Arnie’s Wall

The little people were not welcome. But they came. They sat in the rocks of the Arnie’s wall, trilling and ducking into the gaps between the rocks whenever Arnie opened the door or came around the corner of his house. They had turned the gaps in the rocks into doorways to their homes. They ate Arnies petunias and pansies. They made little roads in the grass. They darted along the wall, dodging from hidey hole to hidey hole. They sat on the wall and scolded like smart ass proprietors. There were three of them, and Arnie was not pleased.

The wall Arnie built was suppose to be welcoming to all sorts of appropriate people of his species and social inclinations. It was assembled with pride and joy from the many rocks and stones Arnie had found on his property. It held back the hillside so that it did not slump and encroach onto Arnie’s perfect lawn. Arnie had selected each rock and appointed its place based on how its aesthetic presented that verge of consciousness where imagination and nature meet. Each heavy stone rose, massive and large, from the neatly manicured lawn and held back the beige Montana hillside. The gaps were meant to show a naturalness. Arnie planted flowers in some of them. He let grass grow in some of them. He planted petunias and pansies and marigolds in the soil being held back from his perfectly manicured lawn. He assiduously pulled milkweed, wild mustard, and pig weed from the flower beds and the beige Montana hillside that was being held at bay.

It was an artsy wall for people like Arnie who appreciated the verge of consciousness where imagination and nature meet. It was very Zen in that regard. It was suppose to be an object—an installation—for real people sitting on Arnie’s deck to admire while sipping Donny County Dolce or Montana Bleu Ale. It was supposed to be something that would inspire people to say “Gee, Arnie, you have out done yourself here, this is a real life’s master work!”

Let’s be clear, the wall was not meant to keep anything out or in. Arnie was not that kind of guy. He was a liberal American which meant he did not approve of walls to keep people, little, brown, or alien out.

Well, let’s be honest as well as clear, Arnie did not approve of walls that kept people out as long as people behaved themselves when they came past where he did not approve of the wall being. Eating petunias and making roads on Arnie’s property was not behaving themselves.

At first Arnie thought of building a better wall, a brick one with solid mortar between the bricks and a concrete foundation. A wall with no gaps for little people to build doorways from. But there were problems with this. First the aesthetic was just too straight-line and ‘manufactured’. How could nature and creativity have a unity where the created thing dominated, excluded, and subdued the natural thing. It just would not do. Besides, he was pretty sure the little people would figure something else out to have access to his pansies.

So Arnie did a very American thing. He bought a .17 caliber air rifle. And he sat one afternoon and waited for the scoldy little trespassers. He potted them one by one. The first hunched like a sick dog and slumped into a cavity behind the rock wall. The second warily watched from a gap/doorway. It vanished from the door way and he could hear the ugly rasp of its dying until it stopped. The third hunkered behind a rock. Arnie chirped, and it lifted into the front sight. Then it vanished and he saw it gimping on one of their roads back into the beige Montana hills. It was carrying one front leg and it looked back at him as if trying to fathom what had happened. But it was gone before he could reload.

He sat all afternoon waiting for others. Expecting an invasion of little people. All the rest of that summer, he watched, his new .17 caliber air rifle ready to hold back the little people horde. This is not what he made his lawn for, not what he planted his pansies for, not what he created the wall for. But it was what was, and there was something very lonely about it that he could not quite understand.

There are those who think Arnie is abominable. There are those who think Arnie is Arnie. And there are those who hang trophies on their walls.


6 thoughts on “Arnie’s Wall

  1. Loved this except for the dying gasps of the one little person. I would have much preferred to think of their making their wounded ways away from that soon-to-be-lonely and perfect garden. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Do it. At first I wondered whether they were little animals, then realized they were little people. Have you ever heard of the Teenie Weenies? My favorite childhood book.


      2. Thanks for the encouragement. I do appreciate it.

        Your first wonder re the identity of little people is closer than your realize.

        I refer to many, many of my fellow creatures as people: my cat, our refugee dog, the robins who cuss at me from my deck railing , the tomato-plant-chomping white tail deer, her muley cousins, my brother’s cows (“That fence is not an invitation, people”), the oat hound horses, and, yes, even ground squirrels are people.

        Unfortunately, when I use this term, I often think of Robert E. Lee who referred to the Yankee soldiers as ‘those people.’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.