But come morning he was not there. She thought she saw him fade as the sun rose, but she could not be sure. All she knew was that she felt suddenly alone.
She parted the curtains, and looked out the window. Outside the morning sky was faintly sunny with the promise of a nice day. She changed into her running tights and a sweat shirt and pulled her hair back from her face with a head band.
She grabbed a bottle of gator aid from the fridge and poured it into a water bottle. Then, with an idea of where she intended to go, she let herself quietly out the door, and began to run. She went slowly at first, just a jog, but then began to run faster and harder, struggling against what the weeks of idleness in the hospital had done to her body.
It was too early for the construction workers to be out, but they had let the cones and the tape sit out overnight. She walked around, unhindered, trying to figure out if this was how it had been when he rescued her, or how it had looked when she returned. She looked around, too, for the car, wondering whether it was waiting for her, since no one was there to protect her. Perhaps she could run to safety, forcing it into a tree, rendering it helpless, vulnerable, no longer able to hurt.
The hand she felt on her waist made her jump, but she offered no resistance as he pulled her close to her. She allowed herself to rest her head on his shoulder for just a moment, before pulling away.
"Won't you ever talk to me? Must you be forever silent? I know about ghosts who speak, why don't you?"
He did not answer but looked at her with his sad brown eyes. He took her hand and tugged on it, though she resisted. She wanted to go home and eat and take a shower, but he would not let go of her hand. His hand still held hers as he began to lead her, where she didn't know, but he clearly had a destination in mind, so she followed him.
They walked a mile or two out of town, she could have made better time running she thought, until they came to the town cemetery. It was a pretty place, green lawns and flowers and shrubs growing in profusion that had been planted over a century ago. She wondered how he planned on getting in, since the gates were not unlocked until nine. It was no problem, though, for he put his hands on the gates and opened them with ease. "Impressive," she told him, and he smiled.
The sun rose as they wandered through the cemetery. She saw a few names that she recognized, and wondered how she had forgotten them. How many of these graves ever saw visitors? Was death a lonely thing, or did the dead even care?
Finally, he stopped, and she looked down and saw a simple granite tablet, carved with the image of an electric guitar, and the name "Ian Jesse "Woodie" Woodard." She looked at the dates and was shocked, he had died when he was only thirty. "How awful," she said softly, "Is this you?"
He pointed to the headstone, as if there were something else he wanted her to see. He had died almost fifty years ago! She looked at the smooth young face of the man standing next to her and wondered how that could be. If he were alive he would be almost eighty now, just who was it that stood next to her, had rescued her, and seemed to love her?
She turned around and began to run through the cemetery, hoping she could get out before he stopped her. This was too much, he could not expect that she would accept this.
She felt something beside her, like a cool wind, and somehow managed to quicken her speed. Ahead she saw the open gates and leapt through them, afraid, somehow, that they would close on her.
Someone was shouting at her. "Maisie, look out, he's behind you!" but she was not sure she really heard the words. She felt his strong arms lifting her, removing her from harm's way, and saving her once again.
And she also her the sickening noise of glass and metal crashing against the tree. The stench of smoking tires met her nose. The maroon and chrome body was crumpled against the tree, surely that must be the end of it, she thought.
"Watch," she heard his voice in her ear, could he speak now? It did not matter, for as she watched, she saw the chassis stretch itself out, the windshield seemed to fix itself, and the tires were no longer burnt and torn.
But what was worse was the sight of the Buick slowly fading away, a guarantee that it had not yet finished its job. It would be back.
He held her tightly, sheltering her in his arms, telling her it would be all right.
She twisted around now, so she could face him, "Why can you talk now, when you couldn't before?"
"I guess I just needed to, that's the only thing I can think of. And yes, now I can talk to you, now." He began to kiss her, but a part of her resisted until she realized that she didn't really want to. She closed her eyes and put her head on her shoulder, feeling rested and safe.
"What is that car? Why has it tried to kill me?" For she knew that was exactly what was happening. There was an evil going on here, an evil with intelligence, but why her? She hadn't met him until after the car had tried to run her down the first time. What was her connection? Why was it after her?
"It was our drummer," he said bitterly, "I'd," here he hesitated as if he was not sure he should go. "I was having an affair with his wife." She looked up at him, her expression unsure, but he gently pressed her head against his shoulder. "He was a real asshole, a real jerk. He used to slap her around, call her names, tell her how stupid she was. I was married at the time, but my marriage was ending, we'd married way too young, and too quickly." He released her and went over to the tree. He closed his eyes, as if remembering something he wished he could forget.
"I had her pack some stuff, and put it in my car so he wouldn't know about it. As cruel and abusive he was too her, he didn't want her to leave. Guess he wondered where he'd find himself another punching bag. Sorry," he said when he saw the look she gave him. "I hope you've never had anyone like Lance in your life. He should have been drowned at birth."
"And what happened?" she asked him, "What did this have to do with you?"
"One night, after a gig, he ran me over. It was over," he snapped his fingers, "Just like that. I'd put Ginger up at a motel, so she'd be safe. We were going to leave that night. I could find a job with any band, it was just a matter of finding the right one. We weren't romantically involved, though it looked like it could be heading that direction. It didn't matter if it did or not."
He took her in his arms again, as if she was a haven he could hide in. "Anyway, after he killed, no, murdered me, his brakes gave out and his accelerator took off on its own. He smashed his car into a tree, his pride and joy, a maroon burgundy Buick-god he loved that car. He beat Ginger once because she put a little dent into the front fender. I had just left my body, I was confused and startled to see myself lying there. And then I realized I wasn't the only one who died, he left his body and tried to some after me, blaming me for what happened."
"It's almost funny. He loved his car and his car killed him, but he's still clinging to it. He swore he was going to get me, to get even with me for his dying, but he can't touch me, and he knows it. I'm dead, that's all there is to it, and he can't kill me twice."
"But why did he try to kill me? I had no part in this?"
"He saw a pretty, red-headed girl who probably reminded him of his wife. That brought out the evil in him, just as it did when he was alive."
"But where did you come from, how did you know what was going to happen?"
He let her go and took her hands. "Because I make sure that I always know what he's doing, where he is, I'm never far away. I'm not going to let him hurt anyone again, ever. And now that I've saved your life, you're my responsibility, and I'm going to watch over you, and take care of you. He'll never hurt you, not while I'm around, but we must be careful. That vortex we saw, that was him. He won't give up until he kills you, or we stop him, and that I don't know how to do it yet. Just believe me when I tell you I'll watch over you, always. I won't let him hurt you."
It was more than she wanted to hear, yet realized he told her because she had to know. How did one render a ghost powerless, anyway?