Okay, so it’s Mother’s Day.
I have already been to two different Mother’s Day Craft Festivals, last weekend and this weekend, with my travelling book table trying to sell enough books to pay the bills.
So, in a way, Mother’s Day has been kind of going on all week long – except during the weekdays I spent my time at my day job as a cubicle dust monkey.
But I had today off and I wasn’t scheduled to be at any public appearances and the weatherman had said it was going to be warm and the grass in my backyard was beginning to resemble the Serengeti veldt, so I decided that I was going to mow the lawn.
So I went out to my back shed – which is basically just four sheets of corrugated aluminum held together by a roof and some rust and I dragged the old lawn mower out to see if it would work again.
This is the third or fourth lawn mower that I have been through in the ten years that we have owned this house.
Well, actually we don’t really own this house, we are renting it from the bank, on a bet that we can keep up our mortgage payments long enough to actually own the damn place. I call it the Freedom 75 plan.
Don’t get me wrong. I really do love this place and I wish I’d bought it sooner – but man, this property is hard on lawn mowers. Our first mower was a push mower. I wanted to be all ecological and get some exercise and not make a lot of noise and then I hit the mutant Kentucky Fried bluegrass that is going out back, amidst the herb garden of creeping thyme that got up and walked out of the little bed that the previous owner had planted it in and proceeded to dominate the entire backyard. It really smells nice when I mow it down – kind of like the breath of a French chicken – but it is really hard to mow.
The next thing I bought was an electric mower, which turned out to not have all that much power at all. Next I bought a low-end gas power mower which lasted a whole summer before it ran over a chunk of kryptonite and lost all of its power. Then I picked up this mower which is the fourth best gas mower, second in from the third cheapest that I could afford to buy and it has lasted the last five years.
Well, I brought it out and yanked the pull cord and it roared into life for about two and a half seconds and then promptly died. I fiddled with it some, making sure all of the connections were rusted on tight enough to hold and then I jiggled the spark plug and gave it another yank. It roared and died in about three more seconds and then I frigged with it some, cursed it a little and on about the sixth good yank it roared into life and held.
At this point in time some of you more handy types are feeling the urge to drop some sort of a comment about how a real man knows how to maintain his power mower and want to talk with me about how I need to be using a better grade of gasoline and maybe changing the oil more than every three years and other such foolishness but let me head your impulse right off the bat.
Don’t do it.
You give me some sort of helpful homemaker how-to-be-a-real-man hint of a comment and I am show up at your front door tomorrow with my roaring lawn mower and mow you off at the knee caps.
I mean what I am telling you.
I don’t know a thing about a handyman, but I am awfully good at homicidal mania.
Remember, I am a horror writer.
Anyway, I got about two-thirds of the back mowed when I ran over the one single piece of litter that I had missed when I had done my initial pre-mow pick-up of the litter. The next thing I knew, the mower had coughed and gagged and made a sound like a man gargling sulfuric acid and then stopped cold.
I tipped the lawn mower on its side and carefully unwound the plastic that had wound around the hub of the blade rotor and then I tipped it back and fired it up again. Of course, tipping a gasoline mower on its side results in a lot of gasoline running around the inner workings and this great gout of black smoke gouted out of the air filter.
That’s great, I thought. All I have to do is to run inside and grab me a blanket and I can send up some smoke signals and maybe some wandering lawn mower mechanic will ride to my rescue on a ride-on mower.
I let the smoke die down and I gave the cord another yank. I hadn’t been keeping count of how many times I yanked this mower but I figured if I yanked it a few more times that mower was going to have to buy me a romantic evening out on the town.
The mower coughed up in a rattling sort of a noise that sounded a little like a jackhammer trying to dance himself an honest to Michael Flatley Irish jig.
All of this was accompanied with more black smoke. I let it cool off and gave it another yank and there was more jack hammer death rattles and then all of a sudden the mower made a sound like a fat man farting through a tuba in an echo chamber, and a chunk of rubber flew out from out of the center of the air filter and shot halfway across the lawn. It turned out that when the mower had bumped over that plastic it had chewed off a chunk of that rubber flap that drags behind the mower to prevent you from hit by back flung debris.
Well, after that the mower started working again and I finished up the lawn and the sidewalk verge and I rolled the mower back into the shed and said a small prayer of thanks to the spirit of Red Green and I went aside and phoned my mother to tell her a Happy Mothers Day and then I ran the tub and climb in for long hot soak.
Yours in storytelling,