The Gravedigger

M. M. De Voe
4 min readJun 3, 2023

a fable for founders

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Once, there was a man who wandered around a lot. He was a cheerful man, loved people, liked helping out. Everyone liked him because of how enthusiastically he pitched in and helped them solve problems. He was a clever guy and he whistled beautifully.

People envied him his industry and his good mood.

One day, he crested a new hill and discovered a beautiful view. As far as he could see, nature laid beauty in forest and farmland. An azure river glimmered through it all with the promise of travel. Deciduous trees shaded the high, grassy spot, and around him, the boulders were solid and sparkled with immutable granite. As he breathed deeply of the loam-scented air, a yellow breasted songbird hopped fearlessly along a maple branch not far from a nest where two little ones peeped. His gaze rested on a soft blue line far on the horizon, and he knew he was glimpsing the ocean.

“I wouldn’t mind being buried here,” the guy said to himself.

It was strange, the first time he had ever thought beyond his own life. In the distance, the ocean glimmered like riches just out of reach.

The only problem was that the spot was clearly a place where teens had partied for years. Littered with pipes and tin cans, McWrappers and cups to the point that there was nowhere to sit and contemplate the view, the clearing depressed him. Crusty vomit stained the best sitting-rock. Names, dates, and other graffiti tagged the nearby boulders.

He did as was his nature. He decided to clean it up. That day he filled the recyclable bag he always carried (in case of last minute grocery needs or other emergencies) to brimming with crushed cans and cups. The job took on joy as he freed creepy crawlies from their soda can prisons and crushed the cans with the abandon of himself as a little kid, while the multi legged bugs scuttled away into the brushy shadows. He whistled as he worked.

He took to hiking up to the spot two or three times a week, and then daily. He bought biodegradable soap and scrubbed away the vomit and some of the graffiti, and called up an old college friend who was a mid-level guy at the EPA to figure out how to get rid of the rest, but mostly he worked alone and for no reason. Just for the joy of the view. Just for the…

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M. M. De Voe

Fictionista, collector of obscure awards, admirer of optimists in the face of dread. Author of 2 books that are polar opposites and yet the same. mmdevoe.com