Sunday, October 28, 2007

Get Your Damn Hands Off My Pumpkins!

I have a bunch of friggin' gnomes mucking up my Halloween decorations.

Last weekend, 4-year old Daughter helped me carve some pumpkins. We did a happy face (two eyes, nose, smiling mouth), a scary face (two eyes, nose, frowning mouth with sharp teeth), and a silly face (one eye, no nose, mouth open in a delirious grin you'd likely find on a mental patient who's just been given his daily dose of Mirtazapine).

We carried them down to the end of our driveway and set them up in a loving Halloween nativity scene, threw in an uncarved pumpkin to even the display out, and left it at that.

They are gone. Not taken, mind you. Decimated. The happy and scary faces (which were the largest two pumpkins) are a mass of splattered pumpkin gore, as if Gallagher held a comeback tour in my driveway. The silly face remains intact, though shoved to the side, not worthy of the Gnomes' time or effort. It still smiles blankly, though now that it has stared death in the face and witnessed acts of brutal pumpkin horror, it is forever scarred, its gaze a glassy-eyed stare through which no reality can penetrate.

I'm pissed.

I don't know the names of these pumpkin-killing gnomes. I suppose it could be deer. The local herd likes to nibble from time to time at just about anything that isn't wrapped in chicken wire, but the carnage of the crime scene points towards a tool-using animal. Perhaps the same ones that bolted for safety in the glare of my oncoming headlights the other night, leaving behind a plastic bag filled with pears from my pear tree. I don't think deer use plastic bags. I could be wrong, but that's a guess.

Why have these truant gnomes decided to take out their angst on my pumpkins? I'm not sure. I have noticed that ours were the first, and so far only, Jack-O-Lanterns on display in the neighborhood. It's our first Halloween here, so perhaps there is some curse on the street that afflicts those who dare carve a face in the Holy Gourd on All Hallow's Eve. Everyone else is aware of the curse, nobody bothered to fill in the new family. It's the perfect recipe for a Clive Barker story. Don't put out the Jack-O-Lantern, you'll only attract the Demons from Beyond the Grave.

More likely, a bunch of damn kids are going around smashing pumpkins and their parents have given up trying to stop them.

I could go to the authorities. I suppose random acts of vegetable violence could be cause for a community task force. But the truth is, this is a private matter, and I need to take care of it myself. Plus, they'll probably just say something like, "Oh, you live up there? Well, there's that curse and all. Sorry, you're on your own."

The Gandhi option is to sit down with my pumpkins, wait for the vagrants to come by, and explain to them the errors of their ways. Jack-O-Lanterns are God's creatures, and they live a short but fruitful life. I can try to convince these hoodlums that it is in their soul's best interests to leave these smiling and frowning and drugged-out faces be, and to wander away from temptation.

But that avenue will probably lead to me getting beaten senseless by a bunch of High School Musical wannabes. Screw that.

I'm not going down without a fight.

I don't mean to turn into Old Man Withers, but I have every intention of shoving justice into the faces of these damn, meddlesome kids. I have a plan.

This weekend, we're carving more pumpkins. I'll let Daughter choose the faces, but we'll probably end up with another round of happy, scary, and silly. Though this time, I think the silly face is gonna have three eyes and a mouth open in surprise like on a blow-up doll.

Next, we'll place them in the same area, baiting the trap. I'll probably spray them with hairspray to help preserve them from the weather. You know, take care of my pumpkins. They're my babies. I love them.

Next, I'll install a series of semi-automatic turret guns that'll pop out of the ground and start blasting when anyone triggers the motion sensors. I may have to warn the mailman.

Then I just sit back and wait.

If I kill a deer or two, my bad. If these four-footed herbivores are the true culprits, I will feel a sense of shame wash over me, and I will lower my head in sorrow at their passing.

But if I come down the next morning to the broken bodies of a couple of punks with a mallet, I'm dancing a jig, chopping off their heads, and propping them up on stakes behind my display to ward off further interlopers.

Don't mess with Old Man Withers.