Burning Bright: Stories

Burning Bright: Stories by Ron Rash Read Free Book Online

Book: Burning Bright: Stories by Ron Rash Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ron Rash
shovel and scoop what I’ve loosed on the grass.
    “People will know it’s been dug,” I say, pausing to gain back my breath.
    And that’s a new thought for me, because somehow up to now I’d had it figured if they didn’t catch us in the graveyard we’d be home free. But two big holes are bound to have the law looking for those that dug them.
    “And we’ll be long gone when they do,” Wesley says.
    “You’re not worried about it?” I say, because all of a sudden I am. Somebody could see the truck coming or going. We could drop something and in the dark not even know we’d left it behind.
    “No,” Wesley says. “The law will figure it for some of them voodoo devil worshippers. They’ll not think to trouble upstanding citizens like us about it.”
    Wesley flares his lighter and lights another cigarette.
    “We best get back to it,” he says, nodding at the pickax in my hand.
    “Don’t seem to be no we to it,” I say.
    “Like I said, I’ll spell you directly.”
    But directly turns out to be a long time. When I’m up to my chest I know I’m a good four feet down and he still hasn’t got off his ass. I’m pouring sweat and raising crop rows of blisters on my palms. I’m about to tellWesley that I’ve dug four feet and he can at least dig two when the pickax strikes wood. A big splinter of it comes up, and it’s cedar, which I always heard was the least likely wood to rot. I ponder a few moments why that grave’s not a full six foot deep and then remember the date on the stone. Late January the ground would have been hard as iron. It would have been easy to figure four foot would do the job well enough.
    “Hit it,” I say.
    Wesley gets up then.
    “Dig some around it so we got room to get it open.”
    I do what he tells me, clearing a good foot to one side.
    “I’ll take over for you,” he says, and crawls into the hole with me. “Probably be easier if you was to get out,” he adds, picking up the shovel, but I ain’t about to because I wouldn’t put it past him to slip whatever he finds into his pocket.
    “I wouldn’t be one to try and hide something from you,” Wesley says, which only tells me that’s exactly what he was pondering.
    We wedge ourselves sideways like we’re on a cliff edge to get off the coffin. Then Wesley takes the shovel and pries open the lid.
    The moon can’t settle its light into the hole as easy as on level ground so it’s hard to see clear at first. There’sa silk shirt you can tell even now was white and a belt and its buckle and some moldy old shoes, but what once filled the shoes and shirt looks to be little more than the wind that blusters a shirt on a clothesline. Wesley lifts the garment with his shovel tip and some dust and bones the color of dried bamboo spill out. He throws his shovel out of the hole and flicks his lighter. Wesley holds the lighter close to the belt buckle. There’s rust on it, but you can make out C S stamped on the metal, not CSA. Wesley lifts the buckle and pulls off what little is left of the belt.
    “It’s a good one,” he says, “but not near the best.”
    “How much you reckon it’s worth?”
    “A thousand at most,” Wesley says after giving it a good eyeballing.
    I figure the real price to be double that, but I’ll be there when the bartering gets done so there’s no need to argue now. Wesley grunts and gets on his knees to sift through the shirt, even checking inside what’s left of the shoes.
    “Ain’t nothing else,” he says, and stands up.
    I lift myself from the hole but it’s not as easy for Wesley. Though the hole’s only four foot he’s not able to haul himself out. He gets halfway then slides back, panting like a hound.
    “I’ll need your hand,” he says. “I ain’t no string bean like you.”
    I give him a tug and Wesley wallows out, dirt crumbs all over his shirt and pants. He puts the buckle in the pillow sheet and knots it.
    “The other one’s down that way,” Wesley says, and nods

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