I was sittin’ in the livin’ room on my chair, watchin’ the ball game last Saturday afternoon when Cyril and Joan comes in.
What in the hell is Brad doin’ out there in the yard? Joan said to Minnie in the kitchen when they came in. He’s on his hands and knees out there with a rusty old pair of shears, all soaked with sweat, looks like he’s about to take a heart attack, she said.
Oh, she said, ask Billy about that one. I washed my hands of the whole thing because I think it’s mental.
It’s not mental! I said, flyin’ out of my chair and out into the kitchen. I was still a bit worked up about the whole thing.
What happened? Cyril said.
What happened? I said. I’ll tell yis what happened. It all started a few weeks ago, yis remember, when Brad and Betty come over for games night, and the two of them were fightin’ like cats and dogs, and she stormed out sayin’ she wanted a divorce and he stormed out after her. The two of them runnin’ up the road like idiots on fire.
Oh, what else is new with them two? Minnie says. The next the weekend the two of them were in Sobeys all lovey-dovey buyin’ groceries.
Right, I says, and what happened was, the week Betty was gone, Brad said to hell with it and never done a bit of work around the house, dirty dishes everywheres and everything, and anyways, he never cut the grass yet and when she came back and seen how high it was, she said she wanted the grass cut. Said she wouldn’t come back unless he cut the grass – imagine!
Now, they don’t got a lawnmower, and for some reason, I must look I got “fool” written on my forehead or somethin’, he comes here to get a lend of mine. I gives it him, but I tell him, don’t let ‘er get too low on gas and make sure you walk through the yard first to make sure you don’t run over anything with it. Half hour later – was it a half hour?
If that, Minnie says.
Mighta been twenty minutes later, Brad calls and says he broke the lawnmower. How in the hell did you do that?! I says to him. Get this now. I ran over a Christmas tree, he says. A Christmas tree! Where in the hell do you find a Christmas tree to run over in May? I yells at him. And what he said was, it wasn’t a whole Christmas tree – it was a big stump like you’d cut off the end of a Christmas tree to make it fit in a stand. He said the two little kids that live next door are always rollin’ it back and forth in their driveway and they musta rolled it onto the grass, and anyway, he ran over the damn thing and broke the lawnmower.
I heard a clunk, he said to me. You heard a clunk! Buddy, if I get over there and my lawn mower’s broke you’re gonna hear another clunk, I said to him, the clunk of my boot in your arse.
But he said he was sorry, Minnie says.
Yes, he said he was sorry, but sorry don’t bring my lawnmower back now, does it?
Worst of it is, though, Minnie said, when Betty found out he broke the lawnmower, she told him she was gonna leave him again.
So, I said, he shows up here in a cryin’ jag with the lawnmower in two pieces in his backseat. I’ll make it up to ya! he kept sayin’, and you know him, a sooky kid in the body of a 450-pound man with a bushy moustache. So I told him, quit your cryin’ and get out there and cut my grass.
But the mower’s broke! he wailed.
I don’t care, I told him! You fly to your frig back out there and cut it the best way you know how. So he went out and found some rusty shears in the baby barn and he’s been out there snippin’ away for the last half hour.
So that’s what he’s doin’ out there, Cyril says.
And that’s mental, Minnie says. Makin’ a man of his size do somethin’ like that in this heat. He’ll collapse before he even gets the front done. Tell him to come in and get a drink of water, Billy.
Oh, for cripessake, I said, and went out to the front door to tell the sad sack to come in. I opened the door to yell to him and who was there, but Betty, with her arms and her big giraffe neck wrapped around him and his sweat-soaked Canadiens jersey.
Betty? I says.
Oh Billy! she yells all excited. We’re gonna have a baby!