Peek-a-boo. Bet you can’t take my picture. Snap. Oh, no. You didn’t get my face. Snap. Only got the top of my head. Snap. Laughing. Keep it up and you might just do your job. Snap. Missed again. Snap. No selfies for me. Snap. Hey, that’s not fair. You caught me when I least expected it. Snap. Hey, c’mon. That’s not fair. Snap. Give me that camera. Snap. C’mon. Snap. Thanks a lot. Snap. I had better not end up on Instagram. Snap. Or any of those other grams. Snap. All right. Snap. That’s it. That’s the last one. Hey, where you going? Don’t you want to take my picture. C’mon back. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. Please. Pretty please with Kodak on it.
“I tried to stop. Honest I did,” the woman said.
“My car. My beautiful car.” The man was crying. “Look what you did to my beautiful car.”
Then she turned on him. “Oh, get over.” At that, she walked back to her Chevy. She was tired of men crying every time they got a little scratch. She waited for the police.
“She hit me,” the man said when the police arrived.
The cop said, “Oh, get over it. I hate it when men cry. Grow up.” He finished taking the man’s statement. The man’s name was Phillip Mason. The cop then rubbed the scratch on the man’s car. “Nice Porsche.”
“Not anymore.” He passed his insurance card over to the cop. “Give it to her. I don’t even want to get close to her.” He walked the card over to Jane Hughes, gave it to her and took her information. The cop walked her card back over to Phillip. Then he said to Phillip,” I’m going to have to write you a ticket.”
“What? But my car,” Phillip wanted to scream. Instead he cried the words.
“Seems it’s your car that caused the accident.” The cop pointed to all the people standing around. Then he passed the ticket over to Phillip and had him sign the paper. “Next time be more careful. You could hurt somebody with that thing.” He pointed to the Porsche.
The cop went back to his cruiser, then drove away.
As the crowd dispersed, Phillip got in his Porsche and cried out to God, “Why me?”
God whispered back, “Oh, get over. At least, you get to drive around in a Porsche. I’m still driving an Edsel.”
The farm. Well, it’s not a farm really. It’s where we live. My five children and I. My wife died a year ago when she was having Eleazar. We buried her over by the well house behind that small smattering of trees. Esther was twenty-four. We had been married ten years. I thought about leaving and moving to town, but this here farm is our livelihood and our life.
This farm which I inherited from Papa. Papa’s brother, my Uncle Elisha, said that I needed a new bride—a wife for me and a mother for the children, a woman to keep my loins warm.
I found this here Mail Order Bride Catalog at the General Store, looked through it, found myself a good woman—someone who looked like she could hold up through the winter—and I sent for her.
Tomorrow she arrives on the train from St. Louis. Me and the children and Uncle Elisha will hitch up the buggy and go into town and meet the noon train. That will give us enough time to get home before dark.
The Preacher will come and marry us next month. Me and my new wife and the kids and the neighbors will have ourselves a picnic to celebrate.
Next month is planting. She said in one of her letters she was raised on a farm. She knows all about farms. She is sixteen and seems plenty eager for a husband and children.
Before we leave for town, I visit Ruth’s grave as I do every Sunday. I thank her for the life she gave me in this here wilderness and tell her I miss her and tell her that she will never be replaced in my affections by another. She will always be my first love. I tell her of this new woman, how it was Uncle Elisha’s idea, how she will be my bride and the children’s other mother. I tell her that the children need a mother and hope she understands.
Then we hitch up the horse to the buggy and head on in to town.
He was a scrounge. That was even his middle name. It started when he was the last of a batch of ten kids and went downhill from there. In those days, they just called him “Young’un.”
He went in the Army and couldn’t march. When you’re a private and can’t march, you’re a walking-talking target. And you’re doing more than your share of k.p. That’s how he became a cook. Just a cook—and not even a short-order cook.
After he mustered out, he went to hashing it out in the worst kind of dump of a diner in a seedy part of a town in the seediest part of the state. You know, the kind of place where they hold rodeos for the roaches. You ride ‘em like some do the bull riding.
He saved up. After five years of bad hash and even worse rooms in the local rooming joint, he had enough for a down payment on a farm. He’d always dreamed of having a farm. He wanted to raise goats. The woman who sold him the goats was named Betty. He married Betty.
Then they headed on out to the farm he’d bought. He’d never actually seen it before. He found it on Ebay, put in his bid, and won. The description had been perfect for what he had in mind. A two bedroom farm house on three acres of land set against the mountains in picturesque Colorado.
They drove out from the town, the newly-weds Betty and Roger. Then they realized that once again he had been taken. He had bought the only piece of desert in whole state of Colorado.
Sometimes they walk in pairs, sometimes they travel alone, and sometimes they just drive around the neighborhood, these Samurai we call policemen, cops. When we don’t need them, we often fear them. When we do, they bring hope, they bring justice, for they ask questions and observe details. They are after the truth, these Jack Webb kind of folks, using the words, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
With all that in mind, why is this cop fellow cruising around my neighborhood in his black and white?
Oh, well, I’ve got to mow the lawn. Why is it that I always wait till mid-afternoon to mow my lawn? I know it’s the hottest time of the day, I know it may rain—maybe it will rain—I know it may take at least two hours and I will be exhausted, dehydrated, drained. After all, this is Florida.
I look at my watch. It is 2:30. Geez, I’d better get going. I repeat several times: “A mowed lawn is a good lawn. A mowed lawn is a good lawn. A mowed lawn is a good lawn.”
Here it is Saturday and I have put off “The Deed” for three days. What will the neighbors think? No particular reason to put it off. I just hate to mow my lawn, or any lawn. Hated it when I was a kid. When I resisted, my mother said that I was lazy. Guess she was right. Because I don’t want to mow this piece of real estate they call mine. Actually it’s the bank’s.
Earlier I looked out the window just to check to see if the lawn needed mowing. Yes, it does, I concluded. As I checked out the grass, I saw the police cruiser ease through the neighborhood. What’s he looking for anyway? Oh, well, at least he’s looking.
First I put on my lawn mowing outfit: hat, gloves, suntan lotion, ragged t-shirt, shorts, socks, beat-up sneakers. Boy, these shoes have been through a lot. I check myself out in the mirror. Man, I’m ready to go. I’m ready for “The Job.”
Now I’m outside and go pick up branches and sticks and debris. Fill my garbage bag half full.
I pull out the lawn mower from the shed in my back yard, check the oil, and fill the tank with gas. Set the gas can back in its place and walk back to the mower. Push the choke and pull the starter cord. It’s a bit hard to pull, but the mower doesn’t start.
I look up and there is the cop parked two doors down on the other side of the street. He’s standing by his car and he’s watching me. What’d I do?
Oh, well, if he wanted me, he’d come over and talk to me. He isn’t doing that. At least, not yet anyway. But he’s watching me in that noncommittal stance cops always use when they check things out.
I go back to my work, pull the starter cord again, and miracle of miracles, the mower roars alive. Phew! Two pulls and it started. My last mower took forever to start, if it was going to start. Thank God for new lawn mowers. Got a good one this time.
I push the mower to the edge of my front lawn and off I go. I get through the first bag of grass. I take the bag off the mower and lug it to the compost pile on the edge of my back yard. Time for some water. I go to the kitchen and grab a bottle of water. Back on the back porch, I drink it. I notice that cop still eyeing me from across the street.
Then the cop walks over towards me. Just what the hell does he want?
I walk back out onto the lawn and meet the cop. Cop says to me, “Just want you to know you need to zip your fly. Wouldn’t want to get a sunburn, now would we?.”