ASH: LL&DD Vignette - "A Lawn Too Far"

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Tue Dec 15 21:19:19 PST 2020

     The cover shows Doctor Developer in an overgrown suburban front yard
glaring at a teenager mowing the neighbor's lawn.  "Lawn Disorder!"

 Coherent                                                  A LL&DD Vignette
 Comics          | ADY | AWFUL    __        __             "A Lawn Too Far"
 Presents an     |__   |__     &  | \ OCTOR | \ EVELOPER   copyright 2020
 ASHistory Tale:                  |_/       |_/            by Andrew Burton

[Chicagoland Suburbia, the start of Lawnmowing Season, 1996]

     "Fifty dollars?"  Cameron McKay knew crime, and the price he'd been
quoted was certainly that.  Or it should have been.  "Bob Rogers said you
mowed his lawn for thirty-five."

     Garrison Smythe was a shrewd businessman and at the top of his game.
There were no teenagers within miles who knew lawns like he knew lawns.  He
was the King of Green.  The Prince of Pastures.  When he spoke, husbands who
wanted their Saturday afternoons listened.

     At least that was what Cameron imagined.  All Garrison said back to him
was, "Yeah, but that's Bob Rogers.  You're not Bob Rogers."  Garrison paused
long enough to flip through his notebook before he continued.  "To take you
on as a client means dropping someone else.  You have to make it worth my

     Furious monologues about Garrison's ever shrinking lifespan scrolled
through Cameron's mind, but before he could reply a familiar sedan turned
into the driveway.  Its driver waved to Cameron as she pulled in, then her
wave turned into a thumb gesture pointing to the back of the car.  Garrison
would never know the debt he owned Lady Lawful for saving him from a truly
calamitous encounter.

     Garrison's entire mood shifted from mild apathy to enthusiasm as the car
door opened.  He waved and shouted, "Great day, Mrs. McKay!"  Then as quickly
as he shifted, Garrison shifted back.  "Think it over and get back to me."

     As Garrison jogged back to the lawn where his riding mower idled,
Cameron frowned.

     "What a kid, huh?" Jennifer's rhetorical question startled Cameron out
of his thoughts.  "He's barely a teenager and he's already running his own
business."  Cameron didn't reply.  "What were you two talking about?"

     "Highway robbery."

	       *	      *		     *		    *

[A few days later....]

     "Cameron, dear," Jennifer said her sweetest threatening voice, "do you
think you're going to get the lawn mowed before we have to dig tiger traps?"
She rolled her eyes.  "Or is that your plan?  I'd prefer to keep work and
home separate."

     "I'm working on it," was all Cameron said.  In fact, every time she
asked about the lawn for the last two weeks that was the only thing Cameron
said.  He was working on it when he bought the riding lawnmower.  He was
working on it when he took the riding lawnmower apart.  Now he was apparently
working on it by staring at a computer screen filled with pictures of...

     "You know, I'm sure Garrison could..."

     In a move of pure fluid grace that Jennifer didn't think Cameron was
capable, he looked up from the computer, spun his chair around, and dashed
over to take both her hands.  He smiled a bit too much as he spoke.  "No, no,
no.  I'll be happy to mow the lawn, I just need a little more time."

     "Are you sure?"

     "Promise!  My algorithms are trained, but I need to refactor some of the
runtime code because the computer vision drains the battery..."

     "Okay.  I'm sure another week won't hurt the property value too much."

	       *	      *		     *		    *

[And another few days after that....]

     Bob Rogers waved and called Garrison over, which was a completely wasted
effort as Garrison and his lawnmower were headed his way already.  "You've
got to check this out, Garry.  Cam here may have just put you out of a job."

     Driving around the Rogers' lawn was a riding lawnmower, except no one
was riding it.  Where the seat should have been was what looked like a
miniature refrigerator.  Wires ran from it to various pieces bolted all along
the chassis.  It was driving itself.

     Garrison's face flinched for an instant before he recovered.  "That
looks pretty neat, Mr. McKay."

     Cameron shrugged.  "Just something I built in my garage.  I like to
tinker."  His words were as even as the mechanically manicured lawn before
them.  "Bob was nice enough to let me beta test it on his lawn."

     Bob let out a laugh.  "I was nice enough?  Haw!  After I saw your robot
working on Smithers's lawn I practically begged you for it."

     "Smithers?  John Smithers down the street?" Garrison asked, his voice
wavering slightly.

     "Mowtotype needs to be tested out on a lot of lawns," Cameron said.
"I've been asking around if people would be interested.  People have been
surprisingly helpful."

	       *	      *		     *		    *

     Jennifer glowered as she watched Garrison push his lawnmower across her
lawn.  Cameron's look was a bit more pleased.  "I can't believe you went to
war with a teenager."

     Cameron actually managed to look more pleased as he spoke.  "It was not
a war.  He surrendered immediately."

     "That's not my point."  She closed the curtain and turned to look at
Cameron.  "The point is building a robot to mow lawns because you didn't want
to pay much did it cost to build Mowtotype?"

     "This wasn't about money," Cameron insisted.  "I think I taught Garrison
very important lessons about automation, strategic alliances, customer

     "And not to cross Doctor Developer?"

     Cameron nodded.  "That was the most important one." 


Editor's Notes:

     Just a bit of facebook fiction Andrew posted and I decided to format up
for RACC.  Because nothing says the Christmas season like a story about
mowing the lawn!  ;)


     For all the back issues, plus additional background information, art,
and more, go to ! is the official ASH Wiki, focusing on the Fourth
Heroic Age, but containing some information about other Ages.


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