Damnedest Thing

Oct 11, 2016 by


We’d like to welcome Jessica Conoley to Old 67.  Jessica was raised on 80’s action films, Jem and the Holograms, X-Men, and big-brother mandated Star-Wars. Decades later she started writing fantasy novels, flash fiction, and essays. In 2012, she became the Managing Editor of Kansas City Voices arts and literary magazine. Get a free sneak peek of her work at http://jessicaconoley.com/


“You brought a shovel?” Sal asks.

I nod and reach over the truck’s bedside to unearth the tool.  The handle is worn and clods of black earth cling to it from its last use.  There’s a bit of rust where the blade meets the handle, but for this, it’ll work.

Sal holds out his hand, and I pass it over to him.

“Pretty rocky.  Any chance you’ve got a pick ax in there?”

I step on the rear wheel to get a better look in the bed. On our long drive,over sharp curves, the ax slipped to the other side of the canvas-covered mound in the center of the truck’s bed.  I walk around to the driver’s side and pull the ax out.  It’s well worn—hell, it’s older than me and Sal put together.  But good solid metal that’ll work for what we’re doing.

“Don’t know why I bother asking.  You’ve always got everything.  Were you one of those Boy Scouts?”

I shake my head as I follow him into a clearing.  We both turn around sizing up the place.  A small stream gurgles nearby but thick grass keeps it from view.  About half a mile up, a gigantic willow tree sways against the late afternoon sun. Fresh air tinted with clover and wildflowers fills our lungs, and I head toward the tree.  Sal follows.

At the base of the willow I clear rocks, and Sal begins digging with a slow rhythmic pace.  The shovel clanks against a rock every now and then.  I go in with the ax and we begin again.  After fifteen minutes we trade off.  Sal rests while I work to widen the hole.

“Wish we would have brought some water.  You think we could drink from that stream?”

I peer out of the hole at him, my eyebrows arched,expression doubtful.

“I know.  It’s probably full of chemicals from that damn chicken factory.  I just wish we would have remembered some water.”

I wipe my brow and reach for the ax, dislodging a rock before I go back for the shovel.  The afternoon shadows have grown long, and the willow tree whispers as the wind picks up.

“Let me have at it.”  Sal jumps in the hole.  It’s up to his waist by now.  He digs for another half an hour or so.  “That’ll do.  Don’t you think?”

I nod.  We leave the tools by the hole and head back to the truck.  The tailgate creaks down with a pop, and we both stare at the canvas-covered shape on top of a piece of plywood.  We grab and pull—balancing the load between us.

“It’s going to be a long haul over there.”

I start walking toward the tree in response, forcing Sal to come with me.  Our pace is slow and deliberate as we focus on keeping the plywood level with its load safe between us.

At the base of the tree we lower the mound.

“You want the tarp?” Sal makes a motion to grab it for me. Shaking my head, I shovel in a scoop of the loose dirt. The clods rain against the canvas with soft thumps.

By the time we’re done, the faintest edge of pink creeps up from the horizon.  I look at Sal and say, “Damnedest thing, isn’t it?  How diggin’ a hole can take your mind off things.”

Sal nods.  We gather our tools and leave.

Related Posts

Share This

468 ad

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.