Ok, It’s getting more difficult to polish these things up lately. Possibly because of the time constraints and the brain shut down that occurs after work. Anyway, I tried a little to make it more readable. Hope you enjoy Chapter 11
David looked over the selection of shovels on the rack of the local hardware store. He glanced over all the shapes and sizes that the shovels came in. And he was painfully aware of the absence of one specific type. There were no square tipped, short handled, fence pole shovels. David thought that this would be a long shot so he looked over for a substitute. Maybe Tracy would be happy with any small shovel he bought her just so she could have one to call her own.
“Can I help you young man?” Came a voice from behind. An old man in a red vest stood by smiling.
“Well as a matter of fact, yeah! I am looking for a fence post shovel with a short handle.”
“Right there beside you. “ The old man pointed to a tweezer looking pair of shovels, connected at the base. “A fence post shovel.”
David looked over at it. “Oh no, nothing like that it is used to dig fence posts but it doesn’t look like that. It’s smaller. Easier to use.”
“Smaller eh? Well, if you want easier to use we have the motorized auger over there. They are a little pricey but you will be thankful if the end if you have a lot of holes to dig. They save you a ton of time and sweat. “ He tapped a medium box on the top with a picture similar to an motorized Ice auger.
“Oh, no I don’t plan to dig holes. I mean fence posts. I don’t have a fence or anything. I mean it’s for my wife. See, she had this one and I lost it. She uses it for everything.” David fumbled around for the right words. The old man was making him nervous. “ I wanted to see if I could replace it. I don’t even know if it called a fence post shovel.”
The old man stroked his chin “ Why don’t you describe what it looks like.” He suggested.
“Well, it’s about this long.” David motioned with his hand suggesting a handle of approximately 3 feet. “And it had a long narrow blade. Like this:” David again held up his hands showing the length, and width. “And the end of the shovel looked like one of these” He pointed to a small coal shovel that had a handle perpendicular at the end. “And it had a square tip.”
“Ah you mean a trench hole shovel.” The old man raised a knowing eyebrow.
“You know it! Do you have one? “
David’s eyes lowered, “ Where can I get one?”
“They don’t make shovels like that, much anymore. I would have to special order it from the United Kingdom or Canada. It could take several weeks to get here and the shipping cost might be as much or more than the cost of the shovel itself. You still want it?”
David scratched his head imagining the hundreds of dollars the misfit shovel was going to end up costing him. Maybe Tracy did not need such a shovel after all. He had already taken the hit for losing it. Perhaps she would not miss it if she could not see it everyday.
The old man could almost see David’s thoughts. “Maybe you can buy something similar that is available.” He offered. “What did she use it for?”
“Well, I dug a hole with it and it was not very good for that. My wife uses it for around the garden. I don’t think she digs trenches with it. I think she uses it for planting plants, and flowers and stuff. She likes the short handle and narrow blade.”
The old man paused thinking of a substitute. “I may have just the thing for her. “
David pulled into the driveway. He reached in the back and pulled out the new shovel, hoping that the peace offering would help Tracy forget the loss of the last one. He walked up the steps of the porch and opened the door.
“Hey! Hon, I’m home.” He announced to everyone in the house.
“Hi Daddy!” Whitney gave him a big hug.
Daniel waved then dashed into the living room.
Tracy was beginning to work on dinner, It smelled like tacos tonight.
“Hey hon, I’ve got a surprise for you. “
Tracy turned around with a smile, “Oh? Honey you shouldn’t have. “
David pulled the shovel from behind his back. A small garden shovel.
“What’s this?” Tracy looked at it with a confused stare.
“It’s a shovel!”
“I can see that. What’s it for?”
“For you !”
“What’s the occasion?”
“No occasion. Just thought you might need it is all. “ David was not getting the reaction he wished for but she looked like she was warming up to it.
“Are you going to dig another hole and bury someone tonight?” Daniel stood by the corner of the living room partially hid from view.
“What?” David looked at Daniel. Daniel ran back around the corner. The cat followed him.
“What did he mean by that?” David asked turning to Tracy.
Tracy was still looking at the shovel. “What am I suppose to do with that?”
“I don’t know, work in the garden, That is what this shovel is for, it’s specifically designed for work in the garden and planting small trees, shrubs and flowers. It’s what it’s made for!”
“It has a pointy tip.”
“So you can dig in to the ground better.”
“I liked the flat tip better.”
“Why don’t you give this one a try. You might find that you like it better in the end. It’s still small and very easy to use.”
“Have you used it? “
“No, But that is what I was told.” He waved it around, “I’ll go put it back on the rack with the rest of the tools. It’ll be there waiting for you to break it in.
David walked outside taking the shovel with him. Whitney stared at Tracy. “Why does Dad need all those shovels?
Tracy turned back around stirring the hamburger, :I don’t know Whit. ‘Cause he likes them.”
“Is he going to buy everyone a shovel?”
“I doubt it.” She paused, “ Why do you ask? “
Whitney turned around and ran to the living room. Tracy turned to watch her leave with a questioned look. The kids have been acting strange lately. Then again, they always were strange right before supper. Tracy turned around again to continue stirring the hamburger before setting it to simmer. She covered it and then began to work on the vegetables. She selected the large chef knife and began to slice the lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. David came back inside.
“There! All done! It will be like you never lost it.” He patted his hand to wipe off the dust.
“You’re the one who lost it.” She corrected. “ Besides I wanted to tell you something about that.”
David sighed. “I guess this doesn’t fix the problem after all.” He conceded.
“Well, I appreciate the gesture, But there was something I wanted to show you. “ She reached in her pocked and handed David the newspaper clipping concerning the reward.
“What’s this?” David took the slip of paper.
“Read it!” she commanded. She finished slicing the last of the veggie toppings and separated them out into individual compartments in a divided serving tray.
David scanned the article, “So? What does this have to do with us?”
“What if that money is in that fridge? We can dig it up and collect the reward. I know we can use $10,000.”
“There is no money in that fridge!” David insisted. “Look honey, That thing was just a piece of garbage.”
“But you ‘re not 100 percent sure! You don’t know what’s in there. Aren’t you even a little curious?”
“No! Not at all. And we have been over this before. What if we dig it up and the money is in there? They will think I stole it!”
“Oh! I have that all planned out. Want to hear?”
David sat back and folded his arms. “I can’t wait to hear this.”
“Hunting season starts soon right? We can say that you found it while hunting. No one will know otherwise. And then we can claim the reward and Ethan won’t get caught. No one will go to jail. It’s practically fool proof!” Her eyes wide with excitement.
“Ethan will know, not that he will want to bring that out to anyone.”
“You’ll be doing him a favor! He doesn’t want that money being traced back to him. I’m sure he would be happy to be rid of it. And if he says anything we’ll split the reward with him. $5000 is not as nice as ten, but it will sure shore up some bills around here.”
“Maybe he won’t want $5000. Maybe he already has a plan for the money. Maybe he doesn’t want us doing him any favors. “ David paused. “What am I saying, We don’t even know if there is any money in there!”
“Have you ever thought that the money might be marked? Traceable? If he spends so much as one dollar of that stolen money, he will lead the authorities right back to him, or worse, YOU!”
“We don’t know that it was stolen. Even the authorities don’t know what went down.”
“Ok, even if he found it, The FBI probably won’t like the fact that he gathered up as much as he could and buried it in the ground someplace. That might make them a little unfriendly to the ‘finders keepers’ defense.”
“Well, it’s all well and good, but I still think the best plan of action is to leave the rusty fridge buried in it’s final resting place.” David nodded to affirm his point.
“Well, I just wanted to make you aware that there is a golden opportunity to turn this into a positive and help out your family in the long run, just by doing the right thing.” She looked at him with a worried glance then turned around to finish the condiment tray.
David stared at her incredulously, He knew this tactic well: The guilt treatment. He is now suppose to feel guilty that he would let his poor family suffer by holding out for a friend. Keeping a secret that is probably illegal. It wasn’t going to work. David made up his mind that only an act of God would make him even consider digging that heavy piece of crap up again.
The roar of the bus announced that Samantha was home. Both David and Tracy set aside their feud for a moment to observe Samantha getting off the bus. The timing was perfect, for Tracy had just lifted the pan of seasoned taco meat off the oven and was preparing to set it and the rest of the taco feast on the table. Supper would be ready as soon as she came inside. David and Tracy watched as Sam stormed off the bus and walked up the sidewalk with deliberate steps to the door. David and Tracy looked over at each other.
“She looks…mad” David observed.
Samantha swung open the door with a violent pull. She stepped in and glared at both her parents as if blaming them for bringing her into this world. She tossed her backpack down on the chair faced David.
“You have Ruined my LIFE!” She exclaimed. Thrusting her fists onto her hips in a disgusted pose.
David looked at her unaffected. “We have? How, Pray tell, have we ruined your life? Aside from actually having you and raising you in a typical Midwestern American home.”
“You have ruined my reputation and any chance I might have at popularity or a boyfriend!”
“And that’s a bad thing?” David asked rhetorically.
Tracy shrugged, grabbing the pop and stack of tacos along with the vegetable platter. ‘Um hmm, That’s nice dear. Can you grab some plates and forks for the table.” She motioned toward the cupboard as she moved to the dining area.
David reached into the cupboard and grabbed some glasses for the pop and handed Samantha some plates. She took them grudgingly. She then opened the utensil drawer and grabbed a fist full or forks. Both David and Sam then walked into the dining area.
Tracy placed the taco shells along side the meat and vegetables. She set the pop in the middle while David set up the glasses. Sam placed a plate by each chair and dropped a fork next to it.
“We need the sour cream and salsa.” Tracy turned to go back into the kitchen. “Danny and Whit, Supper! “ She called as she left.
The other two kids came in and sat down in a flash. David sat down and began to pour the pop for everyone. Sam sat down also, still fuming. Whitney and Daniel looked at Sam as if they were afraid she was going to eat one of them. They carefully slid their chairs inching away from her.
Tracy returned with the sour cream, shredded cheese and salsa. She placed the open containers next to the rest of the buffet. “Build your own taco.” She smiled. “Don’t overfill it or you will make a mess.
David was first to dig in, spooning on a layer of hamburger and cheese. Danny followed next as David moved from the meat and moved on to the veggies.
“Hey! Save some for us!” Tracy commanded as she picked up a shell.
Whitney looked around bewildered, not knowing where to begin. She picked up a taco shell timidly then looked for clues from Tracy and Daniel for the next step. Sam sat in her chair still brooding.
“You better get some while there is still some cheese left.” David advised scooping a generous portion of sour cream on his creation. Daniel’s shell cracked spilling its contents on his plate before he took his first bite.
“I’m not very hungry now that I’m doomed to a life of an outcast at school.”
“Why do you say that, Dear?” Tracy asked, taking a small bite carefully to avoid breaking the shell of her taco.
“Cause everyone thinks Dad is psycho!” She exclaimed
“Me? Why?” David munched down his taco in two bites, grabbing the mass of lettuce and hamburger and shoving it all hastily in his mouth. Sour cream dripped down his hand.
“Cause everyone thinks you killed Jeremy and buried him in some old refrigerator.”
The whole family stopped as if paused in time. Daniel had his drink glass half raised. Tracy had her taco in her mouth in mid bite. Whitney, still building her first taco, had her spoon buried in the tomatoes. And David stopped licking his hand. Everyone stopped…and looked at Sam.
David spoke first. Clearing his throat, he asked in a steady deliberate tone. “Where did you hear that?” He picked up his napkin and began to wipe off his hands.
“School!” Sam was now painfully aware that she had just tossed a hand grenade onto the supper table and was careful to avoid doing more damage. Whitney had pulled her spoon out of the tomatoes and slowly recessed back into her chair. Her eyes barely visible over the table edge. Danny set down his drink and mimicked Whitney.
“Who in school told you that?” David was now the grand master inquisitor. And Samantha was on the rack. Tracy lowered her taco, chewing quietly.
“Everyone! I mean.. everyone in school is saying it. I heard it from Lisa.”
“Where do you think Lisa heard it?”
Samantha looked down as if searching for an escape. “She might have heard it from well not every word, I mean, I might have said something that she took a little too far.” Sam paused, But I heard it from Whit!” She pointed an accusatory finger at Whitney.
All eyes now shot at Whitney as she tried , in vain, to slide lower in her chair.
“I heard it from Danny!” She snapped her head and eyes at him as if he were on fire.
All eyes now focused on Daniel. Daniel froze like a deer in the headlights as Whitney breathed a sigh of relief, having successfully shifted the blame onto another victim.
“Danny?” David asked. This was tough. Daniel was still in those sensitive years. If questioned to severely, he might wilt under the pressure and start crying. David shifted tactics. “How did you come about a story like that Danny? Cause that is really kind of …funny.” David gave out a deliberate chuckle. Whitney and Tracy followed with a nervous giggle.
“Well, I …I overheard you and Mom talking. Mom said you buried a body in the refrigerator. And Sam said that that guy down the street was missing. So Whitney said that he was probably the one because he was one of Sam’s boyfriends. And you always say you are going to bury them if they mess around with Sam so Whitney and I only told Sam, We didn’t tell anyone else. Honest!” Daniel looked like a little puppy dog that confessed to chewing on David’s favorite slippers.
David looked at Tracy, “Well, there it is!” He picked up another taco shell and began to assemble another masterpiece. “You’re wild speculation has gotten a little out of hand wouldn’t you say?” Looking at Tracy.
Tracy looked defensive. “I never said your Dad killed the neighbor boy, what was his name?”
“Jeremy. And he’s Not my boyfriend!” Sam corrected.
“I said your Dad buried some stolen money from an armored car.”
Everyone stopped again. This time looking at David. David looked around with his hand still scooping sour cream onto his taco.
Samantha was first. “How much Daddy?”
“Where did you burry it Daddy? “
“Are you going to go to jail?” Daniel asked
David raised his hands up to quell the uprising. “Waaait! Wait a minute!” he glanced at Tracy, “I did not bury any stolen money! I didn’t bury any of Sam’s boyfriends! “ David slowly put his hands down.
Whitney looked up, her eyes wide. “So what did you bury Daddy?”
“Hmmm? What? “ David was just about to take a bite of his taco.
‘What did you bury?”
“Oh, A refrigerator.” He took a bite with a loud crunch.
“So you DID bury a refrigerator.” Sam confirmed.
“Yeah, So? “ David mumbled with his mouth full. Sour cream was dribbling on his chin.
“So what was in it?” Whitney asked
“I don’t know.”
“Why did you bury a refrigerator, Daddy?” Daniel asked.
“I don’t know.” David took a drink from his glass.
“So you don’t know why you buried a refrigerator and you don’t know what was in it.” Sam clarified.
“That’s right.” He glared at Sam.
“So how do you know you didn’t bury a bunch of money or a body?” Sam asked.
David looked up at Tracy then back to Sam, “Are you on her side now? Why does this all matter anyway?”
“It may not matter to you, But it matters to me! My social life is over thanks to you!” Sam picked up a taco and began cramming it with meat and veggies.
“Hey! That’s your problem! I’m not the one who spilled the beans to my ‘best friend’ only to have her blab it all over school. You dug your own grave there.” David paused, “Pardon the pun.”
Tracy and Whitney laughed. Tracy, for the first time since having kids, was finding their inquisitive nature amusing. They were grilling David better than any police investigator.
“So where did you get the refrigerator?” Daniel asked
“It wasn’t mine.”
“Did you steal it?”
“Who’s was it Daddy?” Whitney followed next.
“It was a friend.”
“What kind of friend?”
“An old one.”
“Who was he?”
“You don’t know him. I don’t even think you’ve met him.”
“Alright, alright! Ethan Allen!” David conceded.
“The Great Ethan Allen?” Sam confirmed.
“The guy you always tell us stories about?” Daniel asked.
“That’s the one.”
“The guy who introduced you and Mom?” Whitney asked
“Yes, the very same.” David took another bite of his taco. All these questions were slowing him down and the hamburger was getting cold.
“So why did he ask you to bury his refrigerator and not tell you what was in it?” Sam asked still trying to find meaning in her banishment from high school society.
“I’m not sure.” David paused to take a sip. “He did most of the work, I just helped him push it in the hole.”
“You’re leaving out the fact that he did it in the middle of the night.” Tracy offered, filling in the blanks and hoping the kids would pick up from there. David glanced at her with a glare.
“Why in the middle of the night?” Sam asked
“I don’t know, cause I was awake I guess.”
“Do you think he knows what is inside the refrigerator?” Whitney asked.
“I suppose so. It was his refrigerator. I’m sure he should know.”
“So why don’t you call him and ask him what is inside”
“Hey Hey! That’s a great idea!” Tracy smiled casting her vote in favor of the proposal.
David turned to face Tracy but spoke to the room. “Because I don’t care what is inside the thing.”
“Even if it is money?” Sam asked
“Even if it is money!”
“Even if it is a body?” Whitney asked
“Especially if it is a body!” David confirmed “You guys are going to have cold tacos if you don’t start eating some.”
“I’m full! “ Sam declared
“Me too! “ Whitney said taking a last bite
“I hate tacos!” Daniel said as his second taco crumbled after his first bite.
“Fine, use your fork and have taco salad then!” Tracy said indignantly.
“We could dig up the fridge and take a look for ourselves.” Sam offered
David wiped off his mouth. “No way! I buried the thing and only a sign from the God will make me consider digging that heavy rusty stinky thing back up just to take a peak at what is inside.”
Just then, the front doorbell rang.