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The wind gently lifts the hair off her back as she bends down to pick up the broken wing off the ground. Brushing the bird droppings off, she surveys the damage of the angelic figure that watches over her baby brothers. 


“Did they damage it again?” Rachel asked as she comes to stand next to me in front of the headstone.


“Last month it was the vase, the month before that, it was a huge chip off the corner of the pedestal. This is supposed to be a perpetual care cemetery!” Cat ground out.


“Well it is perpetual care; they perpetually don’t care about the damage that is done by their maintenance crew.” Rachel quipped.


Cat nodded her head in agreement as she looked over at the employee riding a big noisy lawnmower. As she watched the man drove the lawnmower up against a tall monument, scraping it the entire way around. Cat stormed over to the man, yelling at him to cut the motor. He narrowed his eyes and drove directly at her. She jumped out of the way at the last minute to keep from becoming mulch.


“He tried to run over you Cat, are you alright?” 


“I’m fine, come with me I’m going to report him!”  Together the sisters went into the office, they asked to speak with the manager,


“You mean the Sexton.” The snooty blond at the front desk replied.


“What kind of kinky place is this? We want the manager, not a sex… thingy.” Rachel spat out disgusted.


“The administrator of this cemetery complex is called a Sexton.” The blond then stood up and strode down the hall.


“Do you think she’s getting the Sexton?” Rachel mocked in the most officious accent, her back ramrod straight and her nose pointed to the ceiling. Cat started to laugh but just then a round bespectacled man walked in followed by the snooty blond.


“I’m Mr, Shope, the SEXTON of this cemetery. How may I assist you?” he said extending his hand.


“I’m afraid we have some complaints we need to speak with you about” Cat informed him. He ushered them to his office and the girls told him what had transpired. They also let him know of the continuous damage that was happening to the headstone.


“I’m sure you ladies misunderstood our employees intentions, He most likely didn’t see you in front of his mower, Carl is one of my best employees.”


“With all the damage I’ve been seeing that doesn’t say much.” Cat retorted. The Sexton immediately took offense at that and told them if they had a complaint to put it in writing, then he tried to escort them out of the office saying it was closing time and they had to leave. Cat placed the broken wing on his desk,


“I’ll be back in two weeks, I hope this is repaired by then or I will be going over your head, with an up front and personnel complaint to the owners or trustees of this facility.” The sisters left but Cat was stewing in anger.


Later that night after Rachel had left, Cat sat staring into the flames of the fireplace. She was still angry about the attitude of the maintenance man and the Sexton, even that snooty blond secretary irritated her. They had no respect for the dead or their family members. Her emotions were in overdrive; her mind was adrift in a sea of vexation. She needed to vent! Then an idea struck her. She got out her computer and started to write;


*    *     *     *      *     *      *       *


‘Reverence’


Carl was furious; he was on probation for the next 30 days because of that witch. Did it really matter if the headstones got chipped or broken? It sure wasn’t the dead that were complaining. He stormed out of the office, and put the lawnmower away in the maintenance shed. This cemetery was a veritable garden of Eden, flowers of every kind flowed beside the benches. The grass was a plush green carpet covering the slight rolling hills, a brook meandered betwixt the graves and willow, maple and sycamore trees provided plenty of shade for the mourners. And it was all because of him! No he did not design it, but he kept it up, tended to it like a lover. He had created a beautiful utopia, with only one thing marring it, Headstones! It’s not like the dead could appreciate his efforts. He purposely chipped and broke the standing headstones, in hope that the cemetery would revert to only allowing flat markers. Then his job would be easier and his utopia would be perfect. Peaceful and beautiful like nature intended it to be, an oasis in the middle of the dirty bustling city.


 Carl arrived at work two days later at 6 pm for his new shift. They had changed it so he wouldn’t interact with any mourners. He would have been angry if it hadn’t fit in with his plan. That witch complained about a broken wing on one headstone, how would she feel when all the headstones of her family members were destroyed? Of course he’d need to trash multiple headstones all around so they would believe vandals had broken in after he had left, but he was fine with that. You know the old saying about ‘The end justifying the means.’ he chuckled.  Putting on a fake smile he waved to Mr. Shope, as he was leaving for the day.  After locking the gates and making sure he was alone, he went into the shed to prepare.


Carl brought his truck to the front of the shed; he unloaded several large bags of garbage from the bed of his truck, also a case of Bud. He brought out the small trailer they used for hauling supplies around the cemetery and attached it to a small tractor. He then emptied the bags into the trailer, Old food wrappers, torn chip bags and empty beer cans fell out of one bag, then he grabbed another it was full of glass liquor bottles, Jim Beam, Jose Cuervo and Capt Morgan. The final bag was just full of dirty paper plates and cups. He grabbed a sledge hammer and axe from the shed along with some lighter fluid and with his trusty case of bud drove into the center of the cemetery. His plan was to start in the middle and move outward. He wasn’t worried about being seen because of the 9 ft. hedge that encircled the cemetery, but he knew he’d have to be quiet till later in the evening to really smash things.  A freeway ran along the east and south sides of the cemetery, a busy road ran along the west but an industrial park ran along the northern side and he wanted to make sure the employees were all gone before he really got destructive.


Drinking some of the beers to pass the time, he started thinking. He had never been here at night. Early morning before the sun was fully up, yes. But never at night, usually the cemetery gave off a comforting peaceful impression, but now it gave Carl an ominous eerie feeling. The wind blew and Carl shivered, not because of the cold, but because he suddenly felt as if he was being watched.


“What an ignoramus, I scared myself.” He uttered aloud. Chuckling he downed another beer and grabbed the sledge hammer out of the trailer. He figured it was late enough now to get down to business, he walked over to the tallest monument in the cemetery;  


                                    Matthew Gilbert

                                    born Dec 5  1821

                                    died  Jan 12 1863

                                             Co K

                                        43 WIS INF


Carl didn’t know who he was, but he figured the man must have been important or rich, judging from the size of his monument.


“Sorry dude, I ain't got nothing against you, but I have to make this look real, like vandals hit the cemetery.” He took a deep breath and swung the hammer with all his might. Pieces of granite flew off in all directions but the monument still stood. So Carl swung the hammer again and still again. Getting angry that it was still upright he got onto the tractor and drove into the monument, he kept gassing it until the monument toppled. Laughing like a loon he drove the tractor thru the headstones. Plowing down some and hitting others with the sledge hammer. He only stopped to grab another beer and throw garbage out of the trailer to litter the ground. A cold wind blew through the cemetery, spreading the garbage everywhere. Carl grabbed some of the bottles and smashed them, littering the area with broken glass. He drove thru the beautiful flowers and hacked at the trees. He burned a large section of grass so it would look like a camp fire.  He wished he’d grabbed his jacket out of his truck, because it was getting really cold. Unusual for a summer night. Seeing that he’d caused enough destruction to this section he moved on to the next. Section after section he destroyed. He felt a tinge of sadness at the destruction of the once beautiful utopia, but he knew it would grow back. Harsh whispers of the wind assaulted his ears and a chill like ice breached his clothes and ravaged his body, but he was determined to finish what he started. 


Driving to the section he’d saved for last, a shadow ran in front of the tractor. He stepped on the brake and scanned the area. The wind was howling so he couldn’t hear anything but its harsh whispers.


“Hello!” Carl yelled over the wind. He thought he could see shadows darting among the trees. The sense of being watched was back again and a sense of foreboding. He cursed himself for letting fear invade him again! He knew his nervousness was just because of what he was doing. He grabbed some more beers to shore up his courage and continued to the last section. All the while scanning his surroundings. He pulled the tractor in front of a small marble headstone. As soon as he turned off the engine he heard white noise, like hundreds of people whispering at the same time.


“Blasted wind.” He frowned, trying to shake off the sudden fear that wrapped around his heart. He walked up to the headstone.


A little angel with one wing stood on top, valiantly protecting his two sleeping charges.  Carl snickered, forgetting for the moment the fear that had been crawling up his spine. This is why he was here, to get revenge on that witch. And for all the slights he had ever felt. He walked back to the tractor and grabbed the sledge hammer.


“Don’t do it!” Carl heard clear as day, startled he dropped the hammer.


“Who said that? Come out where I can see you now!” Carl screamed over the wind.

He frantically looked around, he didn’t see anyone, but the trees were swaying brutally with the wind causing shadows to leap back and forth. Carl waited and watched, he became disgusted with himself for acting like a coward, he picked up the hammer again, facing the small headstone,


“Stop!” The voice echoed off the trees.


“Come out now, your trespassing!” Carl wrestled with fear and anger, his plans were being interrupted. They’d be a witness or...... they could become the fall guy.


“Hey look, why don’t you show yourself and we can talk.” Carl shouted, He waited for a reply. With hammer in hand he searched the area, the whispers of the wind increased, Carl saw shadows behind every headstone, tree branches grabbed at his clothes as he hunted for the person behind the voice. Shadows danced in the periphery of his vision. He’d see a shape behind a tree and charge at it only to find nothing there. Then it would appear again in the direction he’d just come from. Frustrated he dropped the hammer and grabbed the axe, he started hacking at the vegetation that he believed was sheltering the voice.


“When I find you, you’re going to become kindling.” He shrieked frantically hacking at the base of a majestic willow tree.  The shadows darted around him, cuts appeared on his face and arms. In a frenzy he swung the axe, attacking the unseen enemy.  Madness consumed him as he fought off the tree limbs that kept grabbing at him in vicious parody of a dance. His mind was trapped on a carousel of voices, up and down the volume went cascading in a thunderous roar. Carl fell to the ground overcome by mania. His eyes landed on the headstone with the broken angel on top.


“Your fault!” he wailed as he ran at it, he swung the axe at the little angel.


“No!” a shriek thundered through the cemetery, then uttered silence engulfed the area, he couldn’t even hear the cars from the freeway just outside the hedges.  The shattering of the little angel was the only sound to be heard.


The shadows that had been among the trees and headstones floated into the open and gathered around Carl. Terrified he froze, unable to move. As they got closer he could see the apparitions were both male and female, and young and old. They came from many different eras, judging by the attire. They crowded around him.  Then parted as a corpse, haltingly walked toward him. He was extremely decomposed, his leathery flesh hung in ragged strips, but his civil war uniform still looked new. His paralysis broke and Carl started to run. Only to be blown back by the fierce wind. He rolled, tumbled and flipped, landing back in the middle of the apparitions.


“You have no respect for the deceased.” The corpse in a civil war uniform growled.


“Please I’m sorry don’t hurt me.” Carl whined, wetting himself in his terror. He met the empty eyes of the deceased, searching for mercy. The men and women looked upon him with disgust. He saw an older couple, each holding a baby in their arms. He saw sadness in their eyes for his plight but he found no mercy.


“As an officer in the United States Army, I find you guilty of apathy, callousness, viciousness and depravity.” The Civil War corpse stated firmly.


“No, you don’t understand! Please let me go I’ll fix everything, pleaseeeeee.” Carl begged and whined. All the apparitions except the officer turned their backs on him.


“You sir are a yellow bellied cur and your sentence is…………..


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The next morning:


Mr. Shope unlocked the gates and drove into the cemetery.  He frowned when he saw Carl’s truck was still parked in front of the maintenance shed. He drove over and looked for Carl, he wasn’t in the shed but the tractor was gone so he got back in his car to look for him. Upon seeing the destruction he raced back to the office and called the police. When they arrived, several officers went out to look for Carl and one stayed with him and asked if they had any surveillance monitors.


“As a matter of fact we do, they were just installed a couple of days ago.” Shope replied, and took the officer to the back room to view the footage.


They clearly saw Carl destroying the property; they noticed the foliage whipping around as if in a strong wind. Strangely it had been a calm and quiet night. They forwarded the footage every few minutes. They could see Carl stopping every few minutes, like he was scared but he continued to vandalize the property, toward the end of the footage they saw Carl hysterically hacking at everything like a berserker in an ancient battle. They saw him thrown to the ground, they watched as he ran abruptly slamming to a halt and then tumbling back to where he had began. They saw nobody else in the footage, just the trees being whipped about in a frenzy. They watched him cry and grovel to an unseen entity. They watched as he seemed to be searching people’s faces around him begging for something, but again they saw no one, he was all alone. Then they watched in horror as Carl was dragged a short distance and then sucked into the earth, screaming the whole time terror etched on his face. Unnerved neither of them spoke as the drove to the area where Carl had disappeared. The only thing they found there was the wing of the angel lying on the undisturbed grass.


“Did they have any surveillance?” a detective asked the Officer. After a moments hesitation he replied.


“No sir, they didn’t.”


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  


10 days later:


Rachel let herself into Cat’s house, her sister was smiling at her phone. 


“What’s the smile for?” Rachel asked.


“My editor just informed me that my short story was picked for Spookly magazine, it’s about a maintenance man at a cemetery that got his just rewards for not respecting the dead.”


“What’s the story called?”


“Reverence” 


“Cool, coincidentally we got a letter from the cemetery too.” Rachel handed the letter to Cat.


Dear Ms. Stanger{s},


I am very sorry for the unpleasantness from your last visit. I just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that we have repaired all damages to your property and have taken steps to assure it will never happen again. 


      Sincerely,

      Mr. Shope

      Sexton                                                   

 Tranquility Fields


A picture fell out of the envelope; it was of the little Angel in perfect condition, sitting proudly on top of their baby brother’s headstone.                                                     




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10 comments

Arya Preston
03:48 Jun 22, 2020

Wow, you have perfectly created an eerie tone through your narration and pulled me into your story with the introduction itself! Great job, Catherine :)

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04:40 Jun 22, 2020

Thank you so much. Im really glad you liked it and thanks again for commenting😊

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Arya Preston
04:50 Jun 22, 2020

No problem! Could you please read mine? :)

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Vi Nordgren
01:59 Jun 17, 2020

Another great story. You do know how go pull your reader in an of course I appreciate people getting their just desserts 🤗

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02:36 Jun 17, 2020

Thank you, I am having a ball writing.

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Jim Henderson
01:06 Jun 15, 2020

Very good story but ofcourse for me knew exactly what you were talking about .where the thoughts for story came from ,which made it better read for me .🙂

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00:48 Jun 15, 2020

Great story! Can’t wait to see the next installment!

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02:51 Jun 15, 2020

Thank you im glad you liked it, be sure to check out my other stories. AMD thanks for reading them

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00:36 Jun 15, 2020

I really enjoyed your story! I could not believe that Carl was going in and destroying those head stones and tearing up the place. The howling of the wind and slapping of the trees put my kids in suspense! They weren't sure if ghost where after him or what was happening!! I loved that carl got his at the end!! Don't mess with the dead!!! Well done!

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02:52 Jun 15, 2020

Yep never disrespect the dead! Lol thanks for reading it.

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