Tonight I am a Gravedigger


Tonight I am a gravedigger. My day job, a desk clerk, took a cut and I’m in the middle of a vicious paper battle with my ex-lover. She was a singer, she sang the blues, and all the time she was full of sorrow. Begging for Despair, often I had to tell her, “I will give you none of my Despair.” She was a real desperate whore that one and frankly I wanted all of the despair to myself.

Luckily, I work nights. Lately, I like to spend my days contemplating death and hypothesizing how I may go. Finding algorithms to satisfy probabilities. Drawing graphs. Gathering statistics. Conducting experiments. Each passing day is another notch in my chart—another spike along the likelihood axis.

I dig perfect graves. I do. Six feet deep and three feet wide, all of the dirt walls mathematically parallel. I know I dig perfect graves because ghosts visit me. They follow me home after work and stand at the threshold to my bedroom and thank me. I told my boss about it and he said it’s normal then offered to give me a raise. I told him it was my pleasure and decided to buy a new shovel.

Last week I buried a whole family, some kind of burning incident. There were seven of them plus the dog. I questioned my boss on the protocol for dog burial but he was unsure. I asked a man walking a dog in front of my apartment if he knew but he didn’t. Then I asked the dog and even he did not know. Finally, I met a man in the animal control field and he gave me direction. So I brought the dog to the restaurant and they gave me a free meal.

Last night, a ghost visited me, which was strange because I was off of work and it’s terribly hard to find me unless you follow me home. Of course, it was my ex-lover, looking glum as ever. “What’s wrong?” I offered. “Death.” She replied, harping on the end of a lucid cigarette. We endured a long stare across the room leaving a space between us where in the middle lye a heap of laundry. After a moment, her eyes wondered past mine and down to the pile of laundry where underneath was a carpet and underneath that was a loose floorboard and underneath that was a layer of fresh soil. On the way back up, her eyes caught mine and when they did I knew that she knew. The look that she gave me could only be exchanged between two lovers, the kind of passing glance that solicits an impossible response. It’s like that with ghosts, they hardly ever speak a word, you either know why they’re there or you’re left guessing for all of eternity.