At last I caught up with Dr. Willem Gelding at a dig site near Dime Box, Texas. This may indeed be my last report on Roamin’ Gnomials, as the following transcript will soon make clear:
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: You’ve led me a merry chase, Dr. Gelding, but at last I’ve found you. How was your trip from Guangdong?
GELDING: Rough trip. Actually, the rickshaw ride from the university to the airport was the easiest part, and that’s saying something.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Well, part of the delay is on me, certainly. Things haven’t been going too well here lately. After we hung up last time, I realized that I didn’t get your explanation for the arcane symbols on that scroll that came with the effigy.
GELDING: Why didn’t you just read the translation that was also in the box?
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Translation? What translation? There was nothing there but your greeting, the effigy, the scroll, and the little paint pots.
GELDING: Well, I told my secretary to put it in there, but maybe she forgot. Say, you mentioned that “things haven’t been going too well there lately.” What’s happened?
ROAMIN GNOMIALS: Well, we had a death in the family, followed by the Houston Astros losing two out of three in Boston, followed by me becoming deathly ill. I’m still sick, in fact, you can probably hear it in my voice.
GELDING: Indeed I can. Now tell me, did you happen to touch that effigy with your bare hands?
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Yes I did, straightaway in fact.
GELDING: Well, that’s where that translation would have come in handy! That’s bad luck for you. You’re probably going to die.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Whaaaaat?
GELDING: As I explained before, that effigy is the most effective gnomicide known to man. It is molded from the ground thigh bones of corpses dug from the ancient plague pits of Guangdong. It’s supposed to have a protective covering made from the special pigments I provided you, but since you’ve already touched the thing, it’s probably too late.
ROAMIN” GNOMIALS: Whaaaaat?
GELDING: By touching the highly toxic gnome lure, you were first affected by an ancient Chinese curse, then infected with pneumonic plague. Your only hope is to get to a Portuguese Sailor Bar and ask the bartender for a Ginjinha and Coke.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: What’s that gonna do?
GELDING: Well, it might cure you, but even if it doesn’t, if there are any genuine Portuguese sailors in there, they’ll beat you to death for ordering Ginjinha with Coke, which will be a little faster than dying from pneumonic plague.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: A fine choice you’ve left me! Why did you ever send that thing to me?
GELDING: Well, you’ve been complaining about gnomes, and the Guangdong Gnome, as it’s called, is the only effective remedy, one that’s only recently come to light. It’s ingenious, really. You probably noticed that it doesn’t have a traditional conical hat. That drives the gnomes crazy, and they’ll attack the effigy, trying to wrench the bogus hat free, which rubs off the pigment you were supposed to apply, and exposes their little hands to the molded plague dust underneath.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: That sounds cruel.
GELDING: Not at all. Gnomes can’t contract plague, but it does make them itch all over, and they’ll move far, far away. Leave it to the Chinese! It’s ingenious, really!
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Oh gods, I’m dying …
GELDING: Oh yes, most assuredly you are. It’s just lucky you’re not here in Dime Box, because there are no Portuguese Sailor Bars within 500 miles. You, however, have one only an hour away. You probably won’t make it, but you can try, and if you pull through, you can start painting that gnome lure and set it outside like you were supposed to do a long time ago! Hello? Hello? Are you there …?