Ask iAN

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ASK iAN * THE GRAVEDIGGER’S SONG – THE MARK LANEGAN BAND

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVCNSZPPr9M

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I was living with my best friend Stu (now deceased...some of his ashes in an antique tobacco canister i keep by an open window with plant life and forgotten spiderweb homes) but i digress...
Back then he was alive and sometimes well and sometimes not
and we were in a mad way trying to hustle up
rent money
beer money
heroin and speed money
cigarette money
petrol money
and so i looked in the classifieds and found an add for gravediggers wanted.
Not exactly a bingo, but I did like the grounds and it's melancholia fit my personality just fine...while other people enjoy hanging out at bars, malls, all you can eat troughs, condomless and rape drink discos...I've always preferred hanging out in graveyards
and not because i have the slightest bit of a gothic bone in my body, it's because the crowd there, unlike the hordes at Walmart
are fucking quiet
everyone minds their own business which boils down to none, other than the occasional mourner...

The graveyard was located mildly in gangland so business was boomin', what? with all the drive by shootings?...we were planting these poor bastards just as fast as they could blast their asses! It was a sad gig i confess...so yeah...i got the job and started right away.

My first burial was a one man job. Some folks like to get cremated but at the same time don't wish their dust to be strewn out and about in the winds of a piss ass town...who in the hell wants to be blowin' down alleyways full of crumpled beer cans, cigarette butts, tossed out panties with dried blood and dead mice that the midnight tomcats have decapitated for fun...so these folks choose a plan that cuts them a funeral but no grave sight show.

My boss had already trucked this miniature 3 x 3 foot marble like box to the marked area to be buried at.
My first day on the job and the skies are coming in dark grey with touches of black on their outer shell...good Lord...
My
stomach began to cramp
I was hungover from celebrating because i had found a job...bad idea...so my boss drops me off and tells me that if the box is 3 by 3 i will want to measure off about 4 x 4 and just feel it out...then the fucker drove off. In the damp dead leaves and grass sat a fat bastard box and a couple of shovels. My first thought was of course
to RUN.
My next thought was why did i ever leave Los Angeles?
I began to want a beer something fierce...and as i turned on my heel to go and find a bar I remembered that
that was a person back there in that box...a person who struggled through this life just like the bloody rest of us...and now...i was the last person in the life of this man, this stranger who could do him a solid or make his last step...passed the lip of the grave and down in and then off into the far beyonds...i couldn't leave this fucker hangin, no way.

So with my boot i measured the leaves out of the way and took my ditching shovel, the other is a digger shovel, so i took the ditcher and cut out a simple rectangular outline and proceeded to dig off the first layer which is about a good 6 or 7 inches (that's right girls) and i scraped the muck up, out and away...as a light mist began to fall....and all the while i just kept on a digging down and keeping one eye on that box...it stared at me even though it had no eyes, it kept it's eye on me....
..
I was actually making some leeway when the mist turned into a light rain...and i still had some way to go to get this man planted....i kept thinking of Los Angeles and palm trees and Venice beach...all the time getting mud every fucking where...the clouds grew much darker now and were headed towards me, so i dug faster...mud and muck on my hands, face, hair...i was going apeshit, slingin' earth, worm, root, pebble, every goddamned thing down there in that sacred soil....now it was too deep to just bend over and scoop out from the lip of the grave...so i got one leg down in there and my other leg is on the surface and yes ladies and gentlemen my balls were massively being crushed with every heave of the shovel...i had switched now to the digger shovel and tossed the ditcher far and away....it began to piss down rain like God himself had cut a mainline in his cock and i was just getting drenched....i could hardly see.
My fuckun' hair was slapping my eyes out and with every move, my balls were crushed and i yelped like a coyote with a hangnail...Great electric booms of lightning rang out and oh didn't that just make me zippy! All i needed was to be diggin' this grave balls deep and get zapped by lightning and be found dead next to this poor unburied fuck with my poor crushed balls and my face in the fuckun' muck, dead as dick and just as dumb as one....i dug on, spasmodically, cursing the winds, the rain, this job, this dead man in the marble big boy box...i looked sillier than shit...like a one legged man jerkin' off on the wet soil.....finally i crawled from the stranger's fresh cut grave and drug his ass over to the opening and tried to dunk him in...but the mud wall needed a little more scraping...so i pushed him back, got back down in with one leg and crushed my balls for another 4 minutes, wetter than water itself....i got back up....dragged that motherfucker and leveled him in perfect...and flat down at the bottom.
I stood up and said a little prayer in this poor fuck's honor and raked the fuckun' muck, grime, and soil over his hunch...no leaves....just mud....and when i got it all filled back up....i stomped on the ground (you're supposed to) to solidify the earth and pack him in good. Leaves in my hair, mud faced...black handed....i looked like a madman who had rolled around with the pigs of doom.....I walked back and clocked out....and drove home....

and Stu.....he laughed his fucking ass off.....i popped 3 beers and sat in the shower....i hated that job so much that i

returned bright and early the next day...and the day after that and then that next one too......

My co worker was an old x con...with lady problems...no kidding?

I began to learn the names of the people that i worked around every day...
There were the Wiseman's tomb
The Smiths, The Davenports, and a slew of other families.....and they gave me a reason to do good work....and the place had an almost quiet divinity to it...and i was an instrument...for people in need...their last friendly service....and that began to weigh on me a tad.....and what was once melancholic and ethereal...now began to take on more of a haunting capacity...
I began to see...wisp....wisp of things....fair....like a glimpse of running hair here or there....sometimes a murky voice sung out from a distance.....and one morning

while lifting the board we used to cover unfinished graves from rain, i forgot as i lifted it, and fell in as the board hit me over my construction helmet head and slapped me down and back in like a hand smashes a jack in the box....back in the box. I fell 7 feet down into the bowels of the grave...panic arose in my throat like a bird trapped in a wishing well....and i thought fuck it. It's kinda nice down here....my boss jumped off the back hoe and was frightened and worried....he lifted the lid off and i jumped the fuck outta there like a dead drunk hairy saint back from the grave! We had a good laugh....

My last day...i went to work and it was a Saturday...we had a long week...i had buried a few babies....and that was the worse part of the job....
So Saturday came and we had one funeral....the boss would be off...so it was just me and the x con to fill up the grave after the mourners left.....i had been to the dentist the day prior...so i came to work of course...flying high on whiskey and codeine baby! Fucking A!
I was swirled to the gills....a handsome fuckun' mess i was......i waited in the shit ass gravedigger's truck for the family to pay their respects and leave us.....I fell asleep and then the x con woke me up and we went to work......I took two fresh new red roses a family member had left behind and jumped down onto the coffin... i placed them thorns interlaced as to concoct a makeshift crucifix...that would remain down there for as long as the man's coffin did....maybe even grow roses out one day...but ah fuck it....i put that rosy crucifix there and flashed out....i helped a little with the shovel to break up the big chunks of soil....and then to smooth it out....i ran off after we was finished...buzzing....spooks and spirits and fuckin whatnot.....their graveyard songs...following me...and i never went back as an employee.....but i been back to say hello to my old friends....the buried ones....the quiet ones....the ones i buried....that i can no longer locate...i like to read their stories....about the plague...the fire that killed the entire family....on Christmas eve.....the babies that lived for only one day....and i count my blessings.....and have a drink for them, for me, for the whole sorry lot of us.....

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