Dirt, Undone: Someone Always Finds Out
Neighbor finally got inside, hanging his sweat-soaked hat upon the hook nearest the backdoor, as the summer sun sank slowly. He extended his leg behind him, pushing the door shut with his boot, leaving a stain of mud on its white paint. “Better mud than blood,” Neighbor said aloud, to nobody but himself. Planning to clean the mud from the door and floor sometime later he moved to the kitchen sink, starting the water with his elbows, and rinsing the caked blood and dirt from his hands. Didn’t want it on the faucet; one of the few shining things in this house. There had been disasters, but then there was this. What was he supposed to do? A betrayal is betrayal, in bed, on the street, or wherever. In absent thought, he caught a glimpse of her in their wedding photo, in its pained leather frame, on the wall above the pantry. The house was too small. She had made her own bed, with the Other Man. This cottage was far enough from town, nobody would know the truth of it. Nobody would notice she’d gone. Neighbor realized he left the water running for too long, as he glanced into the sink, and saw the blood seemed gone from his hands.
“It’s done then,” he said, shutting it off and going to the pantry, looking to fry bacon.
What else was he meant to do? Nonetheless, he had to fry his bacon by himself now, even if it were justified. He grabbed the dry wood from beside the stove and tossed it in. Renewed warmness filled the one-room house; emanating from the maw of the stove. He could do this by himself, but wouldn’t have to for long. He was by no means a young man, but not ancient either. He was old enough to see Death a few miles up the road, but not young enough to care. They became fast friends, at least for today. Noticing blood under his ragged nails, he returned to the sink to scrub it out before putting the bacon on. Nobody would ever know, regardless. He dug deep enough. Glancing out of the window and onto his lonely property, into the fading light, Neighbor saw the specter of a dog; either wolf or coyote, viciously digging into the disturbed topsoil of the hastily-dug and unmarked grave, the grave of Wife and shame alike; pining after its newly-bloodied contents. The digging beast was joined by another, then another, both of whom began digging in earnest alongside the first. Someone is always bound to find out.
JACK H. GEHLHOFF
is a musician, painter, poet, and writer from Millbrook, New York. A sophomore in the UBTeach program, Jack hopes to someday earn a PhD in Modernist literature. He’s influenced most by James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Cohen, and Jack Kerouac, and aims to carry the torch of experimental literature further into the 21st century.