APRIL SCABS • by Sarah Wagner

They gathered together in a small corner of the garage, hunkering down in the dark, chiseled faces scowling in the shadows. “Boss,” said one. “We’ve got to do something about this! It’s going to get out of hand and someone’s going to get hurt. One day could be seen as a joke, one day and just us. That we could tolerate, but plans have been made for next year already. And they’re talking about replacing the jockeys too. I’m all for a good April Fool’s joke, same as anybody, but if we don’t do something now, it’ll become tradition and it will spread.”

“I am all too aware of that, Jacob.” The leader, dressed in dark blue and red, stroked his gray beard in thought. “I believe we could use the wife. Make her put a stop to it. If the whole chapter, and maybe the jockeys too, if we all staged a bit of a demonstration. She’s a good Irish girl and, I believe, once had some dealings with our Leprechaun brothers over there.”

“I don’t want to see nothing happen to her,” a gruff voice said, as another wizened face emerged from the shadows. “She’s a good woman. Been nothing but kind. Some of us wouldn’t be here if not for her.” He rubbed the white scar on his arm absently, a reminder of the accident. It had been her that picked him up, patched him up, sent him back to work.

“She should have put a stop to it, then,” Jacob growled. “Before it got out of hand. He hired people, for goodness sake! That’s unforgivable, inexcusable.” The others rumbled in agreement. “April Fools’ Day or not, he hired people! What’s next? Are we going to be replaced by a bunch of lazy people who can’t even hold a proper pose for more than ten minutes?”

“I doubt it will come to that.” The leader put his pipe back in his mouth and chewed absently on the tip.

“Angus!” The congregation of gnomes spun towards the door, towards the booming voice of Gob, the local union president. “How is it that I find out we have a labor dispute from your neighboring chapter rather than from you?” The union president stormed in wearing his usual red and green and cruel scowl. “Were you going to wait until it made the front page of the newspapers? Until they made all of us a laughing stock? The idiot who owns your lawn replaces you with costumed people and you have nothing to say? Any ideas? Any motions on the table?”

“We’re working up to it, Mr. Mac Lochlainn.” The chapter president shook his head. “I was about to suggest a demonstration for the wife’s benefit. She’s got respect for us, that one. Comes from the old country. The old ways too. If we can get the whole chapter together, the wife will put a stop to it. She’s had some experience with the Leprechaun union before. She’s got some fear of us.”

“There’s a good, solid idea. And a foundation to put it on.” The union president smiled slyly.

“Thank you, Sir,” Angus said.

“The motion is presented to the chapter then. I move for a vote on the motion.” The union president stood a bit straighter, his chest puffed like the first spring robin.

“I second,” came a voice from the shadows.

“I’ll third,” said Jacob.

“Then it is passed and we shall have a full chapter vote.” Each member of the chapter stood up and cast their votes. Twenty-four ‘yays’. Two ‘nays’. “It has passed. The demonstration will be held.”

In the earliest hours of the morning, the chapter gathered on the front lawn, swarming around the door. All facing the door, scowling at it. They didn’t have long to wait.

Heading for her morning paper, just wanting the crossword, the wife flung open the door. There was a moment–a brief pause in time where the emotions danced with abandon in her wide green eyes. Her scream was a silent one–perfect lips held in a violent cry waiting for a voice that was on strike. Her mouth moved first in a silent babble as she slunk back into the dark house behind her.

“I told him. I’m sorry. I told him it was a bad idea!” Her whisper was a whimper as she slammed the door shut and threw the bolt.

A moment passed, the faint twitter of argument coming from beyond the bolted door–her Irish, thick and scared, his New York still a bit groggy but acquiescent.

“All right, boys!” Angus called in his small yard voice. “Back to work.” They scattered to their places beside gaudy mushrooms and fairy houses with their customary smirks held in place with a little more oomph, and certainly more satisfaction than before.

Sarah Wagner lives in West Virginia with her husband, two young sons, and a variety of furry and scaly critters. Her work has appeared in Murky Depths, Afterburn SF, Chronogram, and Illumen. She also works for a small press publisher, Lilley Press. For more information, please visit her online at www.sarahwagner.domynoes.net.

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  • rumjhum

    This story is an absolute delight! I have already read it three times. Loved every bit of it!Thanks. look forward to more from you! :-))

  • Gerard Demayne

    I read it three times as well.

    He hired people to dress up as gnomes, so the “real” gnomes decided to protest, using their knowledge that the wife had previously been terrorized by the Leprechauns’ union? I’m sure Martin Scorsese will be fighting to make the film.

    • Gerard Demayne
      I thought how I'd have fixed this story - one of the gnomes is screaming blue murder and wanting to send a message to the humans. He's all Soprano's retribution but gets talked down and they agree to hold the demonstration but there's a vibe suggesting he's going to take things a little further. The wife comes out to see them all facing her doorway and shouts to her husband "Those kids have been messing around with the gnomes again." They are, afterall, only garden gnomes.
  • Not sure there needed to be a ‘fix’ – after all, Jordan et al accepted it, right? But I do agree that, while interesting and entertaining, it felt a bit rough around the edges. But hey! That’s a union for ya, ain’t it?

    Love the name – it gives nothing away, could be so many things, and upon completion is totally apropos.

  • Matt Strada

    This was a fun read. Unionized gnomes: What’s not to like?

    When I was a kid, we gave my grandfather a little gnome for his library. A few weeks later, he told us he wanted us to take it out of his house because it was causing him bad luck. So we put it in our house. No further bad luck ensued (as far as I know).

    I confess some confusion about the “real” facts here — was the man playing an April Fool’s joke on the gnomes? (And they were afraid that it develop into more than a one-day joke?) Or was he proposing to replace them? I think I might have found the story more satisfying with a little more clarity here.

    (As an aside, I agree with Jason that it is presumptuous to say that the story needs to be “fixed” (especially without saying what is “broken” about it).)

  • Michael Ehart

    Very entertaining story, Sarah. Good job!

  • Well done. Lots of layers to read into.

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    I loved this story! It unfolded slowly, and just when I’d ask a question…there was the answer! Nice pace, and a complete delight.

  • Decent story.
    Developed a little slow but Great idea!
    I liked it.

  • Gustavo

    Great job, Sarah, I loved it. Leaves one thinking AND satisfied, which is a difficult trick to pull off, especially in less than a thousand words!

  • I just wanted to say thank you all for your comments! I’ve never had such an immediate response to any of my publications before and I really enjoyed this. It was a fun little piece to write and I’m glad it found a home.

    Thanks again!


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  • Cute and funny. I enjoyed the whole idea of unionized gnomes.