Silas Tanner hated fall. Not because the temperatures fell and heating his old house cost much more than he wanted to pay. Not just because Halloween was coming, and he hated for neighborhood youngsters to knock at his door expecting a treat. (He hated the Halloween nights they didn’t knock at his door. Did they think he was mean? Stingy?
Silas Tanner hated fall not just because all his deceased wife’s bright and cheery flower beds of spring wilted away. He had to cover them with pine straw just to hide the eye soar.
No, Silas Tanner hated fall, not for any of these reasons. He was at this moment standing in the middle of a fresh pile of the main reason he hated fall.
Fallen brown oak leaves covered every spot in his yard so thickly he couldn’t see his feet. Silas rubbed his square forehead and the sides of his weather-worn face and sighed in acute disgust.
It hadn’t been a day in October he hadn’t had to get out and rake his small fenced in yard. His back hurt from stooping and bending so much. His legs were sore from his brisk cat like movements. At his age, back and leg pain wasn’t what he’d factored into the daily schedule. Rubbing alcohol and liniment wasn’t the company he’d planned to keep at night either.
Silas stood, looking up at the sky. He inhaled crisp fresh air that brought chill to the tip of his nose. The sky was clear. The day was sunny. His view of it was unimpeded by trees. Silas didn’t have trees in his yard. Yet he had leaves on his ground.
Were the leaves on the ground a product of his senility? Silas bent forward and looked several feet from where he stood at the subject of his angst. There were three stately oak trees on the other side of the fence with branches spreading in all directions. These trees produced the leaves that flew aimlessly onto Silas’ side of the fence, and all over his front yard.
The oaks were big and beautiful especially in the spring and summer months. Now all they did was bury Silas’ yard in curling, lifeless shapes.
Not one time had the neighbor – whoever he was – come over and acknowledged that the leaves from his trees created such a mess in Silas’ yard. Silas’ anger about the depth of inconsiderateness one person could manifest caused the furrowing lines in his face to deepen. He wore a frown all the time, particularly when he had to rake and haul leaves that fell in his yard from no tree of his own.
He cursed, with each rake’s movement forward and backward. He spit, every time he bent and pulled leaves into a bundle and shoved them into a bag. If arson wasn’t a crime punishable by jail time, he’d set the trees on fire. Right now, breathless, he wasn’t caring if the fire burned the house with the neighbor in it.
It didn’t occur to Silas Tanner that he’d never seen his neighbor until this very moment. He’d thrust both hands into a pile. What did the man look like? Silas only saw a car in the yard once a week on Saturdays. An old Plymouth sat in the driveway on the other side of the house the entire day. Silas never saw who drove u in it or who left in it. By the time the Plymouth left, the yard was raked clean of leaves. It seems Silas got three times as many leaves as the neighbor did. It’s as if a west wind took hold of the leaves and forced them due east across the fence and into Silas’ yard.
It was at this moment Silas decided he would confront this man, whoever he was and inform him about the misery he’d endured until this moment. Whoever raked the man’s yard, Silas would demand they rake his too.
Silas had made it over to the neighbor’s house. His knock on the door came with such force, it scared him. His anger abated just a little. Silas was glad of that; this way he won’t punch the man in the face first.
It took so long for the neighbor to answer his door. Silas figured, he’s spotted me at the door and doesn’t plan to answer. Before he could form a response to his own presumption, the door opened a little, then a little more. The creaky door slowly allowed light to force its way in.
Silas squinted to adjust his eyes to the darkness inside the house. He looked down at a miniature figure of a man in a wheel chair with a neck brace around his neck.
The cool fall winds blew as the two men gazed at each other. Some fluttering leaves fell from the trees and tumbled to the ground near Silas’ feet. For a man who didn’t talk much because he had no one to talk to, he was speechless.
“I’m sorry about the leaves in your yard.” The man’s voice was low and raspy, like he didn’t use it much. “I was expecting you to complain way ‘fore now.”
Silas couldn’t take his eyes off the lower part of the man’s body. He had no legs. One was amputated to right above the knee. The other was a stump that ended about an inch below the knee.
He decided then and there, that having a yard covered in leaves that he was able to rake wasn’t so bad after all.