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Digging Holes

There is no sadder fate for a man than not knowing where he belongs ...

Okay. That is a lie. There are far, far sadder fates. And Renee Asher Pickup covers most of them ...

Digging Holes by Renee Asher Pickup

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s digging holes. There’s no bad situation I can’t make worse. No small mistake I can’t turn into a life-altering disaster. Once, I got an F in English. Before I realized I was digging, I had a bad reputation and two teachers had been fired on my account. Next thing I know, I’m expelled because knockin someone’s teeth into the roof of their mouth is looked down on. Even if she did call me a whore.

Didn’t take long for me to figure out that whiskey made a fine shovel. Drink a little, dig a lot. Drink a lot and those holes get so deep so fast I’d be ankle deep in mud before I realized what was going on. I turned into the kind of woman no one would hire, not any respectable employer. The kind of woman who can’t cut hair, can’t really type, and has too foul a mouth to work retail.

I worked construction until some cocksucker made a grab for my ass while I was carrying some lumber. Swung that board right into his face. That board may as well have been a shovel.

This world doesn’t have a place for women like me. This world likes women with clean mouths and clean fingernails. Women who politely charm the people they hate instead of setting their heels and digging in for a fight. I can’t seem to help myself.

Every time I turn around I’m digging a new hole.

Tonight, though, it’s less metaphorical. The squidge squidge sound of my boots in the mud is very real. The splinters going into my hands from this old shovel are real. The whiskey on my breath is real. The blood …


In a small town, you are who you are. There’s no reinventing yourself. No turning over a new leaf. Everybody knows you fucked your English teacher, knocked out the prom queen’s front teeth, and that you’re the reason Earl’s face will never be the same again. They know stuff about you that you never even did. No matter how bad I want to quit digging, I find myself here again.

You know, I had an Amtrak ticket in my hand the night I met him. Ready to leave this old shithole behind and go somewhere I had half a chance. Even had a job lined up. Oh, but there he was in a tight T-shirt with fucking dimples, hands on my hips, telling me everything I wanted to hear. So I stayed. I woke up in his bed the next morning and ripped that train ticket into a hundred pieces.

So you tell me how I ended up digging this hole on the back end of his property? Out here by the tree line, sweating and cursing? It wasn’t the whiskey that put the devil in me this time, but it is making this job a little harder.

I told him, you know, you can’t have property this big, this far outside of town and not have a dog. Anybody could sneak right up and do anything and you’d never see it coming ’til it was too late.

I told him, you know, you better always be upfront with me. I’m not a jealous type, I’m not a dramatic type, but goddamn I hate a liar.

I told him, you know, this is a pretty knife you gave me, and I’m going to carry it with me everywhere I go. I laughed and jabbed it at him, and I told him, you know, you could really hurt a man with a knife like this.

I told him that whiskey made me mean.

I told him that bitch was flirting with him at the bar.

I told him I was really fucking good at digging holes.

I guess he knows now.

Renee Asher Pickup is a mellowed out punk living in Southern California. She is senior editor at Dirge Magazine and her novel, written with Andrez Bergen, BLACK SAILS, DISCO INFERNO, will be out this summer.