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Three-eyed gnomes, a lighthouse, and a pair of feet

Erred on February 13, 2022.

Three-eyed gnomes eyed me balefully from the cracks and crannies in my kitchen wainscoting. They had been there for days now, silent, squat, and resolute in their somber ensconcement. There were thousands of them. Perhaps even millions. I daren’t go into my kitchen at any hour of the day or night with my own eyes open for fear if I lay my eyes upon them I would turn to alabaster. Three-eyed gnomes. They were there. Eyeing me. Staring with their three ominous and unblinking eyes. For some, the third eye was centered in their wizened foreheads, directly below their conical little red hats. For others, the supernumerary eye was atip their nose; for yet others, it drifted in a slow circle about their hoary face. It orbited languidly, yet never blinking and never breaking its gaze. In every crack, in every seam, in every cranny between every panel, the three-eyed gnomes were there, peeping out at me, oozing and flowing, swarming and mivulating. The characteristic wheedling and needling sound filled the air—a dolorous hum like ten-thousand-thousand lawnmowers revving their engines in a distant neighbor’s yard. They stared—oh, they stared. And still they stared.

The lighthouse Miķeļbāka reminded me once again: To err is singularly human but to screw in a lightbulb requires at least two humans—and they must be very small humans to fit. Gnomes fit, but they don’t count—not even Athabascan Abacussing Gnomes. Well, they can count, but they don’t count here. In fact they can count quite efficiency. It is, after all, their primary purpose. Teams of Athabascan Abacussing Gnomes, sometimes consisting of thousands of individuals, are what power the microchips in every modern desk calculator, microcomputer, and smart pencil. I learned this from one of the three-eyed gnomes, you see. Between piercingly gazing at me and mercilessly staring into my soul, a three-eyed gnome named Tethera-Dûr told me about the Athabascan Abacussing Gnomes. Without them, he expounded, we humans wouldn’t have calculators or computers or pencils or even fingers with which to count.

Between bouts of gibbering in terror and whimpering in sheer consternation, I listened to Tethera-Dûr’s lecture attentively. He was a smart gnome. A smart three-eyed gnome. A smart three-eyed gnome who stared. And stared. And stared.

The lighthouse Miķeļbāka continues to sweep its lonely light across the sea beyond the Livonian Coast, silently warning ships to steer clear, never ceasing. And the three-eyed gnomes continue gazing upon me, their trinocular vision silently piercing me like a kebab stick skewering a piece of grilled goat, never ceasing.

I scuttled into my kitchen, eyes tightly shut, fetched myself another stick of pepperoni, and fled in arm-flapping, squeeorling terror. “Yan! Tan! Tethera!” I shouted—counting sheep in my head the old-fashioned way, so as to distract myself from the lithe porcupines coursing terrified through my veins. And the three-eyed gnomes stared. Still they stared. Oh, they stared.

In my squeeorling flight from the kitchen, I stopped briefly to do my own staring, out my over-sink kitchen window. I stared wall-eyed at the burning bush in my front yard. It wasn’t edible, and it wasn’t quite the firebush I wanted it to be. In most months, it sufficed quite nicely. This month being February, the poor thing was actually quite leafless, its fire and its bushiness extinguished, so it actually didn’t suffice at all. I frowned and tried to think about other fiery bushes (while trying not to mentally set myself on fire). Then I remembered the horrible denizens of my wainscoting staring into my soul, so I resumed my madding flight back to the living room.

Buttocks back in my Hopeless Slack-Ass®, sticks of pepperoni in hand (and foot), I collapsed into a relieved, goat-shaped heap. Shifting mental gears, I sighed. The Muses revealed to me that my life so far this week contained plot holes big enough to drive an entire Canadian trucker convoy through. So much for verisimilitude, eh. But there were still gnomes, so there were still calculators, microcomputers, smart pencils, fingers, and toilet plungers. This didn’t help me plug up my plot-holy life, but it helped others do their calculating, computering, penciling, and fingering.

So there’s that.

Marla Larla Årp (we call her Mlårp, naturally) called me yesterday morning. She demanded I cease drunken-dialing her at 3 a.m. to ask her how her feet were. So I stopped. I called Plårp last night instead. Then I timidly called on the three-eyed gnomes dotting the kitchen walls to fetch me another stick of pepperoni to nosh upon. I would have fetched the meat tube myself but I had neither the strength nor courage to brave their gazy onslaught. The three-eyed gnomes laughed their deep, baritone laughs. I chuckled back in my usual goat-like falsetto, putting on my strongest face. (It seemed better than allowing myself to fall into gibbering, bed-wetting nervous collapse again, no?) Then I fell back asleep and dreamed about Mlårp’s two big curvy feefees, and her ten little splayed tsee-tsees, and—

The three-eyed gnomes were in my bedroom now. Staring dolorously—


I had survived the encounter with the triple-eyed little beasties but my bed and its attendant cushions had not. How did I end up back in my living room perched precariously atop my Hopeless Slack-Ass® recliner? I wondered.

I surmised that it began with a Pnårp leaping from his bed in absolute horror—leaping so fast he leapt right out of his skin. Leaving his skin behind in his gnome-encircled bed, the Pnårp slammed nose-first into the ceiling, bounced around a bit from wall to wall, then came to a stop atop the topmost stair. And he has so very many stairs, the Pnårp realized then—whereupon he keeled over, head over heels, and proceeded to tumble downward—down, down, forever down, pweeing madly as he tumbled—until the hapless Pnårp came to a stop atop his own chin at the bottommost step.

That bottommost step was in his living room, where his Hopeless Slack-Ass® hopelessly resided—and where no hideous three-eyed one-hatted one-bearded people eaters could go. After rearranging his dislocated cervical vertebrae and manually fusing his spine back to his brain stem, the Pnårp slunk over to the chair and hunkered down, skinless and hapless, yet safe from the three-eyed gnomes—

His living room then filled with three-eyed gnomes. Staring dolorously—


Verisimilitude again wasn’t in the cards for me this week. But three-eyed gnomes sure had been! They were hiding in every suit, from diamonds to clubs to hearts to spades to the three-piece zoot suit in my drive-in closet. Oh yes, I had three-eyed gnomes in spades this week. Yet I had missed the point entirely again. Shaking their bemused heads, the Muses stood aside so Fate could kick me right in the face. If She had been barefoot, I mayn’t have objected, but Fate wears some awful stiff cleats!

I fell on my goat-like face and bleated pitifully. Three-eyed gnomes pelted my hapless self from every direction. Fate, cruel dominatrix, was just getting started. The three-eyed gnomes continued their onslaught unabated. Whirring and gazing, wheedling and staring, and Fate… O Fate…!

I yelped.


I yiffed.

I pawed the air.

Aaahhh!! Aaahhh!! Aaahhh!!

I begged Fate just this once to have mercy on me. But none was in the cards for me this week—

Aaaaaaaaaahhh!! Aaaaaaaaaahhh!!

When it was over, sticks of pepperoni lay everywhere. Some were bent. Others were broken in half. My carpets were soaked through with blood-red grease. It dripped from the ceiling, down the walls, and oozed beneath me. It dripped down into my basements and my hypocausts. I would never get all that spicy, sausagy grease out, even if I ate all my carpets and licked all my walls clean. My hap was gone, never to return. My maximal gluteus would be sore for days.

The lighthouse Miķeļbāka still stood. Its fate was assured: It would stand for another ten thousand-thousand years. And it would continue to slowly sweep its light across the Livonian Coast, warning ships of the swarms of three-eyed gnomes that lay in wait on the beaches should any captain make the mistake of bringing his men ashore. The three-eyed gnomes would descend upon anyone so foolish, steal all their hap, and leave them a gibbering, psychotic mess.

I tried to stand. I slipped, floundered around like a gaffed carp, and fell back into the pool of pepperonial ooze. As I lay there, the endless arrays of three-eyed gnomes started moving oozily: Each and every gnome began snickering and snorkering, then chortling, which finally segued into hearty guffawing. Deep, beard-shaking belly laughs echoed around my bruised, pepperoni-laden carcass. And then it started to snow. The gnomes howled and hooted at me, their beards all aquiver, and the snow fell and fell.

When it was over, 38″ of powdery white stuff had descended upon Bouillabaisse Boulevard and its haplessly trapped inhabitants. A vigintillion chortling gnomes sure can shake out a lot of beardruff!