Thursday, October 6, 2011

the lawnmower (grows a beard and I eat a sandwich)

By Tony Rauch

I find myself in the garage and notice that the lawnmower has grown a beard. The walls of the garage also slowly begin growing hair. Long hair of all colors - blonde, brown, black, gray, red, and all shades in between. Long, silky hair flows to the floor. The enormity of the situation weighs me down. I can not move. I want to start the mower and get to mowing, but this scene startles and confuses me so much that finally I gather myself and just end up running outside. Once outside I immediately run into some construction workers. They have been assembling a terrific wall. The workers are putting the finishing touches on a tall brick wall that juts boldly across our yard at an odd angle, cutting off any view from our front windows, and reducing our lawn to nothing more than a six foot swath of grass between the new brick monstrosity and our quaint little home.

I stand and take in the situation. The workers are wearing white coveralls. They climb down from their ladders, brush their hands off, then begin folding their ladders, finally tucking them under their arms and walking off. Miscellaneous stray bricks lay strewn about on this side, in what’s left of our yard. The strange wall is about ten feet high, cuts an odd angle about twelve feet from our front door down to about four feet from the edge of our garage, constraining our lawn down to about nothing, blocking us in from the outside world. I see the wall is jagged on each end, as if they are going to come back at some point and continue building around each side of our house.

I just stand there in awe. I mean, I’m mad and all, but I’m more confused than anything. Finally I yell over to them as they are leaving, “Hey! Hey! Wait a minute! Why’d you build this wall on our land?! Huh?! You can’t build this here! Take this down! When my dad gets home, he’s gonna freak! You just wait an’ see! You’re all in big big trouble! Big trouble!” One of the workers looks back and shrugs and says “City’s orders. Can’t fight city hall.”

Birds chirp in the distance. I just stand there, hands on my hips, considering the events at hand when another worker walks around the side of the house, following the workmen who are leaving. This worker is a woman, dressed in the same white bib overalls. She stops beside me and examines the wall with me. “Yup, she’s a beaut,” she exhales and nods, then wipes her forehead with the back of her palm.

“What? Are you crazy. This thing’s a monstrosity,” I stomp indignantly.

The lady just shrugs and says, “What? It’s fine,” gesturing an arm to the long, solid thing as if they had bestowed it upon us as a gift and was hurt that I wouldn’t appreciate their generosity. “Just give it a minute,” she advises.

I shake my head, and sure enough, here and there, the darn thing starts drippin’ a weird kind of mustard gunk.

“There it goes,” the woman smiles and raises her arms slightly. “Mustard! All you could ever want!”

The workers are out of sight. I hear sharp banging sounds from the other side of the wall as if they are loading their equipment into a little old truck - metal ladders and tool boxes. The men come walking around the corner and when they see the yellow dripping they get all excited. “Ah, there it is!” they hip-hooray. One runs up with a loaf of bread and a butter knife. He is grinning madly. “I’ve been waiting for this all day,” he huffs, his eyes wide with enthusiasm.

They begin scraping the mustard off the dripping wall and start spreading it on their bread. Some of them don’t even bother waiting for their turn with the knife, they just hold their bread to catch the yellow goo as it hangs down in long globs. They start eating the bread and nodding with wide smiles, as if the sandwiches were the best they’d ever tasted. One hops up and down excitedly. Soon another runs out of the garage. He is grinning and cackling like a mad fool. “Lookie,” he waves his arms wildly in crazy windmill motions as he staggers around comically, covered in a blanket of extremely long hair as if wearing a strange afghan, tunic, or toga. “All we want,” he beams, “Enough for everybody,” he snorts, “All we’ll ever need.”

The other men snap around. They stand frozen in awe for a moment, then take off screaming and skipping to the garage, for city workmen are such silly creatures. I hear them squeal in delight, “Hair!” . . “Hair!” . . “Beautiful hair!” . . .“Enough for everyone!” . . . “We’re rich! Rich beyond our wildest dreams!” . . . They run into the street. And the celebration begins.

I look down at my feet in a sense of fatigued defeat. And that’s when I notice my shoes have begun to sprout hair as well.


BIO: Tony Rauch has three books of short stories published – “I’m right here” (spout press), “Laredo” (Eraserhead Press), “Eyeballs growing all over me . . . again” (Eraserhead Press). He has additional titles forthcoming in the next few months.

He can be found at –

His work deals with fragility, uncertainty, impermanence, the mysteries hidden in everyday life, a sense of discovery, escape, concealment, ennui, regret, loneliness, technology run amok, eerie vibes, irresponsible behavior, confusion, absurd situations, surrealism, modern fairy tales, etc.

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