Title: "The Man Across the Way"

Author: Innabyne (innabyne2001@yahoo.com)

Summary: In the mind of a man.


The angels must be sad today, they're pouring rain down, big, thick sheets of it. Today's the kind of day that drags on forever, you can count the seconds with the dropping of the rain. Plink, Plink they fall onto the streaked and fogged glass of the window pane.

Across the street sits a man in a screened in porch. He's the kind who keeps to himself, he leaves for work in the morning, comes home at night to his wife and his son, his life. But he's not going to work today, it's Saturday. Normally, his wife would nag him into mowing the lawn, and nodding his head, pulling a faded and stained baseball cap down over his head, he'd start for the garage to get the lawnmower. Like anyone who's used the same piece of equipment many times for the same purpose, there's a certain routine he goes through before the roar of the engine starts up.

He pulls the large machine out of the garage--it's not the kind that you ride, it's just a normal push-mower. One day, he'd like the other kind, just so he could sit there and dream while riding it, so he could disappear from the vinyl seat for just a moment and instead be somewhere cool, somewhere lazy.

He checks the oil and the gas, muttering to himself as he does. Somehow, he's never out of gas when he wants to be. Isn't that the way it always goes--you never have enough gas when you need to flee but when you're driving along the darkened road with your girl at your side, that gas gauge never flickers under Full. So he re-screws the caps and resigns himself to an afternoon spent on the lawn.

Before he actually reaches down to grab and pull that cord, he yanks up his shorts, the one's that haven't been in danger of falling down since he graduated from college years ago. He ties his shoelaces up nice and tight, double, sometimes triple-knotting them. He'd hate to accidently get a lace caught in the blade of the mower and lose his foot--although, it'd probably mean that he'd never have to mow the lawn again. But no, he's pretty sure the wife'd make him do it anyway, prosthetic or no.

And then there's the roar of the engine, as it sputters from stasis to life. Most days, there's no hope of salvation, no stormy weather to grant him a reprieve.  Not like today.

There's a rhythm to his mowing. You could tap out a beat to his steps and his turns. Long, straight lines across the lawn, a sharp turn and then he heads back to where he started. Never a waver, never a change in pattern, no deviance in routine for him.  There's comfort in the predictability of his motions.

The smell of fresh cut grass filters out of his yard and across the neighborhood. Soon other wives will catch the scent and send their dozing husbands out, and for that he's sorry, but right now he's too lost in the scent to care.

They say that certain scents can revive long forgotten memories, sending the nose back through the ages to that first sniff. Baseball, he thinks, Grass always reminds me of baseball. He can see it, himself as a young boy sitting in the outfield amid the clumps of freshly cut grass. He was never very good at baseball--he couldn't catch the ball, he spent too much time trying not to get hit, spent too much time sitting on the bench and getting yelled at by his over-zealous coach.

Maybe that's why he dislikes mowing the lawn so much, the memories it dredges up aren't exactly pleasant. But today it's raining, there'll be no mowing today.