Strictly No Digging
Davey pointed out the sign the first time we ever cut through Perdition Square. The black oblong of metal was screwed to a bollard near old man Jenkins' cafe. Big white handpainted letters spelled out 'Strictly No Digging'.
"Why, man? What don't they want us to find?" said Dave. He pointed at the sign, a goofy look of conspiracy plastered on his face.I simply shrugged.
"Could be anything. Water pipes, maybe?"
"Nah, man. There's got to be something they're hiding there. That's why they don't want us to dig." He gesticulated wildly with spindly fingers. Dozens of bracelets made of wooden beads knocked together on his skinny arms.
"Bollocks. Jenkins probably doesn't want people taking up the cobbles."
"I'm tellin' you, man. It's got to be parliament." Davey's eyes were wide. They were also bloodshot, and I wondered for the umpteenth time what he'd been smoking this time.
"I doubt it."
"Look, they're telling us not to dig. So, I gotta dig now. I wouldn't have thought of it before, but now...I gotta know what they're hidin' under this place." I thought I caught a whiff of stale moonshine on Davey's breath as he leaned close.
"Do whatever you want."
I left him standing in the square, contemplating the sign.
Eleven hours later, I found myself standing in the square again. Thick clouds blotted out the moonlight, and shadows clustered in doorways. I looked around at the silent buildings, feeling the heavy weight of the windows' stare. Davey jabbed his dad's spade between the cobbles around the bollard. The grate of metal on stone set my teeth on edge.
"Do you HAVE to do this?" I hissed. "You've already broken my shovel and that one isn't looking too healthy. My dad's gonna kill me!"
"I'm nearly there," replied Davey. He tossed aside his own shovel, ignoring the large crack that ran the length of the wooden handle. He dropped to his knees, and clawed at the loose cobbles. I looked around the square. A shiver ran down my spine as I looked at the windows. I wondered if anyone sat beyond the glass, watching us from a darkened room.
"I don't believe it."
I looked down at Davey. A small pile of cobbles sat on the ground beside him. He still clutched one, dirt clinging to his fingers. I peered down into the hole he'd made. A single piece of white card lay at the bottom.
I fished it out and held it up, brushing crumbs of soil from the card. A breath of wind drove the clouds from the moon, and I could read the black script.
Come to O'Nally's, for all your hardware needs! Shovels,
gardening equipment, pick axes - if you need it, we have it!