The rail thin man, his face haggard and drawn with
unbearable pain, grasped the top rail of the gate, and
fighting the rusted hinges, tugged it outward. Through it he
stepped into a world he dreaded above all others. An
unraveled and razor-sharp link of corrugated wire sliced the
palm of his hand. He felt the sting of the deep cut and
inspecting his hand, checked closely for blood. A pea-sized
orb of red dripped from the torn flesh and trembled as it
fell toward the gravel walkway below.
He thought of two things; the first,
the drop of red seemed to have a life of its own and the
second, it feared the cemetery as much as he.
This was not Harlan
McFadden's first visit to the Everlasting Peace Cemetery.
Too many times he'd been inside the gates of Jasper Corners'
only graveyard—once for his mother when she quit her fight to find
happiness on earth and sought it elsewhere—once each for his two uncles, his father's two brothers—and once for a childhood friend, Hector Hernandez, killed
by the Taliban in the Afghanistan war. But in all those
visits he'd never suffered as badly as he did this time.
The varied, and handed-down from generation to generation,
definitions of the term
strangled him. Each came with a self-serving meaning all its own—and each of specific benefit to the believer and
non-believer and always at odds with the beliefs of all
To some, the graves represented holding
cells—a layover of
sorts, before continuing a journey which would last for-
Sister Mary, or someone of similar name . . .
“Such a nice lady she was . . .” being the most often repeated
praise heard of the recently deceased, was on her way to be
with God to share an eternity of happiness. Those who felt
they had been slighted by
Brother Henry were
pleased he was about to be handed back the same hell he'd
spent a lifetime handing out to others.
Old Man Jenkins
was fast-tracking to a mind numbing and deafening quiet
which he had believed all of his life was what death was
really all about. And—at last he would know.