The Hole-diggers

This light-hearted short-short piece of fiction is an attempt by me to deliberately not give names to characters, nor any “he said, she said,” and with a minimum of descriptive action on the part of each character. Yet the reader should be able to identify the three characters in this story as they individually speak and act out their part. Writing this story was an exercise in demonstrating that in short, tight-fisted writing, “he said, she said,” plus a lot of descriptive action, can be redundant.

Dysfunctional Labor

“Yes, ma’am, we two is the best hole diggers in town.”

“Good!” The spinster snapped back. “Then you will be able to dig a proper hole for me for my clothesline post.  I want it over there, see?” she pointed a skinny, arthritic finger in the direction where a fluorescent red ribbon was stapled to a survey stake near the edge of her fence. “It has to be exactly centered on that marker, and it has to be exactly three feet deep! Do I make myself clear?”

“That’ll be ten bucks, ma’am.”

“You’ll get paid when the job is done!” She stepped back into the house and firmly closed the door behind her.

Sheesh! Give that ol’ gal a black hat an’ she could pass fer the Wicked Witch of the North.”

“Even her nose is big.”

“She don’t got no warts on her nose, though.”

“Hee, hee! But she can bark jus’ like that skinny lady at the welfare office. ‘Specully when we ask her fer some extra cash!”

Armed with their rusty post hole digger, the two shuffled away towards the survey stake and took positions, one standing on each side of it.

“Sniff.”

“Yech! You dirty tramp. Will ya stop wipin’ your nose on your shirt sleeve? It ain’t polite, you know. You’re forever doin’ that, an’ it’s ugly an’ unsanitary!”

“What we gonna do now? Just starin’ at that stake ain’t gonna help.”

“Cht-ptu!”

“Spittin’ on that stake ain’t gonna help, neither, you know. You cussin’ me fer wiping my nose on my sleeve. Hah! Well, spittin’ ain’t polite, neither. ”

Shaddap! I’m thinkin’. … O. k., pull that stake out an’ start diggin’.”

“Can’t. I hurt my back sleepin’ in that culvert last night, and I can’t bend. Besides, you spit on it, and I ain’t touchin’ that stake.”

“Oh, sheesh! Sometimes you can be as useless as a balloon with a hole in it!  … Here. Uh! O.k. … I pulled it out. Now, gimme that digger, since you’re crippled and I gotta do all the work.”

“O.k., I dugged about a foot. Can’t dig deeper.”

“Why you stoppin’?”

“Can’t you tell? I hit a stone, stupid.”

“Well, twist harder. Maybe it’s just a small stone an’ you can push it aside.”

“O.k. … Now you see what you made me do? I broke the digger!”

“Now what?”

“Whadya mean, now what? Can’t you see? It broke!”

“Well, fix it. If we don’t dig that hole, we don’t get paid.”

“Can’t fix something that’s broke this bad. Think I’m a magician? Can’t even pry out the broken piece. It’s too deep in the ground.”

“Told you we should have picked up that ol’ lawn mower from the dump an’ gone cuttin’ lawns instead. Probably make more money, too”

“Told you, shmold-you! Sheesh! Don’t preach to me, tellin’ me what we shoulda done! That junky ol’ lawn mower at the dump probably wasn’t workin’ anyway. That’s why they threw it in the dump in the first place.”

“What wasn’t workin’?”

“The lawn mower, stupid! What’s with your brain today, anyway?”

“Oh …yeah. … Probably wasn’t workin’. Probably no gas in it, neither.  So what we gonna do now? We can’t finish diggin’ this hole with a broken digger – unless you can fix it.”

“I said, I ain’t no magician, ya hear? We might’s well go back to the dump an’ see what else we can find.”

“Might’s well. No use standin’ here in the sun. My back ain’t hurtin’ much anymore, but my feet are startin’ to hurt. Think she’ll pay us for just half a hole?”

“Doubt it. Let’s go.”

“Walk slower. I said, my feet are hurtin’.”

About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
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