a VERY short piece

October 20, 2008 at 8:46 pm (Fiction) (, , , , , , )

Here’s something I wrote on my flight to London back in 2003. I was reading Faulkner’s “Intruder in the Dusk” for a second time and wanted to see if I could pick up on his style. It’s not that long, so you have no excuse to not read it.

His grandfather had dug graves long before backhoes, in a time where your casket was a box solely; handles, yes, but still a box: no velvet, no padding for the comfort of the living who had to see you lying on hard wood, thinking, “Well, that can’t be comfortable,” and lowered by ropes with strained effort to keep it level, lest it should tilt and the body shift, inertia and gravity taking control and bringing the box to a crash six feet below and even people who didn’t believe in padding would think, “Well, that can’t be comfortable.” It was never six feet, of course, because his grandfather himself had stood six feet tall before age had robbed him of a few inches, time and gravity pushing down on his vertebrates, and he and his partner, James, who kept a flask of bourbon in the back, left pocket of his overalls to help “keep him warm” even though the task of digging into the hard North Carolina red clay should have and in fact actually did keep him warm enough, would dig until his grandfather, standing up straight, was just barely looking out over the concrete slab pocked lawn, eyes at ground level. So all of the graves in the Broad River Baptist Church cemetery were just inches shy of six feet, but of course no one ever noticed, or would have cared if they had noticed. But, at the age of seventy, those days were long gone. It was almost twenty years since he had worked in the green lawn covered by flowers put there not by God, but by man to pacify the fact that flowers had never been bought for the loved one when alive, and he was very aware of the fact that the next fresh grave he got himself into he would not be climbing out of. Now there were not only backhoes that dug perfectly six feet deep holes, not a few inches shy or a few inches over, but also machines attached to synthetic-fiber straps that slowly, levelly lowered the wardrobe-sized box that only held one suit, one dress, to the final but oh-so-comfortable rest, a rest better than the hospital bed the occupant had slept in only three nights before had ever been able to offer. The comfortable box was only used once though; it was built, it sat, it was loaded, it was lowered. No previous occupation, and, save keeping elements of the underground from doing exactly what it was Man put the body into the ground for: decomposition, it would have no other occupation ever again.

Yeah, it’s a bit of a confusing read, but I love Faulkner and love wandering through his stories.

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