This is for A Night in a Graveyard and Other Stories of Immortality. I’m sharing more today, but it is still just a start.
Lindy Tremaine dug graves. She operated the backhoe and drove the dump truck. She dug small graves for cremations and infants when necessary. Sometimes, Kap helped, but he liked to keep busy in the office, filling in forms and holding the hands of mourners. He was far better at letting people cry than operating heavy machinery.
Lake Belle had two cemeteries, and most people preferred the other, grander, well-trimmed cemetery across town, Bright Belle Memorial Park. They had a full staff available and a sleek coffee maker in their welcome office. The Night Path Cemetery didn’t compare. They buried the homeless and the patients from the nearby asylum. They buried prisoners and the Jane and John Does. In truth they didn’t have many funerals, and Lindy spent most of her time pulling weeds and cutting grass. She worked the crematorium and fixed whatever needed fixing. The toilets needed new parts or a bit of jiggery-pokery at least once a week and the sprinkler system demanded constant tweaking. She kept busy and she kept her distance from the mourners as best she could.
Tears unsettled her as much as false cheer. She didn’t mind the questions a few visitors dared ask. A favorite question was if she’d ever seen a ghost. “Of course,” she’d say. “All the time. We have tea at midnight and make fun of the living.”
On this lovely spring late afternoon, Lindy sat on a concrete bench overlooking the front half of the cemetery. A funeral was scheduled for the next day and she’d finished setting up the tent over the grave. She was proud of her day’s work. Undoubtedly the family wouldn’t notice the perfection of the grave’s dimensions, but they had more important things on their minds.
Kap would wander by soon to inspect her work. She smirked at the thought. They both knew she did excellent work, better than even the specially trained gravediggers at Bright Belle with their newer, shiner equipment. He’d stand by the gravesite and pretend to know what he was looking for. He’d nod seriously and tell her, “A plus, Tremaine.” Possibly he’d check to make sure no dirt smudge the shine of his shoes. Then he’d ask her if she wanted to go get a beer.
Lindy wondered who was being buried. She hadn’t looked closely at the file. Her job didn’t require names. The lowering sun coated the cemetery like gold, her favorite light of the day.
What did it take to talk to ghosts? Did anyone ever manage it? What could the dead possibly say? If heaven existed, and she didn’t believe it did, surely ghosts spent too much time doing heavenly things to be bothered gossiping with the living. If heaven didn’t exist, what did ghost have to talk about? The insides of caskets or the ability to walk through walls? This struck Lindy as poor material for a long conversation.
Her phone vibrated. Kap. “Yeah?”
“There’s a gentleman here in the office,” Kap said.
Lindy nodded, studying the shadows stretching out behind the tombstones. “And?”
“Says he’s a professor and he needs our help with some research.”
A cloud of starlings wavered overhead, greeting the end of the day. “And?”
“Says he and his students study the paranormal. They want to set up here for the night. Film what happens. You know the drill.”
She did. Every so often, someone came along asking to spend the night in the cemetery. Bright Belle always said no. Lindy appreciated being asked. It was better than the kids who snuck in on dares and beer, littering and damaging angels. She and Kap liked to say yes. It made them feel as if they were thumbing their noses at Bight Belle’s protocols and policies. “Fine,” she said, wondering if Kap would make this professor sign the waiver. There was no official waiver. Kap had made one of his own on the computer. Forms helped him justify his suit and slightly higher pay.
“And?” she asked.
“He’d like one of us to stay with them, him and his students. Just to keep an eye on things and be, you know, an impartial witness.”
Lindy waited, but Kap said nothing else. “And you want me to be the one to stay?” she finally asked.
“Well…I’ve sort of got a date tonight.”
She sat upright. “You? You’ve got a date?” Who? Her mind raced to think of someone, but she came up blank. But it was not the sort of thing he’d lie about. He’d think he was jinxing himself to lie.
“It’s no big deal really. I was going to tell you, but… yeah. And anyway, you’re way more outdoorsy than me, right? You know the grounds and all.”
“Yeah, sure.” She stood up. “I’m on my way to the office. Hey, you told the professor about the service we got tomorrow.” She headed up the hill to the main path. “The family isn’t going to want students all over the place.”
“Yeah, yeah. He understands. He promises they won’t even know they’re there. They’ll be like ghosts.”
“Ha. Very funny.” She hung up the phone and shoved in her back pocket. Maybe this group knew what it was doing. Maybe this time, she’d see a real ghost.
Thanks for reading! And keep writing if that’s what you do.