Tuesday Terror! The Lawnmower Man by Stephen King

night shiftWatch out for the hairy green teeth…

Last week the sun shone for a few days here (highly unusual) and I knew I should cut the lawn. But the best laid plans and all that…and then it started raining again and the moment passed. As I looked out at my now ridiculously overgrown grass on Sunday I wondered lazily whether I should call a grass-cutting company. And then that evening I sat down to select a horror story, when what should leap to my eye but Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man! Serendipitously perfect for this week’s…

TUESDAY TERROR!

By mid-July, the lawn looked more like a meadow than a suburbanite’s backyard, and Jack Castonmeyer had begun to make all sorts of extremely unfunny jokes, most of which concerned the price of hay and alfalfa. And Don Smith’s four-year-old daughter Jenny had taken to hiding in it when there was oatmeal for breakfast or spinach for supper.

After a tragic accident the year before involving a large lawnmower and an unfortunate cat, Harold Parkette has been putting off getting the grass cut this year. But when the grass has become so long that the neighbour’s child can hide in it, he decides it’s time to act. So picking a number at random from the Classifieds in the local paper, he hires Pastoral Greenery and Outdoor Services to do the needful. But when the manic red lawnmower starts cutting the grass all by itself while the lawnmower man strips naked and chases after it eating all the cut grass, Harold begins to suspect he may have made a mistake…

Illustration: Marvel Comics (who, presumably on the grounds of decency, have left The Lawnmower Man clothed...phew!
Illustration: Marvel Comics

Naked and grass-stained, he was crawling along about five feet behind the mower, eating the cut grass. Green juice ran down his chin and dripped on to his pendulous belly. And every time the lawnmower whirled around a corner, he rose and did an odd, skipping jump before prostrating himself again.

Stephen King
Stephen King

The only other King short story I have read was Children of the Corn which had the unintended effect of making me giggle while it tried its best to scare me. This one, on the other hand, sets out to be funny and succeeds marvellously! It’s gloriously gory and gruesome but more in the style of Tom & Jerry than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Very short, the action never lets up from the moment the lawnmower man arrives. Remarkably, even at this break-neck speed King manages to get over some pretty good characterisation of poor Harold – a man whose fundamental laziness is his own undoing. And the lawnmower man! Well, as scary monsters go, one with hairy green teeth, cloven feet and a ‘huge, pendulous belly’ must be on the leaderboard, eh?

“That won’t do any good, buddy,” the lawnmower man said kindly. “Apt to be messy, too. Now if you was just to show me where you keep your sharpest butcher knife, we could get this sacrifice business out of the way real painless…”

It didn’t give me nightmares, but this story made me chuckle several times while reading and afterwards. And, whatever the weather, I will definitely lock the cats in and cut that grass today!

Fretful porpentine rating: 😯 😯

Overall story rating:         😀 😀 😀 😀

41 thoughts on “Tuesday Terror! The Lawnmower Man by Stephen King

  1. FictionFan – Sometimes funny in that gruesome sort of way can work, especially with a talented writer like King. Glad you enjoyed this even if it didn’t get much of an FP rating.

    • I was glad I enjoyed it, since I felt that to dismiss soemone as popular as Stephen King on the basis of one story was unfair. It still makes me chuckle…

  2. I haven’t read The Lawnmower Man man but have seen the film which is up there as one of the worst films ever made alongside such films as Showgirls, Avatar, Independence Day and anything starring Adam Sandler

    • Haha! When I was looking stuff up for the review I kept coming across stuff about the film, and I have to say they sound completely different. Given this story only lasts a few pages and doesn’t have what you’d call a complex story, it’s hard to see how you could make a film out of it – maybe a five minute cartoon. I think I quite enjoyed Independence day though…

  3. *laughing* King is such a funny one! I must say, it’s an interesting idea for a story. Oh, and you should leave the grass long. That way you can do ambushes, you can hide, and you can flank. All that nice stuff. Do you have ticks over there?

    • Haha! Tommy and Tuppence totally agree! In fact, one of the reasons (other than laziness and hating grass-cutting that is) that I don’t cut it as often as I should is because they get so much fun stalking each other. But when it reaches a height where you can only see their tails then it’s time to do something…

      Yes, but out in the countryside more than here in suburbia, I think.

      • (I’d offer to cut if I were around. The professor loves cutting grass. And I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because there’s a lot to cut.) Yes! The cats have the idea, for sure! *laughing*

        For some reason, there’s been a sudden increase around here! Very odd. It’s the dadblame deer!

  4. I do so sympathise with your grass-cutting dilemma. I’m waiting for the exams to be over before unleashing a team of teenagers on mine – but none of them will have green teeth or eat the grass, I hope!

  5. Oddly, while I can’t say I truly like Stephen King books, I’ve nonetheless read several. Not sure what that says about me. :/ I did enjoy The Stand and Dreamcatcher(s ?). However, he’s got an odd style, and I can see your getting chuckles.

    • I’m not sure if I’ve ever read any of the books completely – I think I tried a couple many moons ago and wasn’t really taken by them. And the other short story I read I really thought was pretty poor. So this one was a pleasant surprise, and might even encourage me to try some more…maybe.

          • I think loads is putting it mildly 🙂 But, Stephen King books are the equivalent of what I call ‘no brainer’ films. I love the Marvel films but I would never argue they are intelligent thoughtful films. They are the kind of films you watch and you say to your self, ‘ok film entertain me’. Stephen King books are just that. You sit down to his books and say to yourself, ‘ok Stephen entertain me’. And he does just that, (sometimes)

            • Yes, there’s a place for pure entertainment – that’s the excuse I use to explain my secret love for Georgette Heyer romances! 😉 But I’m not sure I’d find full-length King books particularly entertaining though this story amused me a lot – it all comes down to personal taste in the end, as always.

  6. Did you seriously read this? As for SK… he didn’t always look that way. Actually I think he did.

    I don’t like cutting grass so it’s really fortunate that… ahem… the professor lives close by. He pops over and cuts my grass for me on his tractor.

    I enjoyed the review… but in the future, shouldn’t you keep these sort of books to yourself. This grotesque image I fear will never vacate my mind.

    • Haha! I can’t have a horror section without reading horror stories though! (Though the Prof and I did think that hanging up a poster of SK might be more likely to give me nightmares than reading the books…)

      That is lucky isn’t it? And so kind of him to do that for a…ahem…neighbour. (Leave that ‘u’ alone – it’s serving a purpose.) I’d probably enjoy cutting my grass if I had a tractor… *sighs enviously* Do you run along behind the tractor eating the grass? (Hopefully clothed, though… *shudders* )

      • What does the “ahem” signify? You’re not sure I exist either are you? Who said the professor was a neighbor? Does “neighbour” light up red (as in incorrect) for you too? He he he.

        Do you know this song? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3mC4485Ue0

        Well, seeing that you are the one that managed to digest this literary nightmare I believe the question is better put to you. When you cut your grass, please forget about this bad influence.

        • I thought my ahem was as crystal clear as your ahem! But I do think you exist…and no, my spell-checker speaks proper English. You could use that version too and avoid all those pesky errors…oops, I mean Americanisms!

          I do – I love that whole musical. In fact, when I was I was about 10 I understudied the part of Eliza for the school play (understudying was where they put the ones who couldn’t sing – fortunately the star remained well throughout and so humiliation and embarrassment were averted all round).

          But my favourite song from the play is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ezy50aY6Bg *sighs happily*

          I will!!! For which my neighbours will be most grateful…

      • Well I’m not, I’m in the professor’s imagination.

        Yes, that is one of the better songs (an easy second, I’d say)… but the best from the musical IMO is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrmpd7c6LgE&feature=kp

        I ask because I believe that song goes something like this:

        Art and music will thrive without “U”
        Somehow Keats will survive without “U”
        And there still will be rain on that plain down in Spain
        Even that will remain without “U”,
        I can do without “U”!

        🙂

        • HahahahaHA!!! Brilliant, Bubbles! You win that round – by miles!

          And wow! What a great version of ‘On the Street…’ – or should I be looking for a deep hidden meaning in that too?

          I don’t care if you’re imaginary, BTW…you’re still more fun than Mic… 😉

          • Whew, I pulled off a funny tonight!

            No, no hidden meaning. Mel Torme’s version is the best, followed by Nat King Cole’s.

            Well maybe I am Mic. (But in all seriousness, if you only new Mic, you’d probably really like him.)

            • Haha! Still chuckling over it today too…

              Hmm…you could be Mic. Except that the Professor is Mic, which would mean that you’re…no, it’s all too surreal.

  7. In King’s Fiction I love The Green Mile Series and Stand By Me in the Bachman books, but his horror, well, lets say after sleepless nights from reading Salems Lot I’ve been a bit reluctant, but if this one is a spoof i might give it a go.

    • I hadn’t really realised he wrote anything other than horror – I must check those ones out. I’ve never read Salem’s Lot but I did see an adaptation of it many years ago and it was pretty scary. I try to keep the horror reading to short stories for time reasons, but that one might be tempting…

      • The Green Mile and Stand by Me were made into great movies. Stand by Me was called ‘The Body” in book form and I think it was semi-autobiographical. if you don’t get the time to read the books check out the movies.

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