by Pierce Nahigyan
Most of the bones were still half-buried in the dirt. Stuck up perpendicular to the ground were finger bones and the spikes of the spine, a chipped acromion and a shard of pelvis. I stared at the skeleton in disbelief, not sickness or fear.
My son looked up at me, downright angry. The pile of dirt he’d dug all day was piled beside our tree, his shovel stuck in it so that the hilt of the blade shined above the clumps of soil and roots. He held onto it, sitting in the pile, above the skeleton. “Mom said I had to stop digging to China until you came home,” he said.
The hole was about four feet deep and about that wide. I was prepared to yell at him when I came outside; I thought he’d hit the sprinklers, a water main, fiber-optic cable, ancient and interred pet; not a dead guy.
I scratched my head. “Did he have a wallet?” I asked.
He looked up at me guiltily.
I held out my hand. “Hand it over.”
He gave me the wretched thing. It was leather once, mostly decomposed. Whatever had been inside of it was no longer an ID, nor much of anything. “Any money in here when you found it?”
My son shrugged.
“Did I raise you to be a grave robber?” I asked.
“Be fair, Chuck,” my wife said. She came up behind me and put a hand on my shoulder. “It isn’t a topic we’ve covered yet. He’s six.”
“Six and a half,” my son contested from his dirt pile.
I tossed the wallet back in the hole. “Alright. I’m getting the other shovel from the garage. No one’s going to China today.”
My son reluctantly pulled himself to his feet and took hold of his shovel. He dug it into his pile and began the long process of scooping it back in. My wife followed me to the garage. “Shouldn’t we call someone?”
I searched through our bin of assorted rakes, trowels, an axe, and baseball bats for the other shovel. “We could do that. We could call the cops, have them come up here, park on our lawn, unroll the police tape, ask us questions, involve the neighbors, and get to sleep at midnight. Or-” I pulled out the shovel and met my wife’s eyes. “Me and Tad can bury the bones, get cleaned up for supper, you and me can watch Roseanne, and we can all go to bed at a reasonable hour.”
My wife kissed my cheek and headed for the door. “Make sure he washes his fingernails. We’re having corn on the cob.”