Posted by: victanguera | August 30, 2009

Exercise #56

Harold received a complex map of Ross Bay Cemetery when he started his job as caretaker. The Old Cemetery Society handed it to him even before they gave him the key to the shed where the lawnmower and rakes were kept. He expected disorder within the grounds, it’s why he applied here for the job.

He just hadn’t expected quite this large an amount of disorder. Graves sprawled everywhere, in random order. A few paths meandered randomly between larger sections, marked in different colours on the map.

Walking through the graveyard that first day, he couldn’t find anything. He supposed for a place this old, with no new burials, it probably didn’t matter. But it upset his need for order. The tombstones should line up in neat rows, not sprawl randomly across the grass. Some even jutted at strange angles at the base of large trees, shamefully neglected.

Unable to stand the disrespect for the dead, Harold decided he had to do something about the disorder. He could picture the neat rows, well trimmed, immaculate lawn and glistening tombstones. He knew enough this time to start small, somewhere the Cemetery Society wouldn’t notice.

That night, he took his tools to the veteran’s section, with its neat rows, and pretty flowers. And nothing in alphabetical order. Carefully digging out markers, he worked through the night rearranging them along one line. As a pink line broke across the water, he placed his hands against his back, stretching his aching muscles. Harold hadn’t accomplished much, only six markers rearranged, but he smiled in satisfaction. After some sleep, he would work on the remainder of the A’s, maybe get a nice solid start on the B’s.

A phone call in the middle of the afternoon disturbed his sleep.

“Someone has been digging up graves and rearranging them,” the panicked voice on the other end of the phone said. “Did you see anything?”

Harold claimed that everything looked fine the last time he’d mowed the grass. It didn’t take much to agree to keep watch for anyone disturbing things. After all, he wasn’t likely to turn himself in.

What he didn’t count on was the extra person they hired when he finished with the B’s and started on the C’s. For three weeks, Harold couldn’t do anything. Unfortunately, there wouldn’t be a later, either. At least not here.

Packing his suitcase and shovel, he headed to the next community.

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