Work for the Night

Kevin was struggling against the handcuffs.

“I know what I did was disgusting. But I didn’t have a choice.”

He looked at me with angry eyes.

“Life has thrown so much crap at me – and still I always was the nice guy. I always was caring and loving and let others go first. I tried getting jobs, but I don’t have a car and my neighborhood has barely any public transport. I was a pizza baker and a checkout guy and even a cleaner, but every time there was a strike or the bus broke down and I ended up late and they kicked me right on the street. They always said that I was lucky that they gave me a chance, but that I blew it.”

“I didn’t even know what to put on my CVs anymore – it’s probably better to pretend I was unemployed or even to say I had drug problems or anything like that, rather than list the number of times I was fired.”

Kevin lowered his head.

“That I was without a job and constantly a downer made sure that not many people wanted to be my friends anymore. And I didn’t want to alienate the last ones left, or my family, by begging for money. At some point I just didn’t have a choice anymore. I have medical bills and rent and charges, just so much stuff to pay and no one to help me out. And so I began to steal.”

“First I tried pickpocketing, but that was damn hard. You have to be so quick and ideally work in a team, but I didn’t have anybody to try it with me. Then I tried fake craigslist ads and ebay auctions, but that worked only once or twice. I even robbed some stuff from churches and other public places, but the pawnshops are careful with that stuff. I spent a whole day scouting a church, and in the end I only got thirty dollar for a bag full of stuff.”

Kevin smiled and looked up.

“So I figured, if I can’t steal from the living I’ll try to steal from the dead. I don’t remember when I noticed it first, but it’s incredible how much stuff people are buried with. Watches, gold rings, bracelets, pendants, expensive shoe; and don’t even think of the amounts that people pay for nicely painted wooden boxes, but they are pretty hard to steal. A single grave can bring you a few hundred bucks. And if you are quick you can do two or three per night.”

“I saw some stories online of guys who even rip out the gold teeth and piercings, and some that even cut out the tattoos and dry the skin. There is a whole market for that, but I only took the loose stuff and I never even took pictures or things like that. Apparently you can get more money if you provide pictures of where the goods come from. The clothes of dead children and teen girls can fetch a ridiculous price. I actually worked with one of those that wanted to steal a little girl’s dress, but I told him if he even tried I’d bury him with her, and he got the hint.”

“I really think the people who do that stuff don’t do it for the money. They are just insane, that’s inhuman. It’s disgusting. I didn’t do it, not a single time; not just because of the risk, I simply never wanted to feed some crazy rich guy’s fetish. I just wanted to make enough to pay the bills.”

“Doing plain graving was also a bit more convenient because it was easy to find people that would come along. Some did it for the money and some for the fun. It was crazy, but after a month or so I had enough contacts that I literally never had to go alone. Most of the others did it only once or twice a week, but I was at it nearly every night. During the day I would scout for places on Google Maps – ideally abandoned graveyards, or at least those away from the cities – and coordinate with people to meet up at one of the places. And at night we would meet and go there together.”

I looked up from my notes to see Kevin staring at the dirt under his own fingernails; a shiver ran down my spine.

He smirked. “Never washed them properly, I guess.”

I worked hard to hide my disgust.

“Kevin, what happened Monday night? Where is the body?”

“I don’t know what happened. I guess I just freaked out. It was pretty much a normal night, at first. I was with two other guys. They called themselves Nolan and Drake. I’ve met them a few times, but I doubt that’s their real names. Nolan is a bit overweight and one of the more creepy types, but Drake is young and in pretty good shape. I think Drake does it for the fun, this immense rush of endorphins.”

“We met and Nolan was driving us to this fairly large inner-city graveyard. I’d been there before, but there were a lot of decorations and plants and it was easy to find a spot where we wouldn’t be seen.”

“The first grave was an older guy, but the ground was hard and when we finally cracked the box open he was basically rotten to pieces. He didn’t even smell that much anymore. It wasn’t worth the effort – his shoes were unusable and he only wore a watch and an overused wedding ring. I saw that Nolan was trying to get a look at his teeth, but I started throwing soil back into the hole to get Nolan away, and I guess Drake also didn’t like Nolan’s attitude and helped me out.”

Kevin shook his head.

“We decided to go next for a female. They usually have more usable stuff. We even found a very fresh grave, just a month old. It was a bit more in the open, but still hidden enough. We were down at the casket within twenty minutes, and after another ten and we had cracked her open. She really was a find. She must have been still young, even with her dried eyeballs and rotting gray skin she looked fine; probably an accident victim or so.”

“We had all the valuables within five minutes. Nolan insisted on a more ‘in-depth’ search and we gave him some time to search, or rather touch, whatever he wanted. I watched him while Drake went off to scout for the next grave. I don’t know how he found it, but he was back even before Nolan had finished his thing. I threw some soil on Nolan to get him to stop, and when he came up we quickly filled the grave back up.”

Kevin shivered.

“The third grave was different. It was a bigger one, one for two caskets, and it seemed completely fresh – half the work for double the booty, basically the ideal find. It seemed like the grave was for a couple, but when the shovels hit on wood I quickly realized that it was actually an adult and a child. There was no stone, so the grave must have been at most a week old.”

“It was easy to open the cheap adult casket. There was a woman inside, in a nice dark blue dress. There was a slight smell, but the mask was perfect, she looked nearly alive, basically kissable. Nolan even gave it a try, but he stopped half-way in front of her mouth and made a disgusted face. Don’t know what he saw there.”

“We grabbed her stuff pretty quickly and I was starting to throw the soil back in. I’m not into dead kids and they usually have only a few teddy bears and nothing sellable, at least not if you don’t want to go to the lower markets. But Drake stopped me. Nolan was still busy gazing at the lady, lifting her dress and stuff; but Drake for some reason was interested in the smaller wooden box, big enough for maybe a five year old or so.”

“I climbed out to examine the loot, so I’m not really sure what happened down there. I heard the cracking wood, then a moment of silence and then Drake’s scream. ‘Fuck, she moves!’ and they both came scrambling out of the grave within a second; first Drake and he kept screaming “Holy fuck, she moved!” and “We have to get out!”, then Nolan struggling behind him. While Nolan was climbing up he was wincing repeatedly, as if something was at his legs, but before I could reach Drake had pulled him out and they were both just cursing and grabbing our stuff.”

“I didn’t get a look into that hole anymore. But I’d be stupid if I had even wanted to. We were over the wall in five minutes; we were quiet, but we didn’t even care whether anybody saw us.”

“When we reached the car Nolan fumbled in his pockets for a while, until he admitted with a whining voice that he couldn’t find the keys. Drake didn’t even say anything. He just threw the tools down and ran off into some random street. I haven’t heard from him since then.”

“Nolan and I discussed for a while. He was pleading that I should go alone to search for it, and he would ‘watch the car’, but I was having none of it. In the end we left the stuff, slowly climbed back over the wall and tried to retrace our steps. I will never forget the fear in his eyes, how he kept looking around, in all directions. He didn’t even look at the floor; he was just looking around while I searched for the keys.”

Kevin bit his lips.

“It took us another ten minutes to get close to the last grave again. The dark hole in the floor looked peaceful, as if nothing was wrong, but Nolan didn’t dare to look away from it while we moved forwards. Probably his nervousness was just getting to me, but I too was totally on edge. A few times I even felt as if there was movement behind bushes or gravestones, but whenever I looked at them directly there was nothing.”

“Finally I saw something shimmering on the floor, just a few steps away from the grave. I didn’t even think about it, I just moved forward, grabbed the keys and stood up again – and only then I saw into the grave. The woman was still lying in her box, half-undressed. But I also saw the lid of the small casket. It was automatic. I didn’t even think about what happened before; I just took a step forward to see the child’s casket. I saw the dark wood and it took me a moment to process what I saw:

It was empty. That’s when I ran.”

This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.


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