A short, rotund investigator from the Town Guard stood in the pouring rain with two deputies and a number of other nondescript individuals in front of an unmarked gravestone in one of the cemeteries that bordered the city of RhyDin.
"This'n it?" The investigator posed to one of the individuals that had receded into the shadows of a large oak, his voice heavy with the drawl of the southern regions.
"Yeah, this is it."
One of the deputies took a shovel from his wet, sopping pack and jammed it into the loose soil and began to dig. The ground gave way easily to the bladed edge of the spade as the deputy hurriedly scooped the dirt into a pile adjacent to the grave.
Minutes later, the sound of water pelting the top of a wooden coffin could be heard through the soft, almost ghoulish howling of the wind.
"Break'eropen." The investigator gave the order to the deputy with the shovel, and with a great heave, the lawman split the top of the coffin with the muddy, yet still considerably sharp, spade.
The deputy hacked away at the poorly constructed coffin that had already begun to succumb to the effects of decomposition. The wood gave way nearly as easily as the soft ground itself, and, after several minutes of hacking, kicking, and grunting, the deputy successfully removed the top of the coffin, ready to exhume the body that was rumored gone.
It was no rumor.
The five men, sopping wet and looking quite foolish, stared with mouths agape through the mud and rain at an empty coffin.
"Gawddamnit." The investigator snarled and spat a wad of tobacco from the corner of his mouth, though the wind blew it back into his face and sent it dribbling down his chin. He wiped a hand across his face with a sleeve. "'Coulda done without that."
The men stared for many more minutes, unsure of what to make of the empty coffin which should have contained a body--a body that, in its proper place six feet deep, would never contribute to the decay of society and scruples ever again.
The investigator reached a shaking hand into a pocket and procured a small piece of paper which immediately began to soak in the rainwater.
It read: "A man is only as dead as the contents in his coffin. -F"
The investigator shook his head as the rain washed the ink from the page into a blotted, undecipherable smudge.
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