The Square Peg - Grass Wars and the Gobbler Hobbler
© S. Bradley Stoner
I try to keep my lawn at 3 inches. It’s kind of the ideal height down here. It holds the water and stays green. I measured it before I started to mow. Nine inches. Are you kidding me? Six inches of growth in a week? Holy crap! I prepared to do battle. I filled the gas tank. I checked the oil. I cleaned the air filter. I sharpened the blades. Then I rolled out the machine. Intent as I was on doing battle with the green monster, I didn’t hear the footsteps behind me. I must be slipping.
“Gonna mow the yard?” Bob’s voice startled me and I jumped a little.
“Nope... I’m laying concrete.”
“Seriously... are you gonna tackle the yard with that puny little mower?”
Now, I know for a fact that Bob’s mower has been in the shop more times than it’s been out. And I’ll grant you he has one of those big self-propelled jobs, which is kind of overkill for the postage stamp yards we have, but he abuses it. For one thing, he has a tendency to forget where he’s put stone edging and hits the stones with regularity. I’m not talking pebbles here; I’m talking six-inch thick, foot and a half long, and a foot wide. They really shouldn’t be that hard to see. I looked at his blades one time when he was complaining that it wasn’t cutting right. They look like a big gator had taken a bite out of them. He routinely clogs his air filter and doesn’t clean it out. I cleaned it for him twice, once to get the mower running and once to show him how to do it himself. The next time he asked me to help fix his machine I told him I was going to start charging. I’m not mean, but then I’m not Beldar Conehead either. (For those of you who haven’t seen Coneheads... rent the movie).
“This puny little mower will out cut that monster of yours any day of the week.”
With that, Bob decided to change the subject. “So, I heard you and Duncan went shooting with that new guy.”
Oh crap, jealousy rears its ugly head. “Yep, and we had a great time.”
“So, what’s he like? The new guy I mean.”
“Nice fellow.” I was bound and determined to keep my answers short. For one thing, I knew Bob would try to horn in and for another I needed to get to the lawn before it got really hot. I am not in need of a heat stroke. “Why don’t you talk to Duncan about it? I’ve got to get to work.”
“He’s kind of pissed at me.”
Oh Lord. I knew I shouldn’t have asked, but I couldn’t stop myself. “What did you do to piss him off?”
Bob looked away and scratched. I won’t mention where, but it wasn’t pleasant to view. “I kind of wrecked his truck.”
“I was in a hurry a couple of days ago and my foot sort of slipped off the brake and hit the gas as I was backing out of the driveway. I kind of smashed his truck in the left rear side.”
“Oh man... you smacked his baby? You’ll be lucky if he talks to you in the next year.” Duncan’s truck was his pride and joy. It’s a big one ton with dual wheels on the back. What’s worse, it’s his hunting truck... and I know he was planning on hunting Rio Grande turkey this weekend. Uh-oh.
“I know,” Bob said miserably. “It’s not like I meant to do it.”
“If he misses turkey hunting this weekend, I’d watch my tail feathers if I were you. There’s no way you can make amends for that.”
“Yer not helping,” Bob groaned.
“I can’t do a thing for you, Bob.” I bent over grabbed the pull cord and gave it a yank. The mower roared to life. I didn’t even look back, although in my mind’s eye I could see him retreating with slumped shoulders. I was sure Duncan would get over it... he’s not one to carry a grudge, but making Bob feel miserable when he does something stupid like that brings Duncan enormous pleasure. I just hoped Bob had good insurance coverage.
I had just finished edging the front lawn when Duncan wandered over. “I see old Bob came by looking for sympathy.”
“Yeah, well he didn’t get any. How bad is the truck?”
“It’s already fixed,” Duncan confided. “They just pulled the left rear quarter panel, slapped a new one on, and painted it to match the truck. It looks good as new.”
I glanced up the street to where it was usually parked. “So where is it?”
Duncan smiled evilly. “In my brother’s garage. You don’t think I’m going to give Bob the satisfaction of knowing how easy it was to fix, do you? Anyway, I’m off the Rio Grande Valley to bag a gobbler tomorrow. Can you keep an eye on the place? Oh, and don’t let Bob know where I’ve gone... I’m not done tormenting him yet.”