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Official website of Devin Hansen

Graverobbing


January, 2007:

I am neither grave robber nor sadist. Neither saintly nor sick. Melancholy is the only word that can describe my first day of 2007.

“Why?” is the first reply everyone has given me. Why did I dig up my best friend? My one true friend through that terrible decade? Why did I dig up Odin? To be honest, I don’t even know for certain.

When I buried him in 2005 I had no plans to do this. Although one  night I walked into the woods alone and stood above his grave wanting to pound my fists into the dirt, deep into the black soil just to feel his fur for one last time. To have his smell on my hands. To bend his ears and rub them one last time.

But his ears are surely gone now. Along with nearly all of his flesh and fur.

Curtis, my friend with tattoo sleeves and a science degree helped. He brought a bucket, hacksaw and shovel. “I might need to saw around the vertebrae,” he said. “Depending on how much he is decomposed.”

We started by moving the logs I placed over his grave, which kept the foxes and other animals from digging him up.

“Two animals are digging him up now,” he said. It was the only time I laughed all day.

Curtis shoveled the first spade of dirt and pulled up a healthy worm.

It was good dirt. Full of life.

“Odin reincarnate,” I said, holding the pale, fat worm. I set him gently on the ground so as not to burst.

The second and third spade brought up even more loose, rich soil and worms.

It was the fourth spade that made my heart sink. It was a knotted string of blue ribbon. My grandmother had tied it around a bunch of tiger lilies that I laid on Odin’s grave. The lilies had long decomposed, but the ribbon was still glossy.

One, two more spades. We were digging horizontally so as not to crush the bones.

My friend pulled out his pocket knife and started digging like an archaeologist.

Unsure of what we would see or smell, I hurried up the hill to grab a garbage bag and trowel.

When I got back, halfway down the hill my friend yelled, “I got teeth.”

I stopped. I didn’t want to see yet. I had to compose myself. I thought that once we reached bone, I would let him finish alone. Let him saw through the neck. Rip the head from the soil and place it in the bucket. I wanted to keep the memory of Odin’s smiling face. That puppy-look that the old dog never outgrew. He was truly one of the smartest animals and most noble, majestic looking creatures I had ever known. A dog that everyone liked. A dog that knew more than he should. Once in awhile a dog is like that. A dog that has a little something extra. Something you can’t breed or clone. And Odin had that. Boy did he have it.

My curiosity overcame my fear. I stepped down the hill and watched my friend scrape away the dirt.

I saw a k-9 tooth. Then a snout and an eye socket. It was brown and black, just like the fossils you see in a museum.

My friend jiggled Odin’s head a bit and then pulled him straight up, shaking off the clogs of dirt. He peeled one small patch of fur from the cheek bone that fell to the ground.

The skull was smaller than I expected.

I thought about how many times I had stroked his head, felt his chin on my lap, and endured those teeth as we wrestled in the basement.

My friend pulled up the jaw, one, then the other. Unlike humans, the bottom jaw is not one full bone, but two. He wiped away the dirt and tossed it into the bag.

Nearly instantly we both started filling in the hole.

I didn’t know what to feel.

I still don’t.

We put the logs on top and I slipped the little blue ribbon under the final log.

I threw one more spade of dirt onto the grave and started home.

He is going to clean the skull, glue it, and I’ll keep it in my office. I feel pretty good to have a friend that will help me dig up a grave on New Year’s Day. It sure as hell beats watching fucking College Football.

When I got home, Beyla, my new female Elkhound greeted me. I knelt down, and petted her lovingly, feeling the skull beneath my fingers…our bones separated by thin layers of tissue and hair. So thin. So vulnerable…Skin is no match for dirt.

I pet her and told her I love her. I wonder if I’ll dig her up in a decade.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll do this again. Because I don’t know why I did it now.


Categorized as: Non-Fiction



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