Conner’s hair was flying. “Here come the ghosts.”
The wind increased as it always did in the early afternoon, driving sailboats in tangents across the choppy bay.
Conner tacked the sailboat, seeking a new direction that exploited the rising wind. “There must be several thousand ghosts coming this way,” he announced as he wrestled the rudder. “Look at the sails.”
Eddie, who’d never been sailing before, laughed.
“What’s so funny?” demanded Conner.
Eddie glanced at his crazy work buddy. He turned his eyes back to the shining water. An hour on a rented sailboat before returning home from the West Coast convention might be the best thing he’d done in a long time. The introduction of ghosts was odd. He wondered if Conner, top company sales rep and champion liar, ever meant anything he said.
Eddie concentrated on the invigorating experience. He thought of the seeming freedom of sailing. The wind carressed his face and the spray of cool water made him feel so alive. Every so often the wind would change direction, weaken, strengthen, shift again, as if it were indecisive, as if it were forever lost and wandering.
A sudden gust gave the sailboat a sickening lurch. “Now we’re in for it!” warned Conner.
“The funny thing about ghosts,” explained Conner, “is they’re completely ineffective on land. Unless they come as a hurricane. But on the water, they’ll drive you wherever they can. To deal with ghosts effectively a boat needs an engine.”
“That must be why everyone loves sailing and horror movies,” Eddie countered facetiously. “Because it’s thrilling to be chased by monsters.”
“Driven by ghosts,” corrected Conner.
Eddie wanted to see how far his buddy would take it. “So where are all these ghosts going exactly?”
“Straight toward both of us.”
Eddie thought Conner couldn’t be serious. He never was.
But he did wonder why–why the bizarre assertion. He wondered if there were ghosts that drove his companion.
He thought he knew Conner. They’d worked together for well over ten years. He understood how Conner would tell a customer absolutely anything, just to be the winning salesperson. How Conner tossed away money as if he didn’t care. How he was a master joke teller, generous good friend, dedicated gambler, lover of sailing. How he never spoke about the death of his daughter.
Conner was staring back at him with a sly smile.
The ghosts were particularly indecisive that afternoon. They blew southwest, then shifted north, then east. As thousands of ghosts gathered in the white sails the taut ropes that resisted them vibrated. Held.
At the marina Conner and Eddie took one last look at slowly moving sails scattered across the water. Tilting toward hazy horizons.
The two jumped into their rented car and steered down lined asphalt to the airport, where ghosts gathered at the runway’s end would lift them home.