At last he’d managed to steady himself long enough to get his bearings. Slowly he swung back and forth. He could hear the hissing sound much louder now. It had become such a level that the sound had actually become more like a roar. It echoed all around him.
Dustin could feel water in the air dotting his face and soaking his clothes. Swinging the flashlight downward he twisted in his sling to look for the source. It was a waterfall, impossibly large and completely underground. The stream of it fell off a cliff to his side cascading over the edge and down into a large rushing river below. On the banks, there were coffins from the cemetery mixed with oddly shaped rocks that he soon came to realize were dinosaur bones. Slowly, he steadied the beam onto the enormous skull of a tyrannosaurus rex. I regarded him with vacant eyeholes and still sharp teeth.
Over the din of noise from the waterfall his partner yelled down to him once more. “Do you see that dude yet?”
“No.” Dustin said as he played the light slowly across the banks underneath. There were hundreds of ancient skulls, bones, and teeth scattered all about from creatures that had been extinct for millions of years.
“Snakes?” Steve asked.
“No.” Dustin repeated. “Dinosaurs.”
“Dinosaurs?” Steve asked.
“Yeah.” Dustin answered as he allowed his light to trail off into the mist which saturated the cavern. “There’s a waterfall and hundreds of dinosaur bones down here.”
Suddenly he felt himself being pulled up.
Once Dustin had been hoisted close enough to the edge of the hole, Steve jumped down to pull him out. There was an awkward silence as both he and Marcus regarded him. Dustin climbed to his feet and began brushing the dirt off his clothes with the rope still tied around his body.
Steve was the first to speak. “You didn’t find that guy?” He asked seriously.
Dustin shook his head. “I didn’t see him.” Then excitedly he began to tell them what it was that he had seen. There’s a big waterfall down there. It’s probably at least about 40 to 50 feet high. I’ve never seen anything like it!”
“Snakes?” Steve asked.
“No.” Dusting said with notable annoyance. “That hissing sound is the waterfall. There must be over a thousand dinosaur bones all along the banks of its basin!”
“But that gay architect wasn’t down there?”
“I couldn’t find him.” Dustin repeated. “He could have been down there somewhere but it’s just too big to see everything! I don’t think there’s anything on earth like it!”
“I don’t know.” Steve said shaking his head. “Maybe we should call the police.”
“Did you hear me?” Dustin asked incredulously. “There’s a dinosaur graveyard right underneath our feet!”
Steve raised his eyebrows. “That’s pretty cool.” He said without much enthusiasm. “I’ll probably call some kids over from one of the universities to get a look at them before we fill this hole back in. I’m just worried about that fella who fell in there right now.”
“You’re not going to be able to fill this hole back in ever!” Dustin scoffed. “From what I was able to see, it’ll take years to categorize everything. Not only that, but there’s also a waterfall down there that is the biggest one I’ve ever seen before. People are going to want to get a look at those things!”
“I’m sure it’s a sight!” Steve said, pacing over to the edge and looking down. “I’d like to see it myself but I’m not about to turn my daddy’s graveyard into some roadside tourist attraction. Once we find that guy and get all of the coffins back in place we’re filling this in.”
“That’s insane.” Dustin spat. “They won’t let you.”
“It’s been buried for millions of years and nobodies ever worried about it.” His partner chided. “Ain’t nobody going to care if I seal it off and put these bodies back to where they belong.”
“Look.” Dustin said taking off the rope. “As soon as you call people to go look for Mr. Perez they’re going to know what you’re sitting on here and they’re going to make you keep it open.”
Steve turned to look at him. “Then maybe we don’t call anyone?” He said, sounding unsure of himself. “It not our fault that the guy fell in, right? You even told him to get out of the hole.”
“What?” Dustin asked, his demeanor suddenly turning serious.
“Now I’m really worried about that dude who fell in.” His partner said defensively. “Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t know if I want things to go changing up around here. I mean, we’re good at what we do, and we’ve worked pretty hard to make this place a good place to be buried in. I’m not really a big fan of losing all of that.”
“You’re crazy.” Dustin muttered stepping away. “Even if you don’t call anyone the work crew is going to discover it.”
Steve turned shielding his eyes from the sun to face Marcus. “You’ve got a cousin who does this sort of work don’t you?”
Once more Marcus nodded. “He don’t have a green card yet but he’s working on it. He can do grading work and whatever else needs to be done.”
“He need the business?” Steve shot back.
“And he won’t say anything?”
Steve’s face was one of grim determination. “Well, tell your cousin that I’ll pay him the going rate.” After a moment he added. “Tell him that I’ll call immigration on his ass if he tells anyone what’s underneath here.”
Dustin thought about what was happening. If they didn’t call anyone there was no red tape, nothing to explain and nothing to be an official witness to. The funeral business would go on forever and the cave and dinosaurs beneath it would remain hidden and forgotten. Mr. Perez would likely be dead and sealed beneath the body of his mother which, in a way would be fulfilling his true wishes. It would only be murder, Dustin reasoned if the fall hadn’t already killed him.
If they did call people, there would be an investigation and then the academics would move in to do their work and seal off the entire hill for inspection. After seeing the cavern which lied below Dustin had no doubt that the place would become an attraction. He could imagine Steve becoming like a carnival barker selling tickets and charging fees for people just to get a look at it. To Dustin, it seemed like a lucrative future but also one which would be considerably more taxing to his partner than the life that he now enjoyed.
Steve wouldn’t do well mingling with the public. He was affable enough but the stress of interacting with people would ultimately get to him and he’d likely return to his former ways. Steve had once confessed to Dustin that part of what had led him down the path to addiction was the stress he felt at taking over his father’s business. He just couldn’t look people in the eye who were undergoing hurt and loss and tell them what they had to do to get through it. For Dustin, it was easy. He saw everyone as being hurt, and lost and a dangerous force to be reckoned with.
Now Dustin was going to leave. He’d reconciled his intended actions in his head and there was no going back. He felt that Steve could manage on his own until he found someone new to be the funeral director but what would happen if everything changed?
“I can’t be a part of this.” Dustin said climbing up to a standing position on the grass next to Marcus. “You do what you need to Steve.”
Steve turned back to the hole and nodded. “I just don’t want anything to change.” He said.