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Marshall Law
by Hermine Robinson

Bill Marshall was particular about turf. He had the best lawn in the neighbourhood, vibrant green and plush as deep-pile carpet. His labour of love consumed him from early spring until first snow. He fertilized and watered at double the recommended rates and mowed the lawn twice a week during the peak growing season to keep it in check. Few weeds survived his daily rounds with a forked dandelion poker.

The letter carrier and paper boy knew better than to cut across the grass to make their deliveries. Dog walkers and parents of young toddlers quickly learned it was safer to walk on the opposite side of the street rather than risk having their unruly charges step on the grass. Maybe it was due to the prominently displayed “Keep Off the Grass” sign, or the fact that Bill patrolled the property with a sharp weed poker and a fully primed garden hose, its nozzle set to stun. His neighbour's joked about 'Marshall Law' – pun intended.

"For heaven's sake Bill, they're just children," said his wife, when he confiscated a soccer ball that transgressed the property line. Cynthia only tolerated Bill's obsession to a point. "Give it back now, or you know what will happen."

Bill did not think Cynthia would actually hire someone to tear up the lawn and put in Astro-turf, but she had gone so far as to get an estimate. He took the ball outside where a trio of  boys played 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' – no doubt to choose which one would have to knock on his door. The boys looked up, wide-eyed when Bill tossed the ball in their direction.

"Thanks Mr. Marshall," one of them called, as they ran back to their side of the street.

"Just don't let it happen again," he replied gruffly, "or you'll find out who's boss around here." Bill glanced over his shoulder at the house where Cynthia stood in the doorway with her arms crossed and he and hurried back inside.