Mr. Lewis & The Garden Gnomes

by Fielding Goodfellow

Mr. Lewis stood on his front lawn looking at the weird gnomes spread out across the front garden . I never really paid much attention to them as a kid, but visiting the neighborhood years later, messed up on peyote, mushrooms, or some other hallucinogenic, I noticed the little bastards standing there, glaring at me with insidious grins, trying to hide behind the plants and flowers. There was something about those little shits that I didn’t like and I suppose they scared the hell out of me. They all had those weird little eyes that seemed to follow me wherever I went.

Mr. Lewis had been the neighborhood Homeland Security expert for years. He had fought off Nazis, fire ants, raccoons and had orchestrated the successful campaign to repel the field mouse invasion of ’65. I was pretty sure that he knew what he was talking about, despite his breakdown in ’68 in which he put his mind aside for just a minute and when he went to retrieve it, it was gone.

“I hate those little shits.”, he said. Since his breakdown Mr. Lewis had become a little histrionic in his paranoia, and as we stood there on his lawn, he shared his theory that the gnomes that had sprouted up in gardens up and down the street were involved in some sort of diabolical plot to takeover the neighborhood for reasons still unknown, with the ultimate goal of conquering the planet. Or alternately, they were used by the government to spy on all of us, a sort of Big Brother is watching scenario. Either way,  Mr. Lewis was deeply concerned. “We have to do something about it now?”, he stated.

“Like what?”, I asked.

“We have to take these fuckers out.”, he explained. “Every single one of them. We must rid ourselves of the disease.”  He was certain that they would soon be everywhere, watching our every move from gardens up and down the painfully dull suburban street, replacing all of the pink flamingos and lawn jockeys that had graced the lawns so proudly when I was growing up. And though I was still under the influence of the drugs I had taken, Mr. Lewis clearly had still not found his missing mind. But he did come up with a plan. “I’m gonna set the little bastards on fire and incinerate them into nothingness.

“Stop filling his head with your crazy ideas.”, the over sexed and under satisfied Becky Lewis shouted at him as she stepped out of the garden wearing nothing but a flimsy nightgown. It had been a while since I had visited her suburban paradise and I had almost forgotten just how hot she really was.

“Go put some clothes on.”, Mr. Lewis shouted back. “Can’t you see there’s someone here?”

“I’m sure there’s nothing I have that he hasn’t seen before.”, she replied. It was true. Over the years I had spent many days and the occasional night parked between those milky white thighs. She was the first of the neighbor mothers I had ventured into. It had always been a simple and amicable arrangement, I mean there was no bullshit, no drama, and no uneasiness. Everything had always been pretty straight forward. I brought the drugs and the wood, and she provided everything else. Despite the years that had passed, she still had the same coy smile and ‘fuck me’ eyes.

The early morning calm was shattered by an explosion so loud that it echoed through the usually amiable neighborhood driving the locals out of their homes and into the street. Becky Lewis was standing on her driveway with her hands covering her mouth. “Look.”, she shouted. “Look.” A cloud of smoke billowed up from the ground at the end of the street, as the sound of the sirens in the distance grew louder. And every single gnome had been removed from the lawns and gardens.

“The crazy bastard did it.”, I thought.  “Where’s Mr. Lewis?”, I asked Becky.

“I don’t know.”, she replied. “He went out last night, and I don’t think he came home.”

“Well this is getting way too weird to handle straight.”, I said.

“Ya, I wouldn’t mind getting wasted.”, she agreed.

I have no idea just how much peyote we did, but the evolving nightmare of the garden gnomes no longer seemed to be as interesting as Mrs. Edberg’s cat who, although I had never noticed before, had a head on each end of his body or the coyote who seemed to be suffering from ADHD and bore a striking resemblance to Jerry Garcia, that was busy trying to paint a false tunnel on the Malkin’s garage door.

The Police had roped off the street making it impossible for any of us to wander down to the fire scene and were now on the street talking to everyone in an attempt to uncover what the hell went on here. I was a little concerned that I may be hauled away based on what I was holding, but thanks to Becky’s semi covered tits and ass, they didn’t even know I was there. “My husband is missing.”, Becky informed the police. “And so is his car. Did they find anything at the fire?” The police were unable to answer any of her questions, and merely reported that the fire department had the fire under control and an investigation was under way.

I was sitting on the sidewalk in front of Becky’s house when the police returned to speak with her. Mr. Lewis’ car had indeed been found at the scene, and was most likely the source of the explosion we had heard earlier in the day. It was destroyed. There were human remains found inside the car, which they would be unable to identify without an autopsy and forensics. “This is all that survived the fire.”, an officer stated as he pulled a partially singed gnome out of a bag. “Have you seen this before?”, he asked us.

“It looks just like Richard!”, she exclaimed. “My husband.” It really did resemble Mr. Lewis, albeit without a left arm and one partially melted foot.

The investigation revealed that fire was intentionally set. Gasoline was used to ignite the fire inside the vehicle, which set off the ensuing explosion. The body found inside was identified as Richard Lewis through dental records. His death was ruled a suicide, although they were unable to explain all of the melted gnomes in the car.

Becky was allowed to keep the sole remaining gnome, that looked so much like her husband, and shortly after the funeral she put the house up for sale. When she moved, she left the gnome in the front garden, buried up to its knees, hiding behind the plants and flowers, in an attempt to ward off any other extraterrestrial garden decorations. It was probably a good idea to leave Richard there, I mean, all he ever wanted to do was to do was to protect the neighborhood. I never saw Becky Lewis again, but several years later when I returned to the neighborhood to settle my parents’ estate, I found the garden gnome that looked like Mr. Lewis still standing at attention, watching over the street that he loved. I still have no idea if he was right or not, but he was willing to give his life for a cause he believed in. Crazy or not, a man just can’t be any better than that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sons & Mothers

 

Not only are my kids moving out, but those who are on their own, are now considering moving away. I waited for years to get them the hell out of my house, but I am having mixed feelings about their relocating to different cities.

My wife informed me that my eldest son and his new wife are moving to Hamilton, on June 1. While it is not that far away, a mere 45 minutes down the QEW, I have reservations about this decision.

“Are you kidding me?”, I asked her.

“No.”, she answered. “They’re going to Hamilton. Houses are much cheaper there.”

“Well of course they are”, I advised. “Its freakin’ Hamilton.” This was very disturbing to me. “Hamilton?”, I asked again, hoping that I had misunderstood. Just hearing myself say it, sent shivers down my spine.

I called my son. “What the hell are you doing moving to Hamilton?”, I demanded an explanation.

“Ya.”, he said, “We just can’t afford to live here anymore. Its killing us. We have to find somewhere that’s more affordable.”

“There’s nothing in Hamilton.”, I inform him.

“I have friends there.”, he said. “There’s a bunch of stuff to do, if you live downtown. So we’re going to see some places this weekend that are right downtown. Near the clubs, and stuff.”

“And don’t forget the drug dealers, crack addicts, prostitutes, homeless, and runaways”, I told him.

“We’ll be alright.”, he told me.

“Hamilton?”, I questioned again. “Its like Canada’s version Buffalo & Pittsburgh, only worse!”

And now, my other son is planning on moving to Belleville. That’s right, Belleville, Ontario. population 50,000. Situated in the beautiful middle of nowhere, halfway between Where The Hell Is That?, & Can You Even Get There By Car?. “Houses are really cheap in Belleville.”, he advises me.

“I’m sure.”, I agree. “They’re even cheaper in Iroquois Falls, but I wouldn’t recommend that you live there either.”

He informs me that his live in girlfriend is having a difficult time securing a position as a teacher, and has applied to The Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board. I ask him where he plans on working, and he begins his ADHD laden dissertation.

“Well”, he said, “I could find work cooking in a golf club, but I don’t want to turn 50 years old and still be on my feet all day, cooking. I’m going to get a job at a gym, and take a training course to become a personal trainer. The course is short, so I can start working on building up a clientele right away.”

“How many gyms are there in a town of 50,000 people?”, I ask.

“I don’t know.”, he tells me.

“How many personal trainers are there in Belleville?”, I continue to probe.

“I don’t know.”, he responds.

“Well”, I said, “Sounds like you’ve thought this through.”

“I don’t know why I even tell you things.”, he states.

“Because I’m the only one who tells you what you need to hear. There’s no reason for you to move to Belleville to buy a house. You don’t need a house. And you certainly don’t need to follow Cruella Deville around the province while she looks for a job. Let her go to Belleville. Tell her to send you a postcard. Go visit on weekends. I don’t give a shit. But I think its time you took your balls back from her, and made a decision that works for you.”

My wife had been standing in the doorway, listening in, as usual, to my conversation with the boy. “I think that you’re being a little hard on him.”, she said as she walked into the room.

“You told me to talk to him.”, I reminded her.

“Yes, I did.”, she replied, “but I didn’t want you to yell at him.”

“I wasn’t yelling.”, I corrected her.

“I heard you.”, she said as she rubbed the boys back.

“You realize that he’s 32 years old, right?”, I asked.

“Yes.”, she replied. “What does that have to do with anything? What do you want to do?”, she asks him.

“Go to Belleville.”, he tells her.

“Listen to your mother.”, she begins. “That girl doesn’t know what’s best for you. If you move to Belleville you’ll be too far away. We’ll never see you.You need to stay here. If you need help, we can help you out.”

“Do you understand what your mother is telling you?”, I asked the boy.

“Ya.”, he said, somewhat dejectedly.

“Well.”, I tell him. “My advice is to go and pack. I’ll drive you to Belleville myself.”

Later that evening, when we were alone, my wife reminded me that I have 3 daughters who, one day, may decide to move away.

“Its okay.”, I tell her. “I may finally have a chance to use a bathroom around here.”

“You an joke about it all you want,’, she stated, “but it will drive you crazy.”

“That’s okay.”, I said, “I’ve had an enormous amount of practice living with you. I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it.”

“Keep it up”, she advised me, “and you might not make it through the night.”