IV — The dirt falls from the shovel
The dirt falls from the shovel all too slowly. I swear it doesn’t want to cover her body. It keeps slipping off to the edges. It’s dry and crumbly; full of dry pine needles from the trees above me. They lie all around stacked neatly and all pointing in the same direction; stacked like tiny dried-out souls. And every time I turn the shovel over the earth tries to float up and away, refusing to take part in my crime. Her face floats to the surface of the dirt. With the life mashed out of it; an obscenity in purple; stamped with a pound hammer. Left eye socket crushed, left eye missing, dark bloody hair stuck down over the hole. An odd reprisal of her once vogue style. You do look odd I say to her, half expecting the right eye to open in positive acknowledgement. Which, of course, it doesn’t.
It’s a peculiar feeling. Common sense urges us to think about murder in a certain way: I imagine having committed a crime and then imagine I’d feel all cut-up about it. That imagined guilt prevents the majority from slipping into homicide or similarly frowned upon acts. I was going to say criminal acts but remember that it’s only criminal in the particular light of our history. Blame someone two thousand years ago, whoever put it all together, and then the rest that let it stew and simmer for the next couple thousand years, until murder exists only on a piece of paper in a lawyer’s hand. Beating a woman with a lump of metal and watching bits fall off is another matter altogether.
More dirt slips off the dainty left foot. I don’t feel the guilt. A light wind stirs up the tree tops as I get to shoveling with a passion. I look around every now and then to make sure no-one’s crept up behind a tree; to put a gun to my head; to tell me to get fetal in the hole, or maybe to creep off and creep back with a plane-load of enthusiastic police. This is real? I put down the shovel to lean in the car. Gonna lift your mood no-matter what you’re into. Say hello to your new son, in a magic world! I just can’t help but rest both hands on the shovel and sway from side to side. I sing along as best I can, trying hard to make it come out like I don’t care, when really I worry more about the people behind the trees realizing I can’t sing than realizing I nearly finished burying somebody’s daughter who once got a doll with blonde hair for a present, and was really happy. This may be the most profound moment in our lives, I say. Every moment’s built to last in a magic world!
How much further are we going? The steering wheel sways gently side to side in time with the music. We pass along gravel-covered single-track, skirting the edge of the trees. Nearly there. I thought a walk in the woods would be nice, for a change. She says nothing. Stares straight ahead into the distance. The ground’s bone-dry and dusty. The car leaves a faint trail in the air. Around a gentle curve and the track starts under the trees. I’ve never been here before, she says, turning towards me. I glance and catch her eye. For a split second I’m her Father. The car lurches involuntarily and we look ahead of us. The track makes a slight upward incline and disappears from sight. I’ll stop at the next clearing. We can eat lunch and catch some sun through the trees.
Fucking skull. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck . You. Fuck .. you. Fuck … you. Fuck …. you. Fuck ….. you. Fuck …… you. Fuck ……. you. Fuck …….. you fuck ……… you. You fuck ………. you’ll fucking crack you bitch. She crawls away best she can. The hammer falls again on her head; her back. I kick her in the ass and she plops forward with the arms collapsed under her chin. I shouldn’t say ass. I shouldn’t be killing. I don’t know why she’s dying. Her ass still sticks up in the air in a provocative way, but I’m having none of it and kick her onto her left side. You were always gonna die, you know that don’t you? Yes of course; I knew. Well, part of me knew. She sits up and brushes the dirt leaves off her tee-shirt. Sits with knees hunched up, but in a relaxed way. How do you think it’s going? I ask. She screws her face up a little and pauses. Sucks some long air through pursed lips. Well, to be honest, it’s a bit labored. Bringing me up here and all that. Could have just strangled me from behind in the garage, or just stabbed me.
Some time ago I watched a lady give my dog away: a biter. He would bite on command if I asked. One day the dog was tied up in the back yard with a length of rope. A man came to get him. Knocked on the door. Went round the back and asked the lady why he was tied up at the same time as untying him. Dog bit his left arm. The lady said, That’s why he’s tied up. But the man took him anyway. The hammer got back to work on the left eye socket. I can’t go blaming the dog so let’s get this piece over with and move on. Okay. Okay; stay cool. Let me lie down so you can get my eye again. Skip it! I reply. Don’t knock it. It’s all-right! The food is okay once in a while. Anyway. Fuck the profanity. No. Fuck the profundity. That’s right. Let’s get back to the killing! Do you want some sexual enhancement? She looks at me with a lop sided left-sided grin probably caused by some mashed trigeminal nerve or other. I consider it. Nope! Hammer makes a punch-drunk nose splash in all directions.
I knew this couple once. Lived opposite me in a really nice little courtyard of small apartments. When I say ‘knew’ what I mean is I saw him come and go occasionally, and her through the kitchen window. Anyway. After a few months I come in during midday; really hot. The woman’s there in the doorway to her apartment wearing just a bikini. I get turned on, but what really strikes me is that in all the months I’d been there I never really saw them at all. And one day here’s this woman in a bikini and I realize she’s got a plump but good figure. So I derive a conclusion. I derived a conclusion and came up with agoraphobia: she’s agoraphobic, stays in the house all day, smokes often and only exists from time to time. Well. Later the same day a miracle happens. I’m outside my house, taking in the late-sun, when a car pulls up. Out hops the guy. A couple seconds later, out hops the woman; looking good in a printed cotton sarong, same bikini top and a pair of shades on her forehead. She’s smiling. She’s happy. She’s been out for the afternoon: she’s not agoraphobic. Just shows how wrong you can be. Her heart stops, at last, and now I can get to grieving. Up above, a pair of buzzards circle on the air high over the clearing and they cry out to the world. It’s the most amazing thing.
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