The Push Mower From Hell
Length: 1911 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)
"It's time to get up, son. You've got work to do today." My father's gravelly voice brought my reluctant subconscious out of the realm of its peaceful slumber. How dare he, I wondered to myself, interrupt my rest and force me awake on the most sacred of days: the Cartoon Sabbath. Still slightly disoriented, I went into the kitchen to feed myself a bowl of Cheerios and plant myself in front of a "Winnie the Pooh" rerun. I had scarcely finished my third bowl when my father returned, somewhat angered.
"I believe that I told you that we were going to do some yardwork today. How about coming out and lending a hand?" I agreed meekly, owing to the fact that I had no desire to risk conflict with my father. After brushing my teeth and slapping on a tee shirt, shorts, and shoes, I trudged outside.
The hot summer sun beat down heavily on the back of my neck. Because of a combination of heat and fatigue, I felt as if I were drunk. I staggered over to the riding lawnmower, relieved by the thought of being able to sit down while appeasing my parents at the same time. My brother, the impish little troll that he is, having the same idea, had already confiscated the mower for his own selfish gain. He had left for the lot next door, which was easy to cut compared to the banks that I was left with. I gave him an evil glance that shouted my disapproval of his actions and marched towards the much hated, seldom used push mower.
The push mower was an angry, rust ridden, hostile beast of ill intent. I don't think anyone in my family ever expected to have to use the beast, so it became more like a family joke to see whom we could stick it to each time grass needed to be cut. It was temperamental and took at least five minutes of heavy pulling on the unforgiving cord to finally get it started. It had at one time been a self propelled mower, but the chain broke long ago, leaving a free spinning gear rotating dangerously near the operator's low appendages. The machine gave off a low threatening growl, reminding us to approach it with a certain amount of animosity, if not respect.
The confrontation began. I went out into the shed where the mower slept and dragged it from its lair; it was very uncooperative and had no intentions of budging, but after several attempts I was able to gently coax it out. From there, I led the mower to the banks where I was to be cutting that morning. More than a few pulls of the cord later that familiar, full throated growl began.
The grass smelled sweet as I shoved the mower's nose into the bank's tall weeds. It lapped up the otherwise tough plants as easily as if they had been made of wet pasta. The base of the banks were rather easy to cut because it was relatively flat ground. Once that was finished, I had to lug the extremely heavy mower up the steep embankment while at the same time make sure that I didn't dislocate my shoulders. Getting to the top of the bank, I soon realized that the mower wanted to reach the bottom much faster than I was capable of allowing, and as we raced downhill, I occasionally stumbled but luckily never lost my footing.
After an exhausting hour, the chore was finally over. The banks had been shaved very close to the ground, and in places exposed dirt was even visible. I took a step back to admire my handiwork and moved to shut down the lawnmower. Mild sunstroke, carelessness, fate-call it what you will, but I was just about to turn off the switch from the opposite side when it happened. I thought I might fall, so I put my foot on the base of the mower and casually reached over to flick the switch.
In the time it would take to scream "Oh bother!" the lawnmower spied my exposed shoelace and took advantage of the opportunity. The small spinning gear, with its razor sharp teeth, lashed out and chomped down. After grabbing my shoelace, the gear proceeded to reel in the rests of my shoe, foot included, as the sound of rubber, leather, cotton, flesh, blood and metal all meshing together filled the air. The engine suddenly lost its steam and choked down with the gear busily nibbling at my big toe.
I was still sitting on the ground with my foot stuck in the gear several seconds after the silence began. In shock because of how fast the occurrence took place, I said to myself, rather absently, "My, this doesn't seem right at all." I never called out for help because my shoe had been hopelessly shredded, and I didn't want my mother to be angry with me for ruining it. Instead, I tried to get my foot out myself, but to no avail. I was like some sort of furry woodland creature whose leg was caught in a bear trap, and for a split second, I even thought of chewing my leg off to free myself.
After a minute or so had passed, my brother noticed me trying to wrestle my leg away from the mower, pulling against the ground with my arms and kicking with my free leg. He came over but had no luck in freeing me. My father came soon after that and after some effort decided to leave the shoe and pull my foot out alone. We noticed spots of red steadily growing larger on my ratty sock and pulled it off to inspect the damages.
The first sight of my foot made me slightly uncomfortable, but not as upset as I should have been. This I attribute to the shock I was in. My small toe was twisted sideways and looked as if it belonged in some obscure Dali painting. The three middle toes were only slightly gashed. I looked finally at my largest toe. It was spouting blood; the nail was hanging precariously by one corner, and it throbbed in a cartoon like manner, as when Jerry slams a hammer on Tom's foot. I honestly didn't know whether I should be amused or alarmed, but my mother certainly helped to influence my emotions. She ran out of the house, screaming that I was going to lose my foot. I was decidedly more contained than she, and I told her it was nothing to worry about, even though her remarks crept into my head.
My father got the car out, and I hobbled into the back seat. While we were en route to the emergency room, to ease the tension of the situation, I made a weak attempt at comedy by chuckling, "Well, that's one way to get out of having to cut grass." I vaguely wondered why I was the only one laughing. After a slow, numb, dreamlike ride to the hospital, pain began to set in. With my father helping me walk, we approached the nurse at the emergency room desk.
"What seems to be the problem?" she asked. Couldn't this lady see that my foot was pureed and that I needed immediate medical attention? Has professionalism taken a vacation from the medical field? I tried to think of some arrogant and sarcastic witticism to counter her incompetent remark, but the pain was beginning to become noticeable, and I just let my father handle the formalities.
I was ushered into a room by two orderlies, and I noticed one of them looked like Mr. Clean, complete with an earring and a bald head that shone in the fluorescent light. I uttered an unmentionable expletive, and Mr. Clean (who I discovered was clean not only in appearance, but in morals as well) told me that kind of language didn't help the situation any. I agreed with him just so he would shut his cherry trap.
"Excuse me," I muttered feebly. "May I please have some medication? I believe that my foot is beginning to hurt." "Not just yet, son," the doctor said as he came in. It must have been silly of me to expect to get medication in, of all places, a hospital. Being denied medication was making me slightly irritated, but had I been in a more pleasant mood, I should have had to laugh at the pathetic nature of the situation.
"Please," I implored. "I'm really starting to hurt."
"Won't be long now, son." That started me wondering whether I should be more angry at being denied medication or at having this oaf of a physician mistake me for one of his offspring. My tempers were calmed when a nurse finally came in with a syringe of Demerol. Salvation! I quietly rejoiced.
O Demerol, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Scarcely five minutes had passed before I felt the loving, caressing, nurturing effects of the warm drug. Colors swirled in an exotic fashion in and out of my line of vision. Sight and sound were distorted and slowed to an eerie tempo, and suddenly everything was okay. I laughed aloud when the doctor told me that shards of bone were to be taken from my big toe. As the doctor pumped shots of Nova Caine into various toes, I could no longer feel pain, and a soft blanket of complacency enveloped me. As I was floated from the X ray lab into the O.R., I remember laughing about nothing and everything at the same time; existence became a big, cosmic joke, and I was the only one who got the punch line.
Once in the operating room, the doctor went to remove the chipped bone from my larger than normal toe. Conveniently, the slice across the front provided an exit for shards, so an incision wasn't necessary. Delighted, I watched as the doctor probed the insides of my mangled appendage with an insanely bright pair of tweezers. From my vantage point, it looked like a dentist was extracting teeth from a severely distorted Pac Man, and that image caused me to laugh uncontrollably. Next, the doctor began to sew my toes back together. I was relieved to hear that I wouldn't lose any and watched with amazement as the doctor casually threaded his needle and embedded it into my flesh as if it were a scrap of gingham. Nine stitches and a half pound of gauze later, I was ready for release.
I felt good. My wounds were dressed, and I felt the proudness that a soldier must feel after surviving a savage battle. I had fought with the Push Mower From Hell, and I was still alive. My victory wasn't fully realized until later when I saw my father, hacksaw in hand, cutting the gear loose in order to free my rotting carcass of the shoe. With all of this attention, excitement, and ethereal sense of invincibility, how could I, or can I, be expected to regret this wonderful terrible accident? Upon my return home, I was ushered into the living room with a blanket and three fluffy pillows waiting for me on the sofa. I felt good. Woody Woodpecker was entertaining me; I had lots of medication, and my loving mother came in with a steaming cup of chicken soup.