Bartholomew rested his eyes under his white panama hat while his tanned workers glistened under the California sun. It was Monday; the beginning of a long week.
“Siesta, por favor?”
“Give it another hour, Jose. We will all drink cervezas like amigos in the shade of the palm tree.”
“Si, Senior, but I am muy cansado.”
“We’re all overworked Jose, but we must do our duty.” Bartholomew sipped his margarita and surveyed the jobs in the neighborhood. His clipboard would make him a wealthy man. Some men have executive positions in high-rise buildings; they dominate corporate meetings in business suits, but they’re all contained.
Bartholomew was different. He felt connected to the earth somehow and maybe that’s why he went into landscaping.
The door to the millionaire estate opened, and a skinny man in tennis shorts walked towards him. “You people are cutting my grass all wrong.”
Bartholomew sized him up. He was a software engineer, weak in his step and fastidious in his mannerisms. “How would you like your lawn manicured, sir?” Bartholomew asked.
“The lawn must be cut and recut in a cross-like pattern. Do it or you don’t get paid.”
“Well… I assure you that Bart’s Landscaping has the highest standards and successfully pleases every customer 100 percent of the time.”
“That’s impossible,” the man said. “Have it done when I get back.” He got into his Range Rover and drove out of the cul-de-sac.
“And good day to you sir,” Bartholomew said. He stood up from his lawn chair and his belly expanded in his Hula shirt, threatening to pop in the front.
” Vamanos, amigos.” Bartholomew’s workers dropped their shovels and ran for the company van. They pulled cutting torches and drills and metal detectors toward the mansion.
“40 minutes on the clock. If we can’t finish in time, we go home empty handed.”
If the neighbors were watching, they would have seen a southern gentleman in a white suit opening the front door like he belonged there. He detested the artwork on the walls, an insult to his taste. With the right price, anything could become art.
“It’s upstairs,” Bartholomew said.
In the Master Bedroom he pointed to the bookcase. “These software types don’t read, but they get it in their heads that money should be hidden behind books. It’ll be behind the thickest copy. Les Misérables. Redemption. Not for them, but for us.”
Jose grabbed it and the bookcase swung out, revealing a safe. “Drill it!” Metal shavings piled onto the floor like pasta. The heat was over 100 degrees. “We’re almost out of time.” Then the Range Rover pulled up.
“What do we do?” Jose asked.
“This is what you pay me for,” Bartholomew said. He snuck out of the kitchen window and ran to the corner of the house.
“My yard isn’t done yet. I’m planning to have a croquet match in one hour for my wife’s dinner party. She’ll be home any moment.”
“That is tough business, trying to please your wife. I know wives are particular about such things… Here’s what I can do. Like I said, we don’t get customer complaints often. Here’s my card. Good for three seasonal jobs.” Bartholomew grinned, showing his gold tooth. His crew snuck over the back fence with the loot.
“I guess you’re not so bad,” the engineer said. He shook Bartholomew’s hand.
“It’s always grand to do business with a fine gentleman like yourself. I’d like to finish your yard, perhaps next week. I may be out of town, but if I am in the neighborhood, I won’t hesitate to call.”
And with that, the fine Southern Gentleman strolled off the lawn to take care of more millionaire homes.