Bewildering Stories

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Three Midnights in the Peaceful Garden

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

In the Peaceful Garden

It was a quiet, moonlit night in the cemetery. The slow wind was slowly blowing leaves between the few trees growing between the well kept graves, and the moon was reflected off the dead-calm surface of sea just down the hill. A lone cat sneaked between the stones and crosses, looking for a mouse.

A pickup truck broke the calm with it’s soft engine hum. It moved slowly by the cemetery paths, coming to a stop at the most recent grave. The engine stopped, and two men stepped out. They each took a shovel from the back of the pickup, and started digging.

“Hey; Eddie.”
“Yes Bob?”
“Who’s this we’re digging up now?”
“Look at the cross; it says: ‘Here lies Sam Tobes’. Stop thinking about it, and dig.”

They dig down to the coffin.

“Wow. Redwood.” Says Bob. “No wonder you want it back.”
“Yeah. Expensive too. It is amazing what people are willing to spend on a nice coffin. Like it matters any to the dead. They’re DEAD! What do they care?”

They open it up, and Sam Tobes appears to them. He’s dead.

“Is that Armani?”
“No. Boss. I’m sure. And grab the watch.”

They remove the watch, the clothes and the coffin, and dump the earthly remains of Sam Tobes into the grave. After shoveling the dirt back into the hole, they tidy up the surroundings and put the roses and tulips back on the grave where they were. Everything looks as it was, except the mound is slightly lower. Nobody will mind tomorrow, as it is common knowledge that earth needs time to settle after digging.

Robert’s funeral home is visited five days later, by a young man. It seems his mother has passed, and he wants a nice funeral for her. “No problem” says Robert, and shows the young man a nice redwood coffin he can get at a bargain price.

After the Flesh is Abandoned by Spirit

The moon is overcast, but still delivers some light down to the cemetery grounds, where our cat is still prowling between the stones and crosses. Not a leaf is stirred.

The cat hides as the pickup appears as it always does. The pickup heads down the paths towards the most recent grave, where it again stops, and the two men exit.

The men grab the shovels and start digging.

“Are you sure it’s okay?” asks Eddie.
“Yes,” answers Bob.

They reach the coffin, and open it up.

“Wow. Who is that?” exclaims Eddie.
“Was, Eddie. Was. And keep it low, there are people living near by.”
“Okay. Who WAS that?”
“That was John Zonder, the boxer who died last week.”
“He’s big. I don’t think I’ll be able to sell his suit.”
“He’s got a Rolex.”
“Okay. Now you have to help me get him out of the coffin before you... do your thing.”

John the boxer is lifted from the coffin, and the coffin is lifted on the bed of the pickup and hidden under a sheet of plastic. Eddie goes down into the hole with a plastic bag and a big knife.

“Thanks again, Bob. My niece is going to be so happy when I bring her this. You wouldn’t believe the price of meat these days!”

John the boxer won’t need his thighs in the afterlife.

The Most Macabre of All Crimes

The thick fog obscures the stars and the sea, the waning moon offers little light, but our friend the cat still prowls the cemetery grounds, in his lifelong search for prey.

The pickup arrives, again headed to the freshest grave. As it comes to a halt, the two men exit, grab a shovel each and start digging.

It’s the grave of one Sara Birk, and her grave is expected to yield a treasure trove of diamonds and pearls, not to mention the coffin itself, expensive redwood.

The two men dig silently for a while. The earth is wet and soggy, prone to fall back in, but they do their job, knowing that their prize is well worth the effort. It looks like it is going to rain as they reach the sixth foot.

As they see they have dug far enough, it becomes clear that a most foul crime has been committed upon them. A macabre, grotesque doing has been perpetrated right there, in Bob’s own graveyard. The most sinful of thievery! Who would have known?

“Eddie.” Bob says, as he notices what evil has occurred, “I believe someone has stolen the coffin.”

And they must fill in the hole, and return to their homes empty-handed. And nobody will find out, especially not the police.

Copyright © 2003 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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