Riding Mower
by S.L. Kerns

The gravel driveway stretched down the valley, past the yellow weeds, towards our old farmhouse. My Pitbull, Hoss, jumped on me as I stepped out on the creaky wooden porch.

Dad had left me with the task of mowing, expecting to come home from his long day of trucking around the backroads of Kentucky to find a beautifully cut lawn.

But the damn riding mower wouldn’t start. No surprise. Usually grass caught under the dull blades causing the bastard to overheat. Just a scrawny fourteen-year-old kid, I had perfected flipping the mower up on its side to free the freshly cut grass from the blades under the deck.

Dad busted his ass providing for our family. So when the mower failed to run, I decided to jumpstart it.

His gray Nissan truck under the shade of the single oak near the house. His keys calling to me from living room. Driving in my blood — the son of a trucker. Stick-shift, no problem.

I strutted towards the truck. In the cab, the stench of the overflowing ashtray was overbearing as I kicked several coffee-stained cups out of my way, then put the key in the ignition.

I grinded the gears getting in reverse. After easing off the brake and rolling back, I killed the engine. Starting back up and shifting to first gear, I moved forward, my foot barely on the gas. Inching closer to the mower, I went for the brake, but hit the clutch. The truck slammed into it.

The frame of the mower, badly bent. The truck, spotless.

I had failed to tend to the yard, and destroyed the only means of mowing.

Dad was shocked and did a fair amount of swearing, but kept surprisingly cool about my first driving experience.

PHOTO: 1996 Nissan truck.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After plugging away at this idea in my mind for several days, I finally sat down and put it on the page. I have never forgotten my first driving experience, though, sadly, my dad has.

lloyd kerns photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: S.L. Kerns may have southern roots, but he has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent five years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. He loves soaking in words of wisdom, and trains both mind and body. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his works. His work had been published or is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, and 47-16: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction Inspired by David Bowie. He also blogs for Muay Thai Lab.