Copyright is held by the author.
THE MISSION was simple. My partner and I just had to lie in a couple of caskets a few feet apart and wait.
Grave robbers were plentiful in high water plains with above ground coffins. Remote areas attracted the vandals — those looking for rings or valuables the deceased may have been buried with. This area had been hit hard over the last few weeks, and local police recruited a couple of down and out private investigators to play dead. My partner was James. He and I were happy for the extra cash. It was only minimum wage, but I reckoned I was getting paid for lying flat on my back and doing nothing.
Four hours into the shift, I was second guessing my decision, never reckoned myself to be claustrophobic. The casket had me sealed in and the manufactured breathing tube to the outside left a lot to be desired. Stale air was not on my favourite list of things to inhale. Plus the cross thing on the lid had me spooked, made me wonder if I should be going to church soon.
I struggled to lay still. Practiced every yoga technique I’d learned, albeit most of them from the internet. The whole deep breathing and relaxation stuff wasn’t cutting it. Restless leg syndrome and an itch in my back that could not be reached were driving me nuts.
My pocket vibrated. Damn, I struggled to slide my left hand down the silk lining of the casket, retrieved the cell phone and inched it within the confines, to my ear. It was James, from next door.
“You okay?” he whispered.
“Geez, James. Do you really want to blow our cover?”
“Just checking,” he said.
“Promise me, the next job we get won’t require being entombed in a wooden box. Wait, do you hear that?”
“Nothing on my end, leave the phone line open.”
Scuffling noises and scratching along the lock area. More furtive now, my heart was beating double time.
I dropped the phone, reached for the gun that rested on my chest.
A whoosh of air as the casket seal released. I pushed up, hands shaking as I pointed my weapon at the masked eyes staring at me. I quickly slammed the lid closed.
Heard James concerned voice through static on the phone. “You okay?”
“Yup, those fucking raccoons can break into anything!”
I tried to ignore his chuckle. There was four more hours to go in the shift. It was a two legged bandit I was after.