I had great success with a student. The special education teacher told me that he was glowing after he talked to me, and somehow it felt good, that I had made his day. I felt like the sun. I didn’t have to say anything; I just rose in the sky, and he needed that during his dull gray days in school. I needed to feel like I could help things grow, that I could brighten someone’s day. And when the special education teacher called on me to do more than just paperwork, it was like being called on for a higher purpose.
“Would you come talk to the boys during sixth period?” Miss Landrey asked.
“I’d love to,” I said.
“Good; well, we’ll just let them have at you.”
“Oh, I don’t know if I would put it that way.”
“What would you like me to talk about?”
“Why don’t you tell them about yourself,” she suggested.
But I knew she was also curious. Women are that way. When a guy isn’t married at 34, women start to wonder… So, I thought about what 6th and 7th grade boys are interested in… guns, cars, girls (but they won’t admit it), and videogames. None of those were an option. If I talked about them, parents would accuse me of corrupting the youth or being an adult child; I am, in a way, an adult child, but that’s only because of the leprechaun.
“Why don’t I tell them a story?” I suggested.
“What kind of story?” She asked suspiciously.
Apparently, I was the sort who might be up to no good.
“Oh, it’s harmless, really. It has to do with when I first met a leprechaun several years ago.”
“Oh, they might like that story,” she said enthusiastically. “But you say it like it actually happened.”
“That’s because it did. I met him two years ago, and he granted me my wish.”
Her expression said I was crazy, but that I might be entertaining to 6th and 7th grade boys.
Miss Landrey wasn’t too sure about me. I was strange in my own way, and unapologetic; there is something off about a person who won’t change for other people. I was constantly told I was unprofessional, but at other times, teachers thought I had special powers—like I could connect with kids on a level that wasn’t quite human. But that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the joy I was going to get from telling a good story. I was selfish in that way, and it seemed to make other people happy.
Sixth period rolled around. I was a bit antsy, excited. I walked down to the classroom where they kept the students with bad behaviors.
“This here, is Mr. Johnson,” Miss Landrey said. “Or should I say, Dr. Johnson?” It was her way of rewarding me for doing something dangerous… trying to entertain boys in bad moods who do not want to be in school, and would rather be playing videogames.
“Hi, I’m Mr. Johnson,” I said. Half of them were asleep. I wondered how that was possible, because it was 6th period. They had all day to wake up, but apparently, their teachers had failed.
“Do you know the rabbits in Maple Valley?” I asked.
“Yeah, there’s whole bunches of ‘um,” a pimple-faced boy said. He had greasy hair. It looked like he didn’t bathe. Perhaps his mom literally pulled him out of bed.
“Well, the rabbits are a sign that the leprechaun king has returned.”
“Leprechaun?” They asked.
“Yes; maybe I better tell you about when I first met him… He granted me a wish that came true two years ago, and I played golf with him last week.”
At that moment, the principal walked in. It was his first year, and he had serious misgivings about me. I didn’t say the right things at the right times. You can tell a lot about a person by what they say.
He said, “Teachers need routines so they can feel secure.” Perhaps, he felt that way, and I was the most unpredictable wrench in his perfectly oiled machine of a school. In fact, that’s why kids didn’t like school. It was run by the adults, and the adults had to do a good job, and if the kids got in their way, they were the wrench.
His eyes got really big and he stared at me. In that moment, I knew I had two options. I could conclude my story or double-down on my craziness. Like usual, I decided to be crazy.
“Well, over the break we went on a midnight hunt and caught the white stag, and I was granted another wish,” I said.
“What did you wish for?” The boys asked.
“Oh, one can’t tell their wish or it won’t come true.”
“We want to meet him…we want to meet him,” they said. “Would he talk to us?”
“I don’t know. Leprechauns are tricky. They stay hidden from adults, and only appear to children, occasionally.”
“Then, why can you see him?”
“Well, it might be that he appeared to me when I was young. I’ll tell you what, I’ll talk to the little king, and see if he’d be up for it.”
Miss Landrey smiled. Apparently, I went above her expectations. The principal wasn’t too sure about me.
When the boys left, I turned to him, “Do I need special permission to have a leprechaun visit school?”
“Grow up Mr. Johnson.”
I shrugged my shoulders and left. He did not give me a “No.” So, it was up to the leprechaun. Finding him and getting him to do what I wanted was tricky. Leprechauns do as they please. They are not subject to the powers of men.
So, I went to the liquor store after work and bought a fifth of Irish whiskey. It was my best chance. I walked into the woods where the rabbits were multiplying and poured a drink. I wasn’t a drinking man, so I placed the tin cup on a moss-covered tree stump and waited.
In less than five minutes, I heard a burp. Out from the bushes came the king.
“What did you get for me?” He asked.
“Why don’t you try it?” I said.
He went to sip, but then, stopped.
“What are your conditions?”
“I need you to speak to some 6th and 7th grade boys.”
“What? In a school?”
“With adults around?”
“Forget it. You can’t trust adults. Anything out of the ordinary, and they want to lock it up and put it in a zoo.”
“Well, why don’t you make yourself visible to the boys and invisible to the adults then?”
He liked that, and took a sip. “Okay, I’ll do it, but no funny business, and I’ll leave when I decide to leave.”
“Sounds good to me.”
The next week, he was waiting for me outside my middle school. The little king watched me doing paperwork all day and fell asleep.
“I can’t believe you do this for a living,” he said. He was just waking up.
“That makes two of us. Are you ready?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I want to go home.”
“You can’t back out now. Here, take a drink.” I gave him two sample bottles of fire whiskey, which were like two regular 12 oz. shots for a leprechaun. He walked as straight as an arrow toward the special education classroom. Apparently, it took a lot more whiskey to affect an Irish leprechaun who had been alive for centuries. He had a tolerance, like the tolerance we have for water. Leprechauns don’t live without it.
When we walked into the classroom, the boys cheered.
“Mr. Johnson is for real!” They shouted.
Miss Landrey looked at me like I was crazy. “You aren’t supposed to bring animals into the school,” she said.
“I didn’t. This here is the leprechaun.”
“That’s a rabbit,” Miss Landrey said.
“Oh, that’s right. That’s what the leprechaun looks like if you can’t see him. Would you mind showing yourself to Miss Landrey, your majesty?”
“Oh, all right, but just this once. It is highly unusual for me to reveal myself to adults.”
He appeared and Miss Landrey feinted into her teacher chair. After our story and talk with the boys, Miss Landrey came-to.
“Where am I? The leprechaun, he’s real. Help. I think I need to go lay down. I’ll be in the nurse’s office. Mr. Johnson, you aren’t crazy, but I wish you were.”
“What’s wrong with her?” The boys asked.
“Adults can’t accept changes to their world. At a certain point, they think they know everything, and when their beliefs are challenged, they realize there are other worlds waiting to be discovered, but they don’t have the courage to walk into them. Realizing one doesn’t have courage, is a horrible feeling if you’re an adult, because you think you have everything under your control, and then you realize you don’t.”
We left the classroom and I thanked the little king for coming. He winked at me. “Until next time.” And the purple hare bounded off into a briar patch.
I was glad I could see him, and that I wasn’t troubled by magic.
Magic makes life more tolerable.