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…
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…
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.
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: 😀 😀 😀 😀