The Ghost had a unique skill set. He could walk unnoticed, hiding in plain sight. He could be deep in a jungle, the middle of a desert, or standing on an icecap in Greenland. Apalach was merely another place to apply that singular talent.
People didn’t give Tommy Hughes a second look. Rail thin, he carried himself in a permanent slump, a slight hump between his shoulder blades. His doctor told him osteoporosis, but Tommy knew it came from carrying sixty-eight years’ worth of worry
Tommy was unlucky marrying. His third wife was no improvement on number two, both topped wife number one. He woke one morning in an alcoholic fugue state, terrified he’d married wife number two for the second time.
Tommy learned to shrug a lot. Pretending to listen seemed to work when it came to women. Keeping a bottle of bourbon handy also seemed to help.
Tommy once told a friend, “The only thing I’m actually afraid of . . . women.
Asked about children, he snorted. "I don't like ‘em, and they feel the same about me. I haven’t spoken to them in years. We seem to prefer it that way.”
He wasn't thinking any of that now. Walking around Apalach, he went unobserved. Passers-by only saw an old man, if they noticed him at all.
There was a time when he noticed women glancing in a secretive way. He wasn't Hollywood handsome, yet something about him was magnetic. He was hard-pressed to explain it; that’s the way it was.
He didn't get those glances anymore, at his age. He was now one of the invisibles.
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