Lawn mower madness

(This is a true story!)

I know this guy, Michael. We used to date once, and when we drifted apart we remained close friends. He is a nice enough guy, but he's got a mean temper. When something annoys him, he gets really, really pissed off. Not just irritated, but downright hopping mad. Luckily he only shows this side of his personality when it comes to inanimate objects - not people.

A couple of years ago I was living in a small house on his property (there's a long story behind this, and I haven't yet decided if it is worth telling here...), and one of my chores was mowing the grass. It must be said that he had a really big lawn: just around 70 m * 80 m, with a lot of flower beds and small trees and whatnot. A real pain to mow.

He had a rather new lawn mower: a bright yellow gasoline-powered monster with a basket to collect the grass clippings. It had been running fine for weeks, but this particular Saturday it just wouldn't work. It kept stopping. I would start it, and after five or six metres it stopped. I have no idea what to do when a machine won't go - I'm just not blessed with the mechanical insight needed - so I threw a couple of tantrums, while Michael watched with disdain.

Finally I gave up.

'If you're so good, you mow the bloody lawn!' I blurted out, and stalked off to sit in the shade (I have no patience whatsoever when mechanical things don't do what they're supposed to do).

So he got the lawn monster started and mowed off - only to have it stopping dead after a minute or so. He started it again, and it stopped again. I watched from my seat under the big pear-tree, holding my breath. I knew he wouldn't be able to contain himself...

I counted six stops. And then Michael lost it. He isn't a particularly big man (170cm, lean and trim), but when he gets really mad, he seems to grow. He picked up the lawn mower and tossed it through the air. Twice. I kept as still as I could, because I really wanted to see what he'd do next.

What he did was run off and get a great big axe. Still fuming with anger he attempted to chop up the lawn mower, only to get the axe stuck in the wreck. He pulled and yanked all he could, but in his fury he was in no position to get it unstuck. So he ran off again, this time disappearing into the garage.

He came back with a jerrycan. Gasoline. A raging Michael with a good 10 litres of gasoline and a lighter will spell trouble.

'Take out the axe first!' I yelled, since it was a perfectly good axe that was sticking in the dying lawn mower. He glared at me, but actually managed to free the axe and throw it away, almost decapitating one of the chickens.

He splattered gas on the wrecked lawn mower, and threw a burning piece of paper onto it. There was no satisfying 'WHHOOOMPH!' It just burned a little hesitantly, flickering and threatening to go out. Needless to say, this did nothing to placate him.

He ran off again only to return with a second lawn mower - one we had done many a battle with, because it was basically crap. He dumped it on the smouldering heap of new mower, emptied the can of gas on top, and lit it anew. This time the heap blew up, sending Michael jumping backwards to avoid the flames. From where I was sitting I could feel the heat from the fire, and a few small bushes caught in the mayhem withered and died almost instantly. The aluminium radiator-thingy melted and dripped onto the rapidly blackening ground in big burning drops.

Michael stood looking a the carnage for a minute or two, before walking back to his house. I could tell from his posture that the show was over for now. A couple of minutes later he returned with two bottles of beer, and joined me under the pear tree.

We drank in silence for a while.

'Guess I ought to buy a new lawn mower', he said finally, lighting a cigarette.

'Guess you ought to buy two...', I said, '...since the yellow monster burning out there really belongs to your brother...'