Devil Digger

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This one's for you

In the early afternoon of the next day which was a Tuesday, Kevin Cook was helping his father, Harry. He was sixteen and pretty shy, his hair was black and fairly long, he didn’t cut it for a few months. Most of his insecurities were caused by his alcoholic father and the fact that his mother died two years ago. Her death was partly Harry’s fault because they had a fight and she decided to take Kevin and go to her mother’s. It was the middle of winter and they had a car accident. His mother, Samantha died on the spot, Kevin survived. His father liked booze for a long time but after the accident, he was intoxicated almost every single day. She was buried in Cold Hill Cemetery, Kevin often visited her grave.

Kevin and his father were working in the garage on some idea of Harry’s. He wanted to build a homemade lawn mower. Buying a new one would have cost too much for his pocket so he decided that buying beer and cheap whiskey is a much better investment. He foraged in the garage and the attic for tools and spare parts and then began working on it. Harry was an experienced handyman but the constant boozing weakened his coordination and working was not as easy as twenty years ago. Today was his day off. He worked at the school where his son was a student. It was the only school in town.

He and his son had a hard time getting along. Harry was usually grumpy, drunk or both. The beatings became rare since Samantha died but sometimes they still happened. Kevin liked being alone but Harry was constantly bothering him with chores or just picking on him when he was drunk. The boy hardly had any friends so he read books, comics or watched television. At school, he was somewhat the outsider and got bullied many times. Harry couldn't stand the fact that his son was weak but also didn't bother to help.

‘Damn it! Fuckin’ contraption!’ he exclaimed, threw the wrench he was holding on the ground and lit a cigarette.

His chest expanded with smoke under the sweaty grey shirt he was wearing. It barely covered his large beer gut. He picked up his last beer, fumbled a little with his fingers and then opened it. Kevin watched him with a condescending look and waited for the inevitable. Before drinking, Harry spoke to his son.

‘Get your ass down to the store and buy some beer,’ he ordered before taking a huge gulp out of the can.

It was a hot day so the cold beer felt caressing to his dry throat. He needed more, he always did. The beer was the warm-up, in the evening came the whiskey or anything strong if whiskey wasn’t around.

‘Wasn’t that enough, dad?’ asked Kevin but knew it was useless.

‘Enough? Ha-ha, are you kidding me?’ he laughed, ‘a real man can drink at least two six-packs a day, boy. But of course, you don’t know that. You’re not a real man, you’re just a damn pussy.’

Now this hit hard, Kevin was used to his fathers’ insults but this was a knife that cut him to the bone. Harry had never insulted his son like this. Tears filled Kevin’s eyes but he controlled his emotions so his father didn’t observe. He felt miserable since his mother died but now he felt worthless too. It pained him to be rejected by the only family member he had left.

When his mother was alive she always tried to protect him. She had many fights with her tyrannical husband because he wanted to exert severe punishments on the boy. Sometimes he succeeded but sometimes she was able to stop him. As he became more mature he thought about these events trying to understand just why his mother chose to live with this man. How the hell can a responsible and caring woman stay even a minute with a tyrannical and crazy man?

‘Hurry up, I’m thirsty!’

Kevin obeyed without a word. Harry was a big and strong man and his son feared him however it won’t be much until fear will give way to hate and despise. He walked out the front gate and onto Maple Street. The store he was going to visit was to the left. To the right was the intersection with Main street. It ran roughly along a north-south line from the town’s one end to the other. The Town Hall was on Main Street, along with the school. There was one more large street that ran from east to west in a similar fashion called Memorial Street which intersected with Main Street near the Town Hall. The town’s library was situated on Memorial Street. In front of the library, there was a statue, a soldier on horseback. It was placed there a long time ago in memory of those who died in the Civil War.

Kevin turned left and walked towards the store. The trees between the sidewalk and road provided protection against the intense sunlight but he didn’t even notice. His mind was in a different place, a very dark place.

At the same time as Kevin was busy helping his father, two boys were approaching the library with no intention of going inside. They were both 17 years old and didn’t quite represent the town’s cultural elite. One of them was ‘Filthy’ Frank Fletcher, the chief bully in town. He, as always, whore baggy clothes. He was fat and didn't want people to see his belly or tits. They called him ‘Filthy’ because when he was younger his mother caught him with an adult magazine in one hand and his penis in the other. She gave him an overdose of whoop-ass and while he was running towards the street to escape the motherly onslaught she kept calling him ‘filthy animal’. Soon the whole town knew him as ‘Filthy’ Frank.

The other boy was about a foot taller than Frank and much slimmer, his name was ‘Slim’ Jim Harrison. He usually had an empty look on his face, perhaps a consequence of his empty head, good only to prevent rain from falling into his neck. He wasn’t a bad person but he was hanging out with Frank who obviously had a bad influence on him.

Frank was smoking a cigarette and looking after the girls who passed by him. Of course, none of them looked at him, he was too ugly. Jim was licking a strawberry-vanilla ice-cream and wasn’t at all interested in the girls. When they reached the small park with the statue that was in front of the library, Frank elbowed the daydreaming Jim.

‘Look, Jimmy-boy!’ he said.

'What!?' Jim replied in a startled voice.

'Look who's there at the geek-house!'

‘Let’s get them!’ replied Jim and quickened his pace.

They spotted Andy and Chris as they were exiting the library. The two brothers were regular visitors here. Chris liked the science books, Andy was more into fantasy and mystery. Today they have come to find something about the town’s history and maybe the Hershey house. Andy was still trying to digest what he had seen last night. He was grappling with the idea that it might have just been a trick of the light or some kind of illusion. However, it looked and felt so real. He couldn't sleep well after what happened, he kept seeing those yellow eyes, or where they eyes after all?

They found nothing useful just general history, however, they searched only a small part of the library. The only reference to the Hershey family was that William, the one who built the house was an honorable man and that he died suddenly in 1771. He was buried quickly without much ceremony. There was nothing else on the subject which seemed strange to the Perkins brothers. Chris was curious too because he saw the broken crate and the opening of the heavy front door. His skeptical although young mind was in chaos, he couldn't even begin to explain such events.

The bullies reached the statue without the boys seeing them. Andy and Chris were much too engaged in some argument when Frank and Jim appeared in front of them from behind the statue.

‘Look who’s here,’ Frank said to Jim,′ the Jerkins brothers. Where’s that hot little blonde girly who’s hangin’ out with you?

They both laughed as the boys tried to comprehend what is happening. Andy feared the bullies, he tried everything he could to avoid them. He hated when Frank insulted Jess but he couldn’t do much about it, he lacked the courage to punch Frank in the face. Chris was much less afraid, he taunted them a few times and suffered the consequences. He got his butt kicked each time by them but he was relentless.

‘If we’re the Jerkins brothers then you’re the Dickhead duo,’ replied Chris without thinking, as usual.

‘What did you just say you little piece of shit?’ asked Frank and grabbed him by the shirt.

‘Leave him alone you fat pig!’

This came from behind the bullies. It was ‘Fast’ Danny, out on the streets, as always. Frank and Jim turned towards Danny who was showing them both middle fingers. Frank forgot all about Andy and Chris and ordered Jim to catch Danny. Jim tried to grab him but Danny started running. Jim tripped his foot in a small hole in the sidewalk and fell face forward into the concrete with the ice-cream trapped between the sidewalk and his face. Seeing his stupid partner fall, Frank started after Danny but he was no match for the fastest runner in town. Danny even ran backward and Frank still couldn’t catch him. He was huffing and puffing after a few hundred yards. After realizing that he had no chance of catching Danny, he dragged his guts back to the statue.

Jim was sitting on his sorry ass wiping the blood and ice-cream from his face. Andy ran back into the library and watched the following events unfold from there. His brother, after breaking free of Frank’s grip, climbed on top of the statue. This was easy for a kid like him. The statue represented a soldier mounted on a horse and was about 9 feet tall. He climbed up all the way to the top and sat on the back of the horseman. Andy watched in horror, he knew that his brother is either going to do something stupid or something hilarious, maybe both. When Frank got back, Chris started shouting.

‘Listen up everybody! This is General Stonemason Jackson speaking to you!’ he wanted to say General Stonewall Jackson but couldn’t remember the name.

People were already looking at the scene, some stopped in their tracks. Even Frank and Jim stared in awe at the crazy kid on the statue.

‘People from around the world, meet my new friend,’ he said and pointed towards Frank, ‘his name is Wanky Frankie and he is the president of the United Strokes of America!’

Some of the onlookers started laughing and pointed towards Frank. But Chris didn’t stop, he still had some aces up his sleeve. Frank felt his anger rising. He couldn’t do anything about the boy because he was too fat to climb up.

‘Get down here you piece of shit!’ he shouted but in vain.

‘If you need a hand, just call Wanky Frank, he’s always ready to wank!’

Frank’s face turned red, he was fuming. Jim was just staring at the scene, still on his ass, with blood and ice-cream on his white shirt. Andy was laughing hard from the library door, Danny from not far away.

‘I swear I’ll catch you and bash your face in!’ Frank was screaming at Chris with his fist in the air. People started gathering and looking, pointing fingers and laughing.

‘Get up you useless prick, and get him down!’ shouted Frank and kicked Jim in the leg.

As Jim started to get up, a patrol car stopped on the side of the road. A tall, broad-shouldered but aging policeman was at the wheel. He had grey hair, a grey mustache, wore a sheriff’s hat and sunglasses. He was chief Kerrigan, the town’s sheriff, he came alone. This indicated that he had some other business here. Maybe he wanted to meet his friend, the library’s director, Victor Whayman, Nate’s father.

‘Good day, Chief,’ one of the onlookers greeted him but he didn’t notice.

‘All right, what’s happening here?’ he asked and walked towards the boys.

‘Nothing, s-s-sir,’ replied Frank much calmer now, ‘we were j-just having f-fun, sir.’

‘Is that right?’ he said and looked up at Chris.

‘Sir, yes sir!’ shouted Chris and pointed towards Frank, ‘I’ve just introduced my new friend, Wanky Frankie to the people of Linden!’

Chief Kerrigan uttered a short but hearty laugh and then ordered the boy down from the statue. He turned towards Frank and Jim.

‘I guess that you two, sorry clowns wanted to hurt these boys, right?’

‘N-no, sir,’ said Frank and his voice trembled, his whole body was shaking at the sight of the sheriff.

‘Yeah, right. And I’m the pope, not the sheriff. Don’t you bullshit me!’

Chris got down and joined the discussion. He wasn’t frightened at all by the sheriff so he continued with the jokes.

‘Sir, we were just playing. Frankie here is a good boy. He couldn’t hurt a fly, sir, he’s too fat to catch one anyway. He just farts and all the flies die.’

Frank didn’t say a word, he was shaking like a leaf, Jim just stared in front of him with his head down. Kerrigan laughed again and then turned to the two bullies.

‘I know you two for far too long and I know you weren’t playing. Here’s the deal, you drag your sorry butts out of my sight in five seconds or I’ll take you in to spend the night in a cell at the station. Now get the hell out of my sight!’ said the chief and gone they were in a heartbeat.

Kevin arrived at the store, it was situated close to the other end of Maple Street. There was a small parking lot behind it which was now almost empty. He went inside and searched for the beer. After paying he went towards the door and that’s when he saw her. She was Karen, his crush, a beautiful red-haired wonder living just a few houses down the street. He stopped in his tracks when he saw her, his feet felt like rubber. She was coming towards the store, her movement was calm and gracious. She wore a white top and tight jeans which accentuated her perfect forms. She lost her boyfriend last year. He was a firefighter and he died when a fire erupted at a gas station. An explosion threw some debris in the air hitting him in the had. But anyway, people are saying that she moved on and met somebody else.

Kevin woke up from his stupor and started walking towards the door. He held it open for her, like a true gentleman but she didn’t even look at him.

‘Thanks,’ she said and continued on her way like he was the most insignificant thing in the world.

Kevin walked out but then thought to wait for Karen just to look at her once more. He went to the side of the store and waited on the sidewalk that led behind the building. He saw just a few people around, the town's center was busier. It was hot at this time of day and the asphalt and concrete made it even worse.

‘Hey, asshole!’

He knew the voice very well. It made him forget all about Karen and focus on the threat that was imminent. He turned back and found himself face to face with ‘Filthy’ Frank and ‘Slim’ Jim.

‘This one’s for you,’ said Frank and punched Kevin in the face without hesitation.

Kevin staggered back hitting his shoulder and head on the store’s wall. Seeing that he was still standing, Jim followed with a straight kick to the gut. The air went out of Kevin’s lungs, he hit the wall again with his back and fell on the sidewalk. The six-pack he was carrying fell out of his hand. One of the beer cans burst and now the beverage was spewing out on the sidewalk and onto his dirty jeans.

Frank got on top of him in no time. He pushed his left knee on Kevin’s stomach. He threw a few more punches, Kevin tried to defend his face with his hands but he was no match for Frank’s strength.

Frank got up, his chest was heaving and his face was red with fury. He couldn’t beat up the Perkins brothers but at least he beat up Kevin. This was far the worst beating he had given anybody. That little shit Perkins boy humiliated him in front of many people and made him want to take out his frustration on somebody. This punk also deserved it, he thought, because he was a coward and Frank just didn't like his face.

‘If I see you again I’ll break your legs!’ he told him and spittle flew from his ugly mouth.

‘Damn right he will,’ added Jim.

The two bullies walked away and Kevin tried to get up. He was staggering with one hand against the wall and the other searching for the beer. Blood was pouring from his nose and mouth, the flesh under his left eye started to swell. As he got up he saw Karen who just exited the store and was walking home. She threw him a disgusted glance and continued on her way. The boy felt awful, humiliated. His face and stomach hurt like hell. He straightened up and looked around. Behind the store, in the distance, he could see the Hershey house. He felt something strange. It was like the house was calling to him.

Kevin knew what was waiting for him at home. His father will continue the bullying maybe even beat him. The only thing that seemed to comfort him now was the sight of that house. Sweet lonely darkness, a miserable man’s best friend. But darkness is treacherous and it digs graves...

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