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Digging A Hole

Innocence dead and buried

Lary says I'm lucky my body isn't buried in a hole in his basement right now. If he'd hesitated at all before shooting at me that one time, he might have aimed better and actually hit me. And I'd be dead right now "in a big way," he says. But because he didn't hesitate, at all, and just grabbed the gun and shot at me in one fluid motion, the bullet harmlessly ricocheted off a rock and landed in a plant bed.

"That is why you're alive today," he says, "because I didn't hesitate."

"That is crap," I say.

Not only do I think he should have hesitated a little, I still strongly believe he should not have shot at me at all, even though I was breaking into his house at the time. I don't want to dig a hole for myself here, but what good is a friend if you can't break into his damn house? Lary's been my friend longer than anyone practically, and half the fun of having friends is invading their territory.

Up until Lary shot at me, I was routinely plundering through his personal stuff looking for nude self-Polaroids he might use to elicit gay sex on the Internet or something. I swear, I could not believe that man wasn't hiding something. I even looked under the tarmacs in his back yard, but all I found were a couple of car carcasses and a litter of thin, feral kittens.

"If you didn't change your locks, I wouldn't have needed to break in," I remind him.

Which is true. Up until then, I'd had my own personal key to Lary's door, which he'd personally given me. Then he just up and changed his locks one day, which I think is very inconsiderate. And then to shoot at me for doing what I had no choice but to do? That is downright rude.

"What's rude is I almost had to bury you in my basement," Lary bitches. "Think of the hole I almost had to dig!"

I was 10 the first time I broke into a house — with my older sister, who was in middle school and therefore more attuned to the criminal mind. She had somehow procured the key to the house of a 12-year-old boy named Tyler, with whom we were both in love. He had curly dark hair past his shoulder blades and wore low-slung jeans anchored by a belt buckle in the shape of a big metal skull with a snake all wound up in the eye sockets.

My sister Cheryl didn't know that I was also in love with Tyler. I kept that part secret because I was afraid she wouldn't let me help her break into his house if she knew, and I was absolutely atwitter with anticipation. I swear, I think I even talked myself into believing I would find rough drafts of love letters written to me, all aching with longing and revealing a sensitivity very advanced for an adolescent. I even had him lusting after the curve of my neck in those letters, I think, wanting to engulf my clavicle with kisses and whatnot.

This is all due to the fact that I'd stolen romance novels from my mother's bedside and read in secret the travails of many an Edwardian beauty. In these books, the heroine always very romantically fell in love with her first lover, who was very ardent, tender and vulnerable for a rapist. The curve of her neck always seemed to be the thing that sent the nobleman masquerading as a commoner into the throes of mad passion, crumbling the facade of his blue-blooded upbringing and releasing the beast within. After that, they'd inevitably become awash in an unfathomable ocean of desire, with yearning breasts bursting and a big, throbbing python of love.

Stuff like this is irresistible to a 10-year-old, and I was always thrusting my neck out at Tyler, wondering how he could resist the yearning breasts bursting beneath my tank top. When I heard my sister planned to break into his house, I latched myself onto her like a squid until she agreed I could come. We picked Saturday in broad daylight to pull it off. I wore garden gloves to mask my fingerprints, which was unnecessary, because I was soon sent to the kitchen for lookout duty while my sister alone got to wallow in Tyler's stuff.

I was quite bored in the kitchen until I opened a drawer located under the wall-mounted telephone and found a deck of pornographic playing cards. The Queen of Hearts held particular interest for me, since she literally had a throbbing python of love in every orifice, plus one in each fist. Jesus God, I thought, she's all plugged up.

She did not look like she was awash in an unfathomable ocean of desire. She just looked incredibly uncomfortable. Just then my sister emerged from Tyler's bedroom, and in her hand she gripped his big belt buckle. She planned to treasure it for the rest of her life, she said, wadded up in her pajama top as she slept, even. But when we got home, I stole that belt buckle back from her and buried it behind a briar bush in our back yard.

It was quite an effort to dig that hole, because I had to make it big enough to fit all my mother's romance novels as well.

Hollis Gillespie is a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, and the author of Bleachy Haired Honky Bitch and the upcoming Confessions of a Recovering Slut: And Other Love Stories.

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