From his desk Jackie Conlan looked out the window and across the cemetery’s headstones. The old ones, thin and rounded, and the newer ones, thick and polished. He’d always liked the idea: a stone means the life is over. You don’t have to forget the life, but you have to leave it behind.

His father, Jack Conlan Sr., walked in and sat at the other desk. Here’s a first, he said, some nutbag wants to dig the grave himself.

From the Gardner family?

No, the guy in the pickup. Kell something—Brock.

Jackie straightened up. Is he out there?

Yeah. I told him our backhoe guy’s going to be disappointed but that it’s his dime. What can I say? He’s buying the plot.

Yeah, I guess.

Anyway, I told him he’d have to come in and sign the form.

Jackie looked at the steel desk drawers in front of him, where all the forms were kept, as if he had X-ray vision and was scanning the drawers’ contents. We don’t have that form, he finally said.

Of course not, I told you it was a first, right? We’ll have to make up some BS to cover our ass in case the dirt dog drops in the hole himself. You know this guy?

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