Shortly after the blessing of the balls and Martin’s mother’s funeral, he showed up and started working off the money I’d given him by mowing my grass that he’d been neglecting. Being the resourceful chap that he was, he also started using my lawnmower to cut other yards up and down the street. A few days after starting his new business, he even asked me if it was OK that he was using my lawn equipment. Even though it was a little out of sequence, I had no problem with the deal. I figured it was a way that I could help him out without it costing me more than a gallon of gas every so often.

Then, one Sunday morning, about 7:30, there was a knock on the door. I was still sound asleep when one of the kids came in our bedroom and told me Martin was there with somebody and said I’d told him it was OK for him to take the lawnmower to a house he had apparently been able to rent that had an unruly yard. I was pretty sure I’d never told him any such thing.


So, I made my wife help me up, get in my chair, and throw on a t-shirt just in time to get to the garage to see him loading my mower and my dad’s hedge trimmers into the back of a roached out Nissan rust bucket car with somebody with a menacing look on his face who Martin claimed was his uncle.


Martin said, “Hey, man… You told me if I ever needed anything, I could take it.”


As Uncle strapped the trunk down on my mower and got in the driver’s seat, I told Martin, “I don’t remember telling you that, and you didn’t ask me if you could take the mower anywhere further than you could push it.”


He told me why he needed it and promised he’d have it back the next afternoon as he was getting in the car. As the car was backing out of my driveway, I yelled at him that he’d better have it back in my utility room by the time I got home the next day. As it turned out, that was the wrong thing to say.


When I got home the next day, my mower was nowhere to be found, which, coincidentally, was the same position as Martin. He wasn’t answering his phone. For several days, we tried to call him, and we drove around the neighborhood to the places we’d taken him or seen him to no avail. There was no sight or sound of him until Friday when he showed up around lunchtime telling my wife he needed $150.


She called me frantically at work and told me he was acting erratically. She said he pulled up his shirt to show her an empty pistol holster on his belt. He told her that he’d hidden his guns because he didn’t want to do anything stupid but he needed $150 right then, and he couldn’t take no for an answer.


I told her to immediately lock the door, call the cops, and get my shotgun out of the closet and give it to her middle son. I had it loaded with a 3″ magnum slug followed by three 3″ magnum 000 buckshot and told him to empty the magazine if Martin tried to get in.


I immediately got in my car and got home as fast as I could.


In the meantime, Martin left before the police got there. The officer told my wife they would look for Martin, but if he came back to tell him to get off our property and call them again immediately.


When I got home, the police came back by to see if he had come back, and I tried to file charges against him for stealing my mower. But, to my dismay, the officer said since I let him borrow it, there was nothing she could do. Then, she used the rest of the stop at our house as a sales pitch to get me to hire her boyfriend to cut our grass since I didn’t have a mower anymore. (I did end up hiring him, and he was absolutely fantastic.)


In the aftermath of the incident, it was apparent that my wife was terrified of my shotgun, and with its size and weight being more than she could deal with, we decided to get her a pistol. So, we hit every pawn shop in town looking for a pistol and my lawnmower too. Finally, the next morning, I found a decent .357 magnum revolver that felt comfortable in her hand, and I bought it and a box of .38 special bullets for reduced recoil.


On my way home from the pawn shop with the pistol, I called Martin and he answered. After cussing him for all I was worth, he had the nerve to ask me why I wouldn’t give him the money. Then, I told him my mower had better be back in my garage before sunset, to which he responded that he didn’t have it anymore. So, I hung up on him and never heard another peep out of him.


As long as I lived there, he never came back within sight of my house, as far as I know. The ordeal changed my view of charity, and I never gave anybody anything else short of a glass of cool water to a mother walking her daughter from house to house selling wrapping paper for her elementary school. I told anyone else about the rescue mission up the street, and if the mission wouldn’t help them, neither would I.


to be continued… (Yeah, it’s not over yet.)

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