The Fred Way
I was mowing my lawn because my neighbor was mowing his lawn. On the
horizon shined a hundred suns or a hundred yellow Kia Optima's, I
couldn't tell the difference anymore. When I told myself not to cry
speech bubbles stretched from my mouth that my neighbor popped with a
"Thanks Fred," I said, "how are you?"
"Well," said Fred, "most of my friends have died this year, and there's
Carol's colon cancer, but I don't let that keep me down because I'm
Fred, and Fred moves forward."
He pointed to his lawn.
"You're right," I said, "it's a good lawn."
"And a good way to live," said Fred.
By now everyone in the neighborhood was mowing their lawn and it
smelled like lavender. Each time I finished a row on my lawn a line of
coke appeared. The ghost of my grandfather did push-ups as he snorted
"Nice," said Fred.
I still wanted to know what was on the horizon and as I looked, Carol,
wrapped in a sheet, appeared at a window in Fred's house so I waved at
her. She mouthed a banner: I think living is dying, and Fred ran over
and jumped up with his stick.
"Got it," said Fred. Then: "Do you ever think we've wasted our lives
worshiping the wrong stuff?"
I looked at everyone mowing their lawn.
"Yes," I said.
When I finished mowing my lawn the ghost of my grandfather punched the
ground so it shattered. Me and Fred fell through an endless darkness
with small purple flowers lining the walls.
"Unbelievable," said Fred, on his back, waving his stick.
My three ex-wives and daughters and son fell too, each waving their own
stick. I wanted to kiss them but they fell too fast. I wanted to tell
them that I missed them. I wanted to tell them they were the only thing
At the bottom Fred and I stood on our overgrown lawns.
"Really unbelievable," said Fred, "but that's life, and you have to
keep going because it's all a person can do, that's the Fred way."
"I guess so," I said.
Fred waved his stick at me then started his lawnmower. At the horizon
it was definitely a hundred yellow Kia Optima's. Leaping from hood to
hood was God, swinging a scythe, not at the Kia Optima's, or the birds,
or the clumps of pollution shaped like clouds, but at any thoughts,
mine or yours, that could get in the way of feeling alive.
Shane Jones' most recent novel is CRYSTAL EATERS.
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