He pushed the shovel down in the dirt and turned it over. This was gonna be easy. The morning was brisk and the sky was blue and no doubt it was gonna warm up quick. He moved swiftly, thinking about the cash that would be leaving with him. He sang a little bit of that Paint It Black he heard on the radio on the way over, carrying the tune much faster than intended, singing it along with his movement. After a few more turns of dirt he put the shovel down and reached for his water bottle.

Taking a long swig.

“I hope you don’t mind me watching.”

Oh, he was startled. “No I don’t mind you watching.” The lady was looking down from her second floor deck. Who knows how long she’d been watching.

“It’s just that I can’t do what you’re doing anymore so I like watching. Seeing you work your strong back, moving around with all that energy. You seem to relish in it. I remember when I could do that and I really enjoyed it.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Yeh I can’t do that anymore, I have back problems and they’ve gotten worse, pain spread and it’s taken over.”

He put the bottle down and returned to digging, pushing the shovel down in the dirt and turning it, throwing down the shovel to pick up the rake and even it all out, reaching down and pick up rocks and twigs and the weeds that were still left and putting them in a neat little pile. She continued to watch. He walked out of sight into the shed, returning with compost in tote, along with a tarp.  He dragged the compost bags out one by one, back and forth with precision.

He wasn’t at all sure if she was still up there watching as he turned his ballcap around so the visor could shield his eyes from the sun.

“I have to leave for physical therapy soon, will you be alright here?”

“Oh yes ma’am, just fine. This’ll be an hour or so job I’m thinking. And the rest in the back maybe another two. Depends how much that stuff back there’s taken over. I have to see. After I pull it all out, I’ll be outta your hair.”

“You don’t have to rush, take as long as you need. I want to make sure I’m back to pay you is why I’m asking. I can’t have that stuff taking over. The appointment’s just an hour, it’s only over by Johnson’s Dance Studio, you know where that is?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“And I’ll have a tip for you when I get back.”

“Ma’am? Okay.” He glanced up at the lady who had an otherworldly look.

“For your service.”

He put the finishing touches on the bed and placed the trellis where she’d earlier indicated. He organized his tools in the wheelbarrow and relocated himself to the furthest end of the property. The second part of the job was pulling kudzu, hundreds of feet of it, too much to know. That shit’ll take over if you don’t try and keep it back. And this was the time of year to get it too, get it now before summer when it all leafed out, get it now by the root is how to do it. One day that kudzu may very well swallow the planet but in the meantime he was here to ensure it didn’t swallow her property. He put his gloves on and took a vine in his hands and began to follow it, bending down to pull roots every few feet and then grunting and repeating. He followed it through the creek, his eyes following vines up trees as he reached up to pull down what he could.

“You don’t mind me watching right?”

Oh, he was startled. “No ma’am, I don’t.”

“I hope I didn’t shake you up. Wow you’re really scurrying everywhere, and so fast. I brought you some iced tea, it’s getting hot out.”

“People say a lot of things about kudzu, but the only thing we can do is try to keep it back. I’ve seen pictures of this stuff eating up houses!”

“That’s right,” she laughed.

“Thank you for the tea.” He stopped working and wiped the sweat from his brow, taking a long sip.

“You know I haven’t had a visitor here in God only knows how long.”

He smiled shaking his head, “Yes ma’am.”

“It’s nice to have you around, maybe you can do more for me?”

Whatever it is I can do,whatever you need ma’am, if I’m able.”

“Well maybe if you don’t mind me alongside you, you can help me get organized, with my art stuff, my supplies. They’re all over the basement and I don’t have the strength to bring them up the stairs, you know, to the studio to get started. And it’s dirty work, but do you think you can do that?”

“I don’t see why not, sure I can do that.”

“If you don’t mind me watching you can help me set up the studio then maybe I can start that again. My husband used to always have my stuff set up for me. I know it’d do wonders for me to start again, right?” She paused, then sighed. “It may take a while though. Do you have the time? Do you like art?”

“Well I don’t have the time today now, but I can make the time for you.”  He engaged the lady while his eyes followed kudzu. “Sure I like art.”

“Then yes come back and we can do that. And today I’m gonna tip you when you’re done.”

“Ma’am I don’t need a tip.” He finished up his tea and handed her back the glass. “This won’t take much longer and it’ll all be pulled up.” He looked at the time on his phone. “Then I can come back next week.”

“Okay but I wanna tip you.  See since I’ve been immobile and the pain has racked my body I haven’t been able to do anything and seeing you now and knowing you’re gonna help me, well, I hope you come back.”

“Yes but first I better finish the kudzu. Before it gets out of control. I have to get it before it’s too late.”



10 thoughts on “KUDZU

  1. I hope this is a serial; I need the next episode!

    I had to look up Kudzu; always something to learn in this virtual space!

    He sounds nice, he can come here and do some jobs for me that my husband chooses to ignore!! 🙂

  2. I think the woman was quite lonely – She mentioned her situation, &, was aware of her observing.

    (And, I wonder whether ‘the author’ – You have been ‘digging kudzu’. Yesterday I saw a mutual friend, a future housemate, who said you’d been doing lots of work in the yard)!


    • Luckily I don’t have kudzu! I hate the stuff I had it in Afton it’s quite the site and I did get a bit “involved” pulling up vines and roots there myself! 🙂

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