The site was serene. A field of bright green fescue, corralled by stately white and red oak trees, waved in ripples, like spectators at a large live music event. The late summer evening sun jabbed daggers through the forest canopy, slicing away the minutes as the gentle breeze pushed sparrows from their perches, seeking their nightly roost. One sparrow looked down at the newly dug hole, just past the edge of the pasture, concealed in the wood line. What a fine addition our new resident will make.
To call it an addition was a bit of a stretch. It was more like a subtraction. The edge of the hole was broken, like its creator. Crumbles of tan soil and ochre clumps rolled gleefully to its depths as the sharp metal edge of the shovel struck forcefully, again, and again, and again. The sound became a melancholy chant, an ode to what had been accomplished.
Then the digging tool was laid down, a stained brown leather glove wrapped around its weathered and polished wooden handle. It was used to this treatment, its master donated some splashed beads of sweat to its open pores. Such is the lot of useful things, needed then not. Thrown recklessly into truck beds, never bathed or oiled, serving silently. Oh, the silence! It was being overtaken by the hordes of hungry insects. Grinding and gnashing mandibles were aching for a bite. Yet, they must wait.
Oh, the barriers we create! Sometimes they need to be hacked down, chopped to bits, like walls hiding something, concealing the truth. Some truths should never be uncovered, lest they rupture the fabric of the lives of all involved. Down in the bottom of the pit, man-made barriers wound in circles, wrapped like a gift. Slightly opaque, one could still discern its contents. It is now we go back in time, back to when this infested wound of vitriol gave birth to revenge.
The faded black Chevrolet sat at an odd angle, its engine now cold from rest. There were short skid marks in the gravel behind each tire. Middle-aged sedans like it never drew much attention. Just over the hill, down the gravel road that ended in a sturdy steel gate with a no trespassing sign, it wasn't visible from the hard road. The large trunk lid was open like a grotesque mouth, yawning in boredom, waiting to be fed again. Smears of fluid streaked the bumper.
The blacktop two-lane stretched back through the foothills, weaving like a swimming pit viper. On it stretched, near the lake, ignoring the brilliant blue waves reflecting the setting sun in flashes like sparkles from gemstones. Occasional dips and rivets in the scales of the serpentine ribbon of concrete betrayed a blighted area of the rural sleepy portion of the Midwestern United States. The road snaked, winding around clapboard shotgun bungalows that had not seen a paintbrush in years. Their weathered roof lines were married nicely with rusted-out pickup trucks, sporting peeling flag stickers, sitting with almost empty gas tanks in the driveways.
The town was awake that day, not lulled to sleep by the chugging of giant diesel motors pounding the interstate with commerce. Loaded train cars boomed and creaked, pulling 30,000 tons of sulphur-heavy coal, the steel wheels of the locomotive spun out, spitting sparks onto the dangerously desiccated grass that summer's heat had dried like tinder. Cars waited at the gates of the tracks, their occupants idly spinning the dial on their radios, fidgety remnants of a bygone era, now gradually becoming obsolete.
SHUUUUMP! SHUMP! The engine belched two giant plumes of black smoke into the afternoon air.
A tired, empty house sat off by itself. Lonely and sad at the dead end of a street, its door was an odd blue color, its exterior modest yet well maintained. The aluminum siding was a dingy khaki color, dotted with spider webs, of which a few had captured the first dried brown and yellow leaves of fall. A Siamese cat gently curled up on the stone entryway steps, wanting to snooze in the gentle breeze. The backyard was surrounded by a tall wooden privacy fence, its boards weathered and battered like its owner.
The yard was empty save a rusted charcoal grill, a lawn chair, and a tool shed, locked tight. Whoever lived there did not want their neighbors to see them sear raw flesh with flames, or anything else. The grass was neatly cropped and unblemished save a smattering of rusty splatters, crusted on innocent blades of grass.
The two stared eye to eye. Quivering faces were locked in a deadly stalemate, and the time for debate was over. One was lured. One was cunning. Vacant stares betrayed the ocean of bad blood between them. Was it the derisive laugh? Was it the neverending insults? Neither one was sure of anything. Injured animals are the most dangerous. One, the wounded child, had carried the heavy weight of incestual sexual abuse all the way into their adult life. Like an albatross rotting off their neck, its fetid smell was a constant reminder of the evil they endured.
It was the implement again, pounding viciously, a staccato thudding of metal cutting meat. A foot-long survival knife is no toy. The damage is immediate and permanent. The other's look was frozen. Eyes were peeled open, mouth hanging wide. It was not the look of surprise, no, something much more satisfying. The arms were angled up as if trying to block the view of some hideous monster. Toes were pointed up, feet rocking back on heels. Their torso was erect, and the shirt pulled up from the violent recoil. Yes! The look! They savored the mental picture with both hands wrapped around the handle of the knife. A memory would suffice. Blazing like a torch, the image would be burned into their mind's eye.
They tapped an ash off a cigarette. It shattered on the plastic at the bottom of the hole. Blowing smoke out of their nostrils like a dragon, they pulled another drag off the smoke and smiled. Wiping sweat off with a shirt sleeve, they dropped stuff into the hole and stopped. They had covered it. The plastic was lightly wrapped, so they could still see it. Reaching for the handle, they were tempted to move it. There was just enough trailing sunlight for one last glance. Oh the memory, oh the silence, oh the look, oh the revenge!