by Jack C. Buck

Of course I agreed, how could I not? Martin died when Eva, William, and Francis died out there on McKinley road. The morning it happened, Martin phoned me to leave work and drive over. I remember how the point where two sides of a wall meet in the corner felt loud and how the edges of the table were sharp and unforgiving while he told me what happened.

A week later, after he buried the loves of his life, he asked me to take down the memories and box up the rest. I had a house across town with no wife or children that I lived in by myself, I had the room to store his life’s tangible memories. I would keep the doors closed if he were to come over so he wouldn’t have to see the boxes collecting sad, all organized and stacked in their own private rent free graveyard.

Martin was an overgiving man; if he were to see how everyday his family’s boxes sunk the floors of my house, he would demand he cover the cost of the floorboards caving in, so because of his generous persistence I never mentioned where I stored his family’s belongings. Eventually I suspected Martin had an inclination they were behind the closed spare bedroom doors, so I put locks on the doors for him not to get in.

It was around late summer when I realized my house couldn’t hold Martin’s sadness any longer. Half of the house that was once above ground was now underground; the window above the kitchen sink that used to frame the maple tree out back was no more, the dirt from being 8 feet underground had shattered the window, the two story tall maple tree’s roots reached across the floor. I was increasingly concerned Martin would start asking questions about my house’s degeneracy, so I began spending late nights and early mornings shoveling out the dirt around the walls of the house. I would get to it while Martin wasn’t around. I would have to be sure to distribute the dirt evenly across the property in order for Martin and the bank not to suspect something was a bit off. I was somehow nearing paying off the mortgage in full and didn’t want to ruin things being so close and all.

As far as others, to hell with Ted. Ted is old and paranoid and my neighbor; digging out the house would surely get him going. I figured I may have to sign off on another loan, double up, buy Ted’s mortgage off him. I began calling off work, using my sick days. It wasn’t long, perhaps 3 weeks until I just stopped showing up for good. I wasn’t too concerned, I had 6 weeks of back-pay still coming my way. No use for cable anymore, too much digging still yet to do. I’ll call up the provider first thing tomorrow and cancel service. That ought to help some, in order to keep this thing going a little while longer.

Jack C. Buck is originally from Michigan, and lives in Denver, Colorado. He is the fiction editor for The Harpoon Review. He thanks you for reading his work.