The Gravel Pit – Anthony Statham

“Oh, dang it!”

“Hey down there! What is it you’re up to?”

“Oh, geez. I lost a contact lens.”

“Down there?”

“Yeah. Ah, golly.”

“I don’t see anything.”

“It’s a contact lens.”

“Yeah, I heard that. And what pray tell is a whatsma-lens?”

“It’s like little glasses without frames that rest on your eyeballs.”

“Come again?”

“Contact lenses are a new technology so I can see without glasses.”

“I can’t hear a word you’re saying, friend-o. I’m coming down.”

“No! Please, it’s all right. But thank you. It’s very kind.”

“No, sir. I’m on my way. Hang tight. Oh, boy! Steep, this hill. Say, what got into you to climb down the quarry?”

“Careful, man! I don’t want your death on my conscience as well.”

“Ah! Oh, there there, just takes a moment to get your footing. Oh my. How in the world are we going to get back up to the top?”

“I told you to stay away.”

“Nonsense. A fellow patriot in trouble! I’d have heard you from my living room, even with the rugrats on the floor. There’s a new game they’ve got. Legos. Have you heard of it? Noisy little things.”

“I know it’s here somewhere.”

“So, what’s it look like?”

“What?”

“This thing you’re all up in arms about. I see nothing but rocks from here to there and back.”

“It’s a small clear thing. It fits on your eyeball.”

“Now, come on friend. Don’t pull my leg now that I’ve come to assist you like I have. I’ve done a kind and generous act coming down here. What are we looking for? I can find it no time flat guaranteed.”

“Please, I’m begging you. Just move along. If it’s meant to be I’ll find it.”

“Hello! What are you two doing down there?”

“Well, if it isn’t Tom Robinson! Hey, Tom.”

“Ricky Caruthers? Well, shoot me twice and send my exposed corpse to Napoleon’s tomb.”

“That can’t possibly be a saying.”

“How the heck are ya Ricky?”

“Honestly, go get a drink with your friend. Looks like you’ve got some catching up to do. Plenty to talk about, I’m sure.”

“Just fine. I’m in a rock quarry with a rather unappreciative acquaintance.”

“I can see that. And why might you be down in a rock quarry with this chap?”

“He seems to have lost something and now that I’ve put my life on the line to help he is mum on what it is?”

“I told you exactly what it is I’ve lost.”

“In your strange coded speech perhaps, but not like a straight-shooter.”

“Myself anyhow, I’ve been let home from work early. Seems all of Japan is killing whales like barbarians and we’ve got the afternoon off.”

“I don’t understand. How come you’ve got the day off?”

“My boss, Mr. Varsklanderson is a right Viking. The big strong man broke into blubbering when he heard about a particular whale, I guess famous wherever he’s from came up dead in the papers.”

“Tragedy.”

“Say, Why don’t I come down and join the hunt.”

“No! Honestly, it’s fine. Go about your business.”

“A gentleman goes extra lengths to help those in need. Oh, Christ on a cross it’s steep. How in the hell did you get down there without tumbling?”

“Steady feet.”

“Just stay up there. Please.”

“Just a moment. Almost there. Okay, boys. Here I am. What should I set my sights for?”

“I’m beginning to think he’s lured us down here for some mischief.”

“I very kindly repeated I didn’t need any help.”

“Too late, my friend. Here we are.”

“Says he lost some kind of contact.”

“Like with Jesus? You won’t find it here. A church maybe, but this here quarry was dug out from an old Indian burial ground. My, I remember my gramps told me a few hundred thousand Indians used to roam these parts and we up and slaughtered all of them. A shame really. I never liked seeing the fake Indians at the picture show.”

“Hell, it’s probably haunted. Evil spirits and such.”

“I’ve lost a contact lens as I told your friend.”

“Say that again, friend. A what now?”

“It is a small half sphere of clear material that is set onto your exposed eye so that you can see with corrected vision in absence of eye glasses.”

“What the hell is this boy talking about?”

“Same thing I said.”

“Gentlemen! Are you in need of assistance? Why are you in the quarry? It’s nearly nightfall!”

“Oh, for the love of Pete!”

“Hey up there!”

“Stevie Plantonkski? My heavens, how the hell are you?”

“You have got to be joshing me! Tom Robinson and Ricky Caruthers!”

“More of your friends? Seriously, do you all just walk the perimeter of the quarry all day?”

“Stevie, we’ve got a situation down here.”

“Really. What’s the predicament?”

“Our new friend here is a shyster. He’s connived us into joining him in a game of find the thing that ain’t real.”

“You don’t say?”

“No! They do not say. They are mistaken, sir. I’ve misplaced an important piece of material. Your friends volunteered their services even though I objected stating rather clearly I was in need of no assistance whatsoever.”

“We’re not friends, us. We served together. I call that family. You serve, boy?”

“Well, however you’d like to put it, I never asked for help.”

“He asked you a question.”

“Yeah, you gonna answer or keep up with little lies and games?”

“I am playing no games, and no I have never been in a capacity to serve my country in any affairs militarily therein.”

“Hold on boys, I’m coming down. Holy hell this is a steep incline.”

“Reminds me of our tour in Crotopoliaskola.”

“Exactly what I was thinking. Crotopoliaskola. You’ve taken the words from my mouth.”

“Now, come on. That is not a real place!”

“You’d be best to keep your mouth shut until Stevie gets down here.”

“Gentlemen, please. There’s clearly some kind of misunderstanding.”

“I think the only thing that is misunderstood around here is our kindness, and seems to me your on the rather dog tail end of that blunder.”

“I don’t understand what that means.”

“Ok, here I am, and well looky-here. I know this boy. He laughed at me when I came from the orthodontist freshly made up with braces. Doctor recommended to keep my jaw regular and in order.”

“Now, come on. I’ve never seen you before.”

“I say we teach this boy a lesson in being a snot nosed little better than everybody whippersnapper.”

“Wouldn’t mind pulling a Shweigger-Alohauskas spinner practical.”

“Aye!”

“Indeed, a great idea!”

“Those aren’t words. Contact lenses are real. Look look look! Ah, uh – okay, see? Look. It goes on your eyes and it helps you see.”

“Jesus H! Did this little freak just pull off a piece of his eye?”

“He sure as hell did. My god he’s probably flaking off with cholera or the black plague.”

“We can’t have this kind of thing infecting our children and our neighbours.

“No, I’d say not.”

“A burial ground at dusk seems a fitting place as any.”

“I’ll say.”

“Please, gentlemen. I’ll just be on my way. I’ll never find the other contact lens anyhow. Okay, then. Thank you so much for your help. Goodbye!”

“Boy, you are never leaving this here gravel pit ever again.”

“I’d have to agree with Mr. Caruthers.”

“And I’ll second that notion.”

“Gentlemen, please…”

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