Dómine, non sum dignus
Dómine, non sum dignus
Story by Doug Bond
Art by Peter Birckhead
Train station’s not far, not even a mile, so we leave the cars off the side of Dad’s drive. The four of us holding longnecks rustled up from the basement fridge, Dad says, “Time of your life. Enjoy!”
Gene carries the suitbag with all our stuff for the New Year’s party packed in, and Frank’s got the big duffel. We stash the extra Rolling Rocks into Cresci’s coat pockets. There’s still some light, so I herd them up through the path in the woods so we can take the short-cut through the cemetery. It’s getting a little tight, but I figure we’ve got just enough time to make the five o’clock into the city.
“It’ll take us fifteen minutes, tops,” I say, and light up the joint, start reciting the names on the stones I’ve known for memory since I was a kid. Luciano. Caruso. D’Amico. Arciola. Valiante. Tedesco.
Ground is crunchy under our shoes, but only a few patches of snow in the hollows and some bits of ice lying on the flat grave markers dug into the ground. The moon’s showing over the tops of the trees and Cresci starts howling, his face all animated as he runs over to the old Salvatore Mausoleum down one of the side paths. Gene follows and when he tries the door, the latch lifts and he freezes.
“Push up and swing it out,” I say. The door jamb scrapes the footstone in front and stops, but there’s room for us to squeeze through one at a time. Frank’s the last one in and he leaves the joint on the mat out front next to the bags. It’s been a long time since I’ve been inside. I’ve forgotten the stale smell in these places and the closeness of the air.
Cresci makes his eyes go big as he looks at all the strange shit on the walls, the images on the stained glass, and starts into some mock Latin, crossing himself wildly. We’re belly-laughing so hard, we’re sweating, drops of it coming to my forehead beneath my hat. Then I say, “Shhh!” and put my hand around my ear up against the cold hard casket.
For a short while we’re locked, perfectly still, listening, and then all at once we hear it, the distant blast of the inbound train heading for the station.
-refers from the line “If you don’t respect the dead when you’re alive, the dead won’t respect you when you’re dead.” in Jim Valvis’ story Someday You’ll Understand