DETROITCalling himself "a man possessed," Dennis Zablocki, a 22-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, announced Tuesday that he will not rest until he tracks down a reasonably priced riding mower, ideally under $950.
Teeth clenched, the steely-eyed Zablocki told reporters he will do "whatever it takes" to hunt down a quality mower with at least 15 horsepower and a 40-inch cutting width at a price that doesn't strain his budget.
"The mower is out there, I just know it," Zablocki said. "I'm on its trail, and I'm getting closer every day."
"You hear that, mower? I'm gonna find you!" he added.
Risking the ire of Detroit sixth-precinct police chief Theodore Hill, who constantly instructs Zablocki to "go through proper channels," the 47-year-old lieutenant spends hours each day scouring newspaper inserts and lawn-care-equipment catalogs, doggedly pursuing every possible lead in his obsessive quest. Zablocki also makes frequent trips to Sears to sniff out "the word on the street."
"I guess it all started when the crabgrass set in," Zablocki said. "ChemLawn gave me the runaround, always quoting me their 'rules' and 'acceptable lawn-care procedures.' And every second they dragged their feet, another aphid was born to feast on my grass. Well, I've had it. My back's against the wall. It's time I took the lawn into my own hands."
Affordability is a key criterion for the wanted mower, Zablocki said. "Sure, I could max my credit card and get an expensive mower, maybe a $1,995 Simplicity 600L with hydrostatic transmission, full-power takeoff and an overhead-valve engine. But that's not what I'm after. I know an affordable mower is out there... somewhere. And I'm not giving up until it's in my garage."
Driving Zablocki on his relentless quest is the haunting, ever-present memory of his first lawn, destroyed nearly eight years ago by a dandelion epidemic.
"I gave everything I had to save that lawnspraying, pulling, cutting," Zablocki recalls, his voice beginning to crack. "In the end, it just wasn't enough. The greatest lawn I ever had was ruined. And it lowered the value of the house substantially."
Pausing a moment to compose himself, Zablocki once again hits the street, unstoppable in his search. Whether he'll find the mower before it's too late or simply be consumed by his own madness, no one can say. But the steely glare in his eyes bespeaks a bitter torment, a pain that cuts far deeper than any mower blade ever could.