The Son of Horror Shorts From Southwest Critique Group

The members of RMFW’s Southwest Critique group have been kind enough to expose their ghoulish tender bellies to guest on my blog this month. Today’s brave if twisted soul: Robin (RG) Calkins, with a little ditty called The Grave Digger. Read it curled up next to a nice peat fire with a pint in your wee hand.

The Grave Digger

Jack Donovan strides across the cemetery lawn, shovel slung on his shoulder. A lantern swings from his hand. He sings a tune not known to most.

When I was young my elders said,
Don’t walk on graves, disturb the dead.
This sounded strange, I questioned not
Tiptoed ‘round each crypt and plot.

The dead don’t mind if you dance on their bones
They’re covered o’re with earth and stones
None reside b’neath the ground
Their souls are free, no longer bound.

He reaches his destination and tips his cap. “Ah, now, Mr. Stewart. ‘Twas a nice service here today, was it not?”

“What was that bizarre lay you were bellowing?”

Jack chuckles. “One passed from my grandda to me da to me.”

Stewart huffs. “It’s irreverent and disrespectful.”

Jack shoves his shovel into the pile of dirt at his feet. “Aye, to some ‘tis, but most folk laughs at it.”

“That’s preposterous.”

Jack continues to shovel steadily. “‘Tis the truth of it.”

A woman approaches, her pasty face sour and gait purposeful.

Jack stops and tips his cap to her. “Evenin’, Mrs. O’Connor. Come to pay your respects, have you?”

“I’ve come to spit on t’ bastard’s remains, I have.” She comes closer and hawks a gob of spit toward the dirt.

“Ah now, Missus, is that any way to be?” Jack scoops more dirt in.

“He was a thievin’ son of a whore.” She points a bony finger at him. “You know the truth of it Jack Donovan.”

“Aye, I know it well,” he says to the woman’s retreating back.

“What a coarse and bitter woman.”

Jack distributes more soil into the hole. “As you say, Mr. Stewart.” He pauses only to light his lantern.

Stewart squints into the dying light. “Donovan, do you see that man striding toward us?”

“Aye, sir, I do.”

“Is it All Hallows? He appears to have on a costume.”

Jack peers at the young man. “Nay, ‘tisn’t Samhain and he’s not wearin’ a costume.”

“By God, man,” Stewart exclaims, “then the boy’s been shot.”

Jack, unconcerned, removes a flask from the back pocket of his pants. “Aye, I b’lieve he has.” He takes a pull from the pint-size container.

“Good evenin’, gents,” the lad says with a slight bow.

Jack holds out the tin. “Nice to see you, Finn, care for a drink?”

“Ah, now, Mr. Donovan, I can’t accept your hospitality, but I appreciate the thought.”

Stewart looks appalled. “You, lad, go along to the hospital.”

Finn’s pale face turns to Stewart. “There’s naught they can do for me, sir.” He peers at the now-filled grave. “For him, neither.” Finn throws his head back and howls with laughter as he takes his leave.

“Mr. Donovan, I think there is something amiss here.”

Jack raises his eyebrows. “How do you mean, sir?”

Stewart makes a grand gesture. “Why are all these people milling about a graveyard after dark?”

Jack follows his gaze. “Because it’s their home.”

Stewart’s eyes are wide with fright. “Let us flee, man.” His voice quavers. “These apparitions may mean to do us harm.”

Jack grins at Mr. Stewart. “I’ll be goin’ now, but as for you . . .” the sound of metal against stone draws Stewart’s attention.

Stewart stares in disbelief at the newly chiseled headstone.

“Good night, Mr. Stewart, and welcome home.”

Jack slings his shovel to its perch, picks up his lantern and crosses the turf.

It occurred to me that ev’ry day.
We walk the crust of death’s decay.
It’s futile to pick up your feet,
When everywhere a corpse they meet.

The dead don’t mind if you dance on their bones
They’re covered o’re with earth and stones
None reside b’neath the ground
Their souls are free, no longer bound.

RG (Robin) Calkins has made up stories for as long as she can remember. It all began on the little, red timeout bench in the hallway of the house she grew up in. She spent time there–a lot, and made up tales to keep herself entertained.

Robin set her long-suppressed muse free in June of 2010 with a story that was sparked by a song. She put down the first words of that story and with the tutelage and encouragement of a writer’s coach and their writing group, finished her first manuscript in September of 2011. Discovering her masochistic side, Robin subjects herself to two critique partners and a local critique group weekly, to help polish her novel and work toward publication.

She is in the revision process with the above mentioned first novel, Wayward. Her poem, My Heart’s Song, was published in an anthology in 2000. Her winning short horror story, No Lights, will be published in a Darker Times Fiction anthology soon.

Robin’s greatest accomplishment to date is her two outstanding children, Dillon and Cassidy. She lives in Littleton, Colorado.

Find more of Robin at:
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Email Robin at:

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5 Responses to The Son of Horror Shorts From Southwest Critique Group

  1. Robin Calkins says:

    Hi Dev,

    Thanks for having me on your blog!



  2. Reads like a campfire tale from centuries past, meaning it’s perfectly executed!
    Just like Mr. Stewart was! 😈


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