Some days Darwin can’t work out how long he in the city. The calendar say nearly two months, but Fidelis have a different kind of time – the hours longer, the days deeper, and digging graves and lowering coffins in the ground is like watching whole lives fast-forward beginning to end. Fidelis make him adopt its rhythm instead of his own. And is not just Fidelis. Port Angeles crackle and spit like oil on a fireside and he start to like how he could disappear into it, just another one of the many somebodies that come here for whatever it is they come for.
He learning that even death in Fidelis does work in sync with the city. Payday? That mean hospital, courthouse and graveyard. Heavy rain? That mean road accident for so and they too busy to even laugh and old talk. Then it have other times when something start to ripple through the city – the wrong man get kill, the blocks get hot and is only sirens blaring out through the night. Them times they digging grave three, four a day and have to send for temporary workers so they could do more than one funeral same time.
But now as it get closer to November, around All Souls’ Day, is like the dead and the living come to a kind of a truce. All the graves quiet and sometimes he don’t see the other gravediggers at all for a couple days. He know they does work other jobs and get little contracts when things light in Fidelis, but nobody let Darwin in on the cut. True, he could use the money, but he don’t mind. The days when it was just him, even the weight of the keys in his pocket make him feel good. And when the street lamps come on, the outer edges of Fidelis gild in borrowed light, he stand at the crossroads right at the centre of the cemetery in near-darkness and feel his whole body relax, like how a man must feel when he finally reach in his own home after a long day and smell food cooking. Not that he ever know that feeling but he figure it must feel a little bit like this, like Fidelis at twilight.
Maybe everything does just get easier the longer you do it. True, some nights he still dream the heavy scissors in his hand, his head getting lighter with each cut, his locks spreading out amongst the zaboca leaves in the dirt yard. But each time he shave his head over the sink, he get more used to his reflection in the mirror. He make sure to gather every last strand and put them into a small clay bowl, say a prayer, strike a match and set it on fire. The bitter scent of burning hair somehow make him feel restful and safe. He was a man without law, without vow, but he was still his mother’s son.
But no matter how much he feel like he getting used to it, his life always half in shadow. Errol still giving him a little extra after each burial and he still taking it, although each time he feel a bit more uncomfortable. He tell himself, the same way somebody have to clean the streets, and somebody have to collect the garbage, and somebody have to pave the road, somebody have to bury the dead. He say it over and over till he believe it, and think of the envelope for his mother in his dresser drawer, getting fatter through the weeks and then slimmer each time he deposit some in her account, praying her pride don’t stop her from withdrawing it. He put his uncomfortable feelings in the envelope with the hundred-dollar bills and try not to look at either of them too hard.