The Wind of Lonely Places


A grey haze furred the sky, promising snow.  The pair made silent 
progress up the shoulder of the mountain, awkward in their ski boots, 
saving their breath for the trail.  They were not now far from the summit; 
the radio towers atop Tesuque peak had been in view for some time, 
stretching stark, skeletal fingers against the sky, unfolding further with 
every step nearer they came.
	Blair followed in Kelly's wake, his skis held across his shoulder, 
a toe-piece of his bindings digging into the back of his neck.  He was 
breathing heavily, straining with the effort of keeping up, and he was 
now fairly certain that the old-timer was moderating his pace for Blair's 
benefit.  The old man must have been a holy terror in his younger days, 
he thought.
	They had rested at the midway station, taking their lunch at a 
picnic table chained to the ground near the ski patrol shack.  Blair's face 
creased with a thoughtful frown as he recalled their conversation there, 
which had not unnaturally turned to the unfortunate deaths that had led 
to the area's closing.
	"Too many accidents," he'd said to the old man.  "Vacationers 
aren't here to be reminded of their mortality."
	"I'm surprised to hear you characterize the deaths as accidents," 
Kelly had said then, cocking an eyebrow.
	"Well, at least I've surprised you," he'd responded, and Kelly 
had laughed.  "So that was the reason for your rather sinister quotation 
back there.  You think maybe we're haunted?"
	"In a manner of speaking.  After all, four deaths in the same 
spot, in the same manner, following each other at one month intervals, is 
quite a burden of straw for a tired old camel like Coincidence."
	"Well, the run is dangerous, which is why it was kept closed in 
the first place."
	"Not that dangerous.  We've been ducking that rope for years, 
and in all of that time there have been few serious injuries, and no 
deaths."  Brief silence.  "Well?" Kelly had prompted.  "Isn't that true?"
	Blair glanced at the old-timer's back, wincing at the memory.  
"Irrelevant," he had said.  "Your conjectures are purely circumstantial."
	"Bless me!" Kelly had laughed.  "You sound like a lawyer!  
How many bodies are necessary to put the facts beyond conjecture?"
	"For most people, apparently four, or we would be riding the 
ski lift up the mountain."
	"For most people, but not for you?"
	"If the deaths were not accidental, then they were purposeful.  
According to the news reports, no evidence was found indicating foul 
play, either in the area or on the bodies."
	"Only if you discount the number of deaths, and that all have 
occurred during the dark of the moon."  Kelly had paused then, before 
continuing.  "There's a new moon tonight, as a matter of fact."
	Blair had stared at him thoughtfully.  "Are you with the police?"
	"Good heavens, no!  While I hate to reveal my character flaws, 
I am afraid I must confess to a rather morbid sense of curiosity."
	Blair had smiled.  "So you think we may see a ghost up on the 
	"And do you not believe in ghosts, Rob Blair?"
	"I don't buy the idea of evil spirits that lure the living to their 
	"Let us then hope that you never encounter one, my young