The Green Gumshoe

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I may have posted this story years ago, but I can't find it to post the rewrite, so here it is. --- It's a story based on a lawn detective's explanation regarding dying grass and cause and affect.

Submitted: January 25, 2020

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 25, 2020



The setting:

An area is cluttered with buildings that are Pre & Post World War Two, and some buildings are still there from the oil-boom days on Signal Hill.

Then there are the modern auto dealerships, pre-fabricated industrial installations, mini-malls, and fast food eateries.

On a side-street, in an old industrial area of Signal Hill, there is a small office off an alleyway. The office is not insulated very well.

The office is that of Justin Tillman, aka, “The Green Gumshoe”, a Lawn and Turf Specialist and all around Gardening Guru.

On this particular spring day we find Tillman, JT for short, seated at his computer chair with his feet on the desk.


JT is heard saying, "The time was 7:13 a.m. when I got a call on my land-line; it was a woman from Yorba Linda; Yorba Linda is a relatively small city folded between Anaheim Hills and Brea, California.

Yorba Linda is said to be "The Land of Gracious Living”, or so the ones with lots of money claim, and home to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace.

It is also home to one of the shortest Freeways in southern California, the seven-tense of a mile, Nixon Parkway.

However, I know of Yorba Linda because of my fondness for drag racing.

Yorba Linda is where John Force resides and has his original speed shop, slash, memorabilia store.

The Force's home sits on a predominate hill overlooking the I-91 freeway.

I'm told by those that known, that on a clear day you can see from the Force home, the Queen Mary and the Long Beach harbor, about 20 plus miles away, and Catalina Island, about 50 miles in the same general direction.

So, this lady calls and I meet her at her house that is built next to Chino National wildlife refuge; that would be in the back hills of Yorba Linda.

I mean to say, her backyard butts right up to wild grasses and shrub-land. And the only other houses around are on either side of hers, or across the street. Talk about living on the edge of nature.

I meet with this lady and she showed me a section of grass in her back yard. The grass is near the rear block-wall fence and about twenty feet from her huge swimming pool, spa, and waterfall.

The grass is dying in clumps and patches. And where it is dying, the infection appears to be spreading outward from its point of origin.

The lady, Ms. Britney Carlton, is beside herself. She wants this grass problem solved!

She has had the gardeners working on the same problem for weeks now, with no results, and in some places it's getting worse.

Ms. Carlton has recently shown, by a nosy neighbor, that the front yard is doing the same thing; she is sure that her yard has some sort of fungus.

She said one of her neighbors claims that it is a blight of some kind, and if she doesn't get it taken care of soon, then it will infect everyone else's lawns.

Right away I assured her that it was not blight, and that I felt it may be due to the rabbit population.

She was skeptical, she thinks they are so cute, hopping all around her grounds; {"They add an air of nature and animation to my yard"}, she says.

Just the same, she hired me to do an analysis right after I showed her some hard evidence. There was rabbit poop right in the center of dying grass.

I asked her for her gardener's phone number so I could find out what they had already done, and I would take it from there.


I meet with Hector and Felix at Carl's Jr., their choice. I sprang for lunch on Ms. Carlton dime and they said that they knew that it was rabbits causing the problem. But, what could they do? They spray the grass with repellant, but that only lasts until the sprinklers come on, just a few days at best.

They told Ms. Carlton that it was spring and that there was a lot more rabbits in the neighborhood. Plus, they thought that some of the dead grass was due to dogs passing by and peeing on it, but that is not the case at all.

Right after lunch I went to work. I inspected both the wild grasses on the property behind Ms. Carlton’s back yard fence, and the turf that was in her back yard.

Then I took samples of the suspected material and annualized them for toxins that the rabbits may have eaten.

It is a well known fact that Rabbits eat grass, as well as almost anything else that is growing. But what is not known is why Rabbits might cause grass to die, but they do not seem to kill the grass that grows wild.

I, being the Super Sleuth that I am, have found that wild grasses are not of the same physical make-up. Another thing, wild grasses are seldom watered regularly, as are lawns.

I also found that where the grass is dying, rabbit pellets are always at the center of it all. Also, the more repeated watering applied to the pellet cluster, the quicker the dying grass will spread outward. However, heavy rains don't seem to have the same effect as the sprinklers do.

For instance, after frequent watering with the sprinklers a whitish powder becomes noticeable on the ground, in the area that the pellets are clustered. This seems to indicates that there is something in the pellets that when re-hydrated, washes out of the pellets; thus, possibly killing the grass. But what could it be?

After weeks of watching, checking, and analyzing, I believe the culprit is the weed killer that is sprayed around the yards. The rabbits seem to like the stuff and it doesn't seem to hurt them when they eat the weeds that it is sprayed on. 

What is in that stuff? That is a very good question, indeed!

Most companies use Glyphosate Isopropylamine Salt, about 1.92%, Other Ingredients = 98.08 % 

That is right, 98% of the Product's ingredients are UNKNOWN to the purchaser and user.

My conclusion has become, {"A Rabbit eats weed and grasses sprayed with the killer. The material condenses in the rabbit's intestine and moisture is removed in the process.

Then the rabbit deposits what it has eaten in other locations, such as on someone's lawn. When the sprinklers come on the water re-hydrates the condensed Salt and Weed Killer, --- Walla, a patch of Dead Grass!"}.

Now it is true that the companies that make weed killer could put something in the STUFF to make it unappetizing to the rabbits, but why cut off their nose to spit their face. After all, they make Rabbit repellants too!

During the next week I filled out a rather lengthy Invoice for my trouble and my services.

And I typed up a full report explaining the problems associated with rabbits and the use of weed killer.

Then I gave Ms. Carlton a list of my recommendations that would solve her dead grass problems; there was only One, and that was this.

Have Astro-turf installed in all areas that grass grows on your property; rabbits won't eat it and if they poop on it, the Astro-turf won't die or change color.

In addition, over time the cost savings from water usage reductions and gardener services will pay for the Astro-turf. It's a win, win, for everyone except for the rabbits and the gardeners.

After all, rabbits can't eat, and gardeners can’t mow, what doesn't grow."



D. Thurmond / JEF



© Copyright 2020 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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