After work each day Carl would visit his land. He set up his chair, sat down and would enjoy the view. The cemetery workers left around five so Carl’s presence went unnoticed. The people visiting deceased loved ones did not notice Carl either. He enjoyed his insignificance.
On days when the weather was not ideal Carl brought along his father’s old golf umbrella and wrapped himself tightly in a fleece blanket. He would fill a thermos with hot chocolate and watch the waves beat against the rocks below. The white foam churning and fighting the currents had a beauty Carl appreciated, he himself feeling tossed uncontrollably by the forces of nature controlling his life. His parents left him with the things of life: car, house, lawn mower, washer/dryer, but he felt unequipped to meet the shifts of living in the world today. His land gave him the sense of peace that his parents left him without, which was funny because his parents were both buried less than 200 yards from his land. He never went to visit their gravesites.
One evening after work Carl pulled into the Alder Hill Memorial Garden to find it full of cars and people. Carl thought for a moment that he should go home and come back tomorrow but he figured he could blend in with the crowd and then they would all go home. It would also give him something new to watch; he had not seen a funeral service since his parents died.
He drove slowly to the top of the hill, snaking in and out between the parked cars and found his spot. He set up his chair, wrapped himself in his blanket and poured himself a cup of hot chocolate.
It was a large funeral; Carl guessed there were 1,500 people there. He wondered who would be so important that 1,500 people would show up to their funeral. Carl knew he would have to wait for a few weeks before he would know who was being buried because the headstones took some time to be placed.
The service looked to be a traditional affair from where Carl sat. Some praying, some speaking, some crying and then everyone began leaving. Once everyone was gone the two cemetery workers came out of the shop area driving a tractor that pulled a flat trailer. The workers picked up chairs, rolled up Astroturf, and eventually got to the work of interring the deceased. Carl watched with a great deal of interest as the workers lowered the casket slowly and then picked up the silver platform the casket had been sitting on and set it on the trailer. One worker drove the platform into the shop and the other man began rolling up the Astroturf that covered the sides of the grave and the mound of dirt. The tractor pulled back out of the shop with a different trailer this time. The trailer looked to Carl like one of those huge portable barbecue pits that the locals used for a Santa Maria tri-tip barbecue, but instead of a hanging grill surface there was a large rectangular cement lid swinging from the contraption. The worker skillfully pulled the trailer around the grave and backed it over the hole.
As the worker got off of the tractor he motioned to the other worker in Carl’s direction. Then both men turned and looked up at Carl. Carl waved. The workers paused a second and then waved back. They went back to work lowering the cement lid into the hole and then the driver took the tractor back into the shop. When he came walking back out through the shop doors, there was a bald man with him. As they walked the worker pointed up in Carl’s direction and the bald man looked directly at Carl. Carl waved. The bald man did not wave back. The bald man did not stop at the gravesite; he kept walking, walking directly to Carl’s land.
“Are you here for the funeral,” the bald man asked breathing heavily.
“No,” Carl said without going any further.
“Then do you mind if I ask why you are here looking like you are watching a football game?”
“No,” Carl said with a hardness that surprised the bald man.
“No, you don’t mind?” the bald man’s voice strained.
“No, I don’t mind. You can ask.”
“Why are you here?” the bald man paused after each word pointing to the ground.
“I’m visiting my land.”
“Yes, my land. This is my land,” Carl said pointing to the ground.
“This is not your land. This land belongs to the Alder Hill Cemetery.”
“You mean the Alder Hill Memorial Garden.”
“Yeah, whatever. You can’t stay here.”
“I own this land, I have the paperwork and I am not leaving it.”
“You own this land? You mean you own these plots? Owning the land and owning the plots are two different things,” the bald man shouted.
“I can show you the paperwork.”
“I don’t want to see the paperwork. I want you to leave before I have to call the police.”
“Start dialing,” Carl said defiantly. “It’s my land and I’m not leaving without a fight.”
“You’re going to be sorry,” the bald man said as he turned and stomped back to the shop office.
Two days later Carl’s name appeared in the local law and order section of the newspaper: Trespassing and resisting arrest.