I mowed the grass the caretaker told me to, removed the dead flowers that were scattered on many sites, and picked up the trash and other detritus left by mourners.
He was satisfied with the work I’d done in the morning and we walked together between the tomb stones.
“Do you have any scary stories?” I asked.
“Scary stories? Well when the goths show up in the middle of the night, it can be quite scary, not for me, but for them when,” he began chuckling, “there’s nothing more fun than seeing pasty-white teenagers running for their life.”
“What did you do to them?”
“All in good time, if you stick around, I’ll let you know.”
“So, nothing paranormal then?” I continued to probe.
“Here take this,” the cemetery caretaker said, handing me a lunchbox, “Let’s sit.”
I sat down on the grass next to the headstone and took out my sandwich.
“This grave here is unique. Underneath the six feet of dirt lies Dr Marston. He was buried in a safety coffin. You see the two things over there,” he said pointing.
“The first one, that used to be a bell. The idea being, if you were buried alive, you could pull on a cord and the bell would ring. And in the theory, someone would come running and you’d be dug out.”
He took out a cigarette, tapped it against the packet and lit it.
“Two days after Dr Marston was buried, the caretaker heard the ringing of the bell and began digging. It was an hour before the man and two others got to the coffin. When they pried it open, all that was found was the ripe decomposing body of the doctor.”
He dragged on the cigarette and blew out a large plume of smoke.
“They filled in the hole and went about their business.”
“A couple of days later the bell rang again. The caretaker approached, but this time he didn’t alert anyone, he took out his shears and cut the bell, scared of what was causing it to still ring.”
I looked at the copper tube, its patina betraying its age.
“Over the coming weeks he heard screams and desperate howls coming from the ground beneath his feet. So, he sent food down the second tube, and the shrieking stopped. That one over there,” he said, nodding in its direction.
The other pipe had a small pointed lid on the top, presumably to keep out the rain.
“And so, he fed him until his the day he died.”
“Who was the caretaker back then?” I asked inquisitively.
He stood up, dropped his cigarette and stubbed it out.
“My dad,” he responded, “Make sure you clean that up,” he said pointing to the cigarette.
Petrified I asked, “When was the last time someone put food in there?”
He smiled and turned to walk away, “Yesterday. If I were you, I’d not eat that whole sandwich.”