“So, you and Naomi are really breaking up?” Charlotte Altomare said.
“Yeah. It’s all over between us.” Ben Peterson said. He took another drink from the bottle of beer held loosely in his hand and sighed.
“That really sucks, man” Jack Altomare said.
The three of them were gathered in Jack and Charlotte’s living room drinking beer. Jack was sitting on the couch next to his wife and Ben was directly across from them in one of the plush armchairs.
“No chance that the two of you can work things out?” Charlotte said.
Ben frowned. “No, I don’t think so. We’re totally different people now. Money, material possessions, getting a bigger house, a better car– That’s all that Naomi cares about. I’m more concerned with getting right with–” Ben stopped the sentence short and used his index finger to point up toward the ceiling, the sky.
Jack smiled. “Don’t let it get to you. At least you’re intelligent enough to know what really matters.”
“Can I get you another beer?” Charlotte asked.
“Sure.” He drained the last swallow from the bottle he was holding and placed it on the nearby coffee table.
“Jack?” She said.
“No, I’m good.”
Charlotte left the room and returned a few moments later with two more bottles. She handed one over to Ben and kept the other.
“New Mexico.” Jack said.
“Yep.” Ben said.
“Why New Mexico?”
Ben shrugged. “Can’t stand living in this city anymore. Ever since the separation I’ve been living on people’s couches. My job sucks, I don’t have any real friends here other than you guys, and my family treats me like garbage because I’m not as successful as my brother. I have an old friend from school who live in New Mexico. Thinks he can put me on at his company building cabinets. It’s time for a change, time to start over.”
“Well, we both hope everything works out and we’re glad you stopped by before you left.” Charlotte said.
“Of course! I couldn’t possibly thank you guys enough for all that you’ve done to help me out these last few months.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Jack said.
“You know, I spent a summer there once, when I was still a teenager.” Jack said.
“Where’s that?” Ben said.
“New Mexico. Spent a summer in Santa Fe. I know you’re going to be in Albuquerque, but you should go over and check Santa Fe out on a weekend or something, cool place.”
“Okay, I will”
“Oh, and I went down to explore the Anasazi ruins and captured a ghost on film while I was there. Did I ever show you that photo?” Jack said.
“No, I’ve heard you talk about it, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen it.” Ben said.
Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Here we go again.” She said under her breath.
Jack left the room and quickly returned with two large photo albums. “It’ll take me a minute to find it.” He said. He placed the albums down on the coffee table and started flipping through the pages. “This is way before people had digital cameras. It’s a real picture with a negative. Had a friend of mine who’s really into photography examine it and even he couldn’t explain what showed up!”
“I’ve seen him do this at least a hundred times.” Charlotte said.
“It’s okay, I’d like to check it out.” Ben said.
“Do you know about the Anasazi ruins?” Jack said as he glanced up at Ben.
“Kind of. I’ve heard about them…”
“The word ‘Anasazi’ is Navajo for ‘Ancient Ones,’ if my memory serves me.” Jack said. He had finished flipping through the first photo album and was moving on to the second one. “The ruins that I saw were near the Four Corners area, Mesa Verde. They lived in these cliff dwellings under the edge of the mesa so they could pull up their ladders and be protected from any attacks.”
“That’s interesting.” Ben said.
“Where the hell is it?” Jack muttered under his breath. He continued turning pages and scanning over the photos attached to each page. “Anyway, I was just taking pictures of the ruins, the buildings and– Oh, there it is!” He stopped talking and removed the photograph from the page. He walked over and handed it to Ben.
“Oh man, that is weird.” Ben said as he examined the photograph.
“Yeah,” Jack said. ‘You can see the building that I was taking the picture of, and that’s actually the edge of the mesa there at the top of the photo.”
“This, however,” He paused to point at the strange image. “Was not there when I took the picture. Didn’t show up until much later when I had the film developed. The park ranger who gave us the tour had said that many people reported strange stuff showing up on pictures and film. I remember kind of laughing at her, not thinking much of it.”
“I definitely think you captured something here.” Ben said. “This over here looks like a trail of ectoplasm, or something.”
“Yes, and then there are multiple faces in this area. I think this one looks like a screaming skull– Here are the eye sockets, where the nose was, here’s the mouth.”
“It almost looks like there are teeth-”
“Exactly. There’s another face over here, a side profile of sorts…” Jack used his finger to point out the image.
“I’m going to step outside and have a cigarette.” Charlotte said.