Deep Plots


Deep Plots


“So, this is where you bury the dead?” The Financier inquired incredulously.

“We prefer to use the term ‘a loving transformation,’” the proprietor said, waving his arm at the rolling countryside, punctuated by several groves of trees. “That’s why we also don’t use the term ‘deceased’ either. You are going from one stage of life to another.”

The Financier rolled his eyes. Whatever. He only agreed to tour this silly facility to appease his daughter. Or, more accurately, he realized that an empty promise to be buried in an environmentally friendly way would be a smart business move. In fact, that was how he built his empire. This finance man wasn’t dubbed “Mr. Green” by the press without carefully cultivating the image as a great lover of nature.

In reality, a different green colored his thinking. He realized early on that perception mattered more than reality. It was better to claim that the fishing industry didn’t deliberately kill reptiles and mammals to save a few bucks, though he loved serving their remains mixed in with the fish to the Sierra Club when they came to lobby for voluntary restraints on their nets. Would-be whistleblowers were sniffed out by his private security firm. The first contact would be a warning, and the second one a threat. He only had to resort to an accident twice, though he still kept tabs on those he cowed.

“And don’t wild animals dig up….”

“No sir,” the owner of the fields promised. “We use especially deep plots.”

The guy wandering the fields with that floppy hat with the wide brim was droning on about how the dead bodies would fertilize a forest, when some words on a rock caught his attention. It was the name of a famed industrialist whose battles against the Environmental Protection Agency over the release of sulfur dioxide were legendary. He remembered something about the man passing away, but….”

“Did he make a donation to your…” what was it? It looked more like a thick forest rather than some kind of garden.

“Oh no.” The owner smiled. “This is his final resting place.”

Must have been a tax write-off, The Financier observed.

“Didn’t know he had a change of heart,” said “Mr. Green.”

His tour guide shrugged. “His family thought it best.”

They continued along the path and The Financier felt beads of sweat from the rising humidity, as spring gave signs of surrendering to summer. He refused to mop his brow. To do so would be to show weakness. And at his age, he was so fit that he made sure someone on social media saw him shirtless, doing pushups. Internally, he felt relieved when they headed from the warm meadow to the cool forest.

Most of the names on the rocks meant nothing to him, except one, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist. If the oil and gas industry needed someone to say their emissions were relatively harmless, or to say the link between fossil fuels and climate change was a myth, she was their scientist. 

With all the money she made from being an expert witness in court or before Congress, he figured she would be buried in some mausoleum out in California. Must have had some late-in-life conversion to be interred out in this fruitcake graveyard.

“Look, Daddy, isn’t that the former EPA Director?” his daughter inquired. “See, there are famous environmentalists buried out here too.”

It was all he could do to hold back a derisive snort. That former head of the Environmental Protection Agency was green alright, easily bought by corporate interests, while preaching the gospel of saving the earth “for the children.” He also undermined investigations, slapped minimal fines on big companies, and looted funds, undermining the agency from within. Guess even in death, he wanted to prove how pro-nature he was.

The sun came in unevenly between the branches but shed enough of its rays to point out another stone with a name that shocked him. The former president, or more accurately, dictator of the Central African Republic was there. The Financier knew him well as a client. He had come to power via a coup backed by the Russians. He had his country strip-mined for rare earth minerals for some Chinese company. Known as “The Earthmover,” the man bulldozed more than just the land. He chewed up whole villages and political opponents in the process. Then he blamed “ethnic separatists” for their deaths, and the resulting purge of those tribes only added to his bloodlust.

“I thought he died in a car crash in New York last week,” The Financier observed, pointing at the marker to the guide.

“Oh…his second wife had his body flown down from the city,” the leader of the tour stated proudly. “We buried him yesterday. Or should I say, ‘returned his remains to the earth.’”

The Financier waved off his comment. He was getting sick of all this granola’s eco-crap, groaning internally while the aged leftist delivered a homily about how a body’s nutrients could replenish the soil. 

The heat of the Carolina sun was causing him to perspire even more profusely, despite the shade of the forest. The heck with this “going green” plan. His daughter would wail, to no avail. He’d live out a comfortable existence in luxury, angering those sanctimonious tree huggers like this neo-Lorax.

As they rounded the bend to return to the main headquarters, vision blurred by sweat, The Financier failed to see the pit, obscured by the shade. But he did see a large stone which shocked him, leading him to stumble toward in confusion to see if his eyes were deceiving him, leading him to tumble right into the deep crater.

That was because his own name was on that rock.

Lying in the pit several feet below, he tried to rise, but the fall and landing on the rocks had smashed his knees. If they weren’t broken, they were surely badly bruised. His legs, elbows, and arms weren’t in any better shape. He realized that the rock with his name would now be his tombstone.

“Help me!” His voice was barely a squeak, as his jaw had cracked on several stones within the cavity. He twisted his head around with his remaining ounce of strength. His daughter looked down from above, joined by another woman, the Earthmover’s second wife. Smiles emerged on both of their faces.

“Dust you are,” the cemetery owner announced like a preacher in some horror film. “And to dust you shall return.”

The Financier groaned as shovelfuls of earth rained down on him. A heavy, hard pack of dirt slammed into the back of his head, and consciousness left him. It would be a green wake after all.


The Financier’s daughter labored under the humidity typical of the Southeast in the summer. It was a good feeling, though…the satisfaction of a job well done. The Earthmover’s second wife, who had joined in the digging, also appeared physically tired, but mentally refreshed. 

They were joined by a muscular man. When he introduced himself as the tour guide’s assistant, the two women recognized his last name, shared with the Nobel Prize winner. He seemed to know exactly what to do, from making the dirt pile blend in, to scattering the grass seedlings just right.

“Think anyone will press for details about our most recent guest’s demise?” he asked.

The Financier’s offspring laughed. “He had few true friends, outside of money. The only ones who would show up only want assurances he’s actually dead.”

Then she added to the proprietor, “I’ll make sure his fund only financially helps worthy causes, those which will help the Earth, not hurt it, as he did.”

The Earthmover’s second spouse gestured to where the Central African Republic dictator was buried. “My husband…ex-husband…was a pig,” she told The Financier’s daughter. “And he deserved to die for what he did to my country. But all of this, is it right?”

The Financier’s daughter looked to the sky. “I suppose…it is justice…environmental justice.”

But privately, she glowered at the fresh earth. Though she feigned a lack of interest in her father’s work, she knew every business deal he had made by heart. She hated the way his disrespect for the environment made her capable of acts she would never dream of doing as a child.

            “Well,” the owner of the green cemetery offered, having consoled many of those who made similar choices in using his property. “He’s in a better place now.”


John A. Tures

Originally from El Paso, Texas, John A. Tures is a first time fiction writer, but is a regular newspaper columnist and magazine writer who has published in Politico, The Conversation, Yahoo News, MSN, Savannah Morning News, Houston Chronicle, HuffPost, USA Today, SFGate, Newsweek Europe, The Observer, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Forward, AlterNet, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and many more newspapers.  He is a professor of political science at LaGrange College.



  1. Very nice short story, John.

  2. I really enjoyed this! I didn’t see the twist until it was upon me!!

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