A few years ago I was walking down our street and I noticed a house with the greenest lawn I'd ever seen. A man was sitting on the porch and I turned to him and said, "Your lawn is amazing. How do you get it so green?"
He looked left, then right as if someone would hear his secret. Then he lifted his chin and raised his voice just above a whisper and said, "Well, you just got to know when to hit it with the stuff." He slid back into his chair and stared at me.
"That's great," I said. I scratched my head and walked home. Stuff? What stuff?
That interaction inspired the following piece of flash fiction.
Lawn Envy: Mine Is Greener Than Yours
Seven days ago, I confronted my neighbor. Now, nobody will talk to me.
Look, I'll tell you what happened, but don’t look over there too quickly or they’ll know you’re watching them.
Okay, see their lawn? It’s too green.
I know there’s something illegal going on over there. You can’t get your lawn looking like that with the fertilizer products available in America. You’ve got to import some heavy duty biochemicals or other banned substances to get grass that green.
Shhh. Keep it down or they’ll hear us. I’ve been watching them. They go out after midnight and spray something on the lawn. They don’t know anyone’s watching, but I see them. Probably some kind of hopped up plant hormone that induces the grass to produce more chlorophyll.
All of that effort just to make their lawn greener than any of the other lawns in the neighborhood. Including mine.
I’ve seen them out there, well after midnight, skulking around in their yard. Then the next day I see them and they’re acting all natural and everything. Sitting there on the porch reading the newspaper or playing with their kids like nothing is going on. But there’s a whole lot going on. They’re planning, scheming, always trying to stay one step ahead.
I’m too smart for them though. Last week I tried the direct approach.
"So, Frank, how do you get your lawn so green?" I asked my neighbor with the exceptionally green grass.
Frank shrugged his shoulders. "Oh, we pay some big company to come out and pump liquid fertilizer onto it."
So he was going to play hardball. "Sure, but we use that same company and ours doesn’t look near as good." I smiled and gave a small laugh. "You don’t apply anything else do you?" I winked at him and smiled again.
His eyes narrowed. "What are you implying?"
"Oh, nothing," I said. Then I went for the jugular. "It’s just that your lawn looks exactly like another lawn I saw one time. Actually, I saw it on 20/20. Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs did an investigative report on a family in Albuquerque, New Mexico who reportedly had the greenest lawn in the nation."
"20/20 did a story about someone’s lawn?" Frank asked.
As if he didn’t know. I gave him my best Clint Eastwood stare. "The people were using an illegal growth hormone imported from South America to kick their lawn into overdrive. It’s kind of like crack for lawns, Frank."
"Sounds crazy to me," he said.
"Crazy. Right," I said. I grew tired with how he toyed with me. He stood there playing the innocent look for all it was worth. There was no way out of it for him. His grass convicted him.
There was no way this guy was going to have a lawn that was greener than mine. No way.
I grabbed him by the shirt. "Talk, man. What are you doing out in the back yard after midnight all the time?"
He pushed my hands off his shirt. "Are you crazy? We’re just watering the lawn at night. My wife read an article that explained how plants photosynthesize during the day and rest during the night. The article explained that if you water your grass at night then the photosynthesis during the day is more efficient and boosts the creation of chlorophyll within the grass."
"Likely story," I said.
His partner in crime came out the front door and approached us.
Frank hurried toward his wife. "Honey, we are definitely getting that ten foot privacy fence you’ve been wanting," he said.
They both scurried back inside their house. To make more plans, no doubt.
It doesn't matter they've turned all the other neighbors against me. I'll be vindicated.
It’s obvious they’re guilty. Time is on my side. I’ll get the evidence. Then I’ll bust them for the good of the community. They’ll be looking at three to five in the slammer with no one to tend their lawn.
Then my lawn will reign, once again, as the greenest lawn in the suburbs.