Story by Big M
Granny had been having a rough week. It all started with an experimental batch of Pilsener that just didn’t work. The beer was bland and tasteless, probably due to the stale hops that she had bought on the internet, rather than her brewing skills, but it was still over a hundred litres of beer that went down the drain.
Then Granny missed two mornings of boxing training because she couldn’t get out of bed, instead, leaving Merv to, not only train by himself, but also cook the pub breakfast. Things finally came to a head when Granny tried to start the pub’s ancient Victa, ‘just to give the yard a quick tidy up.’ She pulled the mower cord until she had a cramp in her side, then tried to pick it up and throw it in the skip, but just didn’t have the energy, so she dropped it on it’s side, which resulted in petrol pouring onto the grass. Granny sat down next to the mower, cradled her face in her brown, calloused hands, and sobbed.
Granny would have sat there all afternoon, had not Merv come looking for her to discuss this week’s fruit and vegetable order. Quick as a flash, Merv realised that something was wrong. “What’s wrong Granny, are you hurt?” He enquired as righted the stricken mower.
“Nothin’, just chuck that old, worn out heap of shit in the skip for me!” Granny wouldn’t look up, and wouldn’t stop crying.
“I’m not chuckin’ this good mower out, probably just needs a service!’ Merv was mentally calculating the cost of a new mower, hoping it wouldn’t come to that.
“Its old and worn out like me, just get rid of it!” Granny finally got to her feet.
Merv wasn’t a psychologist, but he knew that there was probably more to this than just a buggered mower. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll drop this round to old Fernando, and see if he can get it running, I mean, there’s no sense in chuckin’ something’ out just because it’s old!” Merv placed the mower in the back of his ute. “Come on old love, I’ll make you a cuppa.” Granny reluctantly allowed herself to be guided back into the kitchen.
A week passed, and Granny remained out of sorts. Merv didn’t mind, it meant he could go to boxing training in the mornings, and be left in peace! In fact he slackened right off, and just did some low intensity aerobic work. He received the call to say that the mower was ready, so asked Hedgie to watch the bar (and Foodge, of course!), then casually asked granny if she wanted to go for a drive. “Might as well” She replied as she wiped her hands on a dirty rag. “Not getting anywhere with this.” A small pump lay dismantled on the cellar floor. Granny didn’t have much to say on the way, which, Merv reflected, was just how he liked his women!
The mower shop was in a back lane, but the presentation was anything but back lane. The name, ‘Fernando’s Small Engine Repairs’ was emblazoned across the top of the front window which held, not a bunch of dirty old mowers, but a pristine, black and silver, Bultaco Metralla, suspended from the ceiling on stainless steel wires. Granny let out a gasp. “That is just immaculate!”
“So, you like my bike? Mr Merv, you brought your sister to my dirty workshop. This is no place for a lady!”
“Um, err…Granny, this is Fernando, the proprietor and worker of two stroke magic, umm…Fernando, this is Granny.” Fernando shook Granny’s hand enthusiastically.
“Mr Merv, this young lady can’t be somebody’s ‘abuela’? Fernando shook his head, only now revealing his grey hair pulled back into a ponytail.
“Nah, mate, we all call her Granny!” Merv was still looking at the bike wondering how the hell those little drum brakes could pull it up at a hundred miles per hour. He remembered trying to chase one when he was a highway patrolman. He didn’t fail to notice that Granny was looking at the floor, and shuffling her feet. “Anyhoo, mate, how didja get on with the mower?”
“Come in, come in…here she is, almost like new.” Fernando wheeled out the old Victa, that had been repainted, received a new muffler and air cleaner, and started like rugby league player on steroids, which he briefly demonstrated (the starting of the mower, not the football player, OR the steroids).
“Jeez, mate, she’ll go another fifty years!” Merv and Fernando huddled together to discuss money. It seemed he didn’t want to charge for any labour. Eventually Merv slipped him another fifty, whilst he wasn’t looking.
“That’s a nice little motor you’ve got there, Granny!” Fernando enthused.
“Oh.” Granny blushed.” It’s only an old Victa!”
“I wasn’t talking about the motor-mower, Senora!” Fernando winked as Merv busied himself with the mower. “How about sharing a meal with me?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I have nothing to wear!”
“Yes, you do.” Yelled Merv, from outside. “For gawd’s sake, just say ‘yes’!”
Granny was more animated on the trip home.” I think you set me up, you bugger!”
“You know that I really don’t have a thing to wear, and my hair needs cutting, and a bit of makeup wouldn’t go astray!” Granny was pretty anxious.
“It’s all sorted. I’ll drop you ‘ome, so you can ‘ave a showr, or whatever.” Merv swerved to miss a skateboarder. “Then you slip over to Rosie’s, for an ‘airdo, nail somethin’ or other, special make-up, and Rosie’s sister’s got some leftover material, an’ can knock up a dress this arvo.”
Seven o’clock rolled around, and Granny was still nowhere to be seen. Fernando had arrived, all decked out in his newest dinner suit, purchased in 1981. His corsage, however, was brand new, fit for a debutante.
Suddenly the bar went quiet, as a vision of loveliness seemed to drift though, hovering just above the floor. Granny’s grey hair, which was usually tied back, or in a tight chignon, was cascading down her back, which, by the way was bare. The backless, silk dress in jade was perfectly complemented with a string of pearls, and matching earrings. Her make-up was subtle, but it was the sparkle in her eyes, not the eye shadow, that made everyone stare. Fernando stepped forward, kissed her hand then offered his arm, which Granny took eagerly. “Don’t wait up, boys!”
Only Foodge spoke. “Who was that young lady, Merv?”