The Shoveler

January 5, 2011
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The 1986 Toyota Tercell slowly grinds down the windy, one-way gravel road, bumping with every stone it hits. The dim headlights above the crooked bumper seem to be searching the endless path for...
something. Suddenly, the rattling Tercell screeches to a stop. The driver's door opens cautiously, revealing a shady figure of a man. Had anyone been around, they would have noticed, in the fading glow of the worn bulbs in the streetlamps, this particular man glancing around nervously, picking at his grimy fingernails. He is in his late forties, his brown-grey hair balding a bit at the crown. Though the bulky fleece sweater and torn jeans hide the majority of his body, the strong hands that emerge from the sweater's sleeves promise a burly man underneath the cover of clothing. The man, stretching almost six feet tall, reaches a finger up to his grisly unshaved chin and scratches, a nervous habit of his. After double-checking that no one is watching him from the dense cover of vegetation, he walks to the
back of his car, the brown soles of his worn-down leather shoes crunching against the pebbles. He reaches for the set of keys in his back pocket with his right hand and withdraws them carefully. After a
few seconds of sifting through the keys, he inserts the correct one into the lock on the rusted trunk. He jiggles it several times and mutters a couple of curse words under his breath before the key finally catches and the trunk's door creaks open. Glancing around once more, the anxious figure reaches into the trunk and withdraws a large cloth bag, brown in colour. It is tied at the opening with some dirty
twine, the knot twisted and complicated. By the way the man groans as he lifts up the sack, one could tell that the contents of the bag are not particularly light. He shifts the weight from his left shoulder to
his right and slowly makes his way towards the woods. About two hundred feet into the forest, he drops the bag heavily and heads back to the beat-
up Tercell. He disappears into the trunk once more, but this time, he emerges with a pair of mud-encrusted gardening gloves upon his hands.
In his left gloved hand rests a long wooden object with a dusty metal end, catching the gleam of the flickering street lights. A light drizzle has picked up, growing heavier with each uneasy pound of the
stranger's heart. His feet, like weights, join in the pounding as he races back into the woods, towards the area where he has placed the bag. Deeper and deeper he goes into the army of trees until the light
from the street fades, and the only thing that guides him is the luminescent glow of the almost-full-moon. He stumbles forwards, so nervous that walking is no longer an easy feat. He stops and examines the scenery, and then his heart skips a beat. This was where he dropped the- bag, right? Sweat forms on his brow as he searches his surroundings for the large burlap sack. Then he spots it, and he sighs with relief. He quickly scrambles over to it and he recollects the
events of the evening, smiling openly, showing his naturally white teeth.

He had pulled it off perfectly.

Not only had the sky promised a storm, but the girl was scared and naive. And alone in a sedentary
neighbourhood. With no cell phone. He could recall the exact conversation between them. He had pulled up to her carefully, examining with a frown her mascara-stained cheeks.
"What's wrong?" he had asked, his voice kind and full of sympathy. "You look upset, and my wife would have killed me if I had let you walk home alone in this place." He gestured towards the street.
"It's none of your business," she had replied sharply.
"Oh, I've upset you even more," he said with a slow shake of his head. "Sharon's gonna give me grief for this." The girl kept walking, and he started the car to a pace like hers, even though he was on the wrong side of the road. Then again, there wasn't a car in sight there. "Well, could you at least tell me what's wrong?" he asked. "Maybe I could help ya out. Do you need to borrow my cell?" He held up a silver Nokia.
"No... no thanks." However, she stopped, a motion that had excited the man to no extent.
"Well, is there anything I can do for ya? Anything at all? My name's Hank, by the way." This was a lie, of course, but he couldn't tell her his real name.
"No," she whispered. Then, she burst into tears. "My boyfriend dumped me. He was supposed to give me a ride home." She sniffled and apologized for absolutely nothing. He surveyed her. She was young, maybe fifteen or sixteen, and pretty. She had her share of flaws, of course, but all in all she was the perfect victim.
"You poor thing!" he exclaimed, shaking his head. "If my daughter had been dumped like that, I would have beaten him to a pulp in ten seconds flat."
"Y-y-ou have a daughter?"
He smiled to himself. He had hooked her, and now was reeling her in. Soon she would be in an icebox, waiting to be skinned and cooked.
"Her name's Amy. She's in college now, but I'd protect her all the same."
"Oh." Pause. A sniffle. Then, "Where does she go?"
"She goes to Penn State. She's stayin' with my sister and her husband."
"That's a long trip away from here."
"Yeah, but neither Sharon nor I could stop her from following her dreams... Look at you. You're soaked to the bone. Why don't I drive ya home?"
"Um..."
"Or would you rather borrow my phone and call for someone to pick you up?" He prayed that she would choose the former and not the latter.
"Well, both my parents work late, and my brother's at his girlfriend's house... But I think I'll walk. It's only a mile away."
"Are ya sure? It's kinda cold out, and it's gettin' late. Is there anyone else who can give ya a ride?"
"No... I mean, my friend Alisha has a car, but my phone broke last week, so..." She looked down at her feet, and he had known that she wanted a ride.
"So how 'bout you hop right up in this here seat and you show me where to go?"

And that was it. Hook, line, and sinker. She had no idea what was in store for her. He had made small talk with her for a few minutes, so that she would relax and be totally unprepared for his attack. He
had pulled into an alley on a rickety street, and grabbed the thick roll of twine. Before she could even ask why they had stopped, he was on top of her, tying her hands behind her back.
"Please, please!" she had pleaded, but her cries for help were muffled by the silver duct tape holding her mouth closed. She had struggled, squirming and kicking the best she could, but he was too strong. The trunk was opened, she was thrown in, and the door was closed. But before that, he had looked deep into her desperate tear-filled eyes, and smiled with satisfaction. That was the part he loved
most. Helpless, weak. It gave him a sense of power. The kill, though, that was enjoyable, too. Tonight he would have very little to clean up. The rain would wash away his fingerprints, and swirl her blood
down the sewers. And no one would be out on a dark stormy night. Yes, it was a perfect night for a kill. He had debated whether or not he should keep her for a few days, though. Torture was almost as fun as the kill. But it had its risks. The parents could be quick on their feet to get the report out, and it would be much harder to get rid of the body and evidence, or she could be smart, and escape before he even had a chance to sharpen his knives. But how the risks were worth it. He could slit her wrists and watch her scream in agony. She would stare at her damp dungeon of a basement, whimper as she heard his heavy feet thump down the creaking wooden stairs. He could break a few ribs, smash empty beer bottles on her, make her his slave before he slit her throat.

But no. It would've been too risky. He decided to keep it short and simple. And it was.

The distant call of an owl startles the man and awakes him from his daydream. He then remembers his intent, and begins to dig into the soft earth stealthily with the item he withdrew from his trunk. It is a beat-up shovel, the wooden handle splintered from over-use and the metal end rusted from being left out in the rain too many times, though there may have been other reasons for the dark red that stained it. He shovels to a beat, a rythym. Before long, he has created a hole four feet deep and six feet long. Dusting his knees off, the man gets up
and turns to the burlap sack and empties the contents. The night's kill, the tearstreaked girl, tumbles out. Her blue babydoll top is crusted with dried blood. Her face is blank, expressionless, empty. Loose strands of brown-gold hair blow in the gentle breeze, the smell of death mingling with her floral perfume and blowing into the killer's face. He lifts up her limp body and examines her perfectly manicured nails. He rests his fingers on the
silver ring on her pinkie. The diamond-studded butterfly with sparkling sapphires serving as the body rests on the perfect circle of silver. Then, ever-so-gently, he picks the girl up and positions her carefully within her freshly-dug grave and begins to toss dirt on her, making his way up from her feet to her chest. But before he finishes the dirty job, he looks once more at the girl's lifeless face. Already
the pink in her cheeks has flooded away. Her skin is soap-smooth. Her pouty lips portray innocence. Her nose, now broken from the struggle, points up slightly, as if pointing towards the direction in which her spirit is headed. Her long, delicate eyelashes rest perfectly over her green eyes. The man bows his head slightly before taking her hand in his and sliding the butterfly ring off her finger. He slips it into his front left pocket and covers the rest of the body with the cakey dirt. Once the job is finished, he takes out the butterfly ring and fingers it, as if he were contemplating it. He drops it back into the pocket in his faded jeans.

A reward.

But before heading back to his car, he picks up the shovel. He looks at it for a moment, then, swiftly, stabs it, metal end first, into the head of the grave.
And there he left it, to mark the end of a life, to disintegrate into the earth, just like the young girl buried beneath it.





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Passion4 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm
Haven't read this in a while (: Its better than I remembered it!
 
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