I’d taken a job as assistant groundskeeper at the graveyard because cash was thin and so was I – thin to the point of my ribs playing tag with the knobs of my spine – and also because I thought maybe I’d get a couple of good stories out of it. Or bragging rights, anyway; there’s always someone who’s willing to stand you a beer or two if you’ve got a weird enough job, even if nothing much out of the way happens between clock punches.
As far as jobs go it wasn’t exactly a brass band affair. There were a lot of stiffs rolling around underfoot when I’d sneak off under the laurels to cop a smoke, but they were quiet and kept to themselves. They didn’t bother me any – what’s a corpse, anyway? Just a bunch of bones and dirt moldering away – but some of the people who’d come mooching around after them got under my skin plenty. The hoodoos were the worst, thin washed-out people with shadows under their eyes like winestains who were after bits of the earth for their gris-gris bags and crossways affairs. We took turns watching the place at night, old man Murray and I, driving them off when we could and generally making pests of ourselves for anyone there as shouldn’t be there.
Like I said, the hoodoos were the worst, if only because they never took an honest poke at a fellah, but always cast their little bones and piles of pins after you. I had to deck myself out just to hold my own, bags and signs and bits of things hanging out of my sleeves like the sides of a blown tire, and at that I wasn’t doing any too good. They were smarter at the game than I was – long practice – though if it’d come to a scrape or a craps game I wouldn’t have seemed such a slouch. They weren’t mean, any, it was just that they had a job to do and I was part of it. Eventually it all got to be a bit much and I moved on and left the job for the next poor schlub. The hoodoos sent me a little sachet of stuff as kind of a going away present, which I thought was big of them. No hard feelings, I guess, but I’m just as glad to be shut of them. That sort of nonsense keeps you up at night.