Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Leprechaun Chronicles, v03: Jumpin Juice

The Jumpin Juice

Leprechaun Chronicles, Volume 3 (2009)

I got me a real late start this year. I let March slip up on me, and I had not even been down to bait a trap. Twixt the ice storms and the snow storms, the weather has just been too nasty to get down there. Then the ice storm debris is still everywhere, and I had to find a different way in to Daffodil Hill.

I almost didn’t go on the Great Leprechaun Hunt this year on accounta I have been sick, and really ain’t hardly had time to get ready. But then I got to thankin, what the heck else ya gonna do on a Tuesday night? Crap. Ain’t nothing on the television to watch. Might as well pack up and go a hunting. Sides, this year I got me a secret weapon!

Even though we had snow on the ground less than a week ago, the weather was right nice today. The air is warm, but it wisps a gentle cool breath from time to time. The earth is just beginning to green up all scraggily. Ole Moma Nature will need a hair cut soon. There is so much to see in the changing landscape that I got a little distracted on my drive to Daffodil Hill.

I stopped at the county line and stocked up on leprechaun bait. You might well remember that I try my best to abstain from the green spirits, but it is necessary to imbibe if I am to catch the Little Green Dude. It wuz right tough on me, but I forced myself to drink a couple of them beers on my way to the Land of the Leprechauns. You know I am outta practice and all. I needed to warm up jest a little afore I got down to business, and I needed a couple of near empty cans to use for bait.

I should have known the minute that I turned off the highway that I was in for a long night. I had already figured out that this part of the country had been hit hard by the ice storm because miles and miles of highline wires are still down. The poles laid out in fields and ditches resembled the playground of giants, strewn with broken and discarded Lincoln Logs.

After I drove about 10 miles down the gravel road, I pulled onto the dirt road to Daffodil Hill. I did not get very far, though, before I pulled up on a big tree down acrosst the road. Well CRAP! Like I have time for that. I got out and scoped out the situation. While I was searching for a solution, I drank another beer on accounta it helps me to think better. Now ifen I had me a 4 wheel drive, I could of probably gone around the tree, but I was scared to try it under the circumstances. Night was upon me, and there are no houses out that way. Plus, I might get on one of those lines that still be down if I had to walk in the dark. No Sirree. I decided to turn around and come in the back side of Daffodil Hill.

If you have ever seen me drive, you know that I don’t do so well in REEverse. Okay. Okay. I don’t do all that great going straight forward, either. Backerds is a real challenge for me. I guess I had to back up about a mile afore I came to an old cemetery where I could turn around. I was pretty uptight by then, so I figured I should have another beer . . . . just to settle my nerves. It is about 12.623 miles around to the gravel road that comes in the back side of Daffodil Hill. I lost my radio signal about 3 miles from the cemetery. Well, now, I must admit that it took another beer just to help me tolerate the sound of my own singing. My voice ain’t no music of the spheres. It’s more like the noise tires make when they lock and tar up the highway. That beer wuz just for medicinal purposes cuz my ear were a hurting purty bad.

I haven’t taken the back way in to Daffodil Hill for years, and I wasn’t real sure I was on the right road. Nothing looks right with all of the trees down, and it was very dark. Who told me we had a full moon? I finally got to the hill, though. To my great surprise, a fire was smoldering on the hill. I smelled it before I saw it. There weren’t nobody around, though. So I threw some of my wood on the smoldering embers and got a good fire going again.

Whew! That is hard work! I decided I would have me a big glass of tea and maybe something to eat before I set the bait. Can you believe that I FORGOT to bring my tea? I must have Parttimers or something! So there was really nothing for me to do but have another beer on accounta I was pretty thirsty after all that work.

After that, I spread out the blanket by the fire and set a few near empty beer cans for bait. I had to suck down a couple of beers hard and fast cuz I wuz 2 cans short.

Then I sharpened me a stick to make a Spam spear. You ever had Spam on a Stick afore? Spam roasted over an open fire? Mmmmmm MMM! Now that is good stuff. It is really better if you taken some pineapple slices and stick them to the Spam with toothpicks before you start roasting. That is really a bit much for a Leprechaun Hunt, though. I speared me a can of Spam and began to roast it over the fire. Drops of fat from the Spam sizzled and popped on the flames. I crunched on a crisp celery sticks while the Spam roasted, and started humming those old song lyrics,

Spam chunks roasting on an open fire,
Jack Fog setting on my nose,
Lepretide carols being sung by squirrels,
and folks dressed up like Spring gnomes.

I never can remember the rest of the lyrics to that song, so the singing did not last long. Sides, all that celery made me thirsty . . .

I started fixing a plate of finger food to go with the speared Spam when I thought I heard a faint voice in the woods . . . .

. . . the old man in grief pined away.

Then something about a child. I could not quite catch the voice.

The delectable smell of Speared Spam distracted me from listening. It was perfectly roasted, so I took the Speared Spam off the spear and put it on a paper plate that I had already arranged with pickled beets, boiled quail eggs, a chunk of hoop cheese, and celery sticks. This was truly a spectacular culinary feast before my eyes. Just as I was about to slice the speared Spam, I heard laughter off behind me. I turned around and to my surprise out walked the Little Green Dude with a Little Green Dudette and 2 wee Little Green Dudies. Well, now I am here to tell ya that I did not know what to think.

The Little Green Dude must have been terrible distracted cuz he stumbled right upon me. In surprise, he put his hands on his knees and laughed as he exclaimed, “Well curl my tail and call me a pig! If it taint the wee Lassie! Er it that time a year again already?” he asked with a twinkle in his eye.

Well, now the Little Green Dudette and the Little Green Dudies must not of never heard that expression before because their laughter tinkled like the blue bells done come to life. Those two little girls fell upon the ground and giggled until the Little Green Dude got plumb tickled himself.

After they finally quit laughing, the Little Green Dude took off his new green hat and waved it to whiff up a little breeze and flourish the crimson plume that adorned it. With a bow and a grand gesture, he said, “Mee Lassie, let me introduce ye to Lacy Leprechaun!”

I am sure you can understand that I was completely speechless, which is quite a feat for me . . . . um or is that feet – as in foot in my mouth . Anywho, it was quite a feat for me, but I was speechless because all these years I was led to believe there were not another leprechaun in the country but for the one. I was so shocked I lost my balance and fell backwards. I would of rolled plumb down the hill if the tree hadn’t broken my fall. I am not sure you will believe the rest of this story, but it is true. Every word of it.

The Little Green Dude helped me sit down. Actually, it was more like he propped me up against the tree. Then he summoned up the Little Green Dudette and the two Little Green Dudies.

“Lassie, this here is me daughter, Lacy. And these youngins herin be Lucille and Lucinda. They er leprechaun twins. Mind you that is quite a rarity. Why in all of my 85 years, I don’t know as to I ever did heered of leprechaun twins afore.” Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Magnifee Cent! is what I say!

Naturally, I offered my hand, and Lacy was happy enough to shake it. The girls were shy, though. They hid behind their mother’s skirts.

I asked Lacy, “Was that you I heard singing in the woods?”

Lacy blushed and lowered her luminous emerald eyes. “Why, yes, yes it was. Did I disturb you?”

“Oh NO!” I exclaimed. “No Lacy. Your voice is beautiful. Please come sit by the fire and sing some more.”

Lacy blushed crimson and said, “perhaps just one song. Girls will you help Marmee sing a song for this nice lady?” The little girls giggled and nodded as they held hands and gathered around their mother who sat on the remains of a mighty oak that was felled by ice just a few weeks ago. The Little Green Dude stamped his feet with delight, and he encouraged the trio. “Sing “Lacy’s Song! Go ahead now.” Lacy began to sing and the two little girls chimed in to add a desolate note to the key passages.

Lacy’s Song
(The Little Green Dudies harmonized in the bracketed lines.)

On a cold winter's night
As the winds blew across the wild moor
Poor Mary came wandering home with her child
'Til she came to her own father's door

[ Papa oh Papa she cried
Come down and open the door ]
Or the child in my arms
Will perish and die
From the winds that blow across the wild moor.

But the old man was deaf to her cries
And not a sound of her voice did he hear
While the watchdog did howl
And the village bell tolled
[ The winds blew across the wild moor ]

Oh how the old man must have felt
When he came to the door the next morn'
And he found Mary dead
[ But the child yet alive
Clutched close to her dead mother's breast ]

Now the old man in grief pined away
[ In grief he pined away ]
And no one they say
Has lived there to this day
[ And the cottage is left to ruin ]

Now the villagers point out the place
Where the ivy grows over the door
Saying there Mary died
Once a fair village bride

[ From the winds that blew across the wild moor
From the winds that blew across the wild moor ]

When they finished the cheerless song, Lacy Leprechaun and Lester Leprechaun I spied sparkling dampness on the cheeks of the Little Green Dude and the Little Green Dudette.

Now by this time I was just about to burst with curiosity. Blimey if I hadn’t done plumb forgot why I came to Daffodil Hill to begin with. Seriously.

I was just about to ask where the Leprechauns of the female persuasion had come from when I noticed the little girl leprechauns eyeing my Spam on a Stick. “Are you hungry,” I asked. Twin heads nodded enthusiastically.

“Have you ever had Spam on a Stick?”

The girls turned to their mother, who answered for them. “We’re visiting from the Motherland, and I’m afraid we don’t know what type of animal Spam is.”

Well, I have to tell you that got the Little Green Dude all stirred up. He waved his hat in the air and stomped his foot. “WHUT? Ye nuvuh heerd of Spam? Well, curl my tail . . . . “ With that, he grabbed up the speared Spam and whipped out his little knife. Before I knew what happened, he had fed my supper to those children. Humph!

Luckily for me, I always keep a can of Spam behind the seat of my truck, just in case of emergency. While I was fetching the second can of Spam, I noticed my secret weapon behind the seat and suddenly remembered what I was a doing there to begin with! I slyly slipped the secret sauce in my pocket.

When I made it back to the fire, the Little Green Dude had gotten into the cooler and helped himself to a beer. Quick before I forgot again, I threw the blanket over him. Oh the cursing was loud and long. The eyes of the Little Green Dudies got big as mushrooms on a hot summer night.

“Father!” shouted the Little Green Dudette. “I must insist you leave off that language around the children!”

“Father?” I asked. “Father?”

From under the quilt I heard, “Alright. Alright. Ye caught me, Lassie. Let me out and I’ll be a splainin to ye.” I let the soft material fall away. “Lassie, this here be me own child, Miss Lacy, and she come from acrosst the Big Ditch to visit us.”

“She’s from Tennessee?” I asked in awe.

“No. She ain’t from Tennessee fer Tarnation. Land’s Sakes, Lassie! Ye think that old Mississip er be the biggest ditch there er? There be another un TWICE the size of the Muddy Missy, and they be a calling her the A Lantik O’Shun, after ourin cuzzins, the O’Shuns. Yessireee. It er TWICE the size a Ole Missy. Maybe even clost to thrice.”

“Well . . . where are you from?” I looked at the Little Green Dudette.

Before she could say anything, Lester spoke up. “Miss Lacy be borned right down thar on the Cache River, but her mother took her away from here. All the ways to ourin Motherland. They be a callin it Ireland. Miss Mary Leprechaun be er mother. Ah . . . Mary nuvuh loved me. She onlyst married me to git outta marrying Hurley Burnideste Leprechaun. A deesgusting little creature he was. Mary’s farther wanted her to be a marrying Hurley right away because he went and caught his little wildflower walking with a gnome. Well, that made Mary’s fadder pop a 3 vessels, as I’m sure you can imajun.”

I was thinking of the sad sad song that Lacy Leprechaun had been singing a bit earlier. I turned to her and asked, “the song ?”

“Yes marm,” she nodded. “That old song be about me own marther. She be a gittin sick on the big boat that crosst Big Ditch. Her ad a fever when we got to me grandpapa’s. And her died in short order. Ye know, I were but six year. Marther’s death kilt my grandpapa, and I was sent to live with my heathen relatives. Lived in the cow pastures. Didn’t even have enough sense to git clost to the water, much less git a beaver fir purrtekchun. Et nothing but taters and dranked MILK fer cryin out LOUD. Not a one of em would help me find my way back to my own farther cuz they did not like the American relatives. It tooked me many a yar to find me way home to mee on fardther. It done be around 43 yar.” With that she walked over and hugged the Little Green Dude.

“Nuff of all this cent tee MENTAL hogwast!” interrupted the Little Green Dude. “This be St. Patrick’s Day. Let us have anorthar beer and sing some songs.”

“How about us have another beer and go after my gold, “ I countered. With that, my leprechaun friend grabbed three beers and gave the rest of the celery and beets to the children. When he wasn’t looking, I slipped a little of my secret weapon into the leprechaun’s beer.

You see, I have been on the puny side this March. March of the Punies. Well, what do you think I found in the back of the cabinet? Weren’t nothing but an old bottle of “the good stuff.” You know that cough syrup with cocaine in it that is so hard to get a script for? Well, I got a big bottle of that special sauce, and I gave the leprechaun a hefty dose of it. You know it makes you very sleepy and very happy. THIS YEAR I am gonna make it home with the gold.
“Drink up, old man,” I said, as I reached for the last egg. “We got work to do.”

The trip into the leprechaun forest should have been easy for me. After all, it is not the first time I went into the woods. I know what to expect now. And I finally understand that I will be safe in the woods as long as I stick close to the leprechaun. I started out feeling all safe. Then I got to noticing how many of us were there together. The key to safety was to stay CLO
SE to the Little Green Dude. There wuz two kids and a lady leprechaun betwixt me and him. That wuz not making me feel all warm and fuzzy.

The forest did not look familiar and the path was completely gone. The damage from the ice storm drastically altered the landscape here. We often had to climb across large trees or go around piles of limbs too high for us to go over. I fell many times, but the gang of nimbly leprechauns never seemed to lose their footing.

It was such a nice warm day, and I expected the evening to be warm as well. It WAS warm by the fire! The deeper we went into the woods, the colder I got. The world did not seem just exactly right, either. Sometimes it felt like I was walking in slow motion while the others scampered off away from me.

I called out to my leprechaun friends to slow down, but they were laughing and deep in conversation. All of the sudden there was a succession of thunder slaps coming from the way of the river. Something scared the beavers. Suddenly the noise of the frogs, crickets, and birds came to a dead silence. The leprechauns crouched near an old tree and blended into the scenery, but I could not make myself move. My legs felt like lead, and my heart was racing. The sharp shrill of the painter scream broke the silence, and I turned my back to the river . . . . searching the woods for the painter. Then my world went dark and musty. I could not see. But I could sure smell, and whatever the hell was on my head smelled like it had been drug around by a family of skunks.

“SKUNK!” I screamed. The only reply I got was another round of thunder slaps as the beavers sent up another warning from the river. Then I felt the severe pain of something piercing the skin on my arm and making a long, but not deep, cut. Was that laughter behind me? It must be the leprechaun. He was trying to get out of paying up the gold. The third round of thunderslaps from the beavers unnerved me, though. I was skeered, but I just could not focus on all of the noises around me. It sounded like some sort of a fight, and the painter was still screaming in the woods.

From the darkness, something grabbed me and started dragging me through the woods. The way was rough, and I was dragged over many piles of limbs that scraped the hide off my backside. The hide off my backside . . . is that a country song? I felt myself shoved into a tree hollow, and the skunk-smelling sack was yanked off of my head. As I scarfed up a deep breath of fresh (well at least fresher) air, I looked around to see where I was. The Little Green Dude stood near. He leaned close and whispered, “lizzen to me good now, Lassie. You gots to stay here and you got to be quite. It’s dagblasteed Hobnobbins what got aholdt of yee. I nevuh evuh thought we’d see them thar varmints in this part of the country again, but here they be. You sit still and be shush! Maybe we will all live through this.

He LOOKED sincere, but . . . .


Do you REALLY expect me to believe in HOBNOBBINS? Seriously! Do I look like I wuz borned yesterday? I don’t believe in such nonsense as hobnobbins.

I started to leave the hollow of the tree when the Little Green Dude quickly shoved the children inside the hollow with me. The look on his face told me that I needed to stay put, whether I believed in Hobnobbins or not. He might be trying to scare me away from the gold, but he was in FRONT of me when that sack was slung over my head. At least I think he was.

I hunkered down in the tree hollow with the children. They thought it was a grand adventure. I was terrified.

The forest was suddenly a cacophony of sounds. There was a clanking that sounded like metal against metal. Birds stopped singing and started squawking. The ole painter still screamed, but it was not as close as it was before. Grandfather Hoot Owl flew by the hollow every few minutes. I thought about running, but where would I run to? And I felt like the world was moving so slowly around me.

You might have a hard time believing what happened next. I mean, it doesn’t seem believable at all, but it really did happen. Grandfather Hoot Owl landed on the ground right in front of the hollowed out tree. Very very slowly he turned his head around backwards and looked at me. Then he whispered to us, “Who, Who, Who will follow me?”

Now I never had THAT happen in the woods before!

The little girl leprechauns got right up and motioned me to come with them and Grandfather Hoot Owl. What are my choices here? Sit in the tree hollow by myself with all that racket around and a painter looking for me or follow the children and their “Grandfather” Hoot Owl? Decisions. Decisions.

I followed the owl. We ran through the woods to the river. We were running away from the racket in the woods. When we reached the slough that led to Leprechaun Lair, I immediately recognized it. I have spent hours walking the river in this stretch of the woods looking for that slough. Now it appears almost as if by magic. How in the . . . .

I paused a little too long, and Owl circled close to my head, urging me on. When we got to the place where the path becomes narrow, 2 large beavers came out of the woods. One stepped up onto the path, and Owl nudged the children to fall in line behind them. I stepped up to the children and cautioned them to be quiet on the path. “We know,” they chim
ed in unison. “We have been this way lots of times. It is dangerous, so we must be perfectly quiet.” I nodded at them, amazed at the wisdom in those young eyes. The second beaver stepped up on the path behind me.
Out of the darkness came the blood curdling howl of a coyote. The beaver behind me stood up on his hind legs and gave me a push with his front paws. We all followed the lead beaver down the path as quickly and quietly as possible. There were many briars along the path that reached for my arms and legs, tearing my clothes and cutting my skin. Bats swarmed the area like blackbirds on a wheat field. I could hear whispers in the woods, but I could not quite make out the words. I thought I heard “hairy hobnobbins” in the whispers, but that could not be.

First of all, I don’t believe in hobnobbins (of course), and also, have you EVER heard of a hairy hobnobbin? Everybody knows the mythical creatures are supposed to have but 3 hairs on their head: 1 black, 1 silver, 1 red. I don’t know what those whispers were, but it couldn’t have been THAT.

After a few minutes, we made it safely to the end of the path and stepped into the gentle glen of Leprechaun Lair. The girls ran to the fire, and each snuggled up to one of the beavers. I found some wood to add to the fire. Then I crouched next to a tree and tried to figure out how the heck I got here and what the heck my plan was.

Well, you know it was cold and all, so I figured I better look around and see if the Little Green Dude had any antifreeze. Sure enough, I found a big tub of beer on ice. Might as well have one while I study on what to do . . . or two.

The girls and the beavers were hungry. I admit that my stomach was making noises, too. I said, “well, let’s go below the tree and find something to eat.” It was clear from the look on the girls’ faces that they knew not to take me near the gold. Instead, one of them ran behind the tree and came back with two little pans. She gave one to me and one to her sister. Then she got a nice little pile of sapling wood for the beavers to munch on. I tasted the funny looking dish. It was a bit greasy, but tasty. I was about to ask when the second little girl chimed, “ I just love bear with possum gravy. Don’t you?” My mouth was full. It took a lot to swallow.

At some point, I dozed off. The children and I slept while the beavers stood watch.
I woke to the mostest awful attempt at singing that I EVER heard!

We're Knights of the Round Table.
We dance whene'er we're able.
We do routines and chorus scenes
With footwork impeccable.
We dine well here in Camelot.
We eat ham and jam and spam a lot.

We're Knights of the Round Table.
Our shows are formidable,
But many times we're given rhymes
That are quite unsingable.
We're opera mad in Camelot.
We sing from the diaphragm a lot.

In war we're tough and able,
Quite indefatigable.
Between our quests
we sequin vests
and impersonate Clark Gable.
It's a busy life in Camelot.
I have to push the pram a lot.

I sat up and saw the Little Green Dude swagger into the gentle glen with his daughter and 7 more leprechauns! They were all singing . . . . well they were making noise in unison. They seemed mighty happy, too. They didn’t even notice me, as they went straight to the beer on ice. I watched them drink and sing for a while.

The Little Green Dudette had noticed me, as she went directly to her sleeping children. The others partied loudly until I stood up. The seven Little Green Strangers all screamed and ran to hid behind fallen trees. The Little Green Dude hiccupped and began to swear, “well I be snuffagalblastuptanuffatreealous! I firgit all bout ye, Wee Lassie! I er . . . . I . . . well, I guesst I figured you woulda headed back to the Hill. Why did ye foller Owl and the beavers? I never took ye ta be a wantin that gold bad enuff to come this fir by yeeself.”

I let loose a low growl of my own before I hissed between my teeth, “do you REALLY think I would leave those children in the woods alone? This had nothing to do with the money! I cannot BELIEVE you think I am that shallow!” You know how I get. Once I start losing my temper, it is a terrible dangerous slide that can quickly turn into an avalanche.

I guess the Little Green Dude musta realized that he was treading some pretty thin water because he jumped up and ran to the tub of beer. He grabbed a nice cold one and offered it to me with a sly smile, “Come on now, Mee Lassie. Ye jest needs to rest a minute. Here now. Take ye a drank of this nice cold beer.” Well, I did not want to be unsociable.

“LeRoy! Larry! Liam! Lafe! Lamont! Darryl! Daryl! Come here! I gots somebody I want you to meet. It’s okay. She be alright! And she usually brangs beer!” The seven Stranger Leprechauns came running out of the woods to the beer tub. I really did not like the way they were gawking at me, like I was the one who wuz unusual or something.

After a few minutes, one of the little men grabbed up a frash beer and offered it to me. As I took it from his small hand, he said, “Hi. My name’s Larry. This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl. Darryl don’t talk much.” Then he began to point to the others, one by one, “This be my nephew LeRoy. LeRoy’s mother, my dear departed sister, be departed.”

“She died,” I asked.

“Naw. Her didn’t DIE. She just departed,” answered Larry. Then he continued, “Lafe is Darryl’s oldest son.”

“Which one,” I asked.

“Lafe,” answered Larry.

“I mean which one is Lafe’s daddy,” asked I?

“Darryl,” answered Larry. Both Darryls were grinning at me in a goofy kinda way, so I decided to let that one go. They coulda been loony leprechauns for all I know, and you don’t want to mess around with that.

“Lamont shake hands with Lassie,” Larry said as he motioned to the shortest of the Stranger Leprechauns. “Lamont be a LooeeeezzeeAnna Leprechaun. Ye probably ain’t seen many of them. Thay usually hang close to Cajun country. Thay sho nuff can cook, though! Hey now! How about some bear with possum and toadstool gravy? Lamont fixed a big batch earlier today.”

“It’s gone. We ate it all when we got here. It was . . . different,” I smiled and nodded at Lamont.

I was a little overwhelmed, but I shook hands with all of them.
Then I turned to the Little Green Dude. “I believe you and I have a little unfinished business.”

“Why now, Lassie, I dount believe we can do any bizzynuss until tomorry, on St. Patrick’s Day,” whispered the sly little leprechaun.

Larry was quick to speak up. “Brother! This er St. Patrick’s Day! Ye know it must be. Otherwise, Lamont woodnunt a made sech a delicacy as possum and toadstool gravy.“

The Little Green Dude stamped his little foot, and said, “I be dagsnuffleoustafolious! Ye be right thar, brother. Sit down, now, Lassie. Let us be having a drink afor we starts ourin bizzynuss. Sides, I wants ye to tell Lamont how to fix that thar Spam on a Stick.”

“What’s a Spam?” asked Lamont.

“What’s a Spam? What’s a SPAM? Lamont ye mean to tell me with all yer culinary skills ye ain’t
nevuh evuh kilt a SPAM afore?” exclaimed the Little Green Dude. Then he sighed and looked at me. He lowered his voice and asked, “Lassie, what is a Spam?”

“Don’t start that crap with me!” I stomped my foot so hard that I nearly felled over. “I’m not ignernt you know. You might be a wily leprechaun, but you’ll not be a distracting me again. I caint hardly wait to get my gold and get back home to count it. Now let’s talk business Mr. Little Green Dude.”

Well you know it just ain’t fittin to try to sashay over business without a social drink, so I decided to have one more. Also, I still had the secret sauce in me pocket. I had almost forgotten about it. So we had another beer. Besides, I wuz purty curious about where all these leprechauns came from. I might as well get a little information while I waited for my chance to doctor the Little Green Dude’s beer.

“I’ll share a beer or two with you my friend, as long as you do not forget that you owe me one large pot of gold!” I warned.

“Aye. Me not be a fergittin, Lassie.”

Just then the Little Green Dude turned his back on me to whisper something to the wee girls. I took the opportunity to add a double dose of the good stuff to his beer.

Now the curiosity was getting the best of me. “So, did ALL of you guys come from across the Big Ditch,” I innocently inquired. Okay. I ain’t all that innocent, but the alliteration is great.

Larry Leprechaun shook his head no, and with a solemn look, said, “no, Lassie. We been prisoner to the Horrible Hobnobbins . . . . somes calls them Hostiles . . . . for many many a year. Many a year ago, we be a making war with the Horrible Hobbnobbins and thar cuzzins the Horny Hobbits. Now don’t look at me like that, Lassie! Me believe yer mind be deep in the ole slough tonight. As Hobbits age, they grow horns. Only the horniest are worthy to be warriors. That’s why they calls em Horny Hobbits.”

I’m sure you can imagine how badly I was blushing. I was quite embarrassed. I was getting very hot, too. My vision blurred a bit, so I moved away from the fire and closer to Larry Leprechaun. He encouraged me to finish up my beer as he continued his story.

“We thought the thar Horrible Hobnobbins be a gone from this country. Then one day they showed up right in front of Farmer with DyNOmight. They drugged ourin beavers that day.”

“They did no sucha thang,” argued the Little Green Dude! He leaned over to engage with Larry, and I took the opportunity to add a little more cough medicine to his newly opened beer.

After they argued a bit, Larry continued. “We had gotten lazy on guard duty cuzzin theyd be no Horrible Hobnobbins or Flippin Farmers around fir a long time. We not be a payin attention. Flippin Farmer blew up the beaver dams, and that killt a bunch of us, but not all of us. The Horrible Hobnobbins ran in and grabbed us up while we wuzza unCONSeeus. Them thar weezlussafusses wouldn’t a been able to take us on iffen we beeed awake. Anywayz. Usins woke up in shakles. The Horrible Hobnobbins et most of us up over the years, and they be a workin hard at fattening up the rest o us.”

I took a deep breath of horror. How could this be? “Right here in these woods,” I asked.

“Naw naw Missy. We been in LooeeeezzeeAnna all this time. That er whar the Horrible Hobnobbin Headquarters ere. We been a plannin to Eescape fir a long time. The Spirit of Saint Pat lured away the Horrible Hobnobbins and freed us from our horrible shakels. They be a chasin us all the way here, but they won’t naught a be chasin nobody, no mores.”

“Why not?” I asked, but I did not hear the answer. I found myself suddenly sick. I leaned against the tree and closed my eyes just for a second. When I woke up, I was stretched out by the fading embers of my campfire. The cooler was turned over and empty. Not a beer around. The blanket hung from a tree. My hair was all tangled up, and my mouth felt like somebody stuffed it with cotton. When I tried to stand, I had a piercing pain in my head. Dizzy. Dizzy. I took a deep breath and stumbled to my truck where I found a ragged and damp piece of paper under a rock on the hood of my truck.

Dear Lassie,

I nevuh did take ye to be a cheat. Ye look so innercent and all. I shore nevuh thought you’d try to spike my drink jest ter get after me gold. Oh yes, Dearie. I knowd all along whut ye wuz a doing. That’s why I switched our dranks. I hope ye head don’t hurt too bad now, Lassie, but ye did put a lotta Jumpin Juice in them thar beers. It is a shame really cuz I wuz all set to give me riches to ye this year. Ye jest had to go an ruin it with yer dishoNESTy. Tetch. Tetch. Tetch.

I be a going away fer a while, mee dear Lassie. Me and LeRoy and Larry and Liam and Lafe and Lamont and Darryl and Daryl be a goin on a trip acrosst the Big Ditch to meet up with me Darlin Lacy’s husband. Who knows. I might even stay a while. Or could be I find me a wee Lassie Leprechaun to brung back as me bride to these here woods.

Now Lassie, I won’t be a needin all of me gold to git acrosst the Big Ditch. So I be a drawin ye a little map. Ifen ye can get past the painters and goblins, the beavers will help ye acrosst the slough. Ifen ye can git thar on yer own, Lassie, ye mayest be a keeping the gold. Least ways keep it until I come a callin for it. HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

I will be a missin ye, Lassie. Ye have entertained an old lonesome leprechaun a bit over the yars and me be a ppresshatin that, even ifen ye did try to dope me with yer Jumpin Juice. Study the map, Lassie. Save some gold to seed me nest when I be a returning.

With Affect Shun
Little Green Dude, Esq.

I turned the page over, and sure enough I found a very detailed map on the back. I dropped down the tailgate thinking that I would sit and study the map. Try to make my way back this morning. You will never believe what happened next! Outta nowhere came a fierce gust of wind, and it blew that paper right out of my hand. I ran after it, but it did me no good. That paper landed right on the last red ember of the fire and POOF it was gone.

From the woods, I heard the gleeful laugh of the leprechaun.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Leprechaun Chronicles, v02: Of Beer and Bear

Of Bear and Beer

Leprechaun Chronicles, Volume 2 (2008)

I had such a good plan this year. You know, I caught up with the Little Green Dude last year. I know my trap works. I just had to make certain that I did not fall for HIS trap after I caught him in MINE. Simple enough.

I started baiting the trap two weeks ago. It wuz a turrible time to start a leprechaun hunt on accounta we just had that snow. I didn’t even know for sure if the Little Green Dude would come out of his hiding place when I started setting the bait because it was so cold. Also, the daffodils are not in full bloom yet. Bad sign. Something was taking the bait, though.

I couldn’t be for sure if it was the leprechaun because it was different this year. Always before, the little leprechaun drank the beer and left the cans. I always had to clean up his mess before I rebaited in the evenings. This year, though, I went back to the site every day for purt near 2 weeks, and nary a can were ever left behind. That wuz kinda weird.

So last night, I went out to daffodil hill. It was warm last week and over the weekend, so I was happy to see that we are finally seeing a few daffodils blooming. Oh. And they scented the air with the perfume of sweetest nectar.
The night started out great. I ate a real good lunch today. Corned beef & Kraut on Rye . Mashed taters. Two Jello snacks. Last year I did not have enough food on my stomach. This year I was prepared. I have to be able to drink enough beer to lure the Little Green Dude to my trap, but I also need to have enough food on my stomach to keep me in full control of my senses.

I loaded up my gear: blanket, wood, cooler full of beer. I even threw in some diet Jello to nibble on. Lime, of course. And, okay. I admit it. I took a couple of cans of SPAM and a jar o
f pickles.

We have had a lot of rain this year, and the Cache River is way out of her banks. Today she managed to cross the gravel road that leads to Daffodil Hill. That made me just a little nervous. I seem to remember getting stuck in a little patch of water on a dry road back in 1998. I am a bit skiddish about driving off into running water, but what wuz I to do? I had to get to Daffodil Hill, didn’t I? I back up a little ways and floored it. As soon as I hit the water, my tires slipped, and I slid almost sideways in the road. I tried to hold it straight, but my back end was sliding around like a new pair of skates on an ice pond. It took all I had to fight the water and mud, but I made it.

When I got to Daffodil Hill, it wuz getting dark. I did not even have time to get set up good afore it got good and dark on me. I got me a fire built quick enough, so I wuz okay with that. I wuz behind, though. I wasted a lot of time getting through that water, and then I had to drive real slow to keep from gettin stuck in the ruts. I had to drink a bit faster than I’ma accustomed to on accounta I had to get that bait set out. I finally got baited up, and cozied up to the fire. I got out my diet Jello because I did not want the alcohol to saturate my stomach. Have you ever had diet lime Jello with beer? It ain’t no goramay dinner, that’s for sure! Spam definitely adds a little sophistication to the meal.

And whut do you think happened then? I started hearing thunder rumbling off in the distance. The rumble was low and long, like the earth was groaning from a miserable emotional discomfort. I
t got cold pretty quick, too. I wuz not prepared for the cold. Purty soon my teeth wuz a chattering like a baby banging on a xylophone! Brrrrrrrr! Still makes me cold to think about it!

I moved a little closer to the fire, and that helped some. Until it started raining. Just what I needed. It wuz awfully chancy to leave my post and go back to my truck, but I had to fetch my umbrella. I started down the hill towards my truck, and I tripped and fell. Slid all the way down the hill like a hog in a wallow. I know you are probably thinking that I had too much to drink, but that simply is not true. I lost my footing on the wet grass.

Thank goodness I had a good towel in my truck. I cleaned up a little and grabbed my Barton’s Weather umbrella. As I got out the umbrella, I thought about the streak of luck I have had lately. That good luck began when I won this very umbrella in November. Since then, I have been on a winning streak. I smiled at the thought, which made me even more confidant that this is my year to bring home the gold.

I started back up the hill, and that just was not working. It was too steep, and the grass was too wet. I had to circle around the backside of the hill and come up where the slope was not so steep. There was a line of trees betwixt me and the fire, which was dimming under the rain, so I had no light from it to guide me. As I gathered closer to the tree where I had built the dwindling fire and stashed my cooler, the fire suddenly flared up and sent sparks flying high in the night. That wuz kinda odd. More than kinda. That was real odd! I did not think about it much, though, because I was cold and wanted to get to the fire. I assure you that the cooler had nothing to do with my motivations. Nothing at all.

What do you suppose I saw when I got up closer to the fire? That dag blasted Little Green Dude had done gone and dragged my cooler over close to the fire, and he wuz a sitting right up on top of it. Now that messes up my plan in all kinda ways! I sat down in the squishy mud while I tried to figure out what to do.

Then that little leprechaun pulled a real mean trick on me. He pulled out his fiddle and started playing the most beautiful ballads. He sang, “What’s Your Moma’s Name?,” “ Red River Valley ,” and “Barbara Allen.” I love those old songs. And THEN the old *@#% sang the song that reached out and touched someone, and since I was the only someone there, that would be me.
The Little Green Dude sang “Put My Little Shoes Away.”

Come and bathe my forehead, Mother
For I'm growing very weak.
Let one drop of water, Mother
Fall upon my burning cheek.
Go and tell my little playmates
That I nevermore will play.
Give them all my toys, but Mother
Put my little shoes away

Santa Claus he brought them to me
With a lot of other things,
And I think he brought an angel
With a pair of golden wings.
I will be an angel, Mother
By perhaps another day.
Will you do this for me, Mother?
Put my little shoes away.

Soon the baby will be larger,
And then they'll fit his little feet.
And he'll look so nice and handsome
When he walks upon the street.
I'm going to leave you now , Dear Mother,
So remember what I say.
Will you do this for me, Mother?
Put my little shoes away.

I'm growing tired, dear Mother.
Soon I'll say to you good day.
Always remember what I told you.
Put my little shoes away.
I'm about to leave you now, Dear Mother,
So remember what I say.
Will you do this for me, Mother?
Put my little shoes away.

I am
not even going to try to tell you that I was not crying. The Little Green Dude did not even have to whip out his magic dust. He simply sang a song and played the fiddle. The Little Green Dude had me right where he wanted me. I just didn’t know it yet.

“C’mon up here by the fire, Missy,” the leprechaun whispered so softly that I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t the wind whipping through the trees instead of a voice I heard. For an entire YEAR, I have planned ways to lure the Little Green Dude out of the darkness into my trap. I have imagined many scenarios where he crept from the darkness of the trees to my fire. Never did I imagine that it would be ME creeping from the trees and brush by invitation of the Little Green Dude. I built the fire. I dragged that heavy cooler to the top of the hill. I baited the trap for 2 weeks. With nothing more than the sweet sound of the fiddle and the lyrics of a sad ballad, I was reduced from predator to prey.

This ain’t good!

It wuz raining harder now, and I wuz found out anyways, so I stepped out of the shadows into the fire and offered to share my Barton’s umbrella with the leprechaun. He gladly joined me, as he whipped out a harmonica and began to play a low slow song. The music was soft and faint, and it sounded like Mother Nature sighing with satisfaction after painting a summer sunset.

When the song was finished, the Little Green Dude offered me a beer. I agreed only because I did not want to be rude. I completely forgot that it was MY beer to begin with!

The Little Green Dude started to talk about his grandmother. She had taught him all these ballads as they worked in the leprechaun garden together. The little leppie missed his Nanny something fierce. Apparently, she was one great leprechaun lady. He showed me her picture. I think she would have been real pretty if she wasn't painted up like Mimi from The Drew Cary Show.

The Little Green Dude wiped away my tears and said, “I like to think me wee daughter be like me Nanny.”

“Daughter?” I replied. “ I didn’t know . . . “.

“I know you didn’t, Lassie. I did not tell yer sweet soul because I did not want to see the tears cloud those blue eyes of yourin.”

“So why are you telling me now?”

“Ye done be a crying all night, Lassie! Them blue eyes will turn grey if ye cry anymore. Seemed like a good time to bring it up on accounta ye already be wet from weeping.”

“Did your daughter . . . . did she . . . . um . . . “

“ You be a wanting to know if she died when Farmer blew up our town? Sure ye do. Naw. Her mother done be a leaving me many years afore that. She took me wee lass back to Ireland when she were a might 6 year old. “

I reached out and took his little wrinkled hand in mine. “I’m sorry,” I choked out with the strained voice of tears in the bottom of my throat. We sat with our fingers entwined for about 20 minutes. No words spoken.

Mother Nature must have lost her temper with us because she let loose with hail that was first the size of peas, but grew to the size of Susan B. Anthony dollars. The Lucky Leprechaun grabbed me by the hand and began to run down the hill, across the road, and through the field.

We took shelter in the hollow of a tree. My head was spinning from the run (not the beer). It wuz cold, and I snuggled up next to the leprechaun. I remember thinking he wuz quite warm and furry before I drifted off to sleep. Warm. Really warm.

I woke up curled up with a Moma BLACK BEAR! Have you ever waked up with long hard claws in your face? The body is warm and comforting, but those claws on my face were cold and hard, like white quartz from the darkest and coldest cave. I held my breath as I carefully extracted myself from the bear and crawled out of the tree hollow. I musta lost 15 pounds gittin outta that predicament.

I sat in the woods, covered with mud, and realized that the Little Green Dude had escaped me once again.

I slipped in the mud a few times as I made my way back to my truck. What do you think I found there? A note taped to my steering wheel.

Dear Lassie,

Ye are getting soft in yer old age! I caint believe you let a little ole storm come betwixt you and the gold. I left you in safe-keeping with Moma Bear. As long as you leave Baby Bear be, she will treat you fine. Be sure to bring her some apples this summer.

I trust I will see you next year, Lassie!

With affection,
Little Green Dude, Esq.
PS: Don't forget to recycle!

As I slipped behind the seat of my truck, I heard a distinct screech from the woods.
HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! And then the low sound of a fiddle very softly playing a sad ballad. I could not quite tell where the music came from. It seemed to surround me.

Alas, another year escaped me.

I trust I will see you next year, Lester!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Leprechaun Chronicles, v 01: I Messed Up

The Leprechaun Chronicles

Volume 01 (2007)

I Messed Up

You are not going to believe how much I messed up. I had him. I caught him. I SAW the Pot of Gold. I should be calling my boss today and telling her good luck finding someone new. Unfortunately, I messed up, and I messed up really bad.

The plan worked like a lucky charm. I found a hill out in the country that is covered with daffodils, as it is well known that leprechauns love daffodils. Hundreds of them. Maybe even thousands. Those little tiny yellow ones that smell so good are blooming now, along with 3 other kinds, just on this one hill. I went out Friday and found me a good spot. I gather
ed some wood and stacked it at the top of the hill right by a redbud tree that is in blazing bloom. The weather was beautiful Friday, with a beautiful warm sun. I stretched out right there and took me a nap.

When I woke up, I began to lay out the bait. You guys know how to bait a leprechaun, dontcha? All it takes is a little beer. The only problem is that the Little Green Dudes can’t quit handle
a whole can at one time . They need a can with about an inch left at the bottom. So whatcha do is drink down almost to the bottom of the can and set the cans out in a bait trail like a Reese’s Pieces trail for ET. Then you have to build a big fire to light the path and keep you warm because it take the Little Green Dude a long time to drink all that beer and get to the top of the hill. You should always take two blankets. Naturally, you will want one to sit on because the ground is still cold this time of year. The second one serves a dual purpose. You can Wrap it around yourself to stay warm while you wait. More importantly, though, that is what you throw over the leprechaun when he gets to the top of the hill. He should be right tipsy by the time he gets to the fire. All you have to do is throw the blanket over him, and you are done. He has to show you his Lucky Charms! Oh. Wait a minute. He has to show you his pot of gold. I was thinking of a different blanket there for a minute.

It takes about 24 cans to lay the bait from the bottom of the hill to the top where the fire is. I was some kind of busy yesterday afternoon trying to get enough beer drank. I had a few from the night before, but I still had to do some serious drinking before it got dark on me. I went out just before dark to put out fresh bait and build the fire. I took a fresh jar of pickled eggs, that I made just for this occasion, and a big bag of hot pig skins to munch on while I waited. I stuck a couple of hot dogs and a wire hanger in the cooler just in case I got hungry. It didn’t take long to build the fire because I gathered wood and dry leaves on Friday when I marked my spot. I built the fire, spread out the blanket, arranged my “supplies,” and got comfortable. Then I opened a fresh beer and a bag of pig skins and began the long long wait.
It got a little cold out there, but I had a good fire. The small critters started scurrying around not too long after dark – rabbits, squirrels, coons, and the like were all around. On the other side of the dirt road at the bottom of the hill is a large field and then the woods around the Cache River. Around 9:30, the coyotes and painters started howling and crying into the night. If you have ever heard those two at the same time, you know it is a frightening, but beautiful sound. The painter’s cry sounds like a woman screaming in the forest. The soul searching howl of the coyote behind the scream of the painter can be moving. They began way off in the woods, but I could hear them more clearly when they ventured out into the field to hunt for the rodents that live there.

I got a little scared just a little after midnight. The coyotes and painters had gotten quite. That is a little unnerving because I didn’t really know for sure if they are quite because they are full or because they are watching me. I had just opened a beer and fished out a pickled egg. As I raised the egg to my lips, I saw eyes reflecting in the firelight. There was something behind a tree, and it was watching me. I threw my only weapon, the egg, but the critter didn’t flinch. I thought about throwing the beer, but let’s get real. If I am gonna get et up by a bear or a wildcat, I want to make sure I am good and marinated. I sat real still and watched those eyes staring back at me. They were hypnotic, and they were making me drowsy. I don’t know what would have happened if I had kept watching, but the spell was broken by the noise of cans rattling against each other, followed by loud cursing. The Little Green Dude had fallen down the hill knocking all the empty cans into one big pile. Whatever was watching me jumped up and ran away. From the size of it, I’d be willing to wager that it was just an ole bobcat. It could have been a small painter, though.

Naturally, I was quite excited at this point to realize that my plan was working, and there was a leprechaun in the area. From the sound of the grumbling, he was making his way back up the hill to resume his place on the bait trail. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the grumbling turned to singing. He doesn’t have a very good singing voice, but it was still nice to hear old favorites, like “Red River Valley” and “Barbara Allen.” It was mighty hard not to sing along, but I had to be very quiet as the Little Green Dude got closer. I set the last beer for the trail at the base of the tree before I took the blanket and slipped behind the tree to wait.

Boy Howdy, did I have a good plan! It worked just exactly as I had it laid out in my mind! Easy as pie, I dropped the blanket over the Little Green Dude. Oh he kicked and screamed and cursed like a leprechaun sailor, but he could not get away because I jumped on top of the blanket and held him down. After a while, he simmered down and asked, “What do ye want, Lassie?”

I had been drinking for quite a while, and we were already there on the ground, so I said, “Your Lucky Charms!”

There was a dead silence for a minute before he said in a real soft voice, “well, Lassie . . . “. Now we will never know what he would have said because I realized that I better get back to business, so I laughed a little and said, “how about that pot of gold?”

The leprechaun went to kicking and cursing again. I had had enough of that, so I put on my toughest voice (the one you use when you are talking to hard-headed teenagers) and said, “Shut that crap up! You know the rules! I caught you, and now you must show me your pot of gold.”

After a long pause, he replied, “All right, Lassie. You be right. It’s a long walk, so we best git started.”

The Little Green Dude took me by the hand and led me down the hill and across a well worn path in the field towards the woods. He noticed that I kept looking around as we crossed the fields. The leprechaun gave my hand a reassuring squeeze and said, “Don’t ye worry yerself none, Lassie. Them kaiyoteaze and painters are never out this late. Besides, I’ll tell ya a little secret. They are a skeered of us leppies! Heeeeeeeeeeee!”

It seemed like the whole world got a shade darker when we entered the woods. Now I am used to wandering in the woods at night, but I haven’t ever noticed it being this dark in the river bottoms. We walked down the river banks for a little about a mile. I could hear the catfish slapping the water, and I remember thinking, I wish I had some set hooks on me. I gotta remember this place when the catalpa worms come in.

When we came to a small beaver dam, the Little Green Dude pointed to a large cypress tree with a big hole in the base. He pointed to it and said, “See that? That’s where I was raised. Where I lived with my family as a young man.” Then he pointed to other, smaller trees (some of them in the river) where other leprechaun acquaintances had lived at various times. It sounded like his voice was cracking up a little bit. I look at the Little Green Dude, and I thought he had a tear on his cheek. He denied it. Said it was cypress dew, but it sure looked like a tear to me.

Then the little leprechaun tugged on my hand and said, “C’mon Lassie. We’re almost there.” He turned away from the river and began to lead me down a slough that went deep in the woods. About a quarter mile from the river, the path got so narrow that we could no longer hold hands. The Little Green Dude stopped and whispered to me. “Now, Lassie, ye listen to me and listen good. This part here is dangerous. Ye have to stay real quiet. There be gaters and critters ye ain’t never heerd of out there in them woods. They be evil and come from the very bowels of the earth, and they be hungry! Lassie, ye must stay right behind me. I have the magick dust that will keep them from seeing me, but it only works on ye if ye be very close to me. Do ye understand?”

Well, I have to be honest and admit that I was having second thoughts about then. Yeah, I had a couple dozen beers, but that long walk across the field and through the woods had sobered me up some. I was beginning to think maybe the gold wasn’t worth it. Then I remembered how many years I have been trying to catch the Little Green Dude. I took a deep breath and nodded my head. The leprechaun nodded his head, and motioned me closer. I got scared and said, “WAIT! Before we go in there, do you have a cigarette? I really need one right now.”

The leprechaun’s face got so red it was glowing in the dark night, and his little eyes shown green in the center with yellow where the whites should be. He almost growled at me when he said, “WHAT ARE YE TALKING ABOUT, LASSIE? DO YOU THINK THERE BE A LEPRECHAUN IN ALL OF TARNATION THAD PUT A CANCER STICK IN HIS MOUTH?” He stomped around a little bit and kicked a couple of trees. After a few minutes, he began to cool off and his color got back to normal. He asked me to sit down, so he could look me straight in the eyes. With a grave voice, the Little Green Dude said, “Now Lassie, I kanst not protect ye if ye be a smoker. The magick durnst not work on smokers. You should turn back right now. I kainst even be sure that I kin git ye back to the river, but I kin try.”

I piped right up and told the Little Green Dude that I quit smoking already. He laughed at me, as if he did not believe me. However, when I told him that I had not had a cigarette for 138 days, he hugged me! Seriously! He HUGGED me. Then he said, “well, c’mon, Lassie, we ain’t got all night to get to me den. Ye have to be outta here by first light, or else ye must stay fir ever. “ With that, the leprechaun pulled green dust out of his pocket and threw it in the air. The little ball of dust went up in the air about 7 feet before it exploded like a fire cracker of green lights that drifted like snow around us. The Little Green Dude brought his finger to his lips and said, “Shsssssssh. Remember I kainst ot protect ye if ye are not right behind me.” With that we entered the darkest part of the woods.

The “path” was very narrow and it was strewn with rocks and roots, making it difficult to keep from falling. The slough changed from muddy water moving slowly towards the river to a much darker and thicker liquid that bubbled and gurgled. It looked a bit like tar boiling in a witch’s cauldron. The night turned pitch dark and a misty fog began to rise off the bubbling water. Even though there was not light for reflection, I could still see yellow eyes out in the water watching me. Every now and again, a bat or a crow would swoop down between me and the Little Green Dude. There were huge birds in the woods, too. They looked like small pterodactyls, and when they flapped their leathery wings, it sounded like the forest was letting out a long hot sigh. Once a bat flew too close and got tangled in my hair, clinging to my neck with its cold feet. Before I had a chance to scream, the Little Green Dude, put his hand over my mouth, looked me straight in the eye, and shook his head, as if to say, please don’t scream. Then he carefully plucked the bat out of my hair and let it fly away.

Suddenly I saw a light in front of us, and we stopped just outside an opening in the woods where the remnants of a fire smoldered. As I was about to step into the opening, something brushed against my ankle and lower leg. At first it felt like someone was lightly rubbing a feather against my skin. It tickled a little, and it felt nice . . . maybe even relaxing . . . after our stressful journey through the woods. I relaxed for just a moment, and then whatever was brushing so lightly on my leg wrapped itself around my ankle like a vine and started tugging me backward. The Little Green Dude quickly turned around and sprinkled some of his green dust on my foot. The vine dried up and broke away, and the Little Green Dude pulled me over the threshold into his leprechaun living room. He gave me a little hug and said, “Ye be safe here, Lassie.”

I was shaken, but I was also amazed at my surroundings. A bright full moon shone over this
clearing, even though it is not time for a full moon right now. The fire was little more than embers, but the moon gave the clearing the soft lighting that lamps provide in our homes. The Little Green Dude took me over to 2 cypress stumps and asked me to sit while he gathered wood to stoke the fire. I sat on the shorter stump. Suddenly I was cold and shaking. The Little Green Dude noticed. He brought me a beer and said, “Here, Lassie, drink this. It will warm ye bones.” In a few minutes the fire was blazing and warming us both.

As soon as I got warmed up a little, I remembered why I was in the woods to begin with. I demanded to see “my” pot of gold. The leprechaun snorted, “Don’t ye mean MY gold. I be the one whut pertected it all these years!” I admitted that I had gotten a little carried away, but reminded him that I would be taking the gold with me because that was the promise. He nodded and motioned for me to follow him. We went over to a tree that had a painting of a beautiful Lady Leprechaun hanging on it. The Little Green Dude kicked away some leaves and moss at the base of this tree. Underneath there was an old worn out rug. The leprechaun picked the rug up and gave it a little shake to reveal a wooden door in the ground.

We walked
down into a structure that resembles a storm shelter. I said as much to the little leprechaun. He laughed at me and said, “Well, Lassie, we are living in tornado alley. Ye think ye humans are the only ones that tornados hurt?” I felt a little ashamed of myself for making such a stupid statement. At the bottom of the stairs, there was another door. When the Little Green Dude opened that door, the whole room was brightly lit. Don’t ask me how. It just was. The pot of gold sat in the middle of the room, and it is HUGE. I never imagined it to be so large. It is at least as big as my truck. There is a ladder on the side because, naturally, the Little Green Dude needs to be able to get to the top. I am still amazed at the massive size of this pot full of gold. I asked the Little Green Dude how much gold there is here. He nodded and replied, “about 3 million in American dollars.” I could hardly believe it.

“I never dreamed there would be so much,” I whispered.

“Why do you think they call it the CACHE River, Lassie,” he asked with a twinkle in his eye.

The Little Green Dude tugged on my arm, and motioned towards the door. “Let’s go get warm by the fire. I have showed ye me gold. Ye will be taking it away from me soon, and then I will have nothing to guard anymore. At least keep me company and share a beer before ye leave. I don’t often have the company.” He had such a wistful lonely look in his face that I could not resist (not to mention I ain’t never been one to turn down a beer). So we started back up the steps.

I sat down on the shorter cypress stump again while the Little Green Dude went after the beer. When he came back, he handed me a beer and climbed up on the taller stump. This arrangement put us eye to eye for the first time. I took a sip of my beer and turned to the painting on the tree, asking, “Is that your mother?”

The Little Green Dude dropped his eyes and slowly shook his head. “No, Lassie. That there be the love of me life. “

“So . . . you are married?”

“Aw. No, Sweet Lassie. Ourn love weren’t meant to be.”

“What happened to her,” I whispered.

The Little Green Dude sat in silence for a minute before he wiped the tears away, raised his head, and asked if I was ready for another beer. Not wanting to appear rude, I agreed to join him in just one more. While he was gone after the beers, I thought about how much different he was from what I expected. I always thought leprechauns were happy and full of energy – even a bit rowdy. I never thought of them as romantics. That’s why I asked again after we opened our beers, “What happened to her?”

“It be a long story, Lassie.”
I winked at him and asked, “Did ya have something else planned?”

The Little Green Dude put another log on the fire and took a deep draw from his beer before he began his story.

“I not be a young leprechaun, Lassie. I be 88 year old in 2 more moons. I be all alone out here in these woods now, but it hasn’t always been that way. There used to be hundreds of usins out here in these here woods.”

The little leprechaun had my attention, so I asked, “What happened to the others?”

“That be a sad and tragick story, Lassie. Remember the tree I showed ye back by the beaver dam?”

I nodded in silence.

“Well, Lassie, that there used to be one big beaver dam, and there used to be hundreds of usins. You know, Lassie, that leprechauns usually live with the beavers. Ye know how youins like to habitate with dogs and cats?”

I chuckled a little at his choice of words, and nodded my head, “yes.”

“Well, it be the same with leprechauns and beavers. I kaint says why. I kin only tell ye that there be something about them critters that we love. They are loyal friends. If one of ourins gits drunk and falls in the river, his beaver will slap his tail on the water and flip his leprechaun back up on the bank. They bring us wood fir ourin fires. Sometimes they even sleep in our little beds at night. Now, I never could allow a beaver in me bed, but I shore do love spending the day hunting berries with one.” The Little Green Dude smiled then, and fetched us another beer.

“It’s them damn farmers that messed everything up. That’s why I try to slip around and let the air out of their tires. I take parts offen their combines during harvest. I steal their beer!” He raises his can to me as he says this.

Then he looks for a long time at the painting of the Lady Leprechaun. With a more serious voice, he began to tell the story. “ I were about 20 year old when I first seen that lovely thang there. Her name was Lolita Leprechaun. Moma didn’t like Lolita. At first Moma wouldn’t even let her in our tree. I remember Moma saying, ‘that girl acts like a high bred beaver.’ One year on May Day, Lolita ventured out to the edge of the woods and found a strawberry patch. Now my Moma sure nuff did love her strawberries, and when Lolita brung her 2 big buckets of berries, Moma broke down and begun to love her just a little. It weren’t too long before Moma was telling me I needed to settle down. She wanted me to quit drinking and ‘make something of myself,’ so Lolita would want to marry me. Now I wuz taken with Lolita all right, but I sure did like me beers!

Lolita would flirt withen me, but she wernt nevah evah gonna say she loved an old drunk. She loved me good enough, but she wanted me to quit my drinking ways. I tried to splain that this just wernt natural for a leprechaun not to drink. I stopped drinkin for a while, though, and we had a dream romance. We spent our days walking in the woods and playing like children in the shallow water. We each had a beaver, and they kept us safe.

Then I slipped. It were 67 year ago today. I wuz supposed to meet Lolita over in that same daffodil field where I found you. The men were all gathering nuts – acorns, I think. I slipped away and headed towards the daffodil hill. This day I slipped back to my drinking ways, though. Hey! It’s Spring, and I caught a little spring in my step. By the time Lolita got to the daffodil field, I wuz passed out. I nevah even knowed she be there.”
The Little Green Dude climbed off his perch on the cypress knee and pulled a tattered piece of paper out of his pocket. He handed it to me and went after another beer. It was a goodbye note from Lolita. Parts of it were smudged with watermarks. I like to think it was her tears, but it was written a long time ago. When the Little Green Dude came back, he handed me a beer, and I handed him the tattered note. We exchanged no words as the leprechaun climbed back up on his cypress stump. He took a long draw on his beer before he started speaking again.

“A noise so loud that it shook the earth woke me up. At first I wuz disoriented. I wuz still drunk, ye see. Then the earth rumbled underneath me a second time, and I began to understand what had happened. I jumped up and screamed ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!’ into the clear crisp air. Across the field I could see a tuft of smoke rising over the river. Birds cluttered the air as they flew away from the smoke. I started running. I ran until it hurt to breathe air into my lungs. I could breathe out, but I had to study on getting the air back in my lungs. I had to slow down. I had to catch my breath.

When I finally got back home, there was nothing left. The beaver dam was gone. Blown up by a dag blasted farmer. Dynomite. Lots of dynomite. The farmers are a selfish lot. They only think of themselves. They steal the water out of the river for their rice, never considering how important that water is to the livelihood of the wilderness. Our homes were flooded. There were bodies everywhere – in the trees, in the water. Later I would find them in the houses. Some were never accounted for. I buried them all. Every one of them. I was the only one left. The only one . . . “.

The Little Green Dude took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. Then he turned his beer up and drank it deep. He said, “Drink up, Lassie. We will have one more beer together before I help ye back out of the forest.”

I wiped the tears from my eyes and said, “I better not. It will take me a long time to get all of the gold back to my truck. Will you help me?”

The Little Green Dude flashed a big grin and said, “Aw, Lassie! Ye doent not ave to kerry the gold back to yer truck.” He pulled a handful of green dust out of his pocket and said, “This dust has the power to transport heavy loads out of the forest with no effort, Lassie. Please have just one more beer with me.”

Well, I didn’t want to be rude, so I agreed to just one more beer.

It was after 11:00 am when I woke up. I was stretched out in the middle of daffodils in bloom – right back on the hill where I started the long night that led to my journey in the woods. The feeling of dry cotton in my mouth was a stark contrast to the heady smell of the daffodils in bloom. I sat up and tried to get oriented. I was on the blanket beside what was left of the fire. The last few knots of wood still crackled and popped. I got up and stumbled towards my truck, wondering if the events of the night before were real.

A single beer stood tall on the hood of my truck. Under the beer, which was somehow ice cold, was a note written on a paper towel from my truck. The note read:


I need a beer . . .