The engine to the lawnmower died. It didn’t sputter, cough, or protest, it simply died. She let go of the throttle and turned it on its side. It was hard enough to find a summer job that wasn’t babysitting without the machinery breaking down. Luckily the older ladies outside of town didn’t care too much who cut the grass as long as it got done. She had three yards on today and two more tomorrow along the same road. At ten dollars a pop her entire take was fifty bucks per weekend, something she could probably get per night if she wanted to change diapers and deal with kids.
She pulled a flat-head screwdriver from her pocket and popped the cover to the engine. Thirty to sixty dollars a night that was what her sister racked in for her sitter jobs. But then, her sister had a car, and didn’t require the truck to haul around supplies.
Teri sighed as she looked at the motor. There wasn’t anything wrong with the damn thing. The wires were still connected, the choke wasn’t engaged, and it was practically pristine considering. She put the mower down and gave the cord a yank. Nothing happened. She tried a few more times but the engine didn’t even sputter.
“Mrs. Hamrid,” she called walking up to the back door. “I need to call my dad. I think the mower finally died.”
She knocked on the door and waited, Mrs. Hamrid wasn’t the type of lady to bring lemonade on a hot day. The old lady would eye the back yard and pay her without a word.
Teri tried the handle and found it unlocked.
“Mrs. Hamrid, it’s me, Teri,” she yelled into the house.
Her eyes adjusted to the dim light inside. It took her a moment to realize none of the lights were on even though all the shades were drawn.
“I just need to use your phone,” she stepped tentatively inside looking for the old woman.
After her eyes adjusted, she saw she was in the kitchen. She noted that the clock on the oven had gone blank but didn’t think anything of it once she saw the landline on the wall. Taking small, quick steps she crossed to the phone and picked it up.
There wasn’t a dial tone.
The unmistakable sound of a shotgun slide made her drop the phone and spin toward the door. There stood Mrs. Manrid, all six feet of her. In her hands was the biggest shotgun Teri had ever seen, but then she had never looked down the barrel of one before.
“I didn’t say you could come in,” the old lady growled, literally.
“The mower died, I needed to call my dad, I knocked,” Teri held up her hands.
“Trespassers will be shot,” the woman pulled the trigger.
Teri closed her eyes but instead of a loud boom followed by a white light there was only the sound of a click. Not questioning her luck, Teri rushed out the back door and out to the street desperate to flag down someone with a phone. She saw a car not far off already pulled to the shoulder and the person had a cell phone out.
“I’m fourteen,” she said as she ran over. “I work. I need a cell phone.”
As she got closer she saw that the driver was woman dressed for the office. She was looking disgusted at her phone.
“Hey,” Teri yelled as she got closer. “Can I use that?”
“Sorry, kid,” the woman wheeled to look at her. “The phone and the car are dead.”