Saturday, February 6, 2010

To Mow or Not to Mow. That is the Question



Title: To Mow or Not to Mow. That is the Question --A dramatic tragedy in one part, starring Mr. M. Mocoso and Mr. R. Monet, with A Cat.
Authors: Rolf and Ranger

Rolf stretched out in the grass, full after eating their picnic lunch they'd brought down to the local park.

"Maybe it's not such a bad thing the mower got hit. This is a lovely day for relaxing, don't you think, Sport?"

"Yeah," Matthew replied noncommittally, picking apart a weed piece by piece.

Rolf risked cracking an eye open against the sun to see his partner's face.

"I thought you would have been overjoyed not to be mowing."

"I am." Matthew gave him a brief and fairly convincing smile. Rolf gave him an askance look and lay down again.

"You know it's not the end of the world the Bears not winning. It's only a game, they did well-"

"They were a good team," Matthew said hotly. Rolf grinned without opening his eyes.

"So you keep saying."

"You don't appreciate good hockey." Matthew scattered torn weed over Rolf's face, making him blow and flick weed off and roll over, shoving a retaliatory handful down Matthew's neck

"HEY! That's not fair!" Matthew said, rolling over and working at the buttons on his shirt. He shrugged out of it and wiped the last of the weeds from his chest, feeling as if bugs were crawling on him.

"You just wanted me out of my shirt, I know you."

"Well then you know what else I want," Rolf said, advancing on Matthew on his hands and knees.

Matthew squealed, rolling away. "Not here! People will freak!"

"That might be fun to watch, don't you think?" Rolf asked, never taking his eyes from Matthew.

Matthew almost got away, but Rolf's long reach allowed him to snag an ankle and hold on. He advanced steadily up his body, Matthew twisting to no avail. Rolf finally got within reach and kissed Matthew's mouth, silencing the laughter. He ended his kiss by pulling on the pout of Matthew's bottom lip before letting it go.

"Was that worth all the drama?" Rolf asked, winking.

Matthew shrugged, smiling, but without the usual sparkle Rolf would have expected. Rolf paused where he was, braced over him, eyes quizzical.

"All right, what's on your mind? Want to tell me?"

"Nothing." Matthew rolled over on to his front, resting his chin on his arms. Rolf leaned on one elbow over him and ran a hand down his back, feeling the tension there.

"Are you going to tell me?"

"Nothing. Just tired." Matthew pulled up another weed, starting to shred it. Rolf watched him, still absently massaging the small of his back.

"You were ok this morning."

"Mmn."

"What time did you get up this morning?"

"I told you before - eight," Matthew said, starting on another weed.

"And you ate, cleaned up and took your meds -"

"YES. You don't have to analyze the day from beginning to end," Matthew said exasperatedly.

"Then tell me what's got you murdering innocent weeds," Rolf said pointedly.

Matthew threw down the weed he was pulling at and pushed himself to his hands and knees.

"I'm thirsty, want anything?"

"An answer, little one," Rolf said, pulling at Matthew's jeans to keep him from going anywhere.

Matthew squirmed, trying to get the hand off his belt loops. Rolf yanked more firmly and caught him as he toppled, putting him flat down on his back in the grass.

"WHAT?" Matthew said irritably. "I just wanted a drink-"

"What's got you so edgy?" Rolf said firmly.

Matthew shrugged one shoulder, not looking at him. "Just hot out here."

"It would have been hotter if we were mowing." Rolf commented. Matthew's eyes slid away from his.

"I HATE mowing."

Aha. The flash of irritation said volumes, and it spoke of where the land lay....

"I know," Rolf said mildly. "You always do."

"I didn't WANT to mow," Matthew said suddenly and hotly. "I HATE mowing on hot days."

"You didn't break the mower on purpose," Rolf said calmly. "It's my fault I didn't warn you where it was in the garage, you can't see it when you drive in-"

"I DID," Matthew said loudly, struggling to try and sit up.

"You did what?" Rolf gave him a clear Look, not letting go.

Matthew huffed loudly and settled back in the grass, crossing his arms as best he could and looking anywhere but at Rolf.

"I saw the stupid thing."

"When?" Rolf said, not moving.

Between the heat and Rolf's glare, Matthew couldn't stop the telltale flush rising in his cheeks. He'd felt awful about the mower, and couldn't stand letting Rolf think it was his fault. But now that he'd started down the road of truth, he was having serious second thoughts.

"At the last second," Matthew said quietly, still not looking at his partner.

Rolf put a hand under his chin and turned his face up. "Matthew."

"I'm SORRY!" Matthew said, fighting the rising feeling of his stomach.

"When did you see the mower?" Rolf repeated firmly, holding his gaze.

Beneath the icy blue gaze, Matthew squirmed. "Right before I hit it."

"Are you telling me you hit it on purpose?"

Matthew shut his eyes, unable to meet the steady gaze. Rolf sat up and pulled Matthew upright, voice stern.

"Matthew. Look at me right now. Are you telling me you hit the mower on purpose?"

Matthew could do nothing but nod miserably.

"Why?" The tone was still quiet, but it held no small promise within it.

Squirming with guilt, he mumbled "because it was there.....and I didn't want to mow…."

"You hit the mower because you didn't want to mow?"

"Mmhmm."

Rolf gave him a speechless look. Periodically he thought he'd come to the end of Matthew's ability to shock him into silence, and then Matthew came up with something completely new that took his breath away.

"Do you have ANY reasonable explanation?" he demanded eventually.

"Marc told me to?"

"WHAT exactly did Marc tell you to do?"

"I was just complaining one day about how I hated to mow, and he said how can you mow without a mower?"

"And?" Rolf said sharply

In a very small voice Matthew confessed, "it was in the way when I drove in the garage?"

"So Marc had nothing whatever to do with this, you just thought a bit of expensive destruction would save you an hour's work?"

Matthew pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, feeling very, very small.

"Did you?" Rolf said, a lot louder.

"It wasn't like that."

"Then what WAS it like, Matthew?"

"I'm sorry," Matthew said around a lump of tears suddenly forming in his throat.

"I'm not interested in sorry, I'm interested in reasons. I don't BELIEVE you'd consider damaging the mower and the car simply to save yourself an hour's yardwork. And then lie to me about it."

"I just wanted the wheel to break, not do any other damage," Matthew said sadly.

"That's a lot of damage YOU'RE going to pay for young man. Up." Rolf rolled to his feet and started to pack up the bag they'd brought with them.

Matthew got slowly to his feet, very aware of just how unhappy his partner was. He stood without saying a word. Rolf shouldered the bag and jerked his head at the car.

"Come on."

Matthew struggled to keep up with Rolf, who when angry, managed to make each step last about a mile. He was hot and very unhappy when they reached the car. Opening the door, Matthew stood outside and let the overheated air billow past him.

"Keys," Rolf said shortly. "I don't feel inclined to trust you to drive anywhere right now."

Matthew slowly handed over his keys and slunk around to the passenger side of the car, opening the door and remaining standing outside.

Rolf dropped the bag in the trunk, got into the driver's seat and started the engine.

"Matthew, Now."

Not wanting Rolf to get any more angry, he slid into the front seat, buckled his belt and then closed the door, feeling very much like there wasn't enough air to breathe. It was only ten minutes to get home. Rolf parked on the drive, got out and opened the door, standing back to let Matthew past him.

"Go and wait for me in the office."

Matthew moved with alacrity, tears threatening.

Rolf unpacked the bag, taking the time to calm down a little. The car was dented, the fender scratched and the mower in need of serious repair. He'd been thoroughly annoyed with himself for leaving the mower in the garage to be damaged, and to leave Matthew to drive into it- to find that Matthew would actually do it deliberately to evade mowing defeated his belief.

Matthew settled into the small chair that sat against the wall, shoulders hunched. When a cat came to visit, he picked her up and nuzzled her, trying to calm down. He was still cuddling her when Rolf came in, shut the door behind him and folded his arms, giving him an extremely grim look.

"Do you have any excuse for damaging the car and the mower? Or for lying to me about it and letting me think it was an accident?" Rolf said sternly.

As much as Matthew didn't want to move past this moment without a fast forward button, he had no excuse for his behavior. Anything that he managed to dream up was going to be picked to death by Rolf and the ending would still remain the same. Letting the cat go, Matthew said the only thing that was going to work.

"No, sir."

"Why isn't it acceptable to lie to me, Matthew?"

Breaking the mower wasn't one of his brighter ideas, but leading Rolf to believe anything but the truth was one of the worst offences.

"Because it's rude and disrespectful," Matthew replied quietly, watching as the cat headed over to the closed door.

Rolf leaned against the desk, not at all prepared to let his brat off the hook that quickly or easily.

"And why in this situation was it a problem lying to me about how that damage happened?"

"Because you thought it was your fault," Matthew replied quietly, pointing shyly to the cat who wanted out.

Rolf looked down at the cat, who met his eyes and mewed piteously. Rolf shook his head at her and got up to open the door. She scuttled straight out and sat in the doorway, preventing him from shutting it again.
  
"Yes," Rolf said severely to Matthew. "And because you've then spent the afternoon miserable and stropping because you've got a guilty conscience. Haven't you?"

Matthew nodded, unable to meet his eyes.

"Bathroom," Rolf said simply.

Matthew stood up with a plea in his eyes, but getting only a pointed finger as response, he walked down the short hall into the bathroom, swallowing on a dry, but normal-tasting mouth. He stood miserably by the sink. Rolf followed him, turned the tap on and ran the soap under the water stream, shaking the worst of the water off before he held it up.

"Open."
  
Matthew shut his eyes against the tears and opened slowly. Rolf put the soap into his mouth and pointed him towards the corner.

"Turn around. You do NOT lie to me, Matthew Christopher."

Matthew turned slowly and faced the wall, seriously regretting his actions. It only took a minute for the soap to seriously start to taste. He'd never understand how crying would also make him salivate, but between that and the soap, it was all he could do to hold back the flood, all the while trying not to swallow. He was trying hard not to moan or move too much. Well aware of his brat's difficulties, Rolf kept his eyes on his watch for a good three minutes before he spoke, determination overtaking pity.

"All right, you can spit."

Matthew dove for the sink, pulling the bar out with one hand and holding it while spitting furiously. He stopped long enough to take a deep breath, something he also missed while holding the soap in his mouth. Rolf took the soap from him, rinsed it and put it back in the dish, giving him a minute to clear his mouth before he turned the tap off.

"That'll do. Go and get the paddle please, young man."

As much as he was expecting those words, it still made his stomach convulse sickeningly. He wiped the back of his hand across his mouth, looking up with pleading eyes.

"Please, no. Please, I won't do it again."

"Now," Rolf said simply, waiting.

Using legs that didn't want to cooperate, Matthew made his way into the kitchen to get one of his most dreaded implements. He worked hard on swallowing the big, gulping sobs that threatened, and made his way back to the office, where Rolf was waiting in the doorway. Ever so slowly he held out his hand, hoping upon hope that Rolf was only using it as a scare tactic. Rolf took it from him and went into the office, pulling the chair back from the desk, clear of all obstacles, before he took a seat on it.

"Pull your pants down."

Matthew walked slowly over to his partner, the gulping sobs unable to be controlled any more. He fumbled with the button, feeling three years old, unable to hold onto any shred of dignity. Between the gulping breaths he managed to get out a plea.

"I'm....sorry.......please......I -"
  
"This isn't about you being sorry, it's about it being totally unacceptable to break things to get out of doing chores," Rolf said firmly. "I'm waiting, Matthew."

Matthew somehow managed to undo his button and work the zipper; the jeans, once pushed from his hips, slid down of their own accord. He looked up in the vain hope of leaving his shorts up, but pushed those down as well when instructed to do so. He couldn't bring himself to lean across his partner's lap, instead waiting until Rolf tugged on his arm, pulling him into place. As soon as his feet lost the connection with the floor, that awful sense of vulnerability settled into the pit of his stomach, knowing he wasn't getting up again until Rolf was ready. That wordless exchange of control, as always, devastated Matthew, and the mild sense of panic took over. Reaching quickly for the chair leg, Matthew did his best to twist around.

Rolf wrapped one arm around his waist and pulled Matthew's shorts further out of the way- as usual, Matthew had pulled them down only as far as absolutely necessary.

"I can't believe that you'd risk your car, break the mower, and risk your own neck driving into it, just not to have to mow, Matthew Christopher. The chores in this house are your responsibility as much as mine; you are not a child, I do not expect to have to force you into doing them. NOR do I expect you to go to this kind of length to avoid them. These kinds of impulses, you do NOT act on."

"Yes.....sir......pleasedon'tplease," Matthew stuttered, trying to make it stop before it began.
  
There came a point where it was necessary just to get on with it. Rolf wasn't by any means oblivious to Matthew's distress, but he heard it for what it was- an immediate desire NOT to have to face the consequences he knew very well he'd courted. Listening at this point helped neither of them.

Rolf shifted his grip on the paddle, shaking it into a more practical position, and brought it down swiftly and firmly, using his wrist more than his arm and aiming with the care of long practice. He was ready too for Matthew's immediate jump of shock and tightened his grip, snapping the paddle down again in a rapid and steady rhythm that covered the entire of the white bottom upturned over his lap. When faced with the paddle, Matthew knew he'd gotten himself in deep and deserving. There was no attempt to accept a single lick of the paddle stoically - Rolf had his full attention and message across the instant Matthew's feet left the floor. He howled and yelped, trying desperately to get himself off of Rolf's lap with no success, finally falling limp when his honest attempts at movement gained him nothing. About every fifth swat stung enough to draw a breath in, while the next four were spent in a long cry out.

Rolf moved the paddle methodically and swiftly, focused on nothing except reaching the point where he knew he'd made a sufficient impression on his partner. Struggles, yells and wails grew more frantic as the backside he was paddling grew darker in colour and the colour more evenly spread. Rolf moved the paddle further down and landed several swift, repeated swats on the same spot, just above Matthew's thighs and that was where he went limp, the tension going out of his body and his cries becoming deep and heavy sobbing. Rolf snapped the paddle down three or four more times, returning to middle ground, then laid the paddle down on the desk and rested his hand on Matthew's back.

Matthew lay where he was for only a minute more before sliding to his knees on the floor. He sobbed copiously for a long while, the sharp explosions of pain now a solid, throbbing roar.

Rolf put a hand on his hair, stroking, until Matthew leaned against his knee. When he started to quieten, he put a hand down and helped Matthew to his feet.

"Take those pants off and pick a corner."

Matthew carefully stepped out of the tangled mess of jeans and shorts and went to the corner, trying with no luck to stem the flow of tears and mucus. He briefly thought of trying to rub away some of the sting before remembering that only worked if it had been a couple of swats. His hands alternated between wiping his face and twisting his shirt hem, until the shirt looked as if it had been worn for the last year, instead of just the last few hours. His legs were starting to get seriously tired by the time he had his breathing under a modicum of control, still taking deep, tearing breaths between hiccups.

"Matthew," Rolf said quietly.

"Yes, sir?" was the reply, from deep within the corner

 "Come here." Rolf turned the office chair around from the computer where he'd been working and held out his arms.

Matthew turned and walked over slowly, stopping short of the arms open to him. Rolf wasn't having any of it. He leaned over and took Matthew's hand firmly, pulling him down into his lap and wrapping him up in a comforting hug.

"You're going to pay for the repairs to the mower and to the car," Rolf said quietly into his hair. "And you're going to do the mowing on your own with the hand mower in the shed until the big one's back and fixed."

"Yes, sir," Matthew said miserably, sniffling again.

Rolf dug for and found his handkerchief, putting it into Matthew's hands and settled back in the chair, rubbing his back gently and slowly. Matthew made quick work of the handkerchief, wadding it up in his hand when he finished, anxious for his release. Aware his breathing was settling and he was anything but relaxed, Rolf put him on his feet with a gentle pat to his hip.

"Go and shower and get ready for bed, brat."

Matthew wanted nothing more than to find a cave, hide in it and nurse his wounded pride. He bent over and picked up his clothes, walking quickly out of the room and up the stairs, the sobbing beginning again when he reached the bathroom. Fighting the urge to fall to his knees and feel sorry, he made himself turn the taps on and step into the shower, hissing and
immediately cutting out a good chunk of the hot water. Hoping the sound of the spray was camouflaging the worst of his sobs, he scrubbed at his face and spat continuously, both
trying to get rid of the lingering taste of soap and the thick saliva that coated his mouth after a spanking. He stood against the wall with the nozzle, bottom well protected from the spray, and sobbed as the bottom couple of rows of spray caught in his hair and dribbled down his body.

A hand reached across in front of him, turned the taps off and turned him around. Matthew, unable to help himself, fell into Rolf's arms, arms wrapped around his neck in a near stranglehold. His sobbing increased again, the little air he was able to draw in coming out in gasps of apologies.

Rolf reached for a towel, wrapped it around him and lifted him down to the floor, holding him tightly. For several minutes he rocked, making wordless, comforting sounds, while Matthew's crying slowly started to ease in intensity.

When it did he sat down on the edge of the bath and dampened a flannel under the tap, peeling Matthew away from his chest to wash his face. Eyes swollen, still shivering with sobs, he looked heartrending, but a lot calmer, and his breathing was starting to even out. Rolf got up and kissed his forehead.

"Come put some pyjamas on, hmm?"

Matthew followed wordlessly, accepting the pants and shirt, sliding both on and being very careful of his still-throbbing backside. He got into the bed on his knees, and slowly sank down onto his front, his head on one pillow while pulling a second down to cuddle against. He pushed the sheets away with his foot when Rolf tried to cover him.

Rolf sat down beside him, voice as firm as the hand on his shoulder. "Come here."

Tears still falling from his face, but the sobs quiet for now, Matthew moved enough that he could lay his head in Rolf's lap.

Rolf stroked his hair, leaning back against the pillows.

"Is mowing really that awful?"

Matthew took a long while to answer, but finally said, "No."

"No meaning yes," Rolf said with amusement.

Matthew didn't answer, just raised his head far enough that he could wipe at his mouth again before settling back on Rolf's leg.

Rolf didn't comment further, just went on stroking Matthew's hair, giving him enough silence to think and to put it into words when he was ready.

Matthew could feel Rolf waiting for an answer. He didn't really know why he did it. He'd been bitching one day to Marc, who also shared his 'love' of yardwork, when he'd offhandedly said that a damaged mower couldn't mow. And he'd come home that morning, the lawnmower sitting right there. It had seemed like a good idea to just bump it, damage just the wheel, to get out
of the mowing for that one all-too-hot day. Finally, unable to maintain the silence over the near
screaming in his head to fill in the blanks he spoke.

"I only wanted to hit the wheel, enough to make it not work. It was stupid, I know."

"And you couldn't just say, 'I don't want to mow tonight'?"

"It wouldn't have mattered," Matthew said sadly.

"No, it probably wouldn't," Rolf agreed calmly. "It needs doing, and we won't have time this weekend. But we could have discussed it."

"I'm sorry."

"I know. And it's over with now," Rolf lifted Matthew's chin and kissed him gently. "You don't need to worry about that any more."

Matthew pulled away, curling up once again on the pillow. Stoically accepting he was in for the cold shoulder for a few hours, Rolf got up and went to draw the blinds, blocking the very last of the evening sunshine.

"I'll be up in a while. Goodnight sweetheart."

"Night," Matthew replied, not even caring that it was still light outside. He wasn't going to be sleeping anytime soon - his bottom hurt too much for that, but at least he was alone again to nurse his own wounds. A few minutes later his cat jumped up on the bed, and Matthew spoke to her, telling her just how unfair life really was.

Rolf went back downstairs, finished tidying the kitchen and went back into the garage for a while, checking once more the damage done to mower and car. Matthew had managed a good, strong wallop to both; the mower would be in for repair for a good few days. Locking the garage, Rolf went back to the office, turned on the computer and began a stringent email to Marc, explaining exactly what he thought of Marc's ideas on the way to get out of unwanted chores.

When he went upstairs an hour and a half later, closing down an IM with a wildly protesting and indignant Marc, he found his partner asleep, face down, one arm crooked around a sleeping cat. His hair was in his eyes and his face was still faintly tearstained. Rolf paused for a moment to move the cat, shifting her to the end of the bed. Matthew stirred once when he turned
the landing light out and lay down.

Matthew turned his head and upper body towards Rolf, still leaving his bottom in the air, and snuggled against him, falling back to sleep almost instantly.

~ The End ~

Copyright Rolf and Ranger 2010

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