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Silence of the Gnomes
Story where physiatrist gets shot by creepy gnome torturing guy.
I said, glancing up Butchers as I walked towards the police car. He walked up to me, “Bit of a strange one sir, windstorm blew down a fence and some goof was caught with a whole load of garden Gnomes in his backyard. Twenty minutes latter, the neighbors called up and started claiming that they’ve been missing garden gnomes. At least 12 people say that they’ve had gnomes stolen.” He said in his think Scottish accent.
I glanced up at him, annoyed to have been called on a Sunday. I should have been enjoying I nice cup of coffee with my husband, “Misdemeanor theft, hardly something you need me for. Just some teenager with a little too much time on his hands.. Or some thirty something whose father made him pretend to be a garden gnome when he was a kid” I was hopping for a bit of a laugh there, but as usual the sergeant didn’t even blink.
“That’s what we thought, but then we came and, well you mine as well see for yourself.
Two minuets later we were in front of a modest apartment, two trees lining either side of a one-story hut. A small porch stood in front of us, a meen looking cat staring at me from its perch on the porch swing.
“This looks alright”
“Come into the backyard” he said to me.
We walked around behind the doorway, a saw the small hell that Mr. Berkley had set up behind his house.
It looked like a scene out of Saw. Dozens of garden gnomes were strewn around the landscape, suffering every sort of punishment imaginable, there were gnomes that had been stabbed, burnt, and hung. I could even see the distinct shape of bullet holes in the sides of one, Its head blown clear off up to the point of its overly cheery grin.
“Doctor, would you like to meet the owner”
I jumped at his voice. “Okay, lead the way” The sergeant was a big man. At 250 pounds, he was heavy for his height, but he carried around the extra baggage easily, he could run a mile in seven minuets flat. He knew how to handle himself as well; 12 years of state police work had given him plenty of experience in fights. He should have been fine. He knocked on the door with confidence, the kind of knock one would expect from a police officer. The door was opened at least 10 seconds latter, to reveal the face ofProxy-Connection: keep-alive
ichard t. Berkley. Mr. Berkley was at least 60, a small confident looking man with reading glasses. He had an air of confidence about him, the kind of aura that could make you millions negotiating corporate trades. There something about him that showed that he was used to being listened to. You would expect the sergent to be listening to him, not the other way around.
“Good evening Mr. Berkeley, I’m Sergeant Butchers and this is Dr. Jerry. We’ll be asking you a few questions.”
“Certainly, have a seat over there.”
“We’ll stand, thank you”
“As you wish” the little man replied, sitting himself down on an old orange sofa, kept brightly polished despite the fact that it was falling completely apart.
“Mr. Berkeley” I asked “How did you come to get the gnomes in your garden”
nervously he fingered something in his pocket. “I remember stealing them”
“Why did you do that?” I questioned
“Because I wanted to have them. That’s really the only reason for stealing that I could think off” He said, and I sensed a hint of sarcasm in his small voice.
“Don’t you think its wrong, taking what is not yours”
“It doesn’t matter what I think now, does it? It only matters what I thought back then, when I stole them”
“Well what did you think back then?” I said, trying not to let any exasperation come into my voice.
“I remember thinking that they were not using them”
“Mr. Berkeley, garden gnomes are ordainments, your not supposed to use them.”
“I remember using them, years ago I think I used them for many thing” he muttered sadly. But I don’t do that anymore. That’s why you brought the doctor in isn’t it.
“Yes. Why did you do that?” I asked him
“I thought that it could make me feel better. If I punished the gnomes I would not have to punish real people. “ He said matter a factly.
“Why would you need to punish real people” I muttered.
“For what they have done. For what every American has done. One and a half million Iraqis have been killed in the war. Five million people were killed in Vietnam. Someone should have to take responsibility.” He said to me solemnly, as if explaining to a naughty child why he is grounded.
“You can’t blame average Americans for what happened. They didn’t kill those people”.
“Collectively they did. Every day that they got up and went to work they assumed a small bit of guilt. All I did was collect the guilt up and pin the punishment on a few people. An old military tactic, punish four men for a thousands failing.” He said. Fingering his pocket.
“Not everyone in America supports the war”
“Yes, but did they get on the street and protest it. No, you just sit and complain and wait for the next election. Everyone has a small bit of guilt, and it can be put together to justify the deaths of a few individuals.”
“Its just gnomes, right” I asked tentatively
“Yes just gnomes, just like the ones behind you.”
The sergeant and I turned around in unison to see two brand knew garden gnomes. We did not even hear the bullets.