Mar 15 ● BY Jordan Hagedon
The day my neighbor ran over his wife with a lawnmower, I decided to acknowledge the mold spreading itself over the cheese. It was a delicate mold, fine like silk or web, and it was very light green, almost white. At first, I thought the mold was part of the cheese, but it was not. It was green and soft, so soft looking I almost wanted to drag my finger over it. Ultimately, I didn’t have the stomach to face it then, so I replaced the lid to the glass Tupperware and tucked it back in my fridge.
The lawnmower was a riding mower. He’d rode it across the grass to and fro until he hit his wife who was sunbathing on the front lawn. I didn’t know a lawnmower could do so much damage. He’d made it almost all the way over her stomach when the screaming rose to a pitch that the neighbors could no longer ignore. We all ran into the street. I say we, but I was still in my fridge for a moment longer, eyeing the mold on the cheese with a sense that something must be done. But when I finally made it out into the street, the scene was catastrophic. The lawnmower gleamed, a hump of red and black machinery, on their front lawn. The husband stood back, sweating through his blue t-shirt, as if he’d just finished a difficult job and was too tired to show how pleased he was to be done.
The wife was in a yellow bikini and one of her hands grasped a romance novel she’d been reading. Her head was thrown back, her eyes rolled up, and her hair lay dark against the lawn. Inches above her head was a line of freshly shorn grass. The husband must’ve first passed close to her head with the lawnmower. In fact, we could tell this because there was a lot of grass flung onto her. Her torso was a nightmare. In addition to the grass, there was so much blood and gleaming intestine that was torn up and ragged. Why hadn’t she moved?
A few neighbors were screaming, and more than one person was on the phone with the police. We moved along the sidewalk and road like sharks, swiftly intent on one direction and then turning, jerking, switching course suddenly. We nervously avoided the husband, who went to sit on his front steps, wiping his sweating head with the back of his hand, breathing deeply.
The sun slanted down onto the scene. Flies zipped among us, darting this way and that, searching for the source of the overwhelming scent of blood and guts. I was excited; my body thrummed with energy. Perhaps excited is the wrong word, but that’s how I felt. Elated, soaring, buzzing with a terrible rush of adrenaline.
The police arrived abruptly. A wailing ambulance shrieked to a halt. In the distance, we could hear a firetruck clearly blowing through stop signs and street lights. EMTs spilled out of the ambulance, yelling at everyone to move, sprinting towards the wife’s corpse. Two policemen tackled the husband, though there wasn’t much need to. He sat quite still, squinting up at the sky, breathing in and out. Police dashed about the lawn, gagging, retching, and swearing under their breaths.
Why are they rushing? I wondered, we all wondered, exchanging bewildered glances. Someone chuckled. The wife was dead, deader than dead. All that was missing were cartoon X’s over her eyes. As they fussed with her body, taking pulses from neck and arms, opening her eyes, prodding uselessly at the intestines, I noticed the pages of her romance novel fluttering. The cover flipped back and forth in the breeze, catching the light of the setting sun. The cover featured a woman lounging on a beach, peeking cheekily over her sunglasses at a shadowy male figure walking towards her on the white sand. “Fantasy Vacation” was scrawled in cursive letters across his shadow.
The policemen led the handcuffed husband to the waiting police car. As he passed the body of his wife, the husband looked down at her curiously, like a child looking at a science fair experiment he found interesting but couldn’t quite comprehend. Something about that look felt very familiar. In fact, I could feel the muscles in my face begin to mirror his expression, twitching themselves into little mimicking motions.
A firetruck, honking madly, pulled up along the sidewalk and the firemen got out, yelling at us all to clear the scene and to go home. In their bulky outfits, hats sliding, fingers flexing and unflexing, the firemen hustled and then stopped in a spurt of absurd comprehension. There was no need to rush.
We dissolved homewards, shaking heads, muttering, on the phone with sisters, hands tapping away at texts and Facebook statuses. The sounds of climax were gone. All that remained were murmurs, the wind, and a distant dog howling for attention.
As I stepped into my home, I realized how shaky I was, the adrenaline fading from my body like the evening sun. It was dark in the house. Darker than I had expected after the eruption of sight and sound outside. Still, I found my way easily through the hallway to the kitchen, right up to the refrigerator. As I opened the door, I could almost detect the hidden odor of mold. I lifted the Tupperware dish of cheese out of the fridge, swung it over to the counter, and opened the lid. A perceptible blossom of foul scent bloomed upwards, spreading like unfurling petals. I moved my index finger, slowly, down towards the soft, soft, web-like, frond-like fungi. My finger made contact. It felt very wrong to touch it. And yet, with the gentle back-and-forth movement of my finger came a rising sense of satisfaction. A sense of “finally, finally, finally.”