My Cemetery

November 1, 2010

Music provided by my favorite zombie band, The Widow’s Bane.


My Cemetery

by Dale Bridges

There’s a graveyard about five blocks from my apartment building where I go for walks late at night and make up stories about the dead.  It’s just something I do when I can’t sleep.  I’m sure the place has a name but I’ve never learned it.  I simply think of it as My Cemetery because everyone else seems to have forgotten about it.  Sometimes I’ll see a couple in their forties walking an asthmatic pug or a group of teenage goths smoking pot, but I consider these people interlopers, tourists.  They’re here because Princess needed to tinkle or because they have an unhealthy fascination with black fingernail polish that will eventually develop into an eating disorder.  They don’t care about the bodies buried in the sacred ground beneath their cigarette butts.  Not like I do.

Consider, for instance, the life of one Esther Reeks.  I don’t know what her name was before she met William, but I like to think it was something along the lines of Esther Rose or Esther Spring.  A dainty, fragrant name.  Then one day she fell head over heels for a local guy, and the next thing she knew her friends at the beauty salon were giggling and calling her Mrs. Reeks.

But at least the Reeks had the good sense not to have children.  The same thing can’t be said about the Belcher clan.  My Cemetery is crawling with Belchers.  I like to think of them as a sophisticated family, a real group of high-society snobs complete with monocles and top hats.  You know the type.  However, they lost their family fortune after attempting to open up an elegant French restaurant in the ritzy end of town.  For some reason, no one wanted to eat dinner at Le Belcher’s.

My favorite tombstone is a giant, rectangular monstrosity designating the burial site of a family with the last name of HUSSIE.  That’s how it appears on the grave, HUSSIE, like a Vegas billboard advertising a new strip club.  It’s a sizeable monument and it’s the color of an old pearl necklace, making it stand out from the rest.  I know it’s natural for humans to be proud of their heritage, but you’d think a group of people named after a sexually promiscuous woman would’ve learned a little humility in their lifetime.  Apparently not.

Less than ten yards south of the Hussies is the eternal resting place of the SALE family.  Since America is the land of capitalism, when I first saw this tombstone I thought it was available for purchase.  You know, like: SALE ON USED CRYPTS!  OUR PRICE$ ARE TO DIE FOR!!!  Who knows?  The economy has been in a slump lately.  Maybe cemetery landlords are feeling the crunch.

I sometimes imagine one of the Sale boys asking a young lady in the Hussie family for her hand in marriage.  He’d own a used car dealership and wear designer cowboy boots.  She’d be one of those feisty liberals who would decide to hyphenate her last name in order to maintain her independence.  You know how proud those Hussie women can be.  Of course her children would hate her for it later, especially when their teachers took attendance.  “Hussie-Sale!  Is there a Hussie-Sale in class today?”  But what a great tombstone it would make.

There are a surprising number of graves shaped like penises in My Cemetery.  I don’t know how this happened, but I can’t be the first one to notice it.  It’s pretty obvious.  They’re like giant, stone dildos sticking out of the earth.  The long shaft, the rounded tip, the testicle-like base.  These are not subtle details.  Curiously, these penis graves are all circumcised.  Every single one.  I wonder if it would be different in a European cemetery.  Do tombstones in Paris have foreskin?  I hope so.

Right next door to My Cemetery there is an elementary school, which I’ve always thought was slightly macabre but also appropriate.  “Suzie, Johnny, are you having fun playing in the sandbox?  Good.  Don’t forget that in a few short years you’ll be buried six feet under it.”  Circle of life, you know.  Those kids gotta learn sometime.

I sometimes wonder if any of the children ever pause at the top of that slide to look out on the field of dead people next door.  Perhaps for a fleeting moment they halt their mindless play and contemplate their own mortality.  All those tombstones lined up in nice little rows like a morbid stone garden.  The image will haunt them at night, burrowing deep into their subconscious.  Ten years will go by, then twenty.  One day they’ll look in the mirror and realize that they are a 35-year-old man with a drinking problem and incurable insomnia.  When that happens, in an effort to forget their own problems, they will leave their apartment in the middle of the night and walk down to the local cemetery, where they’ll wander around like a crazy person, making up stories about the dead people buried below them.

6 Responses to “My Cemetery”

  1. Alyssa Says:

    one of my favorites, dale.

  2. Debby Says:

    Dale, I spent some time in “your” cemetery about a year and a half ago. I was able to locate some of my ancestors’ graves and headstones. I no longer have a pug so was not there for dog duty, although I ran into a couple who were. (And, check the spelling of “crypt.”

  3. H I L A R I O U S. I love this! May I suggest that you reprint it for Halloween this year? So much fun. By the way, I too love cemeteries and like to visit them when I travel. So peaceful and beautiful. Of course, Hollywood Forever is my all time favorite.

    • Dale Bridges Says:

      Thank you very much. Hadn’t thought about reposting it on Halloween. That’s a great idea. I have never been to Hollywood Forever, but I will put it on my list. The Pere Lachaise in Paris has been my favorite so far.

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