I expected to see ravens or crows congregating around disturbed skeletons. But no one was here; even the birds respected the “No Trespassing” sign on the gates. The moon was to be my only candle tonight. My flashlight refused to come to life on my travel. I had cursed the batteries and launched the flashlight into the cement. I enjoyed watching the object morph into fragments.
This is what I came for. I staggered upon it really. I shouldn’t be given much credit for its discovery. Beside the fact that I knew of its existence, I could hardly expect to find it with the limited light of the night. What danced before my eyes was the tombstone of Tabby Davis. She was known for living 375 years in the span of 75 earth years. She did everything. She had been mayor, a judge, a model in her youth, a track coach, ballet instructor, volunteer fire fighter, and most notoriously a drunk.
She had lived 5 lives and her last was to decorate her for eternity. I got closer to read these words, “I could drink my way out of anything and anyplace, except maybe Hell.” I shuddered at that, clutching the flask of whiskey in my left coat pocket. But I didn’t come to sight-see, I came to dig.
The shovel I brought was no bigger than an open fist. As the myth goes, old Tabby Davis was buried with twelve teeth full of gold. Her natural teeth had escaped her mouth, these where just pricy replacements.
If I had kept time during my digging, I’d say it took me two hours just to reach her coffin. By this time I was getting thirsty. I pulled out the flask. I licked my lips tasting imaginary alcohol as my taste buds jumped to life in anticipation. I took a big swig and gurgled it in my throat like mouth rinse before I finally swallowed. I was burned by the bitter aftertaste. I kept digging, finishing off the flask along the way.
The sun was beginning to stretch over the horizon. I finally shoveled enough dirt away to see into the glass casket. Was she a short woman? I thought to myself in silence. There are no remains here! My buzz evaporated.
A dark figure was walking towards me. I would’ve run, but I no longer had the heart. The man’s brown skin absorbed the waking sunlight. He wore a baseball cap that hid his eyes when he looked down. As he got closer he never changed stride.
“What you doin’ youngstuh?”
“I was – I thought I’d find gold,” I said winded.
“Ain’t gone find no gold down there,” said the man in a deep soulful voice. He gave the impression that he was more concerned than judgmental. “Old Tabby Davis ain’t real young flip. ‘Bout as real as that fat white man living on a snow island, flying around with reindeers and climbing down every chimney for some cookies and milk.”
All I could think about was reindeers. I thought reindeer was plural, but I wasn’t confident enough to correct him. I realized that my buzz hadn’t worn off all the way. I found a way to slur, “Fwhy fwould someone fmake her fup?”
The man removed his cap and said, “So young folk like you, with all the potential in the world, won’t throw it all away on some vice like the liquid in that empty flask you got in your left pocket. So kids ol’ think, ‘Wow, she lived all them lives and ruined every last one uh em on liquor.’”
“Uh,” is all I could say. The man nodded and walked away. I would’ve said something else, but we both must have known there was really nothing else to say.
– Eric McCarty (1/28/2012)