The Garden

by Lauren

Balki was outside in the back yard, turning soil with a hoe. He had several variously sized pots of flowers. A small hand trowel sat next to the pots, along with a bag of fertilizer. He whistled the tune of "Old MacDonald" as he worked.

Larry came out the back door and stopped. "Balki, what are you doing?"

Balki turned. "Oh, Cousin! I have great news! We're going to have a garden!"

"A garden?" Larry asked, eyebrows raising. "I don't know, Balki. Remember the Popopoloupolo-Poppitipoo plant that grew all over the apartment a few months ago?"

"The only reason it grew all over the apartment was be because YOU gave it too much plant food, Cousin," Balki returned.

"And I wouldn't have done that if you'd compromised with me," Larry retorted.

Balki paused a moment, considering how to respond. "Cousin, if you must know... I'm not using Myposian plants." He pointed at the selection behind Larry.

Larry turned to see a very normal selection of flowers. He turned back. "Need a hand?" he asked, a bit sheepishly.

Balki grinned widely. "I thought you'd never ask!" He pointed toward the flowers again. "There's a little hand shovel--"

"Trowel," Larry corrected.

"What does a towel have to do with gardening?" Balki asked, confused.

"No, Balki, not a towel," Larry said, picking up the tool, "this is called a trowel."

"It still looks like a hand shovel to me," Balki said.

Larry sighed. "What do you want me to do?"

"Oh, right, uh, grab one of the large pots and we'll work on that first," Balki replied, turning back to the soil.

Larry put the trowel handle-first into his back pocket and reached over to pick up the largest pot. He took a moment, then hefted the pot. "Ooof..."

"Be careful, Cousin, those large ones are pretty heavy," Balki commented, not paying attention to Larry.

Larry carefully began to walk over to Balki, the pot putting strain on him. He stepped off the path... and the pot kept going! Larry ended up face-down on the grass, the pot sitting upright, as if nothing happened. He looked up, a few loose grass clippings stuck to his face, and drummed his fingers on the ground. "Here's your pot."

Balki turned just enough to reach the pot. "Thank you, Cousin." He didn't see Larry laying on the ground.

Larry pushed up to a sitting position and looked down at himself, noting the grass stains on his dress pants and button-up shirt. He rolled his eyes. "Balki, I think I'll go inside and change before I continue to help you out here."

"Remember, grass stains are horrible to get out!" Balki commented, still not turning to Larry.

"I'll remember that," Larry said with a sigh. He got up, brushed himself off a little, then went inside to change.

...

Larry came back outside a few minutes later, wearing sneakers, jeans, and a black polo shirt. He found Balki had already planted several of the flowers from the large pot, and had grabbed a few of the smaller pots, but hadn't planted them yet.

Balki looked up. "Oh, Cousin, you're back! Can you bring the bag of fertilizer over?"

Larry eyed the large bag. "Balki, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, Cousin, what is it?" Balki said, turning his attention back to the soil.

"Why is it that you keep asking me to lift the heaviest items you have over here? You know very well that I have a bad back and I don't feel like doing harm to it! I'm surprised I didn't do anything after lifting that large pot, then tripping and dropping it!" Larry said, folding his arms.

Balki looked at the large pot. "You dropped the pot? When you did do that?"

"Right before I went inside! That's why I went in! I already got grass stains on the clothes I had on earlier!" Larry said, throwing his arms out to both sides.

"Cousin, I can see that vein starting to throb--" Balki began, now looking at Larry.

Larry clenched his fists and did his best to calm down. He gave a put-on smile. "I am still willing to help you out here, Balki. The problem is that I don't want to hurt myself in doing so. Now, do you still want me to bring the bag to you?"

Balki got up. "I'll get it, Cousin." He stepped in front of Larry and gave him a hug. Larry didn't return it. "I'm sorry. Your back cataclysms tend to slip my brain." He let go and picked up the bag of fertilizer relatively effortlessly.

"Thank you... I think," Larry said. "Anyway, is there something else I can do that won't make me strain myself?"

Balki put the bag down, then picked up the hoe. "Here, Cousin," he said, handing off the hoe. "Just scrape up some of the soil, loosen, and flatten it."

Larry gave a tight smile. "This, I can handle." He began using the hoe on the soil and doing just as Balki directed.

Balki used the trowel to loosen a few smaller plants from their pots, then put them into the ground.

Larry scraped at the soil with the hoe... until he hit something that resounded in a loud clunk. He knelt down and tapped the end of the hoe on the ground and heard the same sound. He scraped down a little and found the culprit: a rock. He turned to Balki. "Can I use your trowel, Balki? There's a rock I need to get rid of."

"Sure, Cousin!" Balki agreed, handing over the trowel.

Larry dug at the rock, pulling the soil away from the top of it... and continued to dig until the surface had a diameter of over six inches. "Uh oh. I think we might have a problem here."

Balki joined Larry and saw the rock. "Is that all of it?"

Larry pushed more soil away and found more rock. "Doesn't look like it."

"Well, this puts a minor cramp in my garden," Balki commented.

Larry dug some more. "Ah ha! I found a side. Here, if we wedge the end of the hoe under the side, we can use the leverage to pry it up." He stood up and pulled Balki up with him.

"I don't know, Cousin..."

"Can I ask you something, Balki?"

"Oh no."

Larry fold his arms, still holding the handle of the hoe. "How many rocks have you dug? Hm? How many rocks have you dug up in America?"

"Cousin, this game got old a long time ago..."

"How many?"

"None," Balki responded.

"None, as in zero. As in you have never, ever dug up any rocks in America."

"That is correct."

"Where as I became quite proficient at it because I was always in charge of cleaning off the bases in the softball field. After every game, there was so much dirt on those plates, that you could actually make a garden from all of it," Larry explained.

Balki paused a moment. "Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid?"

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Oh, nothing... just a question," Balki covered, turning away to roll his eyes.

"Now," Larry began and wedged the end of the hoe under the rock, "give me a hand and we'll have this rock out in no time."

The two men worked at prying the rock out. They were both about half way to the ground when the rock was finally freed. It rolled away causing Larry and Balki to land face-down on the grass.

Larry turned his head to face Balki. "See? I said it would work."

Balki gave his cousin a look. "Yes, you did, but you didn't say we would end up with a dirt snack."

"But we got the rock out," Larry said as he got up, then offered a hand to Balki.

They walked over to the rock. Balki hefted the rock and looked it over. "You know, Cousin--"

"Balki, please don't ask to keep that rock for some Myposian sport," Larry interrupted.

"But, Cousin!" Balki tried.

"No," Larry said, folding his arms over his chest.

Balki muttered in Myposian as he put the rock aside. The only word that Larry picked up was babasticki.

Larry rolled his eyes. "Lets get back to work."

They both walked over and bent down to grab the hoe and they clunked heads.

"Balki!" Larry exclaimed, rubbing his head.

Balki rubbed his head. "Oh, Cousin, I knew you had a hard head..."

Larry glared at him. "You take the hoe. I'll start putting some of the plants in the dirt."

"What about your back?" Balki asked, picking up the hoe.

"I think I'll be fine," Larry said, then sat down cross-legged. "See?"

...

A while later, the guys stood back to admire their work.

"Cousin, thank you for helping me. The garden looks great!" Balki said.

"You're welcome, Balki. We did a nice job, didn't we?" Larry said.

Balki started for the hose. "Now, we just have to water them." He picked up the hose.

"Uh, Balki--" Larry began.

Balki turned on the faucet on the side of the house... but the hose was already on full blast. The steady stream of water hit Larry just as he turned away. Balki quickly turned the faucet back off and dropped the hose. "Uh, I've got something to do inside..." He ran in through the kitchen.

Larry turned, fuming. His fists clenched at his sides, but he took deep breaths. "I am a hollow reed..." He started slowly for the door. "Oh, Balki..." Once through the door, he ran after his Myposian cousin, dripping all over the place.

The End