Story 06: Gravediggers
Word Count: 1403
Disclaimer: Fright Night and all characters therein © Tom Holland/Craig Gillespie
Warnings/Rating: T for vaguely adult themes.
He opens the door to find the neighbor's kid Charley on his doorstep with a friendly smile on his face. "Mister Danick, hi! Listen, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you happen to have a shovel I could borrow?" the teenager asks him.
"Oh yeah, sure!" he says, stepping out onto his porch and pulling the door shut behind him. "It's in the back shed, let me go dig it out for you."
Charley smiles a bit brighter. "Cool! Thank you so much!"
The teenager follows him through the side yard and across the back to the garden shed. "What do you need it for?" he asks curiously. "You doing some yard work for your mom?" He pulls open the shed and peers inside, looking for whatever corner the damn spade has gotten shoved into.
Charley shrugs and tucks his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. "Nah, a friend of mine asked for some help with a thing. He doesn't have any at his place and I've only got the one, so…"
"Ah, I gotcha," Mr. Danick says amiably, shuffling through his garden tools. "What sort of thing is it? You need any help?"
"No, thanks, just the shovel'll be fine. We're…ah…taking out a tree."
He casts a glance over his shoulder at Charley. "A tree, huh? You sure you don't want some extra help? I'm free all day today. I'd be more than happy to pitch in."
"Nah, really, it's fine, man, we got it. Thank you, though."
He smiles politely and then his hand lands on the tool in question. "Ah, here we go!" He tugs it free of the jumbled up mess and watches in consternation as several more tools spill out at his feet.
He sighs and passes the shovel over to his younger neighbor, kicking the tools out of the doorway so that he can shut the door.
"Thanks," Charley says, watching him. "I'll get it back to you tomorrow morning."
"Take as long as you need, Charley. Pulling out a tree is no small job." He walks across his back lawn to the side yard again, the teen trailing behind with the shovel slung over one shoulder.
"Well it's a small tree, so… can't take that long," Charley shrugs with his free shoulder.
The teenager follows him back around the house to the driveway, thanking him again before he jogs down to the small pickup stopped in front. Mr. Danick watches his young neighbor stow the spade in the bed. As Charley is moving around to the passenger's side, the unfamiliar man behind the wheel waves a hand at Mr. Danick in thanks. He raises his hand in response, and as soon as Charley's shut his door, the truck pulls away.
As promised, around the same time the next morning he hears another knock at his door, and he opens it to again find Charley standing on his doorstep. This time, however, he is not alone; a skinny twig of a man in leather and smudged eyeliner is at Charley's back, looking tired and unkempt and faintly amused. Charley doesn't look much better off; he too has dark rings under his eyes (though more from sleep deprivation than makeup, he thinks) and looks rather filthy and rumpled. In fact, he appears to be wearing the same clothes as yesterday, though they are now smeared liberally with mud and some sort of dark fluid that Mr. Danick is hoping isn't blood. He, unlike the tall stranger, doesn't look amused in the least, but uncomfortable and guilty as only a misbehaving teen can look. And in his hand…
"Umm… I'm really sorry, Mr. Danick. We, uhh… we tried to fix it."
Awkwardly, the teen holds out his shovel. The blade of the tool looks like a piece of bread that got chewed on by a tiger; it's slightly crumpled, and there are several small holes and pockmarks in a U shape on the edge. There is no way that could be a bite mark, but it sure looks like it.
"I tried to straighten it back out with a hammer as best I could, but… it's not quite…umm…." Charley trails off and simply holds it out, his face slowly reddening and looking distinctly uncomfortable.
Mr. Danick still remembers when Charley was eight and accidentally broke his car window playing baseball in the street. For all he's grown up since then, the mournful puppy eyes are strangely no less effective. He reaches out and takes the shovel from him and examines it closer. Those are definitely bite marks. But that's entirely ridiculous, so he dismisses it.
"Dare I ask how you even managed this?" he asks faintly.
The tall stranger speaks up then, and Mr. Danick is surprised to hear a British accent. "Yeah, sorry. It was my fault, kind of… He put up more of a struggle than we thought he would." Charley elbows him, and he hisses and gives the teen a glare. Mr. Danick blinks and uhhs and umms for a moment, uncertain of how to respond to that.
Charley whispers something fiercely in the British guy's ear, and the taller man mutters back mutinously under his breath. Charley glares and tugs him closer to rant quietly in his ear.
While they are whispering together, Mr. Danick studies the stranger - he thinks that he may have seen him around before, over at the Brewster's house. He has to be at least twice Charley's age; maybe Jane's found a new boyfriend at last? Kind of an eyebrow-raising choice, but still, the poor woman had been alone for far too long. If he had realized she was looking for company, he might have spoken up himself. Oh well. Plenty more fish in the sea, he supposed.
The British guy holds up his hands in surrender and steps back off the porch, and Charley turns back to face him again, looking embarrassed and apologetic. "I'm really sorry. I can pay for a replacement," he says, starting to pull out his wallet, but Mr. Danick waves off Charley's offer to reimburse him for the damage.
"It's fine, Charley. It's…" he pauses, eyeing the damage critically before continuing his previous statement. "It's still usable, so don't worry about it." He smiles, and Charley winces slightly.
"Sorry again," the teenager mutters, and he almost wants to laugh at how contrite the boy is. He's never seen a teenager look so genuinely remorseful about property damage.
"Really, don't worry about it. So, other than that, how'd the tree come out? You have much trouble?" he asks, changing the subject.
Charley looks at him blankly for a moment before his face clears, but before he can say anything the skinny stranger is saying "What tree?"
Charley laughs nervously, reaching back to punch his friend in the chest. "Ha ha, 'what tree' is right. We ripped that sucker down easy… you know, except for busting your shovel, and all."
He blinks, and Charley blinks back, and the brief, awkward moment is punctuated by the British guy lighting up a cigarette.
"Umm…" Charley says, shifting uncomfortably.
Mr. Danick watches the stranger's cigarette glow red and wrinkles his nose. He wants to ask him to please not smoke on his property, but then Charley is clearing his throat and shuffling away from the door. "So… yeah. Thanks again for letting us borrow it. Sorry it's all bent up, and… full of holes."
"You're welcome, and really, don't sweat it, Char-char," he says, smiling blandly.
The British guy snorts, mouthing 'Char-char?' around his cigarette, and Mr. Danick feels the barest stroke of guilt for probably embarrassing Charley in front of his friend, but glances at the mangled shovel and decides this is enough to make them even.
"See you," Charley says.
"Yeah, later. Say hi to your mom for me," he comments as Charley backs away further.
"Sure thing," the teen grins and turns around. The British guy grins cheerfully and waves, and Charley grabs his elbow and pulls him down the driveway to the waiting truck.
Mr. Danick moves back into his house, watching as they pause on the sidewalk just long enough for Charley to let go of the British guy's arm and give him a punch in the chest. His friend laughs and shoves him playfully like he's a kid brother or something, then heads for the driver's seat.
He shuts his door.
So I've pretty much given up on the idea of this not becoming a long-term project. Currently, I have a list of around 30 or so different objects, gadgets, implements, items, props, gizmos, toys, gear, things, and tools to write about, though I'm still only writing when inspiration strikes, so this may never even get that far. This is my no-pressure, guilty-pleasure, silly bits and pieces fic. That said, if you have any tools/weapons/random things you'd like to see, leave a suggestion in a review!