Chapter 19

Dustin could hear the commotion even before he could see the crack.  He’d left the woman out in front of the funeral home, promising that he’d return as soon as he finished helping Steve.  As he walked out towards the hillside he thought about her hair and eyes.  Comming within earshot of the scene, he began to wish that he’d stayed behind with her at the table.  She was so beautiful.

Mother!  The man cried.

Get your ass out of there!  Marcus shouted.

Come on dude, this is just embarrassing.  Steve called.

Cresting over a small rise in the land Dustin could finally see the three of them.  Steve and Marcus stood at the edge of the fissure both looking down at the man below.  A portion of the bright orange barrier that Juan had spread around it had been torn aside and the tarp thrown back.  Marcus had his fist balled up before him while Steve stood nearby, his hands in his pants pockets.

Dustin approached them stopping on the other side of the crack.  “What’s up?”  He asked.

Steve looked up.  “This guy drove out of here like he was leaving and then tore back inside.”  He said sounding embarrassed.  “Sorry man but I really thought he’d left.”

Mother!  The man wailed again.  He was standing at the edge of where the crack dropped off into nothingness.  As he sobbed he cradled the head of an older woman from where she lay in her casket.  It was the same lady that Dustin had been looking at when he’d gotten the second call from the mysterious stranger who was trapped in his bedroom.

“Get the hell out of that hole man!”  Marcus shouted from the edge.  “I swear to God if I have to come down there I’m going to punch you so damned hard I’ll break your damned nose.”

“Quiet down Marcus.”  Dustin chided.  “No one’s going to get punched.”

Marcus looked across to where he stood regarding Dustin with a malevolent expression.  “How do you expect to get him out?”  He said angrily.  “This guy, he misses his mom and he’s crazy.” 

From down in the hole the man seemed to second Marcus’s statement.  I miss you mother! He sobbed, stroking back her hair as he did so.  I miss going out for ice cream with you!  I’m never going to leave you again!

Dustin cleared his throat.  “Mr. Perez!”  He shouted down at the man.  “You’ve had your chance to see your mom again so please get out of the hole before someone gets hurt.”

I love you mother.  The architect sniffled.  I wish so bad that you were here with dad and that our family could just go back to the way it was.

Dustin called down again, louder.  “Mr. Perez!  Stop this now!”

Steve shook his head.  “He’s not coming out man.”  He said to Dustin.  “That dude’s in there and he’s in there to stay.”

“Is there any way we can get the cops out here?”  Dustin asked motioning towards the man in the crack.  “Seriously, we need them to help prevent stuff like this from happening.”

Steve shrugged.  “I’ve called them a few times already this morning.”  He said squinting as he regarded Dustin from the other side of the crack.  “They told me that they’ll send people out when they get them freed up.”

Dustin shook his head, pacing nervously along the mouth of the crevice.  “Well we can’t just go down there and force him to get out.” 

“Why not?”  Marcus spat.

“Because that’s not how we’re going to conduct things around here!”  Dustin shot back. 

Just then a helicopter dipped low over where they stood its rotors kicking up dirt and debris.  Together they all shielded their eyes from the sudden blast of wind as it hovered there filming the scene.  Dustin made a motion to wave them away.  As if in response to his gesture, the craft slowly turned sweeping across the field and rising up in the sky as it did so. 

Steve lowered his arm from his face.  “Alright, them copters is starting to annoy me.”  He growled.  “If they do that one more time, I’m thinking of getting my hunting rifle out of the back and taking a few pops at them.”

Dustin sighed.  “You’re not going to shoot at the helicopters Steve.”  He said condescendingly.  “Also, no one is going to punch Mr. Perez in the nose”

Marcus stomped towards Dustin from the side where he stood all the way up to the edge of the hole.  “Than how the hell are we going to get him out of there?”  He barked.

Mother!  The man cried.  You were always so pretty mother!

Dustin looked down at him.  “We don’t.”  He said to Marcus.  “If he wants to stay down there let him.”

“But what if he falls into the hole?”  Steve quipped.  “This dude is definitely hopped up on Valium and God knows what else right now.  I wouldn’t trust him to make me a cup of coffee let alone fondle his momma on the side of a danged crack that goes down deeper than I can see.”

Dustin spread his hands in frustration.  “You let him in here Steve, you figure it out!  I’m sick and tired of having to go behind you cleaning up your mess.”

 “That’s just cruel man!”  Steve said pointing a finger at him.  “You wouldn’t even have this job if it wasn’t for me.”

“You wouldn’t have a successful funeral business if it wasn’t for me!”  Dustin argued.  “You can’t run this place!  You’re a total screw-up Steve!  If it wasn’t for me constantly bailing your ass out around here and making sure that you stay off drugs you’d be nothing but a junkie with a mountain of debt!”

“I never wanted a funeral home!”  Steve yelled back across the fissure.  His face was red and the veins on his temples throbbing.  “I hate being around all of this dead stuff day in and day out. The only thing that keeps me coming back is that my daddy would have wanted me to keep what he did going.”

“That’s the deal though!”  Dustin spat back.  “You don’t do anything that your daddy did.  All you do is plant flowers all day long and make sure that the lawn is watered.”

Steve scoffed raising his chin.  “Hey, you know what?”  He asked rhetorically.  “I’m the dude who brings life to this graveyard.  All that you do is keep putting dead people in it.”

Dustin turned tossing his hands back as he walked away.  “I’m busy Steve.”  He said angrily.  “Just make sure that Mr. Perez doesn’t get himself killed.”

The End

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