Here is my non-contest offering for “Sloth”.
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Tom swung lazily in his hammock. There was not even a hint of breeze this afternoon. He wiped his brow and drained his beer. Sure, he should be mowing the grass, but the riding mower was up on blocks in the garage and using the push mower sounded like so much work in this heat. Unseasonably warm, the weatherman pronounced. Un-freakin-believably warm – Tom thought as he drifted in and out of sleep, a straw hat placed over his face to shade his eyes.
He’d been out of work for so long he couldn’t remember what it had been like to maintain their home and yard in addition to holding down a full time job. Now that his empty days stretched before him, Tom had not much to do and all day to do it.
He felt a twinge of guilt as he thought about his wife at work all day. He tried to keep the house straightened, and even managed to keep the most uncomplicated laundry done, but he found those chores mind-numbing. No longer able to afford cable or internet – long days loomed before him. The intense heat zapped any thoughts, however fleeting, of accomplishing anything worthwhile. He contented himself with lounging, reading and trying to figure out ways to get out of the few responsibilities he had left.
As his hammock slowed to a stop, he sniffed the air. The undeniable stench of cigarette smoke filled his nostrils. Swinging his legs over the side of the hammock, he struggled to his feet and marched to the back of the garage. He saw his twelve-year old neighbor, Chucky, green-faced and red-eyed -coughing and gagging after trying to inhale from the filter end of the lit Camel pilfered from his grandfather.
“What are you doing back here, Chucky?”
Chucky dropped the cigarette and stomped on the glowing ember. “N-n-n0thing” he stammered, his pimply face turning from greenish to bright red. Chucky stammered under the best of circumstances – when nervous he outright stuttered.
“N-n-nothing. I’m n-n-not doin’ n-n-nothing”. The boy turned away and stuffed the pack of cigarettes and lighter into his pocket.
“Wait, Chucky – you don’t want your mom to find out about the “nothing” you’re doing back here, do ya?”
Chucky turned slowly around to face his neighbor.
“C-c-c-come on, M-M-Mr. T-T-Taylor. I w-w-w0n’t do it any m-m-more. I’m g-g-g-gonna throw them away.” The poor kid’s eyes filled with tears – and this time it had nothing to do with the smoke.
“Now, Chuck” Tommy said as he laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I think we can work something out. You don’t want your Mom all upset, now do you?”
Chucky’s single mother had her hands full with two jobs and three boys – and Chucky hated disappointing her.
“S-s-s-sure.” Chucky looked hopeful.
“I’ll tell you what, Chuck. You mow my grass and trim up the yard and I’ll forget about what I saw.”
“Okay. T-t-t-t0night after it c-c-c-c00ls off?” Chucky asked.
“No, Chuck. See, the wife hates the sound of the lawnmower. Has to be done in the next couple of hours before she gets home from work. How about it?” He stuck out his hand.
Chucky reached out and shook his neighbor’s hand. “Deal”.
He dragged the mower out of the garage and the kid fired it up. Tom wandered over to his hammock, lay down, and covered his face with the straw hat. Once again he drifted in and out of sleep, the mower droning nearby.
He never even felt the rock, thrown like a missile from under the mower, as it pierced his heart.
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Don’t forget – the deadline is Thursday for this round!!!