GRAVE MISTAKE

Short Stories

GRAVE MISTAKE

“I know this is going to sound crazy, but Thursday night, I
saw Old Man Gilford burying something in his cornfield.”

The police sergeant appeared unimpressed and kept writing in his daily log.

“You think I’ve lost my marbles, I know it, but Sergeant Kelly, I’m right. He was in the cornfield with a shovel and was throwing dirt on what looked like a shallow grave.”

Kelly put down his pen, closed the logbook, and leaned across the desk. “Son, Old Man Gilford grows corn. When you tell me he’s digging in his cornfield, I have to wonder if I need to give you a breathalyzer?”

“Forget it, Kelly. I should have known better than to try to convince you. How you still have this job is beyond me, and frankly, it’s beyond most of the people in this one-horse town.”

“Jason, get out of my building, and head on home, before I have you put into lock up for the night. Leave Old Man Gilford alone. If I hear of you snooping around out there, I will make good on my promise to lock you up.”

Jason left Police Headquarters through the front, Kelly left out the back thinking maybe he should go check up on John Gilford anyway. Jason stopped at the Saloon to talk with Carrie Downs. She was the local Jibber Jabber Queen. She knew everything rumored to be a rumor. As expected, she was sitting at the bar, surrounded by local gentlemen. They were more than happy to buy her enough drinks to make her think one of them is James Bond, and take him upstairs to her private room.

“Carrie, I need to talk to you for a minute. Excuse us, gentlemen.” Jason grabbed her arm, pulling her off the stool and over to a table near the old jukebox in the corner of the Saloon.

“My God, Jason, what is it? Can’t you see I’m busy? I hope this is important.”

Jason told Carrie the same story he told Kelly. Carrie told Jason the same thing Kelly did, “Old man Gilford is a farmer and blah, blah, blah.”

“Well, I know I’m not losing my mind, Carrie, I saw what I saw.” Jason stood up and charged out of the Saloon. He planned to just drive right on out to the Gilford Farm and prove this whole thing was a crime in progress.

Carrie went to the bar, grabbed her bag and sweater, and excused herself, “Sorry, boys, something just came up, and I have to beat it.” They all laughed at the double entendre as she hurried out the back door of the bar. Carrie thought maybe she’d
better head over to see John Gilford. If anyone found out about their illicit affair they’d both get run out of town.
##
Old Man Gilford pulled the stained and tattered bandana
from his back pocket and wiped it across his brow. After wiping
his hands with the same bandana, he picked up the shovel and
pickaxe and headed back to the barn. Inside the barn, he hung
the tools on the pegs hammered into the support beams situated
down the center of the structure.

Checking the two horse stalls, he made sure there was water
and hay for the night. He headed out the opposite end of the
barn and checked on the half dozen hogs he had penned up there.
He hated those hogs. No self-respecting Corn Farmer would have
pigs and corn at the same time. But, Missus Gilford insisted she
have hogs, so here they are. Satisfied everything was right, he
headed up to the main house.

Four steps up to the back porch and through the door, he
was in the kitchen. Stopping at the fridge for a glass of cold
water, he checked the answering machine and finding no new calls
went into the living room and sat in his favorite armchair.
Old Blue, the Coonhound, stood up and laid down next to
him. Tuning the radio to an old-time jazz station, his favorite
music, both Old Man Gilford and Old Blue, fell asleep. It would
typically be the morning light pouring through the front windows
that woke them. Tonight it was the sound of approaching cars in
the drive.

Stepping out on the front porch, Old Man Gilford and Old
Blue saw three cars heading up the dirt drive and coming to a
stop at the edge of the grass. One of the vehicles was a town
police car, the lights and siren were off, but a police car just
the same. As they came to a stop, the drivers piled out of each
vehicle. They all looked at each other, shocked they all had the
idea to head out to Old Man Gilford’s place.

“Jason, Carrie, Sargent Kelly, it’s a little late for a
town meeting, don’t you think?”

Kelly spoke first, “John, our ace reporter Jason tells me
he saw you maybe burying something in your cornfield a few
nights ago. Is that true?”

Old Man Gilford wiped the sweat from his brow with the
bandana once again. “What is the problem, Kelly? Can’t I dig in
my field? Gonna make the corn harvest a bit light if I can’t do
that.”

“Where’s Mildred, I want to say hey.” Carrie headed quickly
up the steps. Old Man Gilford stepped to the side, blocking her
from entering the house.

“She’s in Memphis visiting her sister.”

Jason spoke up, “What’s in the cornfield, Mr. Gilford?”

Old Man Gilford says just a single word, “Corn.” Then
asked, “What is it y’all are accusing me of anyway?”

“John, if you don’t mind, can we have a look in the field
so I can put this whole thing to bed? Were you burying something
out there Thursday night, John? Is Jason right or wrong?”

Wiping his brow again, he starts down the steps and over to
the barn, “Pig died is all. Come on.”

They all go to the barn, John grabs his pickaxe and shovel,
and Jason shows them where he saw the farmer throwing dirt over
the ground.

“Right here.” Sure enough, they all saw a shallow grave
freshly dug. Carrie started crying. Kelly put his arm around her
to calm her nerves.

“It’s going to be fine, Carrie, everything is okay. John,
dig it up.”

Old Man Gilford started digging, and it wasn’t but a few
minutes until he uncovered the face of the dead pig.

Carrie began vomiting and ran to her car. She has seen too
much. Kelly turned and looked at Jason, and shoved his thumb
back over his shoulder in a motion to get him out of the area.

“John, I’m sorry about this, and about your pig. That was
the blue ribbon one, wasn’t it?”

“It was. Got a freezer full of bacon, sausage, and fat back
now. Do y’all mind if I cover the pig up now?”

“No, John, that’s fine. I’ll deal with Jason tomorrow, and
I’m sure Carrie will be fine. Poor girl, that’s probably the
first dead thing she ever saw, I imagine.”

John Gilford was busy covering the pig carcass and just
said, “I imagine. Seen one dead body, seen ‘em all.”

Kelly said his goodbyes and headed to the patrol car,
driving down the dirt road back to the station. He’d have to
write up a report.

Back in the house, John Gilford turned off the lights,
turned off the radio, and as he headed to the stairs, he stopped
at the walk-in pantry.

Wiping his hands with his bandana, he placed them on the
top of the chest freezer and said, “Good night, Mildred.”

THE END

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