Thursday, November 4

"You going to mow the lawn today?" I ask Mr. Happy Puppet Head.

"Okay," he says. He's watching TV and not really paying attention to me.

"Now's a good time. It's not raining yet, and it might later." He doesn't respond. "And it's your turn." Seriously, it's been his turn to mow it for almost two months now, and it only needs it one more time before next summer. Just to clear up some of the leaves and make it look nice for the winter.

"Yeah, I know," he takes a swig from his hip flask. "I know I know I know. Shit..."

"I'm going to turn off the TV, Mr. Happy Puppet Head." I stand up. "That's the only way this is going to happen." I walk over and turn it off.

"Hey." he turns it back on with the remote. Enormous rabbit, who'd been sleeping in the corner, picks her head up and looks at the two of us.

I turn it back off and stand in the way of the screen. "Mr. Happy Puppet Head," I say. "Just mow the lawn. It's no big deal."

He turns it on with the remote, but I'm standing in the way so he can't see. "Fine," he mumbles as he drops the remote on the ground. "Asshole..."

He does a really bad job of mowing the lawn. Looking out my bedroom window, I see he missed several large patches and his rows are all crooked and wobbly. At least he did it.

I hear the TV turn on in the living room, but I also still hear the lawnmower in the backyard. I find Mr. Happy Puppet Head sitting on the couch staring at the TV. Enormous bunny is curled up next to him, far too big for our meager furnishing. "Who's mowing the lawn?" I ask him.

"Get off my back, dick. I just mowed it." He flips the channel to some loud cartoon with lots of explosions. I walk to the back window and look outside. The lawnmower is sitting the middle of the yard. A little bit of black smoke trickles from the engine as it roars, chugging away at nothing.

"Why didn't you turn it off?" I ask.

"It usually turns itself off. When you let go of the handle."

"But it's still on."

"So?" He changes the channel again, this time to a bowling tournament. "Go turn it off."

In the backyard I study the mower. The small combustion engine fills the air with its angry sound. I grab the safety handles and jiggle it, but nothing happens. I kick it. Nothing. I kick it again. I push the choke button a few times. I check the oil. Plenty of oil. I unscrew the sparkplug and nothing happens. I open the gas tank and there's no gas in there.

My first thought is that it's haunted, but we just had some of that this past week for Halloween. The mower not turning off must be symbolic of something. Magical Realism I think.

As I stand there thinking, more and more smoke pours out of the mower. The wind changes and blows the blackness into my face. I cough and retreat to the house.

I sit down at the kitchen table and try to write up a list of problems, metaphysical, psychological, sexual that I can think of in my life that this lawn mower may be representative of.

1) My roomate and bestfriend can be a lazy jerk
2) black smoke makes me cough and suffocate
3) I wish we had tortillas
4) I really have to take a piss

I guess I'll take a piss and go to the store for more tortillas. That'll solve at least two of the problems, if not more.

As I open the front door, a huge cloud of black smoke pours into the house. I cough and suffocate a little before I can close the door and it disappates a little. I look out the window and see the entire neighborhood suffused with thick black smoke. I can barely see the kids who live accross the street crying and hacking up wads of phlem in the front yard.

So I'm trapped in the house for the second time this week. Without tortillas. And I've got to figure out what in my life is making the lawnmower not turn off.


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