Two tall, thin, immaculately-dressed men stepped through the splintered mess that was once a proper entryway and into Rosa’s view. Behind them, the front yard was nothing but small chunks of smashed figurines, everything covered in a thick dusting of garden gnome particulate.
Between them was the reason why.
An ornately-carved homemade cannon sat smoking at their sides, polished like a museum piece and significantly more decorative than one usually imagined for a functioning piece of artillery. The cannon was mounted onto the hood of a hot rod red riding lawnmower. A rusted metal cart full of bowling balls was tethered to the lawnmower’s rear axle.
More cannon-mowers and more men rode past outside, zigzagging across the lawn and crushing fleeing gnomes into a fine powder.
The cavalry had quite literally arrived, albeit on John Deeres and not horseback.
“You guys said you needed some help?” said the redheaded Todd, patting their cannon-mower proudly.
“Isn’t that going to be a little unwieldy?” Rosa asked, still steeped in carnivorous lawn decorations. “For, say, I don’t know, GETTING THESE THINGS OFF OF ME?!”
“Don’t worry, honey,” said the blonde Todd, “we’ve got a plan.”
The Todds opened a hatch on the rear of the lawnmower and started tossing handfuls of berries and mushrooms, as well as a couple of dead chipmunks, into the center of the living room. Gnomes began staggering toward the buffet like drunken frat brothers toward free chicken wings, shoving and snarling at one another to be first in line. Even the figurines gnawing on Calvin and Rosa turned and made for the bait, many staggering right off the countertop and falling to their gravity-assisted doom.
“Just so you know,” said redheaded Todd, aiming the cannon toward the feasting gnomes, “you’re not going to have much house left when this is done.”
“Whatever,” replied Rosa, swinging her legs free of their cramped hiding place and shoving the counter clear of several slower, more confused gnomes. “We have insurance.”
“Yeah, I don’t think this is gonna be covered,” said the other Todd, lighting the cannon.
“I don’t know, man,” said Calvin, likewise extricating himself from the kitchen counter, “we’ve got some weird stuff in our policy.”
The cannon fired, the bowling ball tearing through the pile of gnomes like a sledgehammer through a rotting cantaloupe.
The couples stood on the street, staring through the Swiss cheesed walls of Calvin and Rosa’s house, watching as several of the Todds’ companions made their way through the home, searching for renegade gnomes and picking them off with croquet mallets.
“How did you guys know how to do this?” asked Rosa, arms crossed across her chest as she shivered, barefoot and pajama-ed in the moonlight.
“When you’ve been around as long as we have you pick up a trick or two,” explained the blonde Todd.
“How old ARE you?” asked Calvin, still in his underwear, marveling at the antique artillery.
“Forty…” Todd replied, slightly offended. “How old do you –”
“We made the cannon ourselves, Cal,” corrected the other Todd. “We’re not immortals.”
“What about –”
“Or time travelers.”
“Oh,” Calvin replied, more than a little disappointed. “I guess that’s cool too.”
“Any idea WHY this nightmare went down?” asked Rosa.
“Sometimes these things just happen,” said the blonde Todd with a shrug.
“I don’t –”
“It was my fault,” said Calvin dejectedly. “I took the last almond milk AND the last thing of whole grain pancake mix and that gypsy cursed me.”
“Gypsy?” echoed blonde Todd.
“Where did this happen?” asked redheaded Todd.
“I don’t think that was a gypsy, Cal. It was probably just a hippie with an accent.”
“That would explain some things,” said Calvin, creasing his brow. “Like the smell, and the dreadlocks. And why he kept asking me if I was holding.”
“I don’t know, I could see him pissing off a gypsy,” added Rosa.
“Trust us on this one, sweetheart,” said the blonde Todd.
Rosa furrowed her brow.
“What are you guys not telling us?” she asked. “I know you’re… survivalists or whatever, but a lawnmower-mounted cannon doesn’t seem super useful except in certain situations.”
The Todds exchanged a look.
“Should we?” said the blonde Todd.
Redheaded Todd shrugged. “No point hiding it now.” He pulled a pair of business cards from the inside of his jacket and handed them to Calvin and Rosa. “We’re part of the Greater Albuquerque Gay Men’s Gnome Eradication Front.”
“Gagmigef?” said Calvin, staring at the card and attempting to pronounce the acronym.
“Your house was built on an ancient gnome burial ground,” Todd continued.
“Honestly, we’re surprised this didn’t happen earlier,” the other Todd added.
“I knew it!” shouted Calvin.
“You got lucky,” grumbled Rosa. She turned to look at their house again, the walls perforated, the windows shattered, the entirety of their property covered in a dense blanket of ground garden gnome. She shook her head.
“What are we supposed to do with this?”
“Do with this?” parroted the blonde Todd.
“Have you met Catalina?” asked redheaded Todd, placing an arm around Rosa’s shoulders. “She’s a realtor friend of ours…”