Tom scanned the wooden floors, the roof beams, the empty glasses, the empty-headed numbskulls at the bar. He scanned a newspaper, a tin of beans and the police radio in New York. He noticed a group of Gnomes sitting in the corner, underneath the metal signs for shoe polish and soap, each sipping a glass of lemonade and holding a sign saying ‘I’m Free!’
“Is that some sort of political pressure group?” enquired Tom.
“Where do you come from?” said Ken. “Haven’t you seen Gnomes at a bar before? Fantastic chaps at the end of the night!”
A quizzical look danced across Tom’s face, shimmied down his right arm and persuaded his hand to impel his pint towards his mouth.
Ken suffered the same quizzical face; so after a massive chug of the Black stuff he explained.
“Gnomes are the most helpful chaps we know. If you need the fish to be taken out of your pond the Gnomes will happily spend days fishing; if you have a toadstool that needs warming up a Gnome will happily sit there all day keeping the seat nice and warm. If you have a wheelbarrow full of anything, they will wheel it away for you; Ladybirds needed – ask a Gnome. They’ll even do a bit of Lady Gardening if you can’t be bothered. And when a chap is pissed as a newt – a Gnome will escort you back to your household.”
“Fascinating,” said Tom.
“Indeed,” added Magdalene, feeling the need for a bit of gardening.
“Thanyuverrmuch!” said Ken.
There followed many more cries of ‘Dublin’ as the evening progressed, the Elves becoming marvellously pissed, the Masters of Reality appearing to suffer no ill effects.
“Who fancies a game of Candle in the Wind?” asked Wayne.
“What is that?” enquired Magdalene.
Wayne demonstrated what happens when you put a candle in the wind, producing a wonderful rear flamethrower and a scorch mark on the table. With a snort and a sneer Magdalene decided not to participate.
Wayne and Ken got into a terrible argument about Magic Mushrooms, Wayne believing they should be provided free, Ken arguing that such delicacies were not an essential and should therefore be charged for accordingly. Wayne felt it should be a part of a National Elf Service; Ken called him a Communist. Neither had considered the cost benefit analysis of their viewpoints, nor the elasticity of demand; so instead they decided that the best conclusion to the argument would be to come up with the best put down possible.
“Knob!” was flung by each simultaneously.
As the beer turned their mood to melancholia, things changed.
“You’re the devil in disguise!”
“You and your cheating heart!”
“Who’s sorry now?”
“You’re a heartbreaker!”
“You’ve lost that loving’ feeling!”
“You’ll never walk alone!”
“I mean you’ll never walk again!”
“Disturbing,” said Tom.
“Fascinating,” said Magdalene.
“Anyway,” said Ken, “Let’s have a little less conversation and a little more action!”
He lifted his arms as if to engage in a bout of fisticuffs with his old friend; instead he crashed his head into the table top, sending empty glasses spinning wildly across the floor, magically not breaking any; this was rapidly followed by Wayne sliding down his chair to a sleeping position on the floor.
“Come on now Gentlemen,” shouted the Barman. “No sleeping under the table; let’s make a move. Haven’t you got a Gnome to go to?”