THE GRAVE ROBBERS
In an Irish village 200 years ago there lived a mean old doctor. He was called Dr Wesley. Wesley liked nothing better than to cut up dead bodies. But not many people were willing to hand over their deceased relatives to Dr Wesley.
One winter’s evening in a pub called Mac’s two men sat down to discuss their troubles. It was mid week and the pub was not busy. The white walls were stained yellow with tobacco. The coarse wooden furniture had seen better days. Bitter old bachelor farmers sat around nursing pints.
”I am broke” lamented Donachadh. Donachadh was a man in his early 20s. He was slender a little over two yards high. His thick black hair was close cropped. There was a mischievous aspect to his bulging facial features. He wore a green and brown lumberjack shirt and black trousers. His hob nailed boots were caked in dry mud.
”Me too” nodded Cormac. ”This beer cost me my last penny.” Cormac was a tad below normal height. His mid brown hair was a little long and messy. He was very pale and a premature pot belly could not be hidden beneath his clothes. He wore a plain grey shirt and dark brown curduroy trousers. His shoes had not seen polish in many a day and the leather was wearing thin.
”There’s no work to be had for labourers” said Donachadh ruefully eyeing his pint.
”I tell you what though. That Dr Wesley – he likes to cut up dead bodies. He says it helps him understand the human body better. He pays handsomely for a fresh corpse.”
”Will you be donating yours?” chucked Donachadh.
Cormac smiled darkly. ”No but I’ve an idea.”
”Oh yes?” said Cormac optimistically.
Donachadh lowered his voice. ”Did you hear old Padraig got buried today?”
”That old fellow? He was waiting to die for years.”
”Well we can dig him up and sell his bones to Dr Wesley.”
”That’s fantastic. How much will Wesley pay for a corpse?”
”Fresh one? They say five pounds.”
”Five pounds! That’s a good sum around here. That is more money than I would make in a month of hard work.”
Two men sitting not far away pretended not to listen. They were Pat and Donal.
In the dead of night two figures approached the old graveyard a mile outside the town. One wore a green and brown shirt and the other had a grey shirt on. They carried a very large sack and two spades with them. They shivered in the night chill and trembled with tredpiation. The graveyard contained an abandoned old church the roof of which had long since fallen in. A tree grew in the middle of the ancient little church.
An owl hooted as it flew past the full moon.
The chubbier man opened the graveyard gate as gently as possible. The rusting metal creaked wickedly. They winced at the noise. They did not want anyone to know they were visiting the cemetery at three o clock in the morning.
”Yerra could you not do that quieter?” asked Donachadh in a angry whisper.
”I could not do it any quieter” snapped Cormac in a susuration.
The owl hooted again.
The wended their way carefully between the headstones. Each headstone glistened under recent rainfall. They saw the mound of freshly piled turf on top of the new grave. As the reached the grave Cormac said very quietly ”Let’s get to work.”
Donachadh nodded wordlessly. They fell to their task. They made short work of the loose soil – piling it to the side. They were both muscular manual workers. The owl hooted regularly. They intensity of their work made them forget the fear they felt. Perspiration dribbled off them.
It was not long before they had laid aside six feet of damp soil. Donachadh’s shovel scraped something wooden. The owl hooted.
”The coffin” he gasped. Suddenly it was a reality. Until then it had seemed like a fictive to think they would ever steal a cadaver. But now there lay the coffin at their feet. It was plain plywood without a name plate.
”Let’s get it up – get old Padraig out and into the sack then put the coffin back and pile the earth back in” said Cormac wisely.
”Ah no don’t call him by his name. Makes it harder to deal with. Just say the body” said Donachadh feeling queasy.
”All right. All right – the body.” he nodded to calm his accomplice. The owl hooted.
They lowered themselves into the great hole they had redug. They grasped the coffin from underneath. They had difficulty not slipping on the moist earth. Their clothes were coated in greasy mud but they managed to wrestle the hefty coffin up over the lip of the grave and onto the flat ground.
”Jeekers – he was heavy all right. A fat old fellow.” said Cormac.
”Don’t remind me. I don’t want to think tis a person we are dealing with.”
”It is not a person. You are right. It is just a thing.”
”That’s better” said Donachadh with irritation. The owl hooted.
”Now let’s get it out of the coffin and into the sack” said Cormac logically.
”you open it.”
”No you open it.”
”Hey – it was your idea.”
”Well I am the boss then and I am ordering YOU to open the coffin.”
”You don’t mind thinking of this thing as a person so YOU have to be the one to open it.”
”All right. We are wasting time. More time we spend here the more chance we get caught. I will lift the lid off the coffin.” The owl hooted.,
The coffin lid was not nailed down.
Cormac grasped the lid and averted his eyes. He did not wish to see the face of the dead man. The owl suddenly stopped his regular hooting. Cormac lifted it off. Before the lid was fully removed a rasping voiced boomed out.
”Leave my bones alone.”
Cormac and Donachadhs’ blood ran cold. For a moment they froze. Then they ran without thinking. They vaulted the cemetery gate. A devilish laughter cackled from the coffin. The macabre laughter rebounded from off the moss grown headstones. They ran and ran as fast as their panic stricken legs could go. Despite being out of puff from their grave digging they did not stop running till they reached their house three miles distant.
As the terror stricken pair were out of sight two men stood up from behind the next headstone.
”Most of our work is done for us now”’ said Donal.
”Too right” said Pat. He is ours. Just put him in their sack and off we go.
”Leave their shovels. Their initials are on those shovels. The police will soon figure out who dug up this grave. ”
”They will never guess who robbed the corpse though” chuckled Pat.
With that they fearlessly opened the coffin fully and pulled out the cold corpse. He was in their gunny sack in a jiffy. They lumped the body to Dr Wesley and soon had their reward.
Dr Wesley had a good night’s study and the evidence was disposed of before daybreak.