Get Off The Grass by Lance Cross

‘Look,’ said Roger, ‘The Johnsons are doing it again.’

‘What Roger? What are the Johnsons doing again?’ sighed Karen, not taking her eyes from page 78 of Fifty Shades of Grey.

‘They’re having a barbeque on their front lawn.’

‘It’s their front lawn. They can do what they want.’

‘You don’t have barbeques on your front lawn, everybody knows that,’ hissed Roger, his white-knuckled fist clutching the beige curtain.

‘Nobody knows that Roger. You only think it.’

Roger pointed towards the Johnsons. ‘But I can see them!’

‘Only because you’re looking,’ said Karen, ‘Now get away from that window before they think you’re a pervert.’

‘Why would they think I’m a pervert?’

Karen put her book down, joined him at the window and looked out at a happy family soaking up the afternoon sun while a light breeze ruffled their buganvilias

‘Because you’re hiding behind a curtain spying on your neighbours long legged, big breasted wife, their equally big breasted 16 year old daughter and twin 13 year old daughters, who are having a water fight. Even I think you’re a pervert.’

Roger snapped the curtains shut.

‘The daughter’s breasts aren’t that big,’ he mumbled.

Karen folded her arms and glared at Roger.

‘Doesn’t it worry you that they’re out there in full view of the whole neighbourhood?’

‘Doing what?,’ pleaded Karen, ’They’re cooking sausages. They’re not Satanists sacrificing burgers and chops to the dark lord.’

‘It’s not right. That’s all I’m saying.’

‘Well stop saying it,’ said Karen as she slumped into the sofa, picking up her book again.

‘But it’s the front lawn. You have a back lawn for doing stuff. The front lawn is for show. You keep the grass Victaed and your herbaceous borders tidy but you don’t actually use it.’

‘Only in Rogerland,’ said Karen, ‘This is the real world.’

Roger stood motionless for several seconds staring at the closed curtains imagining the steaks being turned outside.

‘I’m going to say something,’ said Roger and he started towards the hall.

Karen jumped up, blocking him. She raised her arms and backed into the doorway.

‘You are not going to say or do anything Roger because you are not leaving this room.’

‘But…’

‘But nothing,’ interrupted Karen, ‘We’ve lived in this house for three years without incident and I’m happy here. I do not want a repeat of the Wilson incident.’

‘That wasn’t my fault. He mowed his lawn before 10am every Sunday for six years. He deserved what was coming to him,’ spat Roger.

Karen raised a finger.  ‘Sit down,’ she ordered.

They sat opposite one another. Karen read silently as Roger’s fingers drummed on the recliners paisley arm and his foot tapped on the polished wooden floor.

‘Let’s go and sit in the back garden,’ said a smiling Karen, ‘That would be relaxing.’

Roger sat under the shade of the Tasmanian Yellow Gum tree in his favourite deck chair with a stubby in one hand and Sudoku Puzzle Book No. 47 in the other.

Karen sat next to him at a patio table with her book in hand and a floppy pink straw hat on her head.

‘See, this is nice,’ said Karen.

There was a brief put-put-put noise then a motor mower revved into life next door shattering the afternoon silence.

Karen tensed, waiting.

A serene Roger glanced at his watch then at Karen.

‘2.26pm,’ said Roger, ‘A perfectly acceptable time to mow your lawn on a Sunday.’

Karen relaxed.

Roger filled out two 6’s, three 8’s and a 7 in the book then started tapping his temple with a pencil.

‘What would happen if we wanted to sell up and they were barbequing on their front lawn when people viewed the house?’

‘Jesus Roger! We are not selling this house and anyone who sees them cooking on their own property would think ‘What a nice family. I want to live near them.’ Now drop it.’

‘But they’re potentially reducing the value of our house.’

‘The only thing devaluing the price of property in this street is the nutter who lives at number 29.’

‘Very funny.’

‘I’m not kidding Roger. I thought we were through this.’

Roger looked sheepish.

‘You’ve been so good. There’s been no lawnmower trouble, you’re coming to terms with people putting mustard on steak, and the Keppel’s at number 25 had their Christmas lights up a month before Christmas without a word from you. Let’s not go backwards shall we?’

‘What about that lady with the umbrella in Bunnings?’ asked Roger, taking a swig of beer.

‘That was a setback certainly,’ said Karen, ‘But we worked through it. I’m sure we can work through this too.’

She leant over and rubbed the back of Rogers’s right hand, the scar from an umbrella tip barely visible.

‘You’re right. I’m a new man and I’m not going to let one barbeque defeat me.’

‘Good,’ said Karen, ’Now get me a G&T and we’ll enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the sun.’

Roger leap out of his favourite deck chair and headed towards the Gin in a defiant mood.

When he was standing by the booze cabinet he looked to see if he was completely alone then parted the curtains just enough to survey the street.

‘Christ almighty Karen!’ yelled Roger.

‘What? What is it?!’  Karen ran through the house to join Roger at the window then whipped the curtains open to see what was wrong.

‘The Keppel’s are barbequing on their front lawn. One starts and now they’re all bloody at it! It’s an outrage, a bloody OUTRAGE!’

‘Oh Roger…’

10 thoughts on “Get Off The Grass by Lance Cross

  1. Nice! Reminds me of someone close to me… It’s more of a bloke thing I think (she says, rubbing her hands together with glee at the outrage that may ensue…)
    I like Karen – well portrayed as the feisty long-suffering wife.

  2. I love how Roger’s logic is perfectly followable, it’s just the intensity that’s off, good response to the prompt. Small thing, though- why was the google search for buganvilia linked? And then Tasmanian Yellow Gum tree wasn’t? I’m sure there’s a point I’m missing :b

    1. Hi
      I have no idea why the word ‘buganvilias’ linked. It certainly wasn’t when I sent the story in so something hanky went on when it was transferred to the web page.
      I have asked the nice people at Needle to remove it if possible as it could be a bit distracting.
      First of course I racked my brain trying to think of some super clever and highly literate reason why buganvilias would just have to be linked – but I couldn’t.

    2. Hey that hyperlink error was my bad. Don’t know what happened there. Maybe some formating quirk. Anyway great story Lance.

  3. It’s cool that the husband is the one tightly wound up by social stuff- usually it’s the martini-holding 50’s housewife lol and the Noodle Incident with the umbrella is just absurd enough without being unbelievable. Ending was a bit weak though, at least from my POV

    1. Hi Flower girl

      Don’t worry, no offence taken.

      The ending was a toss-up between this way or an ultimatum type show down between Roger and Karen.
      I decided a show down might have given Karen the opportunity to leave Roger but thought it would be funnier (and crueller) to have them both suffering together, continually. You know Roger isn’t really going to change and Karen is always going to be a wife living on a knife edge, alcohol and racy books her only escape from Roger’s foibles.

      That’s a long winded way of saying that I did have a good think about it and just thought this one fitted better.

  4. Loved the humour and how it remained consistently funny throughout the piece, which is always a challenge.

  5. I’m a person who hates living in neighborhoods with a homeowner’s association, and people like this are why. Very good job making his issues *his* problem, and I think this character is lucky to have a wife who grounds him. I wonder why he’s okay with her having a G&T before 5pm, though 😉

  6. I wasn’t sure if this was a fictional story or a description of my neighbours.
    It’s certainly funnier reading about them than living next door to them anyway (I’m the guy with the lawn mower).

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