How My Light Is Spent

 

Delarious Mandusa and Quash Mowers  work in a Funeral Home and they had great stories ( that they made up ) for how it was they came to be Grave Diggers that had nothing to do with reality but they were great stories.

The problem was nobody ever asked.

Delarious guessed that people assumed he dug graves for a living because of his name and Quash guesses that the fact he had born with a parasitic twin attatched to the top of his head ( his parents had named it Lawton ) that was removed a few months after they were born- was his reason for working at the Cemetery.

But those weren’t the reasons- and the story about finding graves with their names and dates of  birth as the dates of death on the hundred year old headstones wasn’t even remotely close to the truth.

The Grave Diggers with the colorful lives and equally colorful names became grave diggers because of a girl named Harley  Sandeen.

Years ago, when Delarious and Quash were kids they lived next door to each other and one day a little girl with big brown eyes and tangled brown hair moved into the   Bronson  House across the street.

Her name was  Harley Sandeen and she collected bugs, comic books and bubble gum.

She chewed it out of eyeshot of her Mother who wouldn’t allow Harley to chew gum because Harley’s mother said that the gum would wear Harley’s teeth down to stumps and then where would she be in life?

” I guess I’d be living somewhere with stumpy teeth and a tree full of chewed up bubblegum.”

Akela looked down at her daughter and said, ” Harley, why on earth would you stick your chewed up gum on a tree?”

” That’s how I get bugs for my collection.”

” Oh  Harley. That’s just awful.”

” I know, but look at it this way Mom, if anyone ever decides to collect bug’s legs they’re not going to care if I have a mouth full of stumpy teeth. They’re just going to be glad I was a bubblegum chewer.”

So Harley continued to chew bubble gum, which when she snapped it between her teeth was as loud as gunshot and she also bought comic  books once a week at the 52nd Street Best Mart which is where Delarious and Quash met Harley.

” The world is full of comic books and they’ve only got six titles here- can you belive that? And look only one scary one ” she said to them as they stood behind her waiting for their turn at the spinner rack.

” We don’t collect those- we collect the Archie Comics. My friend had a parasite twin attached to the top of his head, show her Quash. ” Quash took off his hat so that Harley could see the top of his head which was flat and angled to the left.

” That is amazing.” Harley sighed.

” Yeah. We got plenty real weird in our life. “

” Oh. Did you have a parasite too?”

” No, I’m Delarious Mandusa.”

Harley’s mouth fell open and her gum fell out and stuck to the front of her t-shirt. ” You got named after the guy who found the Flying Dutchman?”

” He was my Granfather.”

Harley pulled the gum off her shirt and popped it back into her mouth.

” You guys are the coolest human beings ever.”

” You’re a pretty cool human too, ” Quash who was falling in love with Harley right then and there in front of the comic book rack said.

And Harley laughed.

So Harley and Quash and Delarious grew up together and goofed off together and on the day Harley’s family sent her away to go to school in ” the old Country ” they made one last trip to the empty building where they first became friends.

The comic book rack was still there and Harley told them, ” you just wait. One of these days you’re gonna see one of these things full of books and comics by Harley Sandeen.”

” What? I thought you were going away to learn the family  business.” Quash said.

” Yeah. Then I’m going to write about it. I figure I better get something out of being sent out to the middle of nowhere to learn how to find dead people. Geeze. Like that’s hard. “

” I thought your Mom said that wasn’t the hard part- she said the hard part was killing them.”

” Blah blah blah.” Harley said.

” But you don’t have a choice- right? I mean, you’re family hasn’t ever done anything except for-” Delarious mimicked  putting a stake to his heart with one hand and with the other pretended to pound it in with a mallet.

Harley pulled a green square of bubblegum out of her pocket and tossed it into her mouth. ” Yeah. But I think there’s more to life then chasing around pale people with pointy teeth and bad breath. It ain’t like the movies guys. Those things are so dumb that they still haven’t figured out that if they don’t want to be found they need to quit putting their real names on their tombstones. You know what’s worse? I’ve got to go to the other side of the world and get a college degree to learn about them.

Geeze, all my family has to so is rent me some movies and buy me a stack of comic books- they’d save themselves a ton of money and they’d save themselves the embarrassment of the sucky novel I’m going to write about them based on the Santa’s Village Incident.”

” The Mountlake Mall will probably never get another guy to do the Santa thing at Christmas and forget getting anyone to dress up like elves in this town again.”

” Yeah. Well. That  entire deal was a train wreck just waiting to happen.”  Harley  said  and like the good friends the boys were they agreed.

It was about four years after Harley’s second book was turned into a movie that Quash and Del decided to chase after their own dream- and that dream involved the smell of fresh cut grass and heavy machinery.

So instead of chasing after ghosts, or going out of your way to make sure that the world never found out that the parasitic twin that was removed from your head was alive and screaming in silence in a jar in a museum basement and that it was still growing – Harley’s friends took her advice.

And in case you’re curious.

Yes she did write about their story and their friendship and she dedicated the story to

Del And Quash.

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