"I wish I had a grave of my former self. That way, I could go there and do the mourning properly, as a thing that is meant to be done. I could scream or I could cry. I could laugh or I could just stand above and relish in my own two feet. I could think on how he died, and why it had to occur so young. I'd demand to know what happened at all. Because that's what people do when someone dies – I've watched them. That is how it's done properly. One grieves, then one cries, but then it's ended. It's closure. That's what's achieved, that's the point. So I've just always had this thought, that a grave would be glorious." –Robert
The head mourners were the Police Chief's wife and two grown sons. Mrs. Davis walked with over-practiced poise, too stiffly as if she was about to break in half at any moment. Mark and Joseph, ages twenty-two and twenty-seven, walked at each side of their mother. The crying had been done at the church, now was the time for mournful reflection of the deceased.
Chief Carlos Davis of the New Jersey Transit Police Department had been in the middle of the biggest bust of his career, a railway organization known for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Unfortunately, as he had the dealer face against the wall, one cuff on, one cuff off, he unexpectedly dropped dead of an aneurysm. The physical report he had done two weeks prior said he was in perfect health.
But Rob wasn't thrown. He couldn't even attempt a guess at how many deaths were "unexpected," what percent was caused by freak accidents, and what few were actually due to natural causes. He had dug approximately one hundred twelve graves in his lifetime, and one hundred thirteen wasn't any different.
Rob watched as the grave he had finished the prior day was claimed by its only occupant. He took short drags from his clove cigarette and watched the exhaled smoke mingle with his misty breath. It was late in September, an unusually cold morning, and the morning dew hadn't yet evaporated.
Rob had acquired the awful habit of smoking when he was but twelve. Unfortunately, he wasn't released from the illusion that it made him aloof and attractive to the eye until he was eighteen. After that, he had on and off struggles with the addiction, quitting sometimes for his vanity only. He felt very bitter toward the fact that he was probably the most unattractive, uncool looking smoker ever to inhale, as his nostrils flared on his too-aquiline nose, his teeth became a different yellow shade after every cigarette that would not fade until he brushed his teeth, and little creases had formed at the sides of his mouth. The nicotine gave his eyes that glazed, glassy look that – along with his prematurely graying hair – made him appear as a middle-aged, down and out person, must older and perhaps worse for wear than he was.
He was twenty-seven.
All of the swirling breezes in the cemetery were humid from the rainfall the night before, and the fifty-something degree temperature felt hot but caused chills at the same time. Sick of the whole thing, Rob threw down his black habit and crushed the butt with the heel of his dark boots, covered in mud. He cursed himself, then he cursed the world. The ground was too soft, too soggy and liquid in places that should have been firm as he walked over the older graves back to the blacktop pathway that led through La Maison cemetery.
The grounds were a familiar place, a second home to him but never quite warm in the ways a home feel swarm. He knew the place too well to see it for what it was, so he accepted whatever he believed the place to be and his shifty, ambiguous role there, and left it at that.
He lived across town but walked to work the majority of the time, anyway. Rob experienced flickering episodes of severe insomnia, found himself turned on and off by the sun and the night easily as a light switch. Sometimes, he'd crash on his short little bed for two full days as if he'd been tripping for the three before. Others, he never so much as closed his eyes.
It was a consistency of games. The light would go off and he'd lie there in the dark. The sun would die and the moon would laugh, and Rob would either know nothing after that or be subjected to the sounds of her torture on the city. He hated Jersey, as he long ago decided. He hated Jersey's shores and the hundreds of thousands who lived there, the additional thousands of tourists that would invade every major holiday. Hordes of teenagers with their hormones, alternately horny and irritable but wasted enough every night to overrun the city for weeks with their cries and shouts of laughter all damn night long.
And Rob wondered why he couldn't sleep.