Boner for Head
by Margo Griffin, 31st October 2022

Ralph’s skull collection was quite extensive. Skulls of snakes, rats, mice, cats, opossums, skunks, and coyotes filled every shelf in his curio cabinet. A skull of almost every local wild and domestic animal could be found in his collection, except for one; the Homosapien, or human, skull.

“Stop rubbing my head! It’s weird,” I complained.

“It’s sexy, especially the curve of your skull by your neck,” he said as he caressed the back of my head with one hand and held his shovel in the other.

“I can’t believe you convinced me to do this.”

“You just have to hold the flashlight. I’ll do the digging,”

“But what if someone sees us?” I asked, looking around into the pitch dark. I couldn’t shake the idea we were being watched.

“This cemetery is almost three hundred years old. No one comes here anymore. The weeds and ivy hide any of the headstones still intact.”

“It’s creepy.”

“Look,” Ralph pointed, “there, under that tree. That grave is completely sheltered from the sun during the day. With the rain, I bet the soil is a little softer over there.”

We walked over to the tree and kneeled down on the ground. I moved some tall grass and weeds over to the side to read the headstone, but the stone was weathered, and the remaining lettering was worn down and hard to make out.

“I think it’s a woman,” I said.

“Why?”

“I can make out the words she and wife.

“No name?”

“Just the first letter P.”

“Well, Ms. P, you’re about to give me head!” and Ralph stabbed the metal blade of his shovel into the ground.

“Jesus, Ralph. You’re such a pig. This was someone’s daughter and wife, maybe even someone’s mother!”

“Well, she is no one now. And anyone who knew her is dead too.”

I rolled my eyes and held the flashlight closer to the markings on the stone.

“There is an image of something here too. I think it’s an animal. A dog or a wolf.”

“Maybe the family crest or pet?” suggested Ralph.

I moved the light from the stone onto the sizeable hole Ralph had already managed to create. Ralph sifted through the soil, moving rocks that got in his way as he dug.

“What was that?” I asked.

“Huh?”

“Don’t you hear that?”

Ralph stopped digging and listened. A rustling sound came from the brush ahead, and I could tell Ralph could hear it too, but he shrugged and continued to search for Ms. P’s skull.

“What if it’s a wild animal?”

“I’ll hit it over its head with my shovel. A two-for-one special.”

“You’re an ass,” I muttered, biting my lip. “What if someone is watching us?”

“It’s in all in your head. Come on, Janice, stop being a baby. I didn’t force you to come.”

“No, you guilted me into it. All that ‘it’s my life’s work’, ‘the last time I will hunt for animal skulls’, and shit. Don’t you think I am tired of spending our dates in the woods looking for bones and decaying animal corpses? And now you have me in a spooky old cemetery digging up some poor woman’s head!”

“Janice, she’s dead. She won’t feel it or know it.”

“But we know it. And how do you know her spirit isn’t here? Maybe she will be pissed off and haunt our asses for the rest of our lives.”

“This is all in the name of science. Stop being dramatic. And besides, I thought you were Catholic.”

“No one really knows what happens when we die, but disturbing graves seems wrong. I know I agreed to come, but I am getting the creeps. I swear, someone is watching us from the brush.”

“Got it!” Ralph yelled, pulling up what appeared to be a skull with a small missing piece from its back. Instinctively I rubbed the back of my head where Ralph’s hand had been about a half hour ago.

“Ok, good. Let’s go,” I said.

“There must be another small piece. I might have broken it with my shovel. I’m gonna dig a bit more. Come closer with the flashlight.”

I moved closer to the hole when I heard a low growl or grumble from the brush.

“Hey! Why’d you move the light? I can’t see jack!”

I flashed the light over to the brush and took a few steps, straining to see what could have made that noise.

“I know I heard something!”

Ralph climbed out of his hole and walked over to me. The moonlight shone on our faces, and I could see he remained skeptical until we both heard the sound of crunching dried leaves and fallen branches as if someone or something had walked on top of it all and moved in our direction.

“Shit,” said Ralph.

Two round golden orbs shone out from the brush and appeared to float toward us. I tried grabbing Ralph’s hand as we backed up, but he held onto the skull with both hands and wouldn’t let go. Then, whatever it was started to move more quickly toward us, and we turned to run when Ralph fell into the hole, and the skull rolled out of his hands. I screamed as the creature emerged from the brush with its sharp teeth gnashing and saliva dripping from the corner of its mouth, looking like a rabid dog or even an emaciated wolf or coyote. Ralph pulled himself out of the hole, desperately trying to reach for the skull. But the creature pounced over to Ralph, threw his head up, and howled. Then the creature lowered his head down and stared at us once more. I was sure he would lunge at Ralph’s throat, but instead he scooped up the skull with his mouth and glared at us with flashing yellow eyes. I tried reaching for Ralph’s hand again, but he stooped down and picked up the shovel.

“Don’t,” I said, fearful Ralph would attempt to attack the animal for the skull.

Ralph nodded at the animal and bowed his head. The animal moved forward, dropped the skull into the hole, and looked up at us, eyes ablaze. Ralph scooped up the surrounding loose dirt and tossed it back into the hole until the grave was fully covered. The animal howled again, sending a shock to the back of my skull. I reached up and rubbed the back of my head to soothe it when the animal turned and retreated to his bush.

“What the fuck,” said Ralph.

“I don’t….” I started.

“I know.”

This time Ralph grabbed my hand and led me away from the grave. Then after we walked a few feet away, he lifted his hand and placed his palm on the back of my skull and said, “I don’t need any more head.”