By request... a creepier ending
Please (Part 2)
Mr. Tidings frowned as he lifted his head. "Please."
Douglas crossed his arms as he stood peering down. "Uh uh. You paid us to fill in a grave, not to kill someone."
"He did pay in advance, and we got the contract." Morty scratched his chin in thought.
"What? NO!" Douglas stared at Morty. "NO, MORTY, NO."
"Please," said Mr. Tidings. "We don't have much time left.
"He is old," Morty agreed.
"NO." Douglas took a step back but bumped into something behind him. A ragged white linen cloth fluttered past his head as a bony hand gripped his arm. Douglas froze, eyes wide. "Morty..."
"And no one knows we have this contract," Morty continued.
"Morty..." Douglas turned slowly around to face the figure behind him. Morty followed suit.
A woman stood there. Or what was left of her. A small mummified bundle was cradled in one arm as her other held tight to Douglas. Her features were blurred with decay. Though her lips were gone, a smile lay scattered amongst the roots of her broken teeth. She dropped the bundle and grabbed Morty with her other hand.
"Please," the creature said. She gave a push. Both men tumbled. Down into the grave they fell shrieking.
The scrape of a shovel rang out. Then scoops of dirt rained into the grave, on top of the three men. A feeble voice sounded from beneath the two fallen gravediggers.
"Thank you, my love."
“He’s late.” Douglas looked at his watch, then eyed the gates with a frown.
“Patience, Doug, patience. He’ll be here soon.”
“Who’s to say he’s not coming at all?”
Morty wiped his forehead. “He’ll come. And he said specifically to wait.”
“Well, he better. Otherwise, all this work is for nothing.” Douglas sat down with a sigh on a nearby gravestone.
A bird cawed overhead as Morty leaned into his shovel once more. He grunted with effort as he lifted the dirt high, then flung it behind him onto a dirt pile on the grass. “Might as well widen the hole while we wait.”
A grave lay open, hole dug by the two in front of an old headstone. Words of love were etched there, smeared and crumbled by rainy days and sky sorrows. Alice Jane Tidings. Beloved wife of Winston. Born November 1, 1906. Died October 31, 1932. A smaller headstone lay just beside, hidden in the weeds, nameless with a baby rattle engraved on its face.
Douglas stood and peered into the grave, the old wooden coffin deep below was barely visible in the dimming light. He held back a retch at the rotten rusty scent that wafted up from its depths.
Morty grinned and leaned in behind him. “Boo.”
“Jesus, Morty!” Douglas jumped, then shuddered as he backed away from the edge. “Don’t do that. You’re freaking me out. I almost fell in.”
The gate creaked out a warning as a man shuffled into the graveyard. His face was faded despite the fine, new chapeau on his head. He was dressed in a suit of brown, cut in lines long out of fashion, yet pressed carefully and clinging to his thin body like a lover come home from the war. He paused at the gate, as if uncertain he was in the right place or the right time. Nodding to himself, he moved towards the open grave where he stopped in front of the diggers. Scoliotic, near-sighted and hands palsied, he held a small bouquet of roses out to the two men.
“Please,” he said.
Morty and Douglas stared, both more afraid to take the roses from the man than they had been to dig the grave. Morty stepped into some courage and took the bouquet.
Mr. Tidings nodded as he straightened his bowtie. His hands shook, making the tie more off-kilter, yet still it held. Mr. Tidings patted the tie as if satisfied with its angle, then spoke. “Did you bring the ladder?”
The men looked at each other before Morty replied. “It’s here. But you know that grave robbing’s a crime. If you plan on breaking into that coffin, you’re on your own, pal. We agreed only to dig and then fill it in again.”
Mr. Tidings nodded again, as if he was expecting that. “I won’t be robbing anyone. I’ve been robbed of my greatest treasure, already.” He motioned to the open grave. “Please,” he said.
The ladder was placed just so against the sod edge of the hole. Mr. Tidings climbed down, hand over shaky hand, step by trembling step. At the bottom, he stood on the coffin, legs bent in their brown fabric, shoes scuffed with dirt from the descent. His head was a foot below the hole edge, yet he seemed farther in the earth than the coffin itself. Mr. Tidings looked up and held his hand out to Morty, who still guarded the bouquet. “Please,” was all he said.
Morty glanced at the flowers in his hand, then held the bouquet down for Mr. Tidings to take.
“Seems like a lot of work just to put flowers on a grave.” Douglas shook his head as he peered over the grave’s edge.
“It is and it isn’t.” Mr. Tiding’s voice came up from the grave’s depths. The digging and filling was much pain and work the first time. The filling will be easier this time as you will have less space to fill.”
Morty’s eyes widened at Mr. Tiding’s words. Douglas gasped.
Mr. Tidings lay down on the coffin, hands folded holding the bouquet, shaking with impatience and age.
“Please,” he said.
L. M. Bryski