Digging Himself a Deeper Hole by Keith Rebec

Morten dropped the blade on the dozer, a Case 1150, and the rusty yellow blade cut into the earth. In a day or two, he’d have the new pond chipped away, the expansion long and deep and smooth, and maybe in a few months it would be filled with water, and he and his wife, Meredith, could relax along its banks on comfortable evenings—enjoy the new freedom after their daughter, Sharon, went off to college.
He shifted the dozer into reverse, chugged slowly up the pond’s far brim and lowered the blade again. Over near the barn, Randy Edson’s truck sat with a rebel flag in the rear window. He and Sharon must have come in sometime during the night, coasted the ratty Ford next to the barn. He wished Meredith would clamp down on that girl, tell her and Randy that their place wasn’t some all-inclusive motel for him to eat and sleep at. Lazy bastard. Kid couldn’t even hold down a job. The least he could do was help around the farm sometimes. What was Randy going to do come fall when Sharon went off to college? Was he going to pack his jeans and a lamp into that Ford and follow her down, move into those dorms? Better not. He’d have to put his foot down then and run that boy off, and what if she became pregnant, had little mullet-haired Randy’s being dropped off every weekend so they could go out and party?
Morten gritted his teeth and guided the dozer out of the hole. He chugged past the Holsteins that huddled for more feed and clanked toward the barn. When he got close to Randy’s truck, he aimed the blade at the tailgate. He shifted the dozer into neutral and smiled at the thought of giving the truck a push around the yard just for the hell of it.
He dropped the dozer into gear, revved the engine. Diesel smoke spilled from the exhaust pipe. Then the front door of the house swung open and Meredith stepped out in her housecoat.
“Don’t you dare, Morten,” she yelled, “don’t you dare!”
Morten couldn’t really hear her. He saw her lips moving, the finger pointing. He gave her a wrist-bending wave and tapped the tailgate of the truck. It rocked. He tapped it again and held the blade there, began pushing the truck. Maybe he’d push it over next to the pond. If it wasn’t for the skid marks, Randy might believe he was close to crashing last night when he finally got up around noon. Would that even matter? He didn’t think so.
Meredith was out in the middle of the yard now yelling, and he had the truck almost to the pond. A few times the blade slipped from the rear bumper, and he had to set it again, causing a loud bang of steel on steel.
Then Randy came out. He wore only his boxer shorts. He looked at the dozer, then at the truck, and ran toward Morten. “What the hell you doing?”
Morten revved the dozer to drown out Randy, and Randy kept hustling along the turning track, telling him to stop. Finally, Randy ran to his Ford, tried getting the door open, and a few times he almost fell. When Randy was inside, Morten shifted the dozer into a higher gear, banged into the tailgate again. Randy’s body shot forward, and he looked frantic, trying to get the truck out of gear.
Now, Sharon was out of the house in pajamas and she stood next to her mother. “Daddy, stop! Daddy, goddammit you’re going to kill him!”
He knew better than to look at his wife and daughter. Not now. He was having too much fun and Randy was getting a helluva ride, so he just pushed the truck faster toward the pond. He’d stop him just short, give the boy a minor heart attack to keep him on his toes from now on—or at least make the boy not come around as much, or so he hoped. Then Randy got the truck started; he mashed on the accelerator and tried to get away. Morten banged into the truck’s box then, lifting it onto two wheels. As the dozer lurched forward, the truck slammed onto its roof and Randy was thrown around inside. Morten tapped the truck once more and the truck quarter rolled. He hit it again and again and each time it rolled until the truck fell into the dry pond, where it came to a rest on its wheels. Morten killed the engine on the dozer. Inside the truck, Randy didn’t seem to be moving. His head hung limp. Then Meredith and Sharon ran over, stood at the lip of the pond. After a moment they stepped down, skied through the loose dirt, and Meredith slipped, got back up at the bottom. Everything looked small inside the hole.
“Randy,” Sharon said, “Randy,” and she tried opening the door. Meredith was right behind her, trying to look into the truck. Then Sharon got the door open. It squeaked and banged, and Randy slowly emerged. He hugged Sharon and sat down, wiped his forehead.
Sharon turned toward her dad. “Are you happy now? Do you feel better now?”
Morten shrugged.
“Go ahead and just shrug,” Meredith said. “You’ll see how I just shrug when dinner is supposed to be ready.”
Randy remained on the ground, and both Meredith and Sharon were tending to him. The truck didn’t look salvageable. There wasn’t a spot without a dent, seemed like.
“You just make sure Randy gets that truck out of my pond by evening, or I’m going to push it to his folks’ place where it belongs.” He pulled the key from the dozer and stepped down, then walked toward the barn.

 

About the Author:

Keith Rebec resides in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He’s a graduate student, working on a M.A. in Writing, at Northern Michigan University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Monkeybicycle, Underground Voices, and The Molotov Cocktail, among others.