The air was crisp, and the sun was bright. The dew on the blades of grass gleamed like diamonds in the early morning sun. Homer Titus, the first to arrive, drove his shovel into the grass, then lit a cigarette. Hearing the slam of Haydon's old pickup, followed by the second slam, as the first one never quite closed the door, Homer turned toward his friend, and co-worker. Homer watched Haydon cut across the grass in his high water pants, big cuffs, shovel over his shoulder, and baseball cap on backwards. "Mornin' Hayd'n" Homer said.
"Back at ya, Hom," Haydon said, digging his shovel into the grass and removing a container of Copenhagen from his bib overalls. "Who we bury in' today, anyone we know?" he asked, stuffing a wad of tobacco in his cheek.
Homer blew out a couple of smoke rings. "Dennis Alfmatter."
"No, shit, that old fart finally kicked off. Someone shoot him?"
Homer spat in the grass. "Don't think so, but they should have twenty years ago. He was a piece of work. You ever have a run in with him?"
"Oh, hell yes. More than once. One time the water level was too high in the domestic water tank, so I lowered the setting. Sometime later Dennis was checking it, and noticed where it was set. He stormed up to me, his face all red, and just stared at me. 'What's the matter with you?' I asked him. He spun around and walked off, then an hour later he came back and said, 'When I change something, you leave it alone.'"
Homer, digging an outline for the grave, asked. "What'd you say?"
"At the time, nothing, I was so stunned. He wasn't my boss or even a lead-man. I had as much right as him to do anything about the water level."
With the grave outline done, both men rolled back the sod and set it aside.
Homer rolling up his sleeves, said. "He jumped me one time, claiming I stole a piece of pie from his lunch bucket. There were eight of us working out of that department, and he decided it was me that took his pie."
Haydon grinned. "It was you, wasn't it?"
Homer laughed. "Yeah, but I blamed it on Shorty. I knew that if Dennis went after Shorty, Shorty would knock his block off. ---Good times,"
The two men dug in silence for a spell, then Haydon said, "Sure wish we had a backhoe to do all this diggin' "
"Not me. They ever buy a backhoe we're out of work."
"Hom, did you know that Dennis was a Big Brother?"
"A big brother to who?"
"The Big Brother organisation. You take in some kid that don't have a dad, and you take the kid to ball games, and stuff."
"Really? Dennis was a Big Brother?" Homer said.
"Yep, and he even got a couple of awards for doing it," Haydon said, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
Homer leaned on his shovel. "Hell, Dennis really wasn't a bad guy, just a little peculiar. He'd always work for me if I had to take some time off."
Haydon nodded, "And he was always the first one to toss in a few bucks if some guy's wife had a baby, or someone was retiring."
"Yeah. He was pretty good that way."
Homer shook his head. "You know, it's always the good guys that die young."
"Dennis," Haydon said to the grave, "We'll miss you buddy."
"Amen to that," said Homer.