Microfiction — A Good Man.
Billy wiped tears from his eyes while driving his father’s grey ute into the cemetery. He hadn’t been an easy man to live with, though he’d do the right thing by him — no matter what they said. The night was dark, no moon. Light came from the corner plot they planned to bury him in. The cemetery had no right to deny him access; his whole family lay here. Once he was in the ground, Billy was confident they’d leave him there.
‘Harry, Paul, Smithie.’
‘Evening, Billy,’ said Paul. The other two nodded.
‘Thanks for coming guys, I know he’d appreciate it.’
‘It’s the least we can do,’ said Smithie with a solemn face.
Harry handed him a spade. Clay squelched underfoot. The recent rain had become a small blessing; dirt came away quickly. He was sweating; arms ached from the effort. He was okay with that; he wanted to do his part.
‘How deep do we need to go?’ Billy asked.
‘Four to five feet,’ replied Harry. ‘Have a rest, let Paul jump in, mate.’
Smithie handed him a flask. It was whisky; sour mash ran down the back of his throat, his stomach caught it and warmed.
‘I’m glad you’re with me tonight, he deserves to be here, you know,’ said Billy, wiping his brow.
‘Does he?’ said Harry.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I’m just saying — he was trouble. Knocked up my missus when I was out of town. She left for her mothers not long after, claimed she needed a break.’
‘Did the same to me,’ said Paul from in the hole, ‘didn’t stop there, emptied half the accounts as well.’
Billy’s head began to spin.
Paul handed him the spade. ‘You should probably finish the job.’
Billy climbed back in. He drove the spade into the soil, struck something, used his hands to scrape the dirt from its surface. It was his father’s coffin. His head hurt; the men were standing around the grave.
‘You’re not here to bury him, are you?’
‘No son, we’re not,’ said Harry. ‘Your father took more from us than you’ll ever know.’
‘We’re here to make that right,’ said Smithie.
Billy looked from one face to another, black dots crossing his field of vision, he stumbled backwards falling on to the coffin as the dirt began to fall.