A number of months ago I was listening to the Writing Excuses podcast, which by the way if you are a writer, and want-to-be writer, or even just want to know more about the craft of writing, you really should be listening to. on top of everything else you can learn from the advice they give, at the end of each podcast they give a writing prompt. Sometimes they are real story prompts, sometimes they are more like writing exercise, but you get one at the end of every show.
Now if you know me at all, you know I love writing prompts. I have folders and folders and probably ten different notebooks full of stories that I have written based on writing prompts. Most of them are not really good enough to share, at least no in their current from but maybe someday.
Back to the point. I was listening to Writing Excuses and they gave the prompt of “Neon Sniper Gnome.” That was it. No explanation, no writing exercise, just three words Neon Sniper Gnome. I knew I had to tell this story.
So without Further delay I give you,
“Come on John you gotta see this.”
“I can’t George I got all this paperwork to do.”
“Trust me the paperwork can wait. You have to see this.”
“Oh all right.” I said letting George practically pull me down to the holding cells.
We could hear him long before we got to the cell, though the reverberation from the hall way may it impossible to understand what it was that he was saying until we were right in front of him.
When we got there we had to push past at least a dozen patrolmen and at least as many plain clothes detectives just so we could see. There standing in the cell was, well what could I say.
“What is wrong with you people. I am a Gnome for crying out loud. I mean look at me,” he was shouting in want was the oddest mixture of BBC English and Southwestern twang that I had ever heard. And he appeared to be shouting at not any one of the officers in particular but everyone who joined the group.
“You people think we just stand in your gardens all day long, but those aren’t gnomes. Those are wee people. They got nothing in common with us.” He said stroking his long bright green beard.”
“I mean look at me.” He smiled a devilish grin “You can’t take your eyes off me now can ya. That is the way it should be, you should be staring. I mean for goodness sakes I am a GNOME. You all don’t even know what you got here. I bet half ya don’t even know why I am here. Do ya?”
It was a question but no one dared to answer. We didn’t want the show to stop. Here was a bright neon creature standing less than three feet tall, in the middle of one of our holding cells. shouting at us.
“Well I’l tell ya what I am in here for. I’m a sniper.” He whispered. Then he shouted waving his arms wide as if the throw the words out at us. “I am a damn sniper. You all don’t even understand me, even when I am telling you right to your faces. You are doing the same thing everyone else does when they see me. At first you think, hey there is a gnome. And then you think no gnomes aren’t real. Then you realize that I practically glow in the dark with all this color.”
“You can see me from a thousand miles away. Well maybe not a thousand, I was never that good at geography. But I bet you could see me as you were coming down the hall here. And for all that is good and holy, I am a gnome. I stand out.” He shook is head in disgust.
“I can see by the slack jawed looks on your faces, you still don’t believe me. You still think that maybe I am some freak, some trick of your imagination, or maybe that this is some sort of a dream. Well let me help you with that. I am real. I am standing right here. You can smell me I’m sure. I know I can smell all of you. But let me show you something else.” His voice had dropped a little so that he was no longer shouting, but there was something in the look on his face that told us he was not done.
“You see I told you a I was a sniper. When I tell people that, they never believe me. Even the folks that hire me don’t believe me. That is until I show them this.”
Impossibly from inside his coat he pulled a rifle that was nearly twice as long as he was tall.
“This is a vintage Gewehr 98 with the telescopic sites for snipers. I picked it up right after World War II. Bet you didn’t think I was that old. Well I am a lot older than that I tell you. This things older than most of you. Then that is not really saying much, lots of things here older than most of you. Probably half of you never even seen something like this. But not to worry, it is not loaded” He said pulling back the bolt to show us the empty chamber, and look lovingly at the weapon.
“Let me tell you this thing has a kick. It will tear your arm off if you are not careful. Well maybe not one of your arms, but someone like me, I gotta be careful with something like this.”
“So the gnome has a gun, that doesn’t make him a sniper. Anyone can have a gun you say. That is true. But this is not just any gun. I had this one specially modified. You see I was taking this shot back in ’63.”
“It was a long shot and really challenging. I am most missed it After that I decided It was not good enough to be a great shot and have a great gun to do it with. So I found this wizard in Australia or Austria or something. I told you I was no good at geography, he said he could cast a spell on the gun so I would never miss again. It cost me an arm and a leg. I mean really and arm and a leg. I had to sent the arm and leg of my latest victim with the gun to this nut case so that he would enchant it.”
“Do you know how hard it is to get an arm and a leg shipped. Well it was not as hard as it would be today, but even back then it was not easy.” his wicked smile had returned and he was almost whispering again
“So now I got this gun, and I don’t even really have to aim it. All I have to be able to do is see the victim and point it in the general direction. See I had these glasses made special.” He stopped and slipped a pair of glasses out of his pocket and on to the end of his big nose.
“Like this if the target is near and like this,” he leaned his head back a little so he could look down the bridge of his nose at us. “if they are far away. it is like one of those video games you all play. And BANG!”
He had been talking so softly that we had all leaned in, the sudden shout caught us all by surprise.
Several of the patrolmen had drawn their weapons and were looking around for a target, but finding none looked around confused.
The incredible volume of it left my ears ringing and wondering if maybe his gun had gone off. But the little gnome just stood in the middle of the cell holding his sides as he laughed.
Whatever it was, it broke his spell like hold on us. I looked around and noticed more than half the precinct was down in the area near the holding cells. Most of them still slack jawed staring at the little creature who was now laughing hysterically.
I felt something press against the back of my legs. A little creature, pushed past us. He was not as brightly colored looking more bent, maybe even older than the one in the cell. He walked up to the door of the cell.
“Come on Rufus. I think you have caused enough commotion for one night.”
“Aw Max, I was just getting started.”
“I know, I know,” The older gnome placed his hand over the lock on the door and it slid open. “Come along now.”
Rufus, slid the rifle back inside his coat where it completely disappeared again.
“I am aneonsniper gnome you fools,” he yelled as he and Max walked down the hall. Leaving us all just standing there.
When I got back to my desk still feeling rather dazed, there was a post It on my monitor with one word in an odd looking script. “Bang!”
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