The way that Charlie figured it, he and Dennis got paid shit when they buried someone legit at Potter Cemetery. Things didn’t work out the way they should. For a good burial, the funeral home took about ten grand. The cemetery sold their plots for well over two thousand. But Charlie and Dennis got paid ten dollars each, after taxes, for doing about two hours worth of real digging. That was the stuff that burned Charlie the most. They were doing the haul work, making sure that the man went down to his final resting place in a decent, ordered fashion, and they were paid the least. He tried to get Dennis as animated as he was, but Dennis being Dennis, the man was more indifferent than Charlie.
“You gotta snap out it,” Charlie said to him. “If you ain’t in it, we can do it. I’m not going into this thing with the thought that one day, you confess your soul to some girl you knock up in that trailer and I end up spending two years in Coyote Farms for grave-robbing.”
Dennis nodded, appearing to understand. “No, I get it. I want in and everything, you just gotta give me time to figure when I’m ready to do it.”
“How long does it take you to get ready?”
Dennis stopped, appearing to think. Charlie had known Dennis since junior year of high school back when both decided to skip gym, smoke behind the soccer shack at the same time and swapped stories as if they knew each other for ten years prior. If Dennis was anything, he wasn’t a thinker. “How about now?”
Now? Charlie was saying, unsure. He was surprised, that was all, not ready to chicken out. After all, this was his idea. My gig. Here Dennis was throwing it back to him as if Charlie wasn’t ready. But I’m born ready, man, gonna do this thing now and make sure there is no backing down from anyone. Besides, he needed the cash. He had heard from Sal Pleky who dug the graves until he got on at the mill that during Pleky’s time, that old bastard earned about two hundred a week in prizes down in those holes.
Pleky said you never knew what you would find down in a grave. Taking stuff off old ladies that wouldn’t miss it at all. Charlie wished he had turned twenty-one, so he could join Pleky and live the good life. Charlie was three months from being twenty-years-old, leaving it up to Dennis to buy the six pack with his fake ID, so they could sit down deep in the freshly cut plots at five in the morning just to toast the fact that Charlie was drinking illegally.
Dennis had started living with some girl last month in a beat-up double-wide out past the tracks. The man had been on meth for a few years, started doing it with his brother, but cleaned up his act in private without the cops involvement. His brother was the one who got busted, had to do ten months of group therapy, talking to some asshole drug offender as if they were the same experiences. Dennis slipped by though, walking into family gatherings with the suspicion his brother got, everyone asking his brother where he had been, why he was late.
Charlie was still kicking it rent free with his grandparents in their two-story deluxe, but would sit there watching television on his days off, waiting for his grandfather to make that bony ass walk over to the other couch, sit down, and discuss Charlie’s future in education. Charlie would try to tune out as much as he could, but the old man could be stern, telling Charlie that his days of free-loading were about done. Thus far, Charlie’s grandmother had kept the old man at bay, telling Charlie that he was doing right by her and that was all that mattered.
“Pleky ever steal anything good out of one of these?” Dennis said, sitting Indian-style with a stack of old cards and a flashlight.