…FEVERISH, THE COLD sweat travailed downwards forcing me to pause, the sleeves of my felt jacket absorbing the beads, small breaks between spadefuls of fresh dirt. The night was clammy, expelling air no warmer than a last breath. Silvery clouds without linings passed overhead backlit by a despondent moon, leaving me to work in a perfect light, enough that my vision was not impaired, ample, that nobody would surely see me.
Aptly, I dressed as if for a funeral, the black as great a camouflage as I could ask for in my nightly trysts. Around my pale face, I wore a bandanna, black of course, the moisture from my breath already soaking the thin fabric.
Half way there I stopped, leaving the spade sticking in the fresh dirt. Running my fingers over my palms I felt the calluses that had once been blisters. Panting from the exertion, I looked around me, remembering prior visitations, cherishing memories no friend of mine should ever discover, occurrences, best left, in the dark pools of my own mind, until it unravelled. Oh yes, I could feel it, the end of the string had long since been pulled by forces outside of my own consciousness. They would not let go, and I could not make them. Perhaps if I were honest with myself, I didn’t want them to.
Surveying the small area, surrounded by five foot stone walls and ornate black railings I felt like a blank space, a pause, in one instance an intruder, on the other a devil, but never the evil depicted in holy texts by holy men. I knew I wasn’t hurting anybody. My intentions were not pure and I cursed myself in daylight hours of which I were awake, mostly spent scrubbing the dirt from fingernails, fantasising about past conquests and future loves that would never love me back, would never write to me with scented letters, would never utter my name or look in my eyes. In a strange way it was the purest love. I gave them my all, expecting, knowing I would receive nothing in return. But the risk. Oh the risk of it all was what tingled my spine, shooting boiling blood through me scorching the insides of veins until I feared my heart might glow, showing through my pallid skin. And my mind lit up like never before, my scalp electric, cheering me on, the coliseum empty except for that lone voice whispering screams, taunting me, driving me to the edge of new edges, and here I stand, sweaty and out of breath, ready to dig again – ready – to see my sweet beloved Elizabeth Selena Parks.
Standing several feet deep, I plunged the spade in again and again, tossing the earth over the sides, my boots squirming in the moist soil. Then I heard a voice, distinct from my numerous own.
“G’morning sir. You lost s’umink?”
I paused. I did not freeze however. I looked at the spade in my hands, hefting the worn grained wood and gripped it tighter before turning around, as a man walked towards me, equally dressed minus the bandanna.
The mind quickened, flooded with blood. He was ten feet away and nearing.
“Oh! T’is you. You’re t’only one who wears a bandanna.”
I hadn’t recognised him and my eyes rolled upwards in relief. I clambered out on to the grass.
He rambled on,“I t’ought we agreed. You stick t’ your patch, I stick t’ mine. I rob graves, you do…well that thing you do.” He stood feet away hands in pockets, the collar of his coat up, a solid foot shorter than my self.
I looked at him as he peered at the grave, unable to resist. Swinging I caught him in the temple with the edge of the spade, wiggling it free once he’d crumpled to the ground. My heart sang. What fortune! Two for one and a grave nearly ready.