This week’s prompts are at the bottom. Feel free to seize the prompts, twist them, form them, play with them as you will. All comers are welcome. The words below are just practice for me. I had a lot of fun writing them and, practice makes perfect.
Terry was an equipment operator. That’s what he was; that’s what he did. When the pandemic hit, it became difficult for Terry to find work. During the first six months, or so, of the lockdown, he worked a total of eight days, and they were not sequential days. There had been seven weeks between his sixth and seventh days employed. Things were starting to look up, though. That morning he had gotten an interview at Obsidian Hill Memorial Park. They were looking for a gravedigger who came with his own backhoe.
Terry owned an old New Holland Backhoe Loader that he had inherited from his dad and, the interview with Reverend Pedro García-Carrión de la Peña, who ran the Memorial Park, had gone well. He had told Terry that he would let him know by morning – one way or another.
Long story short – Terry got the job and began work right away by transferring the big machine to Obsidian Hill and going through all the paperwork required to start his new position. Three days after his interview, Terry found himself ready to start moving dirt. The reverend paired him up with one of the landscapers whom he introduced as José María Aznar. A lean young man dressed in jeans and boots with a red and white plaid shirt and a straw cowboy hat. The two men nodded, but they did not shake hands. The pandemic had put an end to that custom, at least for the time being. The reverend thanked Terry and made excuses to leave the two co-workers.
Outside Terry said, “I probably won’t remember your name right away.”
“It’s OK. You can call me Joseph or Joe if that makes it easier. Let’s get started, huh?”
Joe spent the rest of the day showing Terry around and pointing out the place names they used to simplify communications. Chapel south was an obvious one. Various fence lines (North, South, etc.) specified midpoints on fence lines. NE, NW, SW, etc. were corner locations (the land was a large rectangle). Front Gate, Equipment Shed, and the like. Terry learned to move his equipment on the paved pathways until reaching the closest approach to an excavation site. José showed him the ropes.
At the end of the work-day, José suggested that they meet at the South fence around 0830 the next morning, to get started. There were a couple of holes to be dug.
The next day, Terry showed up at Obsidian Hill at 0800. He came in through the back gate and parked his truck next to the equipment shed. He checked out his backhoe, fired it up, and made his way to the designated meeting spot, where he found his partner. Joe had laid out tarps on the grass and backed a trailer onto them to hold the removed dirt. He explained to Terry that they had to be careful not to get dirt on the lawn. Thus the tarps. He marked the location of the hole and told Terry how deep it should be. He requested the sides and bottom to be as smooth and straight as possible, then gave Terry his cell phone number and said he had things that he needed to do.
“If you have any questions, Terry, give me a call. If you’re not sure of something, give me a call. If you need anything, call me.” Last but not least as he was turning to go he stopped, “If you need to pee, go to the equipment shed. Don’t pee behind any headstones, bushes or trees. It would be bad for business if anyone saw you doing that.” Terry nodded his head, indicating that he understood. José left.
By himself now, Terry pulled his hat down low over his eyes and squinted up at the sun. He started his machine and moved carefully into position to begin digging. That was when he noticed the ball cap perched atop one of the headstones two rows over, closer to the fence. The cap lay crumpled and faded in the sun. If he’d had to guess, Terry would have thought it might have been blue at one time but now was so sun-bleached it was almost the same colour as the oversized limestone grave marker on which it sat. Thinking that it might be one of his co-worker’s misplaced cap, Terry went over to check it out. When he tried to lift the hat off the stone, he found that it was made of stone itself and had been fashioned out of the same limestone that made the marker. He walked around to learn more.
The marker read.
Born: July 1, 1883
Died: April 17, 1946
2× World Series champion (1929, 1930)
Win-loss record 247–218
Earned run average 3.29
Terry ran his fingers through his hair and shook his head. He’d known about Jack Quincy. A baseball player who’d played until the age of fifty. He carried a lifetime batting average of .184 (not too bad for a pitcher). Terry wondered if José knew about Quincy.
This week’s prompts are:
- thin as a fishbone
- buried somewhere in Los Gatos Canyon
- it fetters the will
You can start writing whenever you want, just write, get the words down – and have fun!