“Our Turbo Model… Now With Advanced Mulching Capability,” by Jill Witty

Jan 6th, 2021 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

My Dad likes to say he had a Ferrari, once. But it wasn’t actually a Ferrari. It wasn’t even a car.

This was back twenty years ago, the summer I turned twelve years old. I was playing three different sports that summer, and Mom told Dad that he was going to have to start mowing the lawn, because I wouldn’t have time, what with the sports and all. Dad said there was no way in hell he was going to mow the lawn with our old mower, the really heavy push-kind—I mean what, did she want him to throw his back out? So he went and bought a new, top-of-the-line riding lawn mower. It was huge, bright red, with a twenty-horsepower engine and a top speed of forty miles per hour. I think it might have even had a spoiler. Dad called it the Ferrari of lawn mowers.

When Dad brought it home, he took it right out to the yard and made us watch him mow the lawn. In just a few seconds the mower was flying down the lawn, leaving tiny bits in its wake, grass and sticks that barely looked like their former selves.

Dad named the mower Raquel after this woman on TV he was obsessed with. My brother Billy and I used to wonder whether he would leave Mom for Raquel if he could. Unlike Mom, Raquel was blonde and muscular, with giant breasts and tiny spandex outfits that just barely covered her ass. She had a show in Brazil called “O Mundo de Raquel” and the audience would go wild for her. On her show, she would dance, sing and do karate kicks, which was always the part that impressed me and Billy. She seemed so powerful.

Dad watched her show every night. He bought the most expensive cable package, like a thousand channels, just so he could watch it, and when Mom saw the bill, she was mad, but Dad called it a necessary expense.

Dad didn’t even understand the show. It was in Portuguese, with no English subtitles. When I asked him how he could follow along, he said he understood it because Portuguese and Spanish were similar. Now, Dad’s Spanish was limited to ordering at a Mexican restaurant and the occasional “Mi casa es su casa.” For a while, he talked about wanting to learn Portuguese, and he even ordered some “Learn to Speak Portuguese” CDs from an ad he saw, but I noticed they sat on the bookshelf, unopened.

So he named the new lawn mower Raquel, and that summer he was out there every day, driving too fast, cutting grass that didn’t need cutting, wearing these giant headphones to drown out the noise. He’d sing at the top of his lungs, Dolly Parton usually, or James Brown, and he couldn’t hear a damn thing, but he was having the time of his life.

One day he was mowing the lawn and Mrs. Antonelli, one of our neighbors, came walking by, and she was carrying Jack, her rabbit.  She used to call it “walking the rabbit,” but she didn’t let Jack do any of the walking. I guess Jack probably got pretty bored on those walks. So she and Jack walked by, and Dad saw her and waved at her, and she waved back, and Jack chose that moment to make his escape. He jumped down and hopped into our yard so fast that Mrs. Antonelli couldn’t catch him. Maybe he had a death wish—maybe all of those fake walks had finally gotten to him—because he picked a spot and sat there, didn’t move at all, not even when the lawn mower was coming at him. Mrs. Antonelli was yelling for my Dad to stop but he didn’t hear her. He just kept on cruising.

Dad ran right over Jack at full speed. It didn’t even cause Raquel to slow down—she just kept going like nothing had happened, and before you know it, bits of rabbit were spewing out the side, little chunks of bone and fur mixed with grass clippings. The lawn looked like a massacre had taken place, and I guess it had. Raquel’s revenge, Dad called it.

At the sight of the carnage, Mrs. Antonelli threw up, right there in our yard. Then she marched home, and Mom chased after her, but first she made me and Billy clean up the yard. We put gloves on and collected all the pieces we could find, and it took us like an hour. Dad, meanwhile, was nowhere to be seen. Mom said Mrs. Antonelli wouldn’t stop crying. She told some of our other neighbors that she was going to sue Dad. She never did though.

Dad said it wouldn’t have held up in court—she didn’t even have Jack on a leash. Still, Mom gave Mrs. Antonelli some money to buy a new rabbit, and Dad got mad at her, saying she was taking Mrs. Antonelli’s side, but Mom said it was just a poor rabbit, and imagine if someone had run over Billy. Dad said that was hardly the same thing, and I tend to agree with him.

If Mrs. Antonelli did buy a new rabbit, she never let us know about it, and she definitely never walked him past our house. She could have, though, risk-free, because after that incident, Dad never used Raquel again. She just sat there in our garage. Like a Ferrari, Dad said.


Jill Witty is a former entrepreneur who is writing her first novel from Florence, Italy. A recent winner of the Writer Advice Flash Fiction Contest, she has also been published in Reflex Fiction, Glassdoor, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Connect with her on Twitter at @jwitty.

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