BLADES OF WAR

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Lawn mowing kids need to squeeze out the competition.

By: Harry L. Olden06/20/2011

 

BLADES OF WAR

 

 

The four approached Spike Thornton with the respect due their long time leader and friend.  Cutter, Tabby, Blinker, and Joe, each with their own hat proclaiming the machine of his or her choice.  Spike leaned against the chrome handles of his gleaming machine, his overalls crisp and pressed and even his black T-shirt wrinkle free.  The logo on his tilted red hat proudly proclaimed “Toro”.  A long stem of grass was clenched between his teeth. It gave him that unmistakable “I am a true lawn professional, don’t try this yourself” look.  Spike took pride in his work, and he expected the same from his crew.

“Hey, Spike,” they said, not quite in unison. A look of concern clouded all of their early teen faces.  

“Hey, Guys,” he returned, “what’s up?”

“We got a problem, Spike,” said Cutter, his green “Lawn Boy” hat contrasting in a weird way with his red hair.  “Big problem,” and he nodded his head toward a house half way down the block where a slightly oversized, wooden, wagon sat, a poorly lettered, hand painted sign nailed to the side.  “Paco’s Lawn Cutting”, read the sign.The wagon was oddly hitched by a short piece of chain to a bicycle that looked to be older than any of them.Sounds of a barely alive four–stroke “Tecumseh” engine rose and fell on the ears of the group as they peered toward one of their best customers’ house, the mower out of sight in the back of the yard.

“Yah,” said Spike, “I noticed.”

“That crappy engine ain’t going to last the summer.  Listen to it,” said Tabby with a knowing toss of her head toward the sound.  Tabby was the mechanic of the group and if she said your machine needed something, or sounded bad, well, let’s just say she was seldom wrong.  Her hat of choice proclaimed, Wheel Horse, just because she liked the name.

“No matter how long it lasts, the guy is cutting our turf,” said Cutter, “and he has to go or suffer.  Nobody cuts Spike’s turf and walks away.”

Heads nodded all around, and even Joe began to feel bad for the guy, because he knew.  Unless there was a darn good reason, that Paco kid, whoever he was, was going to have to suffer.

“You’d think the guy would know,” he said, kind of sad-like as he pulled down the rim of his John Deere hat.“Everybody knows The Tenth Street Cutters, and nobody cuts our turf.  Nobody.

“What makes me so upset is the lady what owns the house,” said Spike.  “We been doing her patch for two years faithful.  Doin’ a good job for her too I think.  Even got her weeds last year an’ didn’t even charge her for it.  Lady’s got no loyalty, and that makes me upset.”

“Maybe she got a beef with us, who knows?” said Tabby.“She never complained before.”

“Then go find out, Tabs,” said Spike “go ask her why she hired him instead of us.  Maybe we won’t have to shoot him after all.”  Tabby tossed her hair, jammed the hat down on her head resolutely and made for the lady’s door.

“Think we need to go that far, Spike?” asked Blinker, his eyes blinking rapidly under his Husqvarna hat as they did when he was nervous and giving rise to his nick-name.  “Guy’s just trying to make some cash, just like us.  Can’t blame him for that, ya’ know?Kind of feel sorry for the guy for what he’s got comin’ though. Could get us some trouble too.  He looks younger than us.”

“Don’t matter.  It’s the cash we been makin’, since we were twelve, that’s the point,” Spike replied.  “We gotta do him unless there’s some beef with our work.  This is our turf.  Has been for three years, and we need to protect it if we’re going to make any money for the summer. That’s just business.  Ain’t going to be no trouble, Blink.  Don’t worry about that, it’s just business, man.”

They all watched as Tabby politely removed her hat and talked seriously with the lady in the green house.  They all watched as she pointed toward them, shaking her head.When the lady finished her explanation and went back inside, Tabby put her hat back on her head, stuffed her auburn hair up under it and just stood for a few seconds before turning and slowly rejoining the waiting crew. She had made her decision.  The rest was up to Spike.  He was the leader and it was ultimately his call.

“’Paco the Taco’ undercut us, that’s all, just underbid us for the job and she didn’t even let us in on the bid.  No loyalty at all considering what we’ve done for her.  We should shoot her too the way I see it.  Anyway, I say he goes down, take him out, that’s my vote,” said Tabby who was usually the kindest of the crew when it came to customer relations.Just not this time.  Now she was mad at the customer as well.  No loyalty.  Loyalty was important in this business.  

“Can’t go around shooting the customers, Tabs,” said Spike, “even if they do deserve it sometimes.  Bad for business in the long run.  Everybody home for the guns.  Be back soon before he gets done.  We do him when he’s finished.Do him good.”  

 

Fifteen minutes later the “Tenth Street Cutters” met where they had dispersed, armed to the teeth, terrible to behold, ready to execute the unarmed and unaware Paco.  They found him, edger in hand; just finishing the final touches on the driveway, broom close by and ready to clean up the grass that had been carefully cut away in a perfect line.  He noticed the crew, and knew what was coming.  Knew why, too.  He was on their turf and knew he had to pay the price for that.  It wasn’t personal, it was business, and he understood that. He knew better, but he needed the business too.

“Hi,” he said, shuddering a little at the thought of his impending doom.

“He does good work, Spike,” said Cutter, ignoring the greeting, “almost a shame to take him out.”

“Yah, he does,” Spike agreed, “Doesn’t matter though.  Can’t matter.We gotta take him out as a warning to anyone else wanting to cut our turf.Lock and load.”

The Tenth Street Cutters charged their weapons as one, each with a grim look on their faces as they took aim at the helpless interloper.

“Fire!” said Joe, and five jets of ice cold water exploded from the Ultimate Electric Super Soakers the Cutters carried.  The water hit Paco from face to foot, nobody  missed.  Twenty seconds later the thoroughly soaked Paco was sitting on the driveway dripping wet, shivering slightly in the hot sun.The guns empty.  The slowly expanding puddle of water that dripped off his clothes working its way toward the street.

“He’s pretty cool about it,” said Tabby with little emotion, her free hand on her hip. “Didn’t even whine about gettin’ the hit.”

“Something to be said for that,” said Blinker.

Spike looked the kid over closely, glanced at his crew and nodded.  As one, they returned his nod, an unspoken decision having been made and agreed upon. “That machine of yours ain’t going to last the summer,” he said, “not like it is.”

“I’m saving for a new one,” replied Paco defiantly, the water dripping off his black hair.

“Won’t make it that long, guaranteed,” said Tabby.  “The way we see it is you have only one choice…”

“Join up with us,” finished Spike, “Tabby keeps that thing of yours running long enough to replace it and we don’t have to hunt you down every darn day and soak you while you’re trying to recruit business, which is what we will do.  Besides, you do good work and we like that.”

“Yah?”

“Yah,” said Cutter.  “Everybody keeps 90% of what they earn on this crew.  10% gets pooled together at the end of the day.  That’s when we go to Ernesto’s Ice-cream Shop and get cones.”

“My dad owns that place,” said Paco, still shivering.

“Yah, we know,” replied Spike, “Welcome to The Tenth Street Cutters.  You’ll need a hat, man.”


Submitted: June 19, 2020

© Copyright 2021 harry l. olden. All rights reserved.

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