Fiction, Make believe. All made up.
And then, real life enters our fiction. Such as the courthouse square in Denton, the drumming on Saturday nights, Paschall’s … and Shelly and her awesome Ghosts of Denton tour. That’s all real. The rest of it … we return you to your regularly schedule fictional story.
Welcome to Tuesday Tales, where this week we’re writing to the prompt ‘ghostly’. Return to Tuesday Tales to check out the other great stories with – ghostly – leanings.
“Perfect,” Victoria agreed. “Even with the winter cold, Denton is still full. I’ve been up here in the summer where I’ve had to circle the block three or four times to get a parking space. I wish Oak Grove Square was as busy as Denton is.”
“That’s the beauty of a college town. Not that hanging with the younger crowd is my idea of a fun night. I passed that phase long ago.”
Victoria glanced across the confined space, assessing the driver’s clean cut profile. “Hmmm, somehow I don’t see you as ever being a party-animal.”
Toby laughed in agreement. “No, probably not. I think I went straight from college to creating my company. All my hours went into building my business.”
“Then you’ve probably never been to a drumming up here.”
“Drumming?” He sounded incredulous. “No. I can’t say as I have. Drumming with what? Like drum majors and parades and such?”
“No. Hand held drums. More ethnic. They meet on the south side of the courthouse on Saturday nights. People bring drums, shakers, tambourines, and all sorts of instruments. And many bring extras, to share with visitors. Sometimes people start dancing. Under the trees all lit up with their lights and the rhythmic beat of the drums … it creates an energy that’s soothing and peaceful, yet energizing at the same time. I don’t think I’ve been up here though since I opened Serendipity.”
“Businesses do that to you. They take a lot of time and energy.” Toby headed towards a plain brown door next to Andy’s Bar and held it open.
Victoria scanned the place, tipping her head up and back and forth. “What’s in here?”
“There’s no sign.”
“No. Trust me. It’s here though.” He ushered her inside and walked up a man standing behind a nondescript desk. “He’ll need your ID to register you if you haven’t been here before.”
That taken care of, they headed upstairs and into a room that amazed Victoria. Her head swiveled in every direction, trying to take it all in. “I feel like I stepped into someone’s private library. Book cases, couches and seating to lounge on, board games, eclectic art pieces … is there anything that isn’t here?”
“Nope. Not that I can think of. There’s even dart boards. And the most amazing drinks you’ve ever tasted.”
She wandered over to the large windows overlooking the courthouse square. “It’s beautiful. The trees shrouded with lights is even more beautiful from up here.”
Toby moved up beside here to join her gaze across the vibrant square. His closeness jarred Victoria out of her reflective interlude. The fluttering tingle in the pit of her stomach spread out to the tips of her toes and brought a flush to her face. A rush of nervousness made her wonder why she’d come for a drink.
He leaned in closer to the window and looked down. “Oh, that’s Shelly. She has a ghost tour every weekend.”
“Oh really? I haven’t heard of that.”
“It’s the ‘Ghosts of Denton’ tour. I got dragged to it one Halloween. Not my choice, of course. But it was actually quite good. She’s a phenomenal story teller. She certainly knows this town and all of the ghostly tales and legends that go with it.”
The waitress gently interrupted them for their drink orders.
“I’ll have an Alamo,” he told the server. Turning to Victoria, he reported, “It’s delicious, citrusy and sweet, with a hint of a smoky flavor.”
“I’ll have one too.”
“Shall we sit?” He headed towards a huge, lush circular seating area in the corner, a chessboard gracing the low table in front.
As they settled down, drinks in hand, conversation lulled. She turned towards him. “You’ve got to pay up now.”
“Yes. Remember. That was my condition. I’d come for a drink but I want to hear about your grandmother.”
His jaw clenched slightly. “Why are you so concerned with my grandmother?”
“Because of all the things in my shop, you wanted an old Pyrex bowl that reminded you of your grandmother. And when you spoke of the biscuits she made in a bowl like that, your face softened and glowed. You became someone else. I’d like to get to know that person. And I think your grandmother and her memories is the key to this softer, gentler man.”
A long pause spread its tentacles through the space wrapping around the two inhabitants cozied in the corner. She waited. She was nothing if not patient. His chest heaved in a large sigh. A twitch by his eye finally slowed down and his features smoothed out. “I told you before that I don’t look to the past. I don’t have good memories of my childhood.”
“Yes. I remember,” she said softly and soothingly.
“The summer I spent with my grandparents is the only happy time I had. My mother and I lived in a car for more years than I ever remember being in a home. And even then, it was barely a hovel with new boyfriends in and out of our existence.”
He tipped his glass and downed half his drink in one swallow. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to sleep in a car every night? To have to use the restroom outside behind a bush? To have to go to the nearest Walmart and use their facilities to clean up? To only have one pair of pants and only a few shirts, that were usually filthy and stunk because we rarely had a place to do laundry?”
“No. We weren’t rich growing up, but we always had everything we needed. I have to admit I wouldn’t even know what it was like.”
“I swore I’d never be there again. I wasn’t making the same choices my mother made. I would have money, a good home and a secure life. And did I say money? Lots of it?”
“Why did you only live one summer with your grandparents? Couldn’t your mom have let them raise you? It sounds like they had a good home and would have taken good care of you.”
“Because …” His voice broke and his eyes moistened. “Because …” He couldn’t continue.