Creative

Talkers and Doers

The birds weren’t singing; the sun wasn’t shining. The sound of a shovel striking the dirt in the woods would have echoed throughout the forest had the sound not been swallowed up by the clusters of withered trunks. There wasn’t a living tree in sight, and the sun bore down on the dead ones as their wretched limbs twisted toward the sky.

One boy stood in a hole, gripping his shovel with white knuckles and pursed lips. His overalls were covered in dirt and mud, and his left shoulder strap was frayed at the end. Another boy sat in his pristine overalls just beyond the hole, leaning on a shovel that shone in whatever light the sun had left to offer that evening. Next to them lay an eternally still thing, wrapped in a tarp.

“Rex ain’t never hurt nobody. He was a good dog,” the boy with the clean clothes said, tears welling in his eyes. “Pa don’t understand that. He don’t understand any of this. If it were up to him, we’d toss ‘ol Rex in the dumpster. It ain’t right. Even dogs need graves.”

The boy in the hole kept digging.

“Rex deserves the best ‘n all, you know I believe it,” he shifted his attention to the boy in the hole, leaning on his shovel, “But why we diggin’ such a big hole? Don’t matter if he’s two feet underground or ten feet. Only reason you’d wanna dig so deep is if it were fixin’ to rain like you keep sayin’, and the water would wash ‘im away ‘fore the bugs would. I don’t care how long you go on about it, it ain’t gonna rain. Been drier than the Suhanda Desert ‘round here.”

The other boy said nothing. He slammed a foot into the back of the shovel, piercing the hard, dry dirt. He searched for any rock or root that might get in his way.

The clean boy hopped off his log and began to pace.

“It just ain’t fair– we wouldn’t have to be diggin’ out this far if Pa even cared. And you know what? He oughta be the one diggin’. Might as well been him that killed the pup, not takin’ him to the vet n’ all.”

The boy in the hole struck a rock. He wiggled the shovel’s blade underneath it and, gritting his teeth, hoisted it upward and out of the clutches of the barren earth.

“Careful, you dig too deep you might never come out.” The boy outside the hole teased, though his voice was still heavy. His companion scrambled out of the hole, knelt before the tarp, whispered a few words, then heaved it into the hole. Both boys paused for a moment, eyes fixed on the body in the tarp, and then the one began to shovel again, this time filling it back up.

With the final heave of dirt, the boy with mud and dust caked onto his clothes yanked his hand back in pain, though his lips remained sealed. He opened his palm to reveal the flap of a callous that had ripped off, now hanging by a meager thread of skin.

“You alright?” said the boy with the shining shovel, but before the other boy responded: “Lazy-ass old man coulda’ done this in five minutes. And he pretends to care about his ‘ol Rex, while we’re out here diggin’ and giving our sweat, blood, n’ tears.”

The boy in the hole dropped his shovel to the ground where it blended right in with the bone-dry soil. He stared solemnly at the newly fashioned grave, and then he looked to the sky. Drops of water splashed on their faces, and the drops soon turned into a consistent fall of light rain. The earth that covered the hole drank it up and began to darken with its wetness.

The boy patted his overalls down, knocking off the largest chunks of mud. Grimacing, he ripped the loose callous off his hand and picked up his shovel; as he began to walk homeward, he muttered under his breath.

“I told you it was fixin’ to rain.”

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Mason
Member
Mason

Well, seeing as how I have dug the hole, to bury our last GSD in, I can relate with the dirty jeans, and torn callus. We do indeed owe it to our furry friends, to lay them proper ourselves. I like the doer, because he did what was needed.

georgehand
Member

That story was crazy good. I immediately jumped a few paras up from the ending and reread.

Dude… “the Suhanda Desert” slayed me!

geo sends

rynosbucket
Member
rynosbucket

Yeah, huh.?. 🙂

Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

Love it Luke! There sure are far to many talkers out there today. I loved the way your story reflected that message.

Joni Smith
Guest
Joni Smith

Great story, Luke. Lots of sides to it. I confess when it comes to losing an animal I have been both a talker and a doer. A few times I was too broken-hearted to take the steps for the final ending. But a few times I’ve had to make the tough call and also dug the hole. Grief occurred regardless.

Miche
Member
Miche

The boy with the clean clothes and shiny shovel sounds like he’s fixin’ to be a chip off the old block.

I just finished reading Junger’s Tribe; at the end, there’s a quote in there about doing things for others so that you don’t feel empty inside. I like the quiet doers, often working behind the scenes, who do things because they can without fussing over whether they get dirty or get credit or get something in return.

rynosbucket
Member
rynosbucket

Choked me up on a lot of levels, this one did…

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