Excerpt from The Box

Pulling on the weeds was such hard work at times under the blazing summer sun. Sweat was soaking through his shirt as he strained and toiled.
Sometimes the weeds were very difficult to pull as was the ragweed he was trying to pull out now. It just didn't want to come out of the ground and seemed to be an impossible task. Grunting seemed to help sometimes but not all that much. Still, it felt good to grunt.
A few feet away from him sat the manual rotary mower waiting to be used. Its steel blades were a bit rusty except for the cutting edges that would strike the cutting bar. It sometimes really took an effort to push it through the grass at times, sometimes everything that he had.
He wondered why he had to use that mower instead of a gas-powered one. The gas-powered one would be so much easier for him when it came to mowing lawns. But since it was his first year of mowing lawns his Father just wasn't going to get him one. He wasn't so sure yet that Johnny would keep at it into the future but he hadn't told him that.
Still, Johnny was rather happy with the money that he was getting for every lawn that he mowed. $10 was a large amount of money to a 14-year-old boy, more than he had ever seen before. Something he had never had before.
"Grrrrr" Johnny was growling as he continued to make an effort to remove the weed. Very slowly it began to relinquish its grip on the ground that it held tightly to. Soon slipping out of the dirt to leave a void where it once had been.
Ragweed had to be one of the worst weeds for him to pull from someone's yard. Dandelions were a really close second, those he had learned though you really needed to dig them out to get all of the root.
More than once he would have to go home to get a shovel so that he could extricate another dandelion that was growing. He really hated having to go get the shovel because sometimes it seemed to take so long. 
At least this time he didn't need to get the shovel as rain had fallen a couple of days before. With the ground a little wet it made it much easier than it would have been otherwise. Each of the smaller weeds easily giving way to his exertions. Continuing on, he soon made it quite a way down the little garden fence.
Flowers were spilling over in many places. The blooms were sometimes getting in the way of the weeds that he was pulling.
Even with the ground a bit easier to work with he happened on another hard to pull weed. "Grrrrr" Johnny grunted again as he strained against the weed that just didn't want to let go.
Once again though Johnny was successful, the weed began to let go slowly. It's roots resounding with that ripping sound that Johnny was getting used to hearing that summer.
On down the fence Johnny continued until he finally reached the end of it. Weeds were gathered in a few piles which Johnny then gathered up and took to the large trash can by the alley. Now, it was time to mow the grass in the rest of the yard.
He grabbed the handle and began pushing it along. The mower was making a grinding whir as he pushed it through the grass. In some places it got a little easier and he could then speed up. Soon, Johnny had the entire yard mowed and it was time to get his $10 pay for the job.
He went to the door and began to knock very softly at first, his knock rather muffled. Johnny still hadn't gotten used to asking for the money for the work that he had done on someone's yard.
Waiting on the door step a few seconds there was no answer. Johnny knocked on the door again, a bit louder this time. Rap, rap, rap sounded out as his knuckles hit the door.  After waiting a few seconds this time Mr. Jared had come to the screen door and looked out at Johnny.
"Yes Johnny, did you finish the lawn" Mr. Jared asked through the screen.
"I think I did Mr. Jared" Johnny answered while looking down at the bottom of the screen door.
"Would you like to check it out Mr. Jared?
He was so hoping that Mr. Jared wouldn't want to come out to closely inspect the work.
Mr. Jared edged a bit closer to the door so he could see out easier and scanned the fence around the garden.
"It looks like you did a good job Johnny" he said. Then he reached in his pocket and got out a ten-dollar bill, then opened the screen door and handed it to Johnny. Taking the bill from Mr. Jared, Johnny folded it and put it into his pocket.
Johnny said “Thank you Mr. Jared” as he turned to walk away. Now he was going to see if he could find some more yard work to do. There was a lot of the afternoon left before sunset.
He hit every door as he walked down Maple Street. Knocking on every door Johnny heard a lot of "no" answers from the people that answered. 
There were also many doors that no one answered at. It was kind of disheartening actually, he so wanted to hear a yes from someone.
Still, Johnny kept at it knocking at every door. That is, until he reached a white house with what must have been a very good-looking house at one time.
Paint was peeling all over the house from the walls and the eaves. Quite a few of the pieces of the paint littered the fairly tall grass and weeds near the house. Several days’ worth of newspapers were pulled up at the front door. It was obvious the door hadn't been used for a while.
Looking around at the yard, the grass hadn't been mowed for quite a while. Weeds had taken over a large portion of the yard. This yard looked like one of the more difficult ones to do Johnny had seen.
Thinking about it a second he decided that he would be charging more for this yard if they answered. Maybe even $15 but from the look of the door he wasn't sure someone was going to answer. Then Johnny heard a screeching sound from around back.
Two months hard at it had taught him that, having a harder job would pay a little more. He could always make it up when he came back to the same place again.
Just as Johnny was about to knock on the door he heard a loud sound from the garage. It kind of screeched as Johnny was knocking on the door.
No answer.
Johnny knocked again after a few more moments and still no answer. He decided to go to where the screeching sound was coming from.
Leaving the front door he turned the corner to see the garage. It also was in the same severe need of paint that the house was. Paint chips littered the ground adjacent to the garage.
He went to the open door and peered inside before knocking. Some metal shelving units held a number of loose boards that were stacked to the left. To the right a bench, some particle board cupboards and numerous tools hung on pegs. Other tools were strewn over the top of the bench in seeming disarray.
An old man was in the middle of the garage working on something. It was pretty obvious that it was made of wood. He was so entranced in what he was doing he didn't even notice Johnny at first.
Tape measure in his hands stretched out he was measuring the piece from corner to corner. An old cloth apron was tied around his waist and more tools were noticeable in it. Barely audible, the old man was muttering "what was that measurement again".
"Hello, Sir" Johnny spoke up, “do you need any yard work done"?
The old man almost jumped up from where he was from being startled so. He shook his head and turned to see Johnny standing in the doorway.
"Hello Sir" Johnny repeated "do you need some yard work done?"
The old man looked down towards Johnny's feet in contemplation for a moment before he answered. "Actually, I need some help in here young man." "Have you ever handled tools like these in a shop before" the old man asked as he waved his hand towards the bench.
Johnny looked at where the old man indicated "no".
"Okay, fair enough. What is your name young man" the old man asked next.
"My name is Johnny"
"My name is Paul Johnston" the old man responded and he held out a weathered hand to Johnny. Cuts and scars seemed to cover quite a bit of the offered hand. Johnny hesitated as he wasn't quite sure about shaking the hand yet. But then decided he should and raised his hand up to the old carpenters.
"Do you have a last name Johnny?"
"Johnny Whitcome"
"How much do you charge when you mow a lawn" the old man asked.
"I get $10 per yard when I mow it and do the weeding" Johnny responded.
"How long do you think it takes you to mow a yard Johnny?"
"Maybe about an hour" Johnny responded.
"Okay, that sounds good. I'll pay you that amount" Paul said "you come each day and spend a little time helping me here in the shop". "I'll expect you to come here every day no matter what".
 “Yes, Mr. Johnston” Johnny responded.
 “Please call me Paul”

 “Okay, Paul” as Johnny left the garage to walk home.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you very much for your comment.