Keeping it real with Kyle

It’s Saturday, 06:37, and I’m clad in chili-pepper-patterned boxer briefs and a bleached-white wife beater, my eyes squinting out the kitchen window at my neighbor, Angus, manhandling his lawnmower, decapitating the poorly managed turf. The four-stroke motor’s timing is off, a tuplet that peals like a cat struggling to dislodge a hairball. I can almost feel the percussion from the mower’s combustion jostling my sphincter — or is it something gastrointestinal, a product of anxiety? Any moment, the racket will exceed the threshold that my family’s slumbered hearing can suppress…

Birds exchange disapproving bawls and soar between trees, their feculent air raids so far unsuccessful in thwarting Angus’s travails, his body sheening with perspiration but, sadly, shitless. Additional wildlife remains hunkered within their habitat, unwilling to brave the terrain for fear of involvement in the decimation. Should I assume the hero and lead the Herculean campaign to slay this suburban Antaeus?

I leave the kitchen with my mind torn between pacifism and conflict.

As I tramp to my shed — an immaculate wooden structure assembled by my own splintered hands — I offer Angus a tired wave that just clears the fence line, but it’s either ignored or unnoticed. I manipulate the shed’s combination lock, aligning the numbers to a sequence so genius that it’s virtually uncrackable: 8-0-0-8-5. I enter and close the door behind me, latching the inside lock for security. Hanging above my own lawnmower, on a pole spanning the width of the shed, is my wardrobe. I strip down, letting it all hang out in the waking, gasoline-tinged air, and sift through the outfits to find one appropriate for the situation. Oh, what’s this? I throw it on...
Now I am Komodo, Wing Chun master, whose blood and sweat are forever impregnated in a back-alley concrete slab someplace near a Denny’s where I trained under Bruce Lee’s nephew’s alleged drug dealer, consuming LSD while engaging in combat, my technique artistic and otherworldly. I am Komodo, and I am ready...

Wasting no time, I exit the shed and burst into a Tom Cruisian sprint.

I reach the entry to Angus’s backyard, and my roundhouse kick blows the gate off its hinges. Angus fondles the mower’s throttle, unmoving, his back toward me, desperate to preserve the implement’s will to live. I notice he’s wearing headphones, the volume of which must be extreme to drown out the backyard’s cacophony. I’m undiscovered.

My drug-fueled master taught me a code of honor that I refuse to violate, and I still hear his guttural voice, stammering in the midst of a trip, “Try not to use this shit on people if you don’t have to, Komodo.” So, I take the passive approach and maneuver to one of Angus’s backyard’s rocky lesions near the base of a proximate tree, grabbing two handfuls of Mexican beach pebbles.
Now I’m on my stomach, army crawling among the uncut grass, and I deposit the rocks near Angus’s patio’s threshold, ensuring the pile’s height is sufficient. I exit his backyard undetected and heave the broken gate into his juniper bushes to avoid suspicion.

As I tiptoe back to my house, the mower resumes its function, and Angus initiates his final perimeter cut. (I now detract from the plot to note that performing the perimeter cut last is as asinine as constructing a jigsaw puzzle’s border last, further justifying the notion that the asshole had it coming.) I dash for my backyard and take shelter behind my children’s playset, listening.

Suddenly, something sounds like ice cubes running through a shoddy blender at its highest setting, the sound’s magnitude eclipsing that of an amphetamine-driven Motörhead concert. Rocks thrash Angus’s house in an atmospheric meteor shower, and the thuds of pelted siding are upstaged by varying pitches of shattering glass, each distinct frequency signifying the destruction of a different windowpane, sliding door, lawn ornament, &c. He kills the mower and unleashes such a deluge of profanity that municipal vigilantes will likely pursue brutal punishment. I have figuratively crushed him.

The walk across my lawn is triumphant. I enter the shed and doff my grass-stained outfit—I’ll have to remember to take it to the dry cleaners—and don my boxer briefs and wife beater. Komodo is left on the hanger, awaiting his next summons, his next wild adventure, his next cleaning… Then I jumble the combination lock’s numbers and turn to face the open sky, my secret identity remaining hidden to all but me.

I return to the kitchen, where my wife immediately interrogates me as to why I haven’t yet prepared her morning bagel w/ strawberry cream cheese schmear. I lie and say I was taking a dump. She shakes her head, pours herself an orange juice, and says, “What was all that noise a minute ago?”

"I don't know, babe. I don't know..."

As the sun continues its skyward arc, silence soaks the landscape in rapture.
Words: Kyle Lichtenberg
Imagery: Courtesy of Kyle Lichtenberg

Kyle is a recluse based in the Rocky Mountains. He enjoys writing, guitar solos, and anything feline. His predominant fears are food poisoning and social media.