My friend Delbert Earle was telling me the other day about this great summer job he found for his boy Elrod. Now, Elrod is a good kid, not inclined toward serious mischief. But Delbert Earle is a firm believer in the notion that if you wear a kid out with work, he’s less likely to stray.
Delbert Earle read in the paper that the state had decided to let private contractors do some of the mowing on roadsides, instead of state crews, figuring it would save some money. So Delbert Earle submitted a bid on Elrod’s behalf for a stretch of Highway 16 between Charlotte and Newton. And the bid won.
Delbert Earle figured that a summer of mowing 50 miles of both sides of a road would be an all-season project. One big, endless lawn. So he dropped Elrod and his lawnmower off right outside Charlotte in early June and plans to pick him up in Newton about the middle of August. Elrod is responsible for grass, equipment, food and lodging. It’s a nice contract, so Elrod is easily able to take care of his expenses. It is, by the way, a riding mower, so there's no problem with transportation. Delbert Earle is available by phone in case of emergencies.
So far, the only call about the matter was from a state trooper. Elrod had flagged him down when he figured out what was going on. The trooper heard Elrod out, called Delbert Earle, and asked him if he thought there was still time for his own kid to get a contract. Maybe Ashville to Hickory.
Robert Inman's fifth novel, The Governor's Lady, will be published in September by John F Blair Publishers. See home page for details and tour schedule.