blames Democrat Establishment”- the headline had read. And it made sense in a certain way. It had been over one hundred years since a Republican had occupied the Governor’s mansion in the State of Texas. The last republican to hold that office in the Lone Star State had been Edmund J. Davis, who coincidentally, or not, had also been a Brigadier General of the First Texas Cavalry Regiment of the Union Army.

Brazos was still not clear headed enough from the waning effect of the LSD to realize how inappropriate it was for him to be clothed only in Old Glory at the front steps of his ‘somewhat’ girlfriend, to warn her like a street prophet that the end was near.

Phil and Scotty Bob and I came rolling up in front of Carol’s house just about a half a minute before James arrived.

“James!” I shouted and tossed the car door open and jumped out and dashed across the front yard in an attempt to cut him off before he actually bounded up the steps. He nimbly circumnavigated me however, like a bohemian antelope and bounded to the goal line.

I could see the blood seeping through the stars and stripes where old Checkpoint and taken out a chunk of James’s butt.

The front door to Carol’s house opened and Meg, i.e. Margaret Adaline Braddock, James’s mother stepped out. She had short hair that was grey but that she kept colored a sort of reddish hue and curled. I reached up to take James by the shoulder... or something... and put my hand squarely on her right tit.

“What are you boy’s on?” she asked, in a completely emotionless, tone of voice.

“LSD” I said with my hand still on her tit.

That was the last time I ever saw Brazos, for about fifteen years anyway.

His parents, whom apparently had been contacted by either Rollo or Francine Jordan and apprised of the situation, rolled Brazos out of there and within a few hours had him confined to a private hospital and then some kind of rehab or something and then moved to another town in Louisiana or Georgia or somewhere where they had family. Later he would be forced to join the military and become an alcoholic... and then be medically discharged.

I would meet with him by chance briefly at a bookstore in Dallas, Texas. He invited me to his home in Palestine, Texas a couple of hours to the south. He assured me that his life had been grand and that he had accomplished much and invited me to drive down for a weekend to view all that he’d harvested from life.

The trip quickly morphed into an alcohol and pharmaceutical speed fueled city boy bacchanalia of urban debauchery. Basically we got real drunk on Kentucky whiskey and took Benzedrine and drove around in the oil patch and listened to Jerry Jeff Walker and Waylon Jennings as Brazos pointed out various oil wells on leases that were either capped or pumping and supposedly earning him lots of money, one way or another.

He told me he wanted to set me up in business. He knew that I had taken up the serious pursuit of playwriting and screenwriting. I was a produced playwright already, a few time over by then and needed a patron and investors for future productions and Brazos assured me that he was certainly feeling patronly and with all his oil money he was confident he could patronize me.

It was late, the night before I was to leave back to Dallas and we were shitfaced and tweaking and Brazos looked at me said: “I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist you know.”

Of course, I didn’t know.

“I’ve got mental issues.” He said.

I think I just looked at him. It was a pretty stunning statement for him to make, out of the blue like that and somewhat casually. I am pretty sure I wanted to ask him, and if I didn’t I don’t fully recollect. “And exactly what are your mental issues?”

“Apparently, I am a pathological liar.” He said.

I was stunned of course, if not by the content of his abrupt and oddly personal disclosure. I was, of course, familiar with the symptoms of that particular chronic behavior and disorder because of some bizarre insinuations that had been made against me when I was a child as a result of the fantastical things that I claimed to see and actually have contact with and then share about with adults. I didn’t know whether to believe Brazos or not.

Years later, when I was collecting and re-collecting all these stored retrospections from my subliminal mind’s eye, and floundering and then not so much in my own personal life... Brazos, or his astral or spectral self or something would appear to me, in my mind’s eye in my slumber.

“Where am I?” he would ask. “Why am I?” and then with an odd look on his face would dissolve into the soft padded walls of my sub consciousness.

It would not be until sometimes after I began pulling these bits of granite from the shattered statues of my memories that I would do a somewhat superficial internet inquiry and discover that Brazos had died at an early age, 53. He was survived by children and a wife which were of course not Carol or her progeny. It was a relatively lofty obituary- not all of which I found credible. It did not say what killed him.

Someday... one of these days... there will be no internet.

When Phil and Scotty Bob ‘Smitty’ Smith and I arrived back at the park, there were a couple of police cars parked in the lot and the officers were out with their pencils and pads interviewing people. Benita Hoffman was one of the kids still in the park but not being interviewed. I could tell that she was upset. It struck me that something was missing and then relatively quickly realized it was Lynette. I could see my grandmother standing in her yard and watching the kids and the police and the scene as it unfolded. That’s where her house was and where I would be living soon, across the street from that park. There was an odd halo or aura around here... sort of purple and burnt orange. The LSD still had a hold on me but was losing its grip.

“She’s dead.” Benita said. “Lynette. We were leaving the park when someone came speeding through the lot and hit her.”

“Joe...” I said.

“Joe?” she said. “Joe Gilmer? How would you know that?”

“I don’t know.” I said. “He’s always speeding and he’s a terrible driver.”

Robyn with a ’y” was giving her account of what she had witnessed to one of the officers. I could tell that my grandmother was anxious and watching and waiting for me. There was something she had to tell me... I could tell.

It was my father.

“He’s in the emergency room.” She would tell me. “On life support. They think he’s got brain damage from the injury.”

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