“What’cha doing?” Sid stands at the edge of a mystery.
“Digging a hole” replies Jason.
“Smart ass” Sid fires back.
“Well, next time, be more specific.” Jason stops digging and looks up at Sid who is now squatting at the edge of his hole.
” ‘Fucking’ smart ass.” Sid cocks one eyebrow and locks eyes with the dirty man in the hole.
“Fair enough. I was attempting to illustrate the break down of clear communication in this modern society of brevity and emote-icons. Full of laziness if you ask me. A complete disregard for the ebb and flow of meaningful conversation.”
“We’ve become a bunch of morons talking ‘at each other’ instead of ‘to one another.’ And that is the kind of thing that leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. The kind of thing that is great for sitcoms but poison for real life.” Jason places a foot on the shovel’s head and shoves hard into the dirt.
“You are weird.” Sid starts to slide into the hole. He quickly stands up and after regaining his balance he turns his head to scan the windows of Jason & Nancy’s ranch style home.
It’s not quite dark yet but certainly late enough to turn on lights if you are inside.
“Where’s Nancy?” Sid slowly drops the question down the hole and it lands on Jason shoulders causing him to hesitate before taking another plunge into the soft earth.
“She went for a walk” says Jason.
Sid pulls out his phone and swipes the screen with a few flicks of his thumbs. “Well she may get wet, looks like we have some bad weather heading this way.”
Jason stops digging “Is that why you are here Sid? Are you here to talk about the weather?”
Sid chooses his words wisely, “You haven’t answered any of my calls or texts in almost 2 weeks. Is there a problem?”
“I don’t think our ‘arrangement’ works for me anymore” Jason says bluntly.
“I can increase your rate if that….”
“It’s not the money” interrupts Jason.
“Then what is it?” asks Sid.
“You are taking advantage of that girl.” Jason points a finger up at Sid as fingernails dig deep into blisters that have formed inside Jason’s palm.
“I am doing no such thing” Sid defends.
“She’s a college student Sid. Do you have any idea how much debt these kids are getting themselves into with little to no prospects for decent paying jobs? It’s a nightmare out there Sid and you are just another monster.” Jason grabs the shovel’s wooden handle with both blistered hands.
“What’s that make you?” attacks Sid.
“A retired monster.” says Jason
” ‘That girl’ isn’t a victim. But if she plays it up that way in court, we could all stand to profit.” Sid says as he looks up at gathering clouds in the sky.
“Look, I just don’t like who I have become. That’s all” Jason says as the stinging in his hands turns to burning.
“Geez, give yourself a break will ya.” Sid can read Jason’s pain.
“Why don’t you come on out of that hole before it pours down on you.” pleads Sid taking another glance at the sky.
Jason stares at the ground, exhausted, quiet.
Sid doesn’t care for silence. “Seriously, what’s up with this hole?”
“Koi Pond.” says Jason.
“This hole has to be at least 12 feet deep. That’s some big ass Koi.” Sid ponders giant Koi in his mind.
“Nancy and I discussed setting up a Koi Pond for years. We talked about it on our first date. Then last year, she went on a girl’s trip out of town and I started digging the pond to surprise her when she got back. She was surprised alright. Apparently, she has just been reflecting my own desires for the pond all these years. She was pretty pissed I had dug up the back yard.” Jason looks around the hole and smirks.
“We had a talk that night. A long talk. It ended with her joking that we had a good start for an in-ground pool. Something that she has always wanted.” Jason holds his arm above his head measuring the dept of the hole “I figure I am working on the deep end now.”
Sid breaks it to Jason. “This is not how you dig a pool.”
“I know. But it really pisses her off.” the smallest smile appears on Jason’s face.
A drop of rain hits Sid’s head and quickly rolls down his forehead and onto his cheek where he stops it with a finger and holds it into the waning light for verification. Rain.
“Are you working tonight?” Sid gets right to the point with a sense of urgency required when rain is threatening.
“Yep. An EMT’s dream shift. Midnight till Noon.” Jason says as she starts up the homemade rope ladder accepting the fact that rain is coming.
“Are we good? Am I going to start getting calls again?” Sid asks with all due seriousness
“Yeah. Sure. Yeah.” affirms Jason
“Alright.” confirms Sid
A silence breaks out. Sid fills it. “Because I have kids to provide for….and you have a pool to pay for.”
Another silence encroaches as Jason stares at Sid at the top of the ladder.
“Alright, I’m going to go grab something to eat then. Maybe hit the IHOP for some coffee and Pancakes. I’ll talk to you later then. ” Sid makes a hasty retreat to his car while looking out for more rain. He opens his car door and it is jerked from his hand by a gust of wind. Sid quickly gets into his car and shuts out the bad weather.
Jason watches as Sid’s taillights leave his suburban drive. It’s not until Sid turns on his headlights does Jason realize how late it is getting. He reaches into his pocket for his phone to see the time and to see if Nancy has text him. Doubtful, considering how they had left things. His phone is not there. It’s in the hole. “Damnit.”
As Jason starts back towards the hole. The wind is starting to push him around. No easy feat except for maybe God. Jason is around 6 Foot 5 Inches tall and 230 pounds of muscle. A few drops of rain pierce his brown hair and sends tingles down his spine as the cold drops of rain trickle through the bristle of his course hair and stream down his neck. A few drops turn into hundreds in a matter of seconds.
Jason starts to hurry as he thinks about his phone getting wet and screwing up yet another phone. He quickly jerks up the rope ladder from the ground and repels into the hole. It’s dark. But he’s pretty sure he left it on a towel in the corner of the hole. His eyes adjust and he sees the white towel. He picks up the phone just in time to see that Nancy is calling. He attempts to answer but his fingers are wet. He slides. It won’t answer. He misses the call.
It’s been bubbling all day. The tension before him and Nancy.
He throws the phone to the ground. The rain is so thick now that he can’t keep it out of his face even when he wipes it away. It’s full on raining now.
He searches for the phone he threw down.
It’s ringing again. It’s Nancy.
He picks up the phone and slips and falls.
He tries to slide the phone. He finally gets it to answer but it’s too late. She just hung up.
Now he is sitting in about a foot of water.
He grabs the rope ladder and starts to climb. It slips gives way and falls into the hole with him. He must have pulled it free when he jerked it up earlier.
He starts to panic. Realizes that panic is what usually gets you killed from his experience as an EMT.
He tries to think his way out.
“Man, God must really hate you.”
“Hate implies some kind of broken intimate relationship. Like an ex-wife or shitty father. God and I have never been that close.”
“Perhaps you should change that?” ” Besides, people hate dictators…surely you could at least admit God is a dictator bent on cleansing the world of little shits like us.”
Jason was a boyscout, he is an EMT, he is a volunteer fireman.