William Gay – “Twilight”

twilight-author-photo-gay“Each day he swore was the last. Each night they’d be abroad with the tools in the bed of the old truck. It was a wide world with no shortage of graveyards, and he began to think of the earth as ripe and fecund with the dead, stick a spade anywhere and you’d strike a corpse. Nor was it lost upon him that they were wresting secrets from the millennia. Burial is sacred. It is secret. When the lid is sealed, it is for all time. For all time. The earth with its cargo of dead shuttles through the black dusty void while empires rise out of nothingness, others fade into the same. Days clock into night and back again and the seasons cycle their endless repetition while the dead repose with their clasped hands and their dreamless sleep and it is all the same to them.
A cold detachment had seized him. He was wrenching open the forbidden with a crowbar and each atrocity he was uncovering seemed worse than the last. An old man in a shirt and tie and a gray suitcoat and no more. He was buried a eunuch though he’d not been one in life. A woman who had been buried with these missing or other similar genitalsbetween her thighs. As if he’d alter these helpless folk to his liking. Or was yet some mad geneticist burying his mistakes and starting anew.
Some of the caskets had garbage in them. He recorded all these minutiae with a spacey disbelief. Coke bottles, candy wrappers, half an apple, old newspapers, emptied ashtrays. The ultimate garbage disposal. Someone had just swept up the trash and disposed of it forevermore.
There was a body with no coffin at all laid a foot or so beneath the earth in windings of stained bedsheet. An old woman shared her resting place with a young man who’d had his throat straightrazored, and he lay humped athwart her thighs as they lay arm in arm in eternal debauchery.
At first she had refused but now she was looking too. Cataloguing these forbidden exhibits. From a carnival freakshow wended here from the windy reaches of dementia praecox. He hadn’t known there were perversions this dark, souls this twisted.”

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