Jon de Vos: Dear, in the headlights
March 7, 2008
Don’t say it couldn’t happen to you.
I stared in horror at the lifeless body beneath the wheels, stunned at what had just happened. A wave of blackness swept over me and I leaned against the car for support as I stared at the head that had been ripped from its body and lying several feet separated from the appalling remains. My mind raced wildly, Good God, what have I done. How can this ever be explained? Do I surrender to the authorities and beg for mercy? Or should I try to cover my tracks and hope no one finds out?
It took two trips to drag everything into the corner but just a couple of seconds to cover the mangled remains with some storage boxes that I festooned with some extension cords. I brushed my hands and stood back, looking it over carefully. It would do for now but I’d have to come back tomorrow, retrieve it in secret and permanently dispose of it, maybe somewhere in the hills behind Granby.
I acted nonchalant at breakfast, chatting idly with the wife, discussing the news, talking about the dogs, acting like nothing was wrong. Finally, I wound down and realized I’d been talking to myself. I looked up to see her staring at me, drumming her fingernails on the table. She stared. I stared. I blinked first, “Wha . . .What?” I said, a bit rattled by the catch in my voice.
“Why did you run over my weedwhacker?” she asked slowly, enunciating each word.
Involuntarily, my eyes ricocheted back and forth like a ping-pong judge,
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“Weedwhacker, you say?”
“And then you hid it in the corner,” she continued. Her gaze was that of a biologist determining what new species of rat she just discovered.
“It … it was an accident,” I stammered.
“Then why did you try to hide it? How do you accidentally run over a weedwhacker hanging on the wall?”
“It wasn’t, uh, on the wall, that is, it was under my wheel.”
“You were driving on the wall?”
“No. It must have come down. Somehow. Under my wheel. That’s where it was.”
She stared, finally saying, “You’re hiding something.”
“OK,” I said. “You got me. I laid it on the floor and drove over it and then over it again.
I’ve hated that thing ever since you took it away from me after that one bad experience with the lilac bush. I’ll never forget the way you grabbed it out of my hands, shaming me in front of the dogs. Now the only time I see it is when it runs out of string. I could be in the middle of a delicate brain surgery and you’d call and make me come home and refill it.”
Her glare defined the word, “piercing,” but she volleyed back like a helicopter gunship, “You work in an office. You don’t do brain surgery. So far, it seems your talents lie in running down innocent weedwhackers.”
I got off with a promise to replace the doggone thing just the minute the stores put weedwhackers on spring mark-up. Without much secrecy about it, I have always hated the infernal thing. Problem is I can never remember how to open it up to replace the string. I wind up banging on the head of the weedwhacker like a Howler
Monkey banging on a coconut. The frustration. The frustration.
But I didn’t run it down, I swear it jumped out in front of me.