Storck, The Rouge Garden Gnome
It started innocently enough. I was shuffling aimlessly through Marc’s garden center, surrounded by baby tomato plants and the occasional faint whiff of bagged manure. Off in the corner, looking ignored and abandoned, was a very lifelike statue of a garden gnome. The sad, dust filled eyes attracted me, and soon there was a bubble-gum popping sales associate telling me his name was “Storck”. She followed up with a practiced sales pitch, adding he was on sale for just half price because he was a returned item. Short, pudgy, and with a distinct air of arrogance, Storck found his way into my shopping basket, the back seat of my car, and after a short ride, to the front porch of my home.
I gave him a gentle spray with the garden hose, peeled off the price tag, and gave him a place of honor between some petunias and the wisteria. Satisfied, I trudged off to do some long ignored chores. During the night, Pixie the cat seemed agitated and on constant alert. This is not that unusual, she has a fixation for fireflies, but this was a crisp fall night. Not giving it much thought, I slumbered off to a fitful sleep.
The next morning, after spilling coffee on my t-shirt and slurping down some yummy oatmeal with raisins and almonds, I began the morning garden ritual. While watering the inpatients next to the house, I noticed some mortar between the bricks was missing, looking like it had been chiseled out. Weird. Pixie was pacing around, sniffing the ground, air, and looking generally annoyed. Hmmm. When I went around front, and stared in mild shock, as Storck the garden gnome had moved. He was on the other side of the petunias. Pixie hissed and had her tail hair in a bundle, it was obvious she did not like the gnome. I moved Storck back to where he was, and finished the day’s work.
That night I was awoken by a faint, but distinct, gnawing sound. I opened the door, let Pixie out, and pointed a flashlight in the general direction of the sound. Storck! I screamed. The garden gnome scurried around the corner of the house, Pixie hot on his tail. I scrambled and fumbled for my robe and slippers, noting it was 2:30am on the faint red clock. When I reached the front of the house, Pixie had Stock cornered, the garden gnome looking positively immobile, like the painted concrete statuary he is. But he had no time or place to hide the evidence, the mortar from between the bricks was stuck to his little painted teeth.
The next morning, I did what had to be done. After a half hour drive deep into the forest, there appeared a small cave in the side of a moss-covered hill. In the quite of the morning mist, I took Storck out of the box where I’d kept him sealed the rest of the night, and placed him in the mouth of the cave. Walking gingerly back to the car, watching over my tensed shoulder, Storck stared blankly, giving me the chills.
That was a year ago. To this day, Pixie the cat will occasionally stare intently into the forest, in the general direction where Storck was returned to the wild. Her hair will stand up, and I wonder what she senses.
So the next time you see a garden gnome awaiting adoption, just beware. It might be a good idea if you’ve got a cat first!