“Wake up!” Carter’s dad said, barging through his door. “C’mon, it’s already 6:15.”
Carter rolled over and glared at his dad. “I finished cleaning Mr. Tysowski’s house yesterday. He gave his approval, remember?”
“And did you pay for the broken windows too?”
Carter groaned and threw the covers over his head. “I wasn’t the one who broke them.”
Carter’s dad flung the covers back off him. “Yeah well, I didn’t blast music all last night, yet I still have to pay the consequences of no sleep. Welcome to life.”
Carter kicked his legs out so that he was sitting on the edge of his bed. “Huh?’
“C’mon. I need to leave for work and I still have to show you what you’ll be doing. Meet me in the garage in 5 minutes.”
When Carter finally trudged his way to the garage, his dad was waiting for him. The garage was packed full of boxes, broken and forgotten gadgets, objects from his childhood he hadn’t seen in years, and a mishmash of family history, broken metal, and spiders.
“This is your project. Anything broken goes in the bed of my truck. Anything we can sell goes on this table. Things we want to keep go into new boxes and will be packed and carefully labelled on the side. Anything you aren’t sure of, goes on this table. Don’t seal the boxes because your mom and I will want to check and make sure there isn’t anything we want to get rid of. Each day we’ll check your progress. If we think you were goofing off most of the day, you’ll have to make up the time with your last week of holidays.”
His parents had promised that if he worked hard over the summer, they would allow him to spend his last week at Mason’s cabin.
“This is going to take forever,” Carter said, gaping at the array of junk in front of him.
“And you have forever,” his dad smiled. “An entire summer in fact. Once the garage is cleared out, I want everything swept out and the boxes organized on the side so that we have room to park two vehicles in here again.”
As he walked to the car where Carter’s mom was waiting, Carter’s dad called back over his shoulder, “And I want to see a significant difference in that garage when I get back home this afternoon.”
Still feeling cloudy headed and blurry eyed from sleep, Carter waited until his parents’ car pulled out of the driveway and down the street before he went back into the house to grab breakfast.
An hour later, he was feed, dressed, and still feeling apathetic towards his new job. He stood in front of the garage unsure where to start. Finally, he grabbed a random box and ripped it open. Inside were old textbooks that appeared to be from the seventies. He pulled them out one at a time, halfheartedly checking the titles before piling them on the “to sell” table. 1 box down.
Next door he heard the failed pull of a lawn mower. Carter sliced through the tape sealing another box as the lawn mower gave another sputter.
“Stupid piece of junk!” He heard his neighbour grumble. “Good for nothing.” Followed by a clanging sound.
Carter stepped out of the garage to investigate. On the lawn next door, Mr. Stalnaker was bent over, one hand grasping his knee, the other pulling on the string of his lawn mower. He was in his late seventies, early eighties with thinning gray hair and a belly that hung over his belted linen pants.
“You okay Mr. Stalnaker?” Carter asked, walking closer.
“Can’t get the bloody thing started.” He grabbed a handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“Isn’t it a bit early for the lawn mower?” It was only 7:30 am and the last time his dad had Carter mow the lawn that early, a neighbour had a few choice words to share.
“Exactly. Teach ‘em a lesson.” He yanked the string again.
“Teach who a lesson?” Carter asked.
“Them!” he pointed at the house on the other side of the cul de sac. “Blasted their rock music until 5:30 this morning. Didn’t get a wink of sleep. We’ll see how they like the noise.” He yanked the cord again. “I just can’t get the blasted thing going.”
So that’s why his dad had been so cranky this morning. Having a bedroom in the basement had its perks. Carter hadn’t heard a thing last night.
“Would you like some help?” Carter took a step closer.
“Thanks. Usually my son comes over and does this for me. Went and bought this new fangled lawn mower when he took over the job. Don’t understand why. The old one worked just fine.” He used the handkerchief to wipe his face again.
Within a minute Carter had the lawn mower whirling to life.
Mr. Stalnaker cackled with delight. He gripped the handle and took off in a jagged diagonal line across his front yard more concerned about making noise than cutting his lawn.
Carter laughed as he turned back towards the garage.