For every reversal of fortune, there is a fortune waiting to be found. -Intellectual Shaman
I was fired from my job. But that is a different story and not one that merits much telling. The one that does need to be told is what happened after that, when I decided to visit my Grandmother. She lived on a farm, with alfalfa fields, near an old ruin high up in the mountains. It was a 500-mile drive, so when I got there, I felt like I needed to stretch my legs.
Grandma was already asleep, being that it was 11 o’clock at night and I decided to walk up to the old ruins to see the town that my father grew up in. New factories were being built, housing developments, roads, and lights like fireflies blinked in the distance. Sitting outside, in the warm air, caused me to wonder how I spent all that time inside, working.
Satellites smiled at me overhead and shooting stars blazed across the sky into fireballs. I got up from the stone that was turning cold and prepared to walk the paths, down the mountain to sleep in my truck. And that’s when I saw ‘im. He was a little man, young, with elderly wisdom carved into his rosy cheeks.
I blinked, and then blinked again, and he was gone.
“Must be my imagination,” I said.
Morning came with the red sun, rooster calls, and bacon and eggs. “How was your trip,” my Grandmother asked.
“Fine, but I’m a bit confused.”
“I didn’t want to say, but I can’t help myself. I think I saw a leprechaun.”
“You took a walk by the old ruins, didn’t you?”
“King Norman lives up there, a bachelor if there ever was one, says he decided not to get married, but none of his female kind could tolerate his mood swings, if you ask me.”
“You know ‘im?”
“Know him? He can’t cook for himself, or farm, or do anything. He’s completely useless. Demands potatoes and canned goods. Pays me with Leprechaun gold, he does. But a stingy fellow, if there ever was one. Spends all his time drinking beer and playing the harp. Thinks he’s a gifted musician. Been practicing for 150 years, but if you ask me, he’s been drinking during that time. His ego is the size of the mountain he lives under.”
“How long has it been since you met him?” I asked.
“Is it true that a leprechaun will give you his gold if you catch ‘im?”
“You mustn’t be playin with the forces of darkness, Andy. If you fail to win and most people do, he’ll take something from you, that you can never get back.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“Your children, your soul, or your good name. They don’t have morals like us or think like us and they’ve had hundreds of years to perfect their trickery.”
If the leprechaun is stingy, how have you been able to support yourself?” I asked.
“My South American neighbors pay my expenses because I let them use my basement to store their flour.”
‘What?” I asked.
“I don’t understand it myself, but they buy my groceries.”
Later that afternoon, I found an excuse to visit her basement and I sampled one of the flour sacks.
“Cocaine; just as I thought,” I said. And then it occurred to me how I might beat the leprechaun.
“How do you get Norman to come out and talk?” I asked my Grandmother.
“Well… he only comes out at night when he has his powers, and whiskey will draw him like a fly to rotting fruit.”
My plan was set and I took a bottle of my Grandpa’s Irish Whiskey up the mountain into the wee hours of the night. Sure enough, King Norman was waiting, licking his lips, and preparing to engage me in conversation.
“Hello yourself,” I said. “Would you like some whiskey?”
“Would I, that’s Irish, if I’m not mistaken?”
“You’re not,” I said.
The little king popped the cork and sniffed. “Home brewed.” And then took a swig.
I sniffed and went “achhhhhew!”
“Keep your spirits inside you and have another drink,” he laughed. I did and pretty soon we were both having a good time.
“I bet I can drink you under the table,” I said.
“Can not,” he retorted.
“Can too,” I said.
“What would you wager?” He asked.
“I don’t have anything you’d want,” I said.
“What about your future children? My place needs cleaning and I’m afraid I’m a bachelor for life and my rooms are always a mess.”
The thought of giving him my future children disgusted me, but I wasn’t going to have kids, so I agreed. “Achhhhew!”
“Have another drink,” he offered. Then he took one.
“So, what do you want?” He asked.
“I’ll take your gold, all of it,” I said. “How much is there?”
“Enough to buy the world 7 times over,” he laughed.
Then we started drinking. We finished the bottle and then he brought out his own brew. I was getting light headed. I saw him smiling at my delirious face when I sneezed again. “Achhhhew!”
“Do you have allergies?” He asked.
I shook my head and we kept drinking. The wee hours wore on until Norman looked sick. I was higher than a kite and loaded like a barrel of booze when the sun rose in the morning.
“Tricked yah,” I laughed. “Now give me your gold.”
“How…how is that possible?” He asked.
“The Devil’s Dandruff,” I said. “Cocaine… a South American delight.”
He gave me his key and led me into a well. On the other side of a wooden door was a mound of gold, filling a cavernous room.
“Feel free to make withdrawals, anytime” Norman said. “Now I’m going to sleep; this will be the greatest hangover of my life.”