He checked his watch under the glare of the waning gibbous moon. He’d been digging for twenty minutes now and the moment was fast-approaching. Decaying leaves in trees and decaying leaves on the ground. Dying bugs and dying plants. Death embraced the world. The crisp September wind didn’t improve things by rustling the leaves, giving him the impression that someone was approaching the playground.
Though each creaking sound coming from the merry-go-round startled him, at least he had almost completely forgotten about the misfortune. How had it come this far? It seemed like only yesterday things had been completely different. Now he stood in the middle of the Reeker Park, contemplating if this spot was the right spot. He stood just a few metres from the jungle gym, where he once imagined his son playing and being chased by little Rocket. He stood, using the shovel for support, and as he exhaled the last puff of smoke from his last cigarette, the lucky cigarette, a sudden beam of light appeared from the playground.
“Is anybody out there?” shouted a husky male voice. The frail figure of the 68 year old park ranger, Rupert, appeared in his field of vision. He quickly ducked, before the old man had the chance to spot him. He did a 360° scan and then muttered “Damn kids,” before returning to the warmth of his booth across the park and the shouts of the football match commentators on his antic radio.
He let out a sigh of relief – if Rupert had caught him, he would have had to answer a lot of questions and, worst case scenario, would have ended up in jail. Though the most incriminating part was missing, he didn’t look good standing in the middle of the night next to a hole dug in the ground. But he didn’t have enough time to think about the situation too long – a quickened rustling of leaves could be heard, signalling that someone was coming in his direction. Before he could react and flee, an extremely bright light blinded him, and this time he had definitely been spotted.
“What the hell are you doing on the ground?!” came a female whisper.
“Christ, Donna! You scared the crap out of me! Where have you been?!”
“I got held up. I ran into Randy in the hallway and he was curious about the box.”
“What did you tell him?!”
“I made up something about a potluck dinner.”
“Fuckin’ hell. But you have him?”
“Yeah…he’s right here.”
From the ground behind her she picked up a rectangular wooden box. He quickly jumped up to help her and they carefully placed it inside the previously dug hole.
“Did you remember to grab it before you left?” he said as she leaned her head on his shoulder, glancing sadly at the box. “Yeah,” she replied, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a roughed up tennis ball, which had once been yellow and soft, but had now turned brown and sticky. “I’m going to miss him always chewing on this thing.” “Me too.”