Yesterday, I was excited to tell The Story of the Mulch. I was full of piss and vinegar as the old saying goes. This morning. . . not so much. I've woken with little joy today for some reason. I didn't sleep well last night, the pain in my knee waking me far too many times. Perhaps it was last night's Full Pink Moon. Whatever it was or is, I'm less than lively. Interestingly enough (to me, at least), this morning's dawn was pink. Looking out the kitchen window, I saw a world cast in a pinkish hue. There is an old saying, "Red sky at morning. . . ," but I don't know if a pink sky counts. I think I'll need to check with the astrologers.
I got out late and off to a slow start yesterday as I was trying to make video of what I was doing. As many times as I've gone through the DJI tutorial, though, I don't follow up making videos, so all that knowledge flees and I am starting over every time. I sat up the phone at one end of the drive, hit record, and went about my business. Then I went back to check the footage. There was none. Well there was, just not of me working. I had recorded everything up to that point, though, me futzing around with the camera. So I tried again. Got it! Only the framing was way off. Start again. But I hated my outfit. I looked fat and stupid, so I went in and changed. Yea, yea. . . I did that. And then I recorded again. I still looked stupid, but fuck it. . . I needed to get to work. I'd lost enough time. After pitching and hauling a few loads, I leaned into the camera and said, "I think this might be the way Mike Tyson felt when he fought Buster Douglas in Japan."
On reflection, I wondered how many people would get that one
I worked. Neighbors passed by. They were all cheerful, smiling and waving. They think it's cute when I work. You know, people have things done in my neighborhood. They hire people. So they laugh to see someone doing their own manual labor.
As I worked, a couple of strangers approached. They were dressed as for work in some cheap office, maybe a check cashing shop, shirts tucked and belted, shiny shoes. The woman held a clipboard. The man carried an open laptop.
"I have another pitchfork," I offered. They chuckled. "Yea, that's what everyone says," I laughed.
"Did you see any policemen out here yesterday," said the man motioning to the road behind him.
"There was a police car parked right here when I started work this morning, but he left," I answered, curious. "But no, I didn't see one yesterday."
"That must have been for something else. There was a complaint yesterday about children playing in the road."
"Uh. . . who am I talking to? Where are you guys from?"
"We're from the. . . ." And here is where my memory is bad. Department of Children Affairs or Wellbeing or something.
"Yea, there are kids playing in the street up there all the time. It is dangerous. They are in the road and cars have to stop for them. Their parents send them into the street to play. I sure wouldn't teach my kids to play in the street, but, you know. . . that's just me."
I should have said more. That's what I thought later. So somebody had called. They will think it was me, probably. This is the family of the fellow who came up on me when I was unloading groceries years ago, before my crippling, to give me a little lecture about how I drove up on his kids when they were playing in the street.
"I've noticed three times. . ." he began. I'd just had some argument or breakup with Ili and was in no mood for this six foot five son of a bitch to come up on me. I turned on him.
"I don't have a problem with kids. I like kids. Your kids can come play in my yard. I don't care. It's asshole parents that I have a problem with."
I went on. He stood at the top of the driveway and pulled himself up to full height looking down at me. Oh, motherfucker, I was ready to take him down six notches. When I turned and quickly shortened the distance between us, there must have been blood in my eyes for he wilted very, very quickly. The cock of the walk look on his face disappeared. His eyes got soft and wide. He weakly held out his hand.
"I'm afraid we've gotten off to a bad start," he said. I didn't take his hand. You fucking A we got off to a bad start. I was too pissed, so I turned away and said, "I've got things to do," and started carrying my groceries into the house.
So yea, he'll think I called. But somebody did.
His kids weren't playing in the street at all yesterday.
The day was crisp and quiet and clear, and I had a feeling I was in a movie set in L.A. where a detective comes up on the Asian gardener and asks him questions.
"Have you seen anybody unusual coming to the house in the past few days?"
It could have been the pool scene in "Chinatown." It could have been some old Raymond Chandler movie. It was probably all of them. But the feeling gobbled me up. I kept working.
A bit later, a big lawn care truck with an even bigger trailer pulled up. A fellow in a following Lexus SUV was waving his arms, making angry faces, hitting the steering wheel. . . he was an asshole. I know it for sure, because I've done that. It's an asshole thing, and I always ask myself, "What is wrong with you?" after I do it. I hear the voices of myriad girlfriends over the years.
When the fellow finally got the idea that they weren't moving, he pulled around them and hit the gas like he was Fireball Roberts or Max Verstappen. The fellows were getting out of the truck.
"Asshole," I said. They nodded without concern. They were the lawn guys. They do several houses in the neighborhood. They were mostly Mexicans and a couple Black guys. Two of them posed for my big assed Liberator one day for my intended project, but I double exposed the negative and couldn't use it. They came across the street to look at my pile of mulch.
"You want some help," the driver asked with a chuckle.
"Well. . . do you have any pitch forks?"
One of the others held up his fingers. "I've got these for pitchforks," he laughed.
"That's a lot of mulch. You need some Mexicans," he kidded.
"Yea, the Mexicans are laughing to see a White Boy doing this, eh? You don't expect to see a White Boy work."
They all laughed at that and one by one came over for a fist bump. Good guys. We were workers. We understood things. At least for the day.
I mentioned my age and said, "This is my annual test. I just want to see if I am the same cowboy as I was last year."
"How old?" the head guy said.
"That's right. I'm a bad mo'fo'" I said.
And so we went on with our respective chores. They were done long before I was, though, and they waved a fond farewell as they drove away. I chuckled at myself. I think I'm a badass working for a day. Those guys were laughing, too.
The good news is that I finished pitching all the mulch but for a little bit that will go into the garden. I made a mistake and didn't weed it beforehand, so I will have to do that first. No matter. I did it again, another year. Big Balls in Cowtown. I'll spare you the song this time. By now you know it well.