Short Story Fiction
The Death of Calvin Dandy
Scott A. Gese


Some people handle the death of a loved one with strength and courage. Others crack under the emotional strain. Calvin Dandy was not one of the strong ones.

The Death of Calvin DandyAnna Louise/Pexels

The horse drawn wagon delivered the bodies of Calvin Dandy’s wife and newborn son to the local graveyard.

Calvin was not a rich man. He couldn’t afford a fancy carriage. The buckboard had to do.

A small group of mourners gathered at the graveside to pay their last respects. Calvin was beside himself. Not being strong willed enough to hold back his grief, he cried like a baby in distress. He had every right to let go of whatever grief he held. No man should have to go through the agony of what he had just been put through.

Two days previous, Calvin’s wife had died giving birth to a stillborn son. This was indeed one of those days that can try a mans soul. A very dark day for Calvin. Maybe some men could have handled the situation better.

Not Calvin.

When the service had ended and the mourners had given their personal condolences, Calvin remained behind with the two men who would fill in the hole.

Calvin dropped to his knees next to the hole and stared down upon the coffin. “What if she’s not dead? What if she wakes up in that box? She has to have a way to let me know she’s alive so I can get her out.”

The men tried to console him. “Calvin, that ain’t ‘gonna to happen. She and your boy are both gone and we can pretty much guarantee they won’t be raised from the dead any time soon. You can go about your grieving while we work but we need to cover them up now.”

“No, not yet,” ordered Calvin. “You boys go on. I’ll do this myself. I need to get things right in my head first.”

“That’s OK by us, Calvin. Anything to help you bring closure to your grief. Just make sure you do it proper like.”

Calvin took the shovel from the men. “Don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll take care of it.”

As soon as the men were out of sight, Calvin left the grave and went into town. He borrowed a drill and purchased a length of pipe from the hardware store. When he got back to the grave he climbed into the hole. He proceeded to drill an opening in the coffin lid up by his wife’s head. He then fit the pipe over it. Only when he was satisfied it would stay in place did he fill in the grave.

That evening, one of the men came back to check on the grave. He found Calvin sitting in a chair with his ear up next to the pipe.

“What the heck have you got there, Calvin?” He asked.

Calvin looked up at the man. “I put this pipe down to my wife to give her some breathing air if she needs it. Plus, if she comes to, she can tell me she’s alive. I can let her know it’s OK. Then I can dig her out.”

“Calvin…” The man stopped in mid sentence. He knew there was no way to talk any sense into him. He just turned himself toward town and walked off, not believing what he had just heard. “Calvin’s mind is gone. I should let the sheriff know about this,” he thought to himself.

When the sheriff heard what Calvin had done he thought it strange, but he let it be for a couple of days thinking Calvin would soon give up the vigil. It was several days later when he happened to be riding by the graveyard. There was Calvin digging up his wife’s grave.

He stopped and walked into the cemetery. “What are you doing, Calvin?”

Calvin didn’t even bother to look up as he hastily dug the fresh dirt out of the hole. “I heard her sheriff. I was sitting in my chair talking at her down this pipe and she answered me. I heard her clear as day. I need to get her out of that box.”

The sheriff grabbed the shovel from Calvin and moved him away from the hole. “Calvin, the only thing coming out of that pipe is the odor of decaying bodies. I’m telling you right now. For your own good, stop digging and head on home.”

Calvin was reluctant at first but it seemed the sheriff had finally gotten through to him. He did as he was told and walked off.

The next morning, the sheriff had a man go up to the cemetery and fill in the hole Calvin had dug. “And pull that damn pipe out of there while you’re at it,” he ordered.

When the man reached the cemetery, a surprise was waiting for him. He quickly went and found the sheriff and they both went back out to the grave.

Apparently Calvin had come back during the night to finish the job of digging up his wife and son. He had opened the casket and saw their decaying bodies. It was more than he could handle. His broken heart had finally gave out and he died on the spot.

The sheriff ordered the hole filled and another name be added to the marker.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


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