by Jared Smith

When spring came the three white boys finished digging the pit out beyond the dead apricot tree where the indian liked to wander. They covered it with planks of old wood and brush and limbs cut from the tree. They checked it every day for a week until Easter morning when they stood at the lip of the pit looking down at the dark curled figure, only a year or two younger but so small and simple they figured God's curse on his kind must work its way out from the inside.

It was the indian's third morning in the hole, kept warm through the two previous nights by pissing in the dirt and then pasting the warm soil across his arms and chest. In his delirium of fear and hunger the three dark shapes against the blood red sky seemed to him the very spectacle he had been seeking: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Then the tall one spoke:

Hey. Retard. Looks like your faggot dad's finally left for good. Guess he couldn't get enough man love around here.

Down in the hole nothing moved. The fat one picked up a rock and tossed it in.

Maybe he's dead.

He ain't dead, the tall one said. Not yet anyway.

That night the youngest of the three boys turned into bed and shut off the lights and lay there looking at the clock for two hours before he got up again already fully dressed and crept down the hallway past his parents' bedroom and into the garage where he had hidden the blanket and flashlight and the two small jugs filled with tap water. Twice he nearly started back for home. He had never been out in a night so dark and he wondered if that's how the indian felt all the time. When he got to the pit he heard him crying, so he moved back a few steps and then walked forward again, this time whistling so that the indian would hear him coming.

He tossed in the blanket first, and then the jugs on top. He turned off the flashlight and stood there waiting to hear if the indian might say something. The bright red ball of Mars burning hard in the sky like the eye of some deranged cyclops. He remembered the shovel and turned on the light to find it setting against the trunk of the tree. He picked it up and carried it over and slid it down carefully into the hole. He caught the indian's eye with the light.

Tomorrow morning we're going to whip you. For what you said you still love your faggot da