A Spot Of Bother by Peter Lingard

Mr Mowbray was meticulous when it came to his lawn, mowing it every Saturday morning or, if inconvenienced by inclement weather, Monday evening.  Recently, a black spot mysteriously appeared slightly off-centre of his green obsession.  He considered digging out the diseased area of turf and planting a small bush, but the site of the damage meant the equilibrium would be disturbed.   He decided to wait for a day.

It was still in situ the following morning and had grown considerably larger.   He stepped into the street to see if passers-by could see it.  They could.  He returned to his lawn and stood threateningly over the dark monstrosity.   ‘Out, Damn spot!’ Mr Mowbray commanded menacingly as he stared at the horrendous eyesore.  Being a Shakespearean aficionado, he had ever longed to articulate those words with genuine passion.  It dawned on him that the black spot being on his lawn instead of on his hand could be taken as fitting justice. 

When Mrs Mowbray, as fastidious in the care of her roses as her husband was of his lawn, attended a bridge convention in Sydney for two weeks, he had, in moody selfishness, neglected to tend her beloved blooms.  He had allowed the sun to wither them, refusing to water them day and night, as was Mrs Mowbray’s custom.    Mrs Mowbray had been horrified when she returned and saw the damage and had told Mr Mowbray that the murder of her flowers must surely have left blood on his hands.  Such was the ferocity of her anger, her husband thought she might have somehow caused the pestilence to appear on his lawn.  He thought it would be like her to ensure the scar was indiscriminately placed.

The spot had grown again by next morning.  Mr Mowbray was so incensed, his face became crimson as he threw a tantrum and jumped up and down on his much-loved lawn shouting, ‘Why?  Why?  What must I do to be rid of you?’

A passer-by shook her head and crossed to the other side of the court.

Mr Mowbray calmed somewhat and returned to the house, went to his den and started to look for solutions on the Internet.  Mrs Mowbray made a cup of tea for herself.

Their son, Michael Mowbray arrived at eleven-thirty on Sunday, as he did every Sunday, with his wife and young daughter and found Mr Mowbray gazing with bewilderment at the now larger dark spot on the lawn.

’S’up, Dad?’

‘This dark patch appeared on my lawn and it’s growing daily.’

Michael moved to stand next to his father.  He sniffed.  ‘Oil.  That’s oil, Dad.  You pissed off one of the neighbours again?  Criticized someone’s lawn?’

Oil?  Visions of Petro-dollars fleetingly gushed through Mr Mowbray’s head before reality set in.  He looked to the driveway where Mrs Mowbray was greeting the grandchild and caught a glimpse of her blatantly insincere smile just before she turned away to bestow a kiss. 

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