THE LAWN Gnomes
Once a set of lawn gnomes seized control of a grand estate. Being gnomes, they benefited from the fact that nobody had taken them very seriously during the time they spent planning their audacious caper. They’d seemed, when notice was taken of them at all, to be simply a collection of comical trolls that might raise an occasional smile but little more. How they actually managed to pull off their takeover was a matter of considerable puzzlement, but once in control, they acted as if they’d been destined from the start to find themselves in the position they now were. What could be said for certain, on the other hand, was that the takeover happened while those who owned the estate and who might have been presumed to have some interest in safeguarding what had been bequeathed to them over generations were napping in broad daylight. After their triumph, the gnomes’ primary concern was to make themselves appear more imposing in stature by whatever means it took. They were led in this effort by one of their number, a boastful figure nicknamed “Greatest Guy Ever” because he was given to calling himself that nearly every time he opened his mouth. Besides trying out various makeshift stilts to increase their own stature (an expedient that produced at best a dangerous staggering about and not a few unfortunate mishaps), the other gnomes spent most of their time puffing themselves up and striking poses for each other in hopes of finding one that made them look more stately. This also proved more difficult than expected, though, because none of them demonstrated they had any idea what a “stately lawn gnome” might look like. So they settled on telling themselves that all those who might try to take the estate back were actually smaller than they were. How it was possible to be smaller than they were also had to be left to the imagination, of course. Ultimately the gnomes just said, “To heck with worrying about stature and appearance!” and got down to business. The business they got down to was selling off most of the estate as quickly as possible to the highest bidders. By unloading whatever they themselves saw no use for, they could reduce their responsibilities to a minimum and have more time for the leisure activities to which they were better suited by temperament and experience as lawn gnomes. Here again, they were led by “Greatest Guy Ever,” who had taken up the practice of hacking away at anything and everything as a restful break from the weighty burdens of leadership. Besides, stories of cutting down cherry trees and splitting rails were already legendary in the history of the estate, he announced to his minions. And since his own achievements would be greater and more noteworthy than those of the past by far, why shouldn’t theirs be as well? In this spirit the entire group of gnomes sharpened little axes and began seeking out things to chop up. The trouble was, with so much of the estate having been sold off by this point, there wasn’t a great deal left for them to set their sights on. Nevertheless, they marched out in file every day, all whistling a happy tune and keeping an eye open for anything left standing. Once even these were gone, the gnomes barely paused in their whistling before they shifted their attention to the majestic white mansion that stood at the heart of the estate, urged on as always by “Greatest Guy Ever,” who now insisted on also being called “Chopper in Chief.” There was enough in the mansion to keep them all busy for a while at least. They began with the furniture, which had proved too big for them in any case.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans