Drake easily scaled the wrought iron gate. He turned and took the tools Colt passed through the gaps between the vertical bars, then waited for his accomplice to join him. Being the smaller of the two, Colt struggled to clear the barrier.
‘How far is it?’ Colt asked.
‘Couple of hundred yards.’ Drake began walking up the paved driveway.
‘How we gonna get Buck there?’
‘Once we’re done, I’ll pick the padlock and we’ll drive him up.’
‘Wait. If you can open the lock, why did I have to climb over?’
‘The longer the gates are open,’ Drake sighed, as though talking to a child, ‘the more chance someone driving past will get suspicious. Best to leave the car on the road until we’ve finished with the grave. It could be a two-hour job.’ Switching on his flashlight, Drake checked the nearest gravestone. ‘Six more rows, then we head in.’
‘Two hours?’ Colt said with a whine in his voice. ‘I thought Kat said the grave was already dug?’
Drake rolled his eyes. Colt didn’t notice in the darkness.
‘Do you always ask so many questions?’
‘Challenge everything, that’s what my old man taught me. Take no man’s word for nothing.’
‘Is that how you figured out Buck was a rat? This way,’ he added, stepping from the tarmac and onto the damp grass.
‘There was just something wrong with Buck,’ Colt answered, following Drake through the graves. ‘I dunno. It’s like he stunk of cop.’
‘You think five-oh have their own scent?’
‘Reckon undercover cops do. All that lying and pretending to be something they’re not. That’s gotta mess ’em up somehow, you know. What do you think?’
‘I don’t think about it. Buck had my back against Raven’s crew. That’s as much as I know.’
Drake stopped so suddenly, Colt almost collided with him.
‘This is it,’ he said, then jumped into the hole.
Colt sat himself on the edge and carefully lowered himself down. As his centre of balance shifted, his hand slipped and he fell heavily into the earth. He cursed as he pulled himself to his feet.
‘At least you’re in the right place if you break your neck,’ Drake said.
‘You trying to be funny?’ Colt snapped. ‘It’s so dark. Can’t see a God-damned thing.’
‘Get ready. Three seconds of light to get your bearings, then we get to work. Don’t want anyone seeing strange lights in the cemetery at night.’
Drake shone the flashlight around the empty grave. The darkness seemed deeper when he extinguished the light.
‘How far down do we go?’ Colt asked twenty minutes later.
‘Couple of feet,’ Drake answered, breathing hard. ‘We need just enough that we can dump Buck’s body and cover it up. As long as we leave the depth roughly six feet, the reverend won’t notice anything at tomorrow’s funeral.’
By the time they had finished, both men were sweaty, dirty and panting.
After throwing the spades out of the hole, Drake said, ‘Give me a lift out, then I’ll lean in and pull you out.’
‘No way,’ Colt wheezed. ‘You’re heavier than me. You boost me out first.’
‘It’s because I’m bigger that I can pull you out. I’ll go first.’
‘Okay. Yeah, that makes sense.’
Leaning against the side of the grave, Colt interlaced his fingers. Drake placed a muddied boot in Colt’s hands and jumped for the top of the grave. As they struggled to free Drake, they pressed close to one another and Colt inhaled Drake’s odour.
‘Jesus, you stink,’ he complained as Drake wriggled himself over the top.
‘Yeah?’ Drake laughed. ‘Smell familiar?’ He lay on the ground, catching his breath.
‘What? What do you mean?’
‘Buck wasn’t a cop. You were wrong – he didn’t have a stink about him.’
‘Whatever, man. Just get me out of here.’
‘But there is one thing you were right about.’ Drake got to his feet. He picked up a shovel and raised it over his head. ‘Being undercover does change a man. Makes you do things you’d never have previously considered.’
The descending spade hit Colt square in the face, knocking him out cold. Drake knew he had plenty of time to cover Colt with Buck’s body and the replaced earth. At tomorrow’s funeral, three dead bodies would be laid to rest.