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The Bodies

Charlie picked up his shovel, handed Ralph his aged, blue, BIC lighter and dropped the first of many shovels of red dirt into the three by six hole in the ground. “Prepare for the long haul, my boy,” he growled, as ash from his clove fell onto the front of his bright red puffer jacket, just above the mangled plastic security tag. Contrasting the boy, Charlie’s hands worked diligently and methodically filling the emptiness below him. “Ya always sayin’ it’s easier when ya git someone else doin’ the dirty work. Ain’t it smart to just leave ‘em?” begged Ralph, with a droopiness to his eyes and an apathetic tone in his voice. Charlie sighed, blowing out the untrimmed hairs of his mustache with a mixture of smoke and whiskey scented breath condensation. “You got us into this mess Ralphie, you’re not getting out of it that easily.” he said with an exhausted contempt. By the light of the dim, dusty, Coleman lantern, Ralph studied Charlie as if he were something otherworldly, contemplating how a man that large never seemed to run out of breath before Ralph himself, contemplating whether Charlie’s affection would eventually wear thin if after that night Ralph made yet another detrimental mistake. Charlie felt sympathy for the boy, and helped to clean up mess after mess, time and time again. But tonight, in the crisp Arizona night, Charlie felt a feeling he had yet to feel and would never feel again until the moment of his death: regret. As if on cue, Charlie felt a cold breeze blow past him, strong enough to have tousled any hair that might have been a top his round head, had there been any. Did he regret creating the boy in the bed of a Ford Pickup all those years ago? Or helping him out of more than a few dangerous and unfortunate situations with no regard for his own life or safety? Or did he feel he was lackluster as a father and should’ve been there for Ralph in ways he hadn’t been? What seemed like minutes, but was actually a couple hours, went by in silence as the two shoveled and Charlie reflected on his past. Charlie’s thoughts were starkly interrupted by his Motorola flip phone when it vibrated in his pocket, shocking him back to reality and shoving any potential conclusion down to the deepest and darkest corner of his mind. “Is you gonna get that?” asked Ralph, looking around frantically and suddenly aware of the previous silence. “She-Devil,” read the dark letters from the bright blue light that illuminated the chin stubble and usually undetectable grease burn scars on the side of Charlie’s face. After a quick glance, he decided to send the call to voicemail. “Just a wrong number,” Charlie assured, “no one’s gonna find out.” Ralph dumped yet another pile of dirt into the hole with a sigh of relief. Ralph knew Charlie was lying but he found that over the years it was best to be blissfully ignorant than to question his father. The constant ringing in his right ear reminded him it was especially stupid to question him on a night he’s been drinking. Charlie grabbed his shovel with his left hand and dug his torn, dirty fingernails into the wooden handle. “Ralphie my boy, we’re in the home stretch now.” he said with a sudden burst of determination. Within minutes, the last of the hole was filled and the two dropped their shovels in success. They packed up their few belongings and headed towards the old rusty van, and for Charlie, he moved with confidence in his steps and victory in his thoughts. As the black duffle was tossed into the back of the van, sirens and lights appeared seemingly out of nowhere and Charlie shouted to his son, “Run!” He watched as his only son took off into the woods, uncertain of his boy’s future and scared beyond belief, he mustered up some false confidence as he pulled a metal baseball bat out of his backseat. He shouted triumphantly to the police, “Come an get me boys!” But the second that Ralph was out of sight, Charlie ceased his swinging and kneeled on the pavement with his hands in the air, accepting defeat. Ralphie boy was all that mattered; Ralphie boy was safe; Ralphie boy knew his father went down swinging.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Drama, Fiction, Mystery/Thriller