The nut won’t give, even arms locked and bringing his full weight down. Plus the mower, designed to keep the business end safely flush with the ground, won’t settle blade up. Could be the vice grips, too, increasingly clear the wrong tool, even when he tightens the bolt and holds far out on the handle end like his dad showed him to get maximum torque. (He assigns himself the task of looking up the word ‘torque’ in the big Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary he keeps in his room, and then the task of remembering that he’s going to look up the word ‘torque’.) It’s the only tool he brings on mowing jobs; he likes how it looks like a robot lizard. He loosens the handle bolt a couple of turns to make the pliers easier to lock, but the grips just chew the nut.
He’s hit a wedge of brick, probably from the decrepit landscaping around the Craft’s old house. Must’ve missed it while he was taking care not to throw clippings over the ant lion burrows lined up in the strip of dirt along the garage. The blade is shot, he can see that, a huge chunk bit out of the steel. His dad spent a good evening at the grinder making the edge bright and efficient and will not be happy, nope, not at all. He’s supposed to be old enough to know better, to not have to be told to sweep the grass first. He’s supposed to understand the accounting of money and time and things.
It’s still morning but July hot already. The machine expands and ticks in the heat. He used to mow his lawns in shorts but the mower threw rocks against his shins, and he does jobs now in jeans whatever the weather. He tells himself he needs to think, but he’s not sure what or how. The taste of water from a hose arrives in his head. He remembers the hose he coiled beneath the side spigot before he began mowing the weeds into squares. The Crafts wouldn’t know if he took a drink and wouldn’t mind if they did. Probably. He leaves the mower wrong-side up and dangerous.
He turns the valve and brings the end close, hears the air sing its way out. He lets the coupling’s threads click against his teeth, lets the water, like a rod of glass, push out his cheek. He tries to let the moment be itself, to not let it be the end or the beginning of something.