1/5/2013: Sepulcher

Buster had to get somewhere dry. The rain was coming down in sheets and with every step he was amassing more mud onto his already weighted boots. “The ground is sinking enough to swallow a man whole.” He thought, ” We really need to do something about that.” He knew that he would already be up well into the night cleaning his boots, and he couldn’t even start that chore until this one was finished. They were his only pair. Finally he groped his way into a stone sepulcher that he had known was in the general direction he was crawling and pulled himself inside. It wasn’t exactly dry in there but at least he wasn’t soaking. He removed most of his clothes and laid them on a nearby slab, reached into his shirt pocket and retrieved a box with a few crooked cigarettes and matches. “Lucky they’re dry.” He wiped his brow and began to puff away. “Three tonight, I’ll be lucky if I can finish one in this mess.”

The good thing about being in the business of grave-digging was that you never had to worry about business letting up. People loved to create life, but no one seemed interested in preserving the ones already in existence. “A man takes a woman on his cock, a gun in his right and a bottle of booze in his left.” He took another drag. “Faster than he can churn ’em out he’s putting ’em down.” He spat at the ground and noticed a plaque reflecting a nearby street lamp. “George Westerfield.  June 3, 1895 – August 19, 1928.” He sat down and leaned his head on the side of the grave. “How many did you manage to squirt out, George? Five or six? Where are they now, George? I’ll get ’em someday. You ever kill a guy?” He paused as if waiting for a response, then puffed again. “Terrible conversationalist, George. You must not have been very popular.” The rain showed no sign of letting up. That suited Buster just fine. If it rained all night he could just lounge in this tomb and ruminate on whatever thoughts that pleased him. He’d hear about it tomorrow if the plots didn’t get finished, but there wouldn’t be any physical consequences, so what did it matter.

Barely audible against the rain, Buster heard someone running outside his shelter. He extinguished his smoke just as the man turned inside the entrance and threw aside a shovel. “Goddamn torrent!” He was unnoticed. The man kept his eyes turned outward to the yard, and Buster took some time to examine the silhouette. Other than the shovel, the man was carrying a variety of small tools in his belt and clutched a large sack to his side that wasn’t entirely empty. Although he couldn’t see a gun immediately, it would have been foolish to assume a character such as him was unarmed. He searched his mind for his next move. He couldn’t make too much noise, though the rain should be enough cover for him to get behind the man and drop a decent blow before he was detected. If he could maneuver his shovel quietly he might be able to incapacitate the stranger right out and be done with it. That seemed like a reasonable enough plan. He balanced himself back to his feet and never moved his eyes from the other man. He put both hands on the shovel and lifted it parallel to the floor. So far, so good. He tiptoed a few feet behind the character and stopped, slowly raising the shovel into the optimal striking position. The man was too preoccupied with the scene outside of the sepulcher to worry about threats from behind. Apparently it was his assumption that the only company inside was the dead.

Buster swung the shovel forward with all his strength and planted it squarely at the base of the strangers skull. He crumpled to the ground and didn’t move, and Buster cautiously approached just in case he was playing possum. Satisfied that the blow had struck the man out, he tuned his attention to the partially filled sack. He dumped it on the floor and examined the pieces in the street lamp. “Coupla’ watches, hat, some rings. Grave robber. Suspected as much. Oh well, can’t let it go to waste.” He stuffed the rings and watches into his pockets. Times were tough after all, and this was a windfall.

For a moment he thought about getting the rope from his shed and restraining the guy and alerting the cops. But then he had another idea. He checked the guys waist and found the pistol he had accounted for. It was fully loaded. He removed the holster as well and fitted it around his body. “This joker’ll be back, and I’ll keep my eye out for him. Once he’s done the dirty work, I’ll hold him up at his exit and get all the loot.  Then I’ll turn him in. Maybe get some kinda reward.” Maximize profits. That was the way of the world. He dressed him again and returned the sack to the unconscious thief. “You’ll need this for the next job, buddy. Just don’t forget which cemetery has the best loot, alright?” The rain hadn’t stopped, but it was at least clearing up enough to see a path. He began the trek to his shed to deposit his fortune and to take a bit of a rest. “One more smoke, then I’ll get back to diggin’.” What did it matter if the plots flooded and nothing got done. The dead weren’t going anywhere. No one was going anywhere.

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Filed under English, Fiction, Literature, Uncategorized, Writing

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