Friday, March 5, 2010

Fiction Friday: Bob Rivers

It wasn’t a bad job, really. They paid for his equipment and he got to be outdoors. Thank goodness he didn’t have allergies like some groundskeepers did. He would have a tough time dealing with that many acres. But as luck would have it, Bob Rivers was uniquely suited to taking care of the cemetery.

And he took great care. The lawn was mowed once a week. Bushes clipped, vines trimmed, and pots watered weekly too. He checked the sprinklers every night before going home. If the edges of the walkways were wet when he arrived in the morning, he knew they had worked. It was delightfully predictable work.

Mowing the lawn was sometimes tricky. He had a riding lawnmower now that his back had taken to weakness, so that wasn’t the problem. It was the people. Every Tuesday, his mowing day, he’d check the funeral schedule to see what was going on, both outdoors and in the building. He respected the ritual and knew the last thing anyone wanted to hear during their time of mourning was the grinding of his John Deere power-steering lawnmower.

During services, he would sit outside the garden shed and drink a cold root beer from his cooler. His own way of honoring the dead. Most services didn’t last more than two hours, so he would schedule around them.

The tough situations came with individual visitors. People coming alone or in pairs, standing in front of their passed loved ones, talking, crying, or staring silently. These people didn’t arrive on a schedule, and when Bob happened upon them on his riding lawnmower, he’d have to rearrange his route and come back later. Three or four visitors spread around the cemetery would seriously stall his route. Early on, he would attempt to continue his work, but people would throw dirty looks over their shoulders or looks of disbelief. Their loved ones are dead and this guy’s mowing the lawn?

No one saw his work as important, taking for granted the lush, green grass and the manicured row of hedges by the parking lot. They expected the beauty. It was what was owed them for burying their family and friends there. No one considered that Bob Rivers was the man who gave them that beauty.

Click here to read Bob Rivers, Part 2

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