Promenade in green

The optics on it were bad: why the 50-year-old insisted on cutting the grass with his shirt off when the girls next door were now breeding age. It would look like he was trying to get their attention when he wasn’t. He was proud of his looks, what little he could muster. They were all women next door save the boyfriends who parked in the turnaround. It was like a queuing area for suitors. You moved up the ranks when they let you park in the main drive with the others. Pack animals all. The lady next door, the mom, was talking about opening a strip club post lockdown. Too edgy for the suburbs, she’d look for a spot in some low rent district instead. All you needed was cheap drinks and the assurance of steady customers (dudes). Her daughters were old enough now they could even work there, a thought that quickly led to darker ones, of internet porn and prostitution, virtual chat rooms, private video. And how he really felt about all that, people pressed so hard to make a buck. And if he was any different, whoring himself out to big corporations writing ad copy. And why couldn’t they just move to Holland where none of this would be so hard.

In some ways the body was just an instrument, one you could play on a street corner for tips. And he had more body left than mind, more body left than soul. The latter was now strangled in vines, though he was working hard to uncoil himself. The drinking did that to you inside and out. He was proud of the weight he lost since he’d gone sober and that was one thing he could hold up, a badge saying I got this. Other parts of him were damaged beyond repair. The undersides of his eyes like lines on a map folded wrong. Organs dried out and withered. In the sun we were all the same, naked under god. Closer to earth, less removed. And if drunks come in colors with violet the worst he was a pale yellow bordering on green.

He kept his shirt on and mowed. He leaned into it and pictured his old uncle doing the same, his dad, the guys he watched mowing when he was just a boy. The grass kept coming back, someone had to cut it. He angled the blade and when it was done the hillside looked smooth and clean. He’d do well to trim the hair on his back the same. He had a ways to go still but was making good progress. He was in no position to judge.



Categories: prose, writing

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21 replies

  1. Very provocative – my mind is fixated on “undersides of his eyes like lines on a map folded wrong” … maps and eyes being primary navigational essentials … life can indeed get things folded wrong …
    Tying all this together via a mundane chore of mowing is pretty impressive, Bill!
    Now I’m wondering: what would it be like to mow w/o clothing? There’d be less sweaty laundry … does it feel good when bits of grass adhere to sweaty skin? (We no longer have a lawn … can’t go experiment … can’t exactly resummon the physical feel of mowing though I did LOTS of that in years past, including years in South Florida when I refused to use a gasoline mower and got my exercise with an old-fashioned push mower.

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    • Life can get folded wrong, you took that to a cool terrain I didn’t think of Jazz, thanks. And nude yard work takes me to very bad comic skits and Benny Hill for some reason. Ah, the old days. Best in the past perhaps. Thanks for the kind note, I had fun with this and happy you stopped by, as always. And be glad you don’t have a lawn, perhaps!

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  2. Agreed with the above, “tying all this together via the mundane chore of mowing.” You always seem self-aware in your writing, and comfortable with vulnerability, but the distance between you and the writing here via the third person approach is interesting, and the commentary. I’m curious about the backstory on this one (no pun intended).

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    • Backstory ha ha (Bevis and Butthead laughter). Hi Walt and thanks, like Tom Waits said re some songs he put out on a collection, I had some bits that fell behind the oven here I wanted to use. Have had a strange left turn in my writing lately and trying to get back on track, something I’m more excited about. Trying for a flash fiction literary thing via nonfiction format maybe. Too many words there to describe it, broke my own rules. Jail break! ‘74 AC/DC, that’s next. Let’s write about roller skating to AC/DC, I throw down the gauntlet.

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  3. “It’s a green but a rocky road.” Plenty going on here and I like it.

    And I re-thank you for introducing me to the song.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, this is quite marvellous, Bill. I confess, I haven’t always found the thrid person as inviting, but this is different. Perhaps the shared theme of ageing and accumulated stains, but I love the flow of the writing. And this one’s a gem: “The latter was now strangled in vines, though he was working hard to uncoil himself.”
    -Bruce

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    • Yeah I agree on the 3rd person but it does give you some “play,” or leeway. Glad you were able to read this one I was happy with it too. Here’s to accumulated stains, as you say…

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  5. An album cover: predominantly green, mower man in foreground – top off, an accentuated vanishing point to road into court with cars parked at end, women in front yard of house with flash car in driveway, all done in solid colours of green, pink, yellow and light blue; solid colours to hint at the Freudian virtue of sublimation with a smidgen of suppression and projection to season.

    Good one, Bill.

    Reminder to self: book session with shrink.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The mother & daughter strip club sounds like a fun concept, and why not, someday could be a good ol’ traditional family firm, a thumb in the eye for American prudery.
    Keep on mowin’, don’t fear the reaper, right? I enjoyed reading this, lots of good stuff packed in three paragraphs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robert! Happy Saturday night man. Glad to have you darken my door, so to speak…always with a warm light. Be well, and thanks for reading. Bill

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  7. Why do we write? I’m glad to know you are still alive and thrashing too.

    I thought

    ‘at the time I did not know that stories of life are often more like rivers than books. But I knew a story had begun, perhaps long ago near the sound of water. And I sensed that ahead I would meet something that would never erode so there would be a sharp turn, deep circles, a deposit, and quietness.”

    Norman Maclean, not me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why do we write? I like that quote and will reread, thanks Kim. Super sharp and lovey words from you too, still thrashing here and there in OR. Looking forward to chapter 3 woman!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a hard time perceiving myself as being perceived as old. Does that make sense? I don’t think I look old but know I do and I am. Is it just denial? I see some of my peers from high school and think, “Damn, they old!” I’m sure they’re singing the same song.

    Picking away at the pack here…. Glad I read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you read it too! Thanks a lot. I learned recently the Nick Drake record “Five leaves left” is a slogan he borrowed from a brand of cigarettes. And with that I think you’ve tapped the pack. And yes your comment about being old makes sense. “They old!”

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