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Stories by Laura Lagana
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure - Chapter 16

“So,” said Finnegan, while resting one hand on his hip, “what’s your grand plan for sneaking into the pub?”

The sound of wheels thumping along the wet streets drew Captain Malcolm’s attention. “I do believe a plan is headed this way.”

Bright beams of light shone from the headlights of a delivery truck, chasing away the shadows of the darkened alley. Captain Malcolm yanked Finnegan behind the nearest dumpster to hide. A moment later, the gears of the vehicle came to a grinding halt. A delivery man appeared from around the back and unloaded wooden crates onto a dolly.

Out of earshot of the deliveryman, Captain Malcolm whispered to Finnegan before shoving the leprechaun into the light coming from the headlights. “Distract him will you?”

Finnegan stumbled forward. “What are you planning to do?”

“Let me worry ‘bout that,” said Captain Malcolm.

Finnegan cringed, mumbling under his breath while scurrying over to the delivery man. Leaning against the side of the truck, Finnegan said, “What’re you doing my good fellow?”

The delivery man jerked forward, almost dropping the crate. “Oh, hey there. You here for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade?”

“Uh, sure, whatever you say,” answered Finnegan.

The delivery man shrugged and turned back to his task.

“What’s in the crates?” Finnegan peered at the delivery man from above the stack of boxes while giving the all-clear signal to Captain Malcolm.

“It’s whiskey,” said the delivery man.

Finnegan arched his brow at the comment. “What is?”

The delivery man paused. “You just asked me what I had in the crates.”

“Oh aye…I did, didn’t I.”

Rolling his eyes, the delivery man steered the dolly away from Finnegan, but stopped when the cart bumped into a solid, unmovable object. “What th--?”

“Did you say “whiskey”?” Captain Malcolm grabbed the edge of the crate and sniffed. “And tis good whiskey by the smell of it.”

“Do you mind moving? I need to deliver this to the pub and I have a schedule to keep,” said the delivery man.

“Well then, you’re in luck,” said Captain Malcolm, with an unholy glint in his eye, “because you no longer need to worry about that schedule.”

The delivery man grunted from Finnegan’s weight as jumped onto the top of the crates and yanked the cap down over the man’s eyes.

Captain Malcolm grabbed a coil of twine from inside the back of the truck to bound and gag his prey.

Once the hostage was secured, Finnegan helped Captain Malcolm stuff the delivery man into the back of the truck, Finnegan then wiped the sweat from his brow before saying, “Now what do we do?”

Malcolm paused for a moment, eyeing the crates of whiskey and an extra uniform hanging on a peg in the truck. He ripped the top of the lid off one of the crates, yanked out a bottle of whiskey, guzzling down the contents of the bottle. When finished Captain Malcolm wiped away a few drops of golden liquid that dribbled down his chin, into his beard.

Finnegan arched a brow. “Is this really the best time to be drinking right now?”

“Yup.” Captain Malcolm finished the bottle and sat it on the ground. He grabbed Finnegan by the shirt and pounded on his head, squishing him into a tiny ball.

“Oh,” cried Finnegan. “What are you doing?” He slapped at Captain Malcolm’s hand, but without any success.

“Quit it,” said Captain Malcolm.

“You’re squishing me,” cried Finnegan.

“That’s the point. Now shut up and shrink down into a ball.” Once finished, Captain Malcolm shoved and poked Finnegan into the now empty whiskey bottle.

Red leprechaun dust blew from the top of Finnegan’s head. He stood at the bottom of the bottle and let out a string of ancient Irish curses.

Captain Malcolm held the bottle up to the truck lights on the back of the vehicle. He wavered several times as the whiskey began to flow through his veins.

“Good thing you’re too small to hear right now, or else my ears would be burning,” said Captain Malcolm as he closed the door to the truck. “Now be a good leprechaun will you? Tis the only way I could think of to sneak you inside the pub. You see, the other leprechauns know you, and they’ve never seen my face before. Your clan only knows me by legend.”

Finnegan shouted as he stomped his foot. “They know you more by your infamous exploits!”

Captain Malcolm “accidentally” shook the bottle while shoving it into the empty spot in the crate. “Oh…sorry. Didn’t mean to do that.”

“You evil pirate. You’re going to pay for that,” said Finnegan.

“If all goes as planned,” said Captain Malcolm’s as he cleared out several lower crates with the whiskey before hiding the treasure inside. Once the gold was secured, he wheeled the dolly toward the back entrance of the pub. “You’ll soon have your treasure returned to its rightful place, and I’ll finally be free of your wretched presence.” A moment later, Captain Malcolm stumbled into the pub, where all the boxes were stored. Clouds drifted over the moon, casting ominous shadows across the darkened alley. The smell of musty stone buildings filled the storeroom. All the while, Finnegan’s muffled curses sounded from within the wooden crate.

“Shut yer trap,” whispered Captain Malcolm. “I’m about to go inside.”

“I’d feel much safer if you hadn’t just drunk the entire contents of a bottle of whiskey before going into battle,” said Finnegan.

“It keeps me limber.”

Finnegan’s snort of denial went unnoticed by Captain Malcolm. The door opened with a creaking sound, making Captain Malcolm cringe as he gingerly pressed against the old wooden door leading from the back room to the pub interior. Once through the doorway, he wobbled toward the bar, winking at Hamish as he slipped past the crowd of leprechauns. Captain Malcolm lifted a crate off the dolly and slammed it down onto the bar as the leprechauns jumped Hamish.

The thunderous booming voice of King Rogan cried out. “What have we here?”

Alpin glanced at Captain Malcolm, narrowing his gaze on the man.

Alpin glanced at the stranger, narrowing his gaze on the man. He let go of Hamish's hair afford nudging Gobban in the ribs area

King Rogan’s command drew everyone's attention. “Who are you and what are you doing in this place?”

Captain Malcolm turned on his heels, “Oh, you’re for the St. Patrick's Day parade?”

“Aye... the parade, but you still haven't answered my question,” said King Rogan.

On loading several whiskey bottles on to the counter, one of them being Finnegan, Captain Mal com stuttered, “I’m... uh, the delivery man... uh, I bring in the whiskey to the pub.

Donal, the youngest of the leprechauns, poked Captain Malcolm in the stomach. “I think you should be handing over a bottle of that whiskey if you know what's good for you.”

With a shaking hand, Captain Malcolm held out one of the bottles. “You’re not to be drinking this whiskey. It's for the celebration.”

Alpin whispered to Gobban. “He looks familiar.”

Gobban burrowed his brows. “We've never met any male humans before, so how could he be familiar to you?”

“That part of the question, I do not have an answer for,” said Alpin.

“Then keep quiet. You know how King Rogan hates to be disturbed in any way,” said Gobban.

Alpin snorted.

“From where do you come from?” King Rogan waived at several of the leprechauns who formed into a human ladder, so he could climb onto a bar stool for a better look at the delivery man.

Alpin caught sight of the deliveryman knocking an empty bottle to the ground, and coughed to cover the noise of the falling glass. He spied movement inside the bottle, but kept quiet about what he saw. A smirk appeared in the corner of Alpine's mouth as he met Captain Malcolm's gaze. Alpin grinned and gave a slight nod before stepping in front of the bottle containing Finnegan, to shield him from view with his body. Alpine then nudged the glass with the back of his heel, sending the bottle with Finnegan, toward Grams.

Finnegan's mouth hung open, but he quickly shook off the surprise.

“I know you,” said Donal, grabbing Captain Malcolm’s leg to stop him from leaving the pub. “You’re the pirate who stole Finnegan’s treasure.”

An evil glint appeared in the pirate’s eyes. “You sure about that? If you're going to make accusations, you best know what you're talking about.”

Hamish, cornered by several of the leprechauns, inched toward the Captain.

King Rogan kicked aside a bottle that stood in his way. “What have we here then? A trick of some sort to fool us into letting the old woman go free?”

Hamish smacked his hand down onto the counter. “Enough! You let her go.” He narrowed his fear is gaze on King Rogan and knocked the leprechaun’s crown askew. “And she's not just any old woman. She's Grams!”

King Rogan's eyes grew round as sparks of red fairy dust burst from his enraged body. “How dare you defile my rights as the king?” The other leprechauns surrounded Hamish, standing in front of Captain Malcolm. Aidan held back Gobban by pulling on his sleeve.

“And now, I've had enough of your insolence. You will either tell me where the treasure is or tis the end for you and your Grams,” said King Rogan.

As an answer to the ultimatum, Hamish grabbed a bottle of whiskey from the crate and winged it across the countertop at King Rogan, sending the leprechaun flying through the air. The rest of the leprechauns jumped Captain Malcolm and he mesh with fists flying, knees lunging forward and feet kicking in a flurry of activity. Hamish groaned as an elbow landed against his rib cage. He shrieked in outrage when a set of leprechaun teeth sank into his calf, and when he heard the snap of Grams chair as the leprechauns fighting Captain Malcolm, slammed into the wooden leg, Hamish struggled to his feet, flinging leprechauns off his body.

Meanwhile Finnegan poured himself from the bottle in changed back to his full size. “Whew! That was a tight fit.” He tiptoed behind Grams to untie the ropes wrapped around her body.

“Oh bless you dear,” said Grams flexing her fingers to release the blood flow back into the now blue fingertips. “That was very sweet of you Finnegan, but really. What were you thinking, bringing Hamish into a pub? This is no proper place for a young lad.”

Finnegan wrinkled his brow at Grams comment, and said, “I do believe we were more worried about you than what was proper for the laddie.”

Captain Malcolm shout drew everyone's attention. With a roar like a bear, he rose from the ground, flinging leprechauns left and right. King Rogan and a few others that clung to Hamish released their grip and charged Captain Malcolm. The pirate grunted from the impact and fell backwards onto the floor, landing on his backside. Several of the leprechauns laughed as they jumped up and down on Captain Malcolm's body.

Hamish, surprised by his unexpected freedom, ran toward Grams, but found his path blocked by King Rogan. He leapt at the King and yanked the leprechaun into a headlock. Hamish jumped up and down several times, before shouting in outrage when King Rogan sank his little teeth into the pink flesh of Hamish's hand.

King Rogan lunged to the left. “Ha! Thought you had me didn't you. Shows how little you know.”

Finnegan stepped in front of Hamish before King Rogan threw a handful of leprechaun dust onto the lad. “Enough!” Silence filled the room. “I said, enough!” King Rogan arched a brow, pausing with his arm raised midair.

“The treasure is yours,” said Finnegan. “Just let the others go free.” He waved a Grams and Hamish.

King Rogan growled. “Not before I see the treasure first.”

Finnegan nodded a Captain Malcolm, who shook off the few remaining leprechauns clinging to his legs. “What about me?” The pirate smashed two leprechauns’ heads together, knocking them unconscious. “I’ve suffered too much for the treasure, not to be compensated for my troubles.”

Finnegan glared at the pirate. “Quit your complaining and just toss over the gold.” Captain Malcolm rummaged through the crate of whiskey and tossed the bag at King Rogan, who caught it in mid air with both hands.

“I'll be taking that now,” said the king.

While the king stared at the bag he held in his arms, Finnegan unscrewed the top to a jar of pepper that he found on top of the table next to Grams.

King Rogan choked back a cry as pepper blinded him and a dark cloth engulfed his body. “What the devil? Help!” The king sneezed several times.

“Ah ha! Got you now, you little troublemaker.” Grams shoved the sweater over King Rogan’s head that she pulled from her bag, trapping the king inside the cloth. She gasped for air, knocking the king over before shoving her knitting needles into the bottom of the yarn, sealing the edge of the sweater tightly together.

“Let me out!” King Rogan kicked against the yarn.

Grams tugged on the seams, making sure they were secured. Leprechaun dust gathered on her hand and she wiped the gold onto her shirt. “I've had just about enough of you.” She poked one of her extra knitting needles fell to the floor at King Rogan's body.

“Stop! I give up. I’ll give you everything you want.” King Rogan quit squirming from inside his sweater prison and began to shake uncontrollably with fear.

Grams fanned her flushed face with her hand. “Ooh, I do believe I've had a tad too much excitement this night.” She paused and held out her hand. “Hamish, be a dear help your Grams over to the chair.”

Hamish ran to her side, shoving the leprechauns that stood in his path. He grabbed her arm and helped her to the nearest chair, but her legs collapsed beneath her weight. Hamish held her frail body and gently laid her on the floor. “Are you all right?” Worry marred his brow as he shouted at the group of leprechauns gathered around. “Quick, someone get me a pillow.”

Finnegan returned a moment later with a coat that he found behind the bar. “Will this do?”

Hamish didn’t waste time on an answer, but rolled the cloth into a ball and stuffed it beneath her head. He then sat on the floor next to Grams and held her hand in his, stroking the sallow skin.

Grams gasped for air. “I'm so tired. Just let me close my eyes for a moment and catch my breath.” Her breathing grew more labored, her face pale as a ghost, her skin clammy to the touch. Tiny pieces of leprechaun dust clung to her upper lip. “I think I need to lie flat on the floor.

Hamish’s gaze grew watery. “You already are Grams. You already are.” As she gasped for air, Grams inhaled the dust and choked on the gold. Tears ran unchecked down Hamish's cheeks. “You'll be all right Grams. Just take a deep breath. All you need is some air.” He turned to glare at the leprechauns who knelt at her feet. “Stand back. She needs air. You're all crowding too close.”

Captain Malcolm knelt at Grams side and held her hand as her eyes glazed over and the last breath rattled throughout her frail body. He lowered his head for a moment before grabbing Hamish’s shoulder. “She's gone lad.”

“No,” Hamish cried. He laid his head in her lap and stroked her lifeless hand. “She's just resting. See?” His words choked on the sob, building in the back of his throat. “Grams is just closing her eyes for a brief rest.” Finnegan and Gobban wiped at the tears pooling in their eyes.

Out of sight of the others, Alpin kicked King Rogan and cursed the leprechaun under his breath. He then removed his hat as a sign of respect and approached Hamish. “She was a nice lady. There was none finer than she.”

Gobban choked on his comment. “Always loved her, I did.” The rest of the leprechauns nodded in agreement.

A leprechaun named Manus, stifled a sob. “When she was a little girl, I used to play hide and seek. You know what?” The other leprechauns shook their heads. “She found me every time.”

“Me too,” cried Donnell from the back of the crowd.

“I loved her shortbread biscuits. In fact, I always keep several on me in case I'm ever hungry,” said Alpin, finishing the last crumbs he found buried in his pocket. He eyed the lone crumb in the palm of his hand. “Who will make me biscuits now?”

Hamish surged to his feet, outraged by the leprechauns’ show of sympathy. “How can each of you stand there and tell me how much you cared for her?” His face grew beet red as he wiped away the angry tears that ran down his cheeks. “If you hadn't kidnapped her, she would be safe in bed right now.”

Alpin scuffed the toe of his shoe along the wooden floor. “I didn't want to kidnap her. I even kicked the bottle that Finnegan hid inside, toward her chair so he could rescue her.”

“What about the rest of you? If you had defended her against the king she'd still be alive.” Hamish kicked King Rogan, who grunted from the blow. “This is all your fault.”

Gobban wrung his hands together. “We only wanted her to help us be free of our king. He's very demanding.”

“All you had to do was ignore his commands,” said Hamish.

Gobban gasped. “We couldn't do that. We elected him as our king.”

“That didn't stop Finnegan from trying.” Hamish’s soft-spoken comment rang throughout the room.

“He's right you know,” said Finnegan. “We let our pride keep this despot in power.” He nudged King Rogan with the toe of his shoe.

What the devil?” Captain Malcolm's cry broke into the budding argument and everyone turned to look at what the pirate was pointing at. A tiny golden glow bloomed in the middle of Grams chest and spread throughout her body like ripples in a pond, growing luminous in the darkened room.

Stunned, Hamish stared at Grams’ body as the light radiated from within; spreading toward her hands and toes. The golden glow faded toward her mouth into a tiny ray of light and burst from her lips, spraying the room with golden dust in every nook and cranny. A moment later, she coughed up a mouth full of dust.

“Och... that tastes horrid.” She leapt to her feet and cast Hamish a radiant smile. “Would you be a dear and get me a drink? I need something to wash the taste of leprechaun dust from my mouth.”

Hamish stayed rooted to the spot with his mouth hanging wide open. “ I don't understand? I thought you were dead?”

“Go on with you now. I can't speak very well with this dry mouth,” said Grams.

Hamish stumbled toward the bar and rummaged through the bottles behind the counter until he found a can of club soda, before returning to her side.

Finnegan patted Grams shoulder. “She captured King Rogan and must’ve inhaled some of his leprechaun dust.”

She nodded as she sipped from the can. “That's much better.” Grams sat her drink on a nearby table. “Now then, what shall we do with King Rogan? He's caused quite a mess and we can’t be having any more trouble from him.”

Captain Malcolm cut in. “I say we turn him into a stone statue.” He waved at Finnegan. “He did it to me for several hundred years.”

Finnegan chewed on his bottom lip. “It might work,” he said, before pointing an accusing finger at the other leprechauns. “But since he's a powerful leprechaun, we all need to band together to use our powers to curse him. He's a king after all.”

Alpin stepped forward. “I for one would be glad to have him gone from my sight.”

Gobban choked on his own words. “He made me grovel...grovel. I am the know-it-all of our clan and still... he made me grovel.” Gobban paused, narrowing his gaze. “Count me in.”

The other leprechauns piped in with, “Me too”. “I'm in.”

Captain Malcolm grabbed the sweater with King Rogan inside. “You all be ready when I open the sweater. I need to take back what belongs to me.”

Finnegan snuck up behind the pirate. “Don't you mean what belongs to me?”

Captain Malcolm paused for a moment before removing the knitting needles. “No.”

Finnegan rolled his eyes before turning to the other leprechauns. “Is everyone ready?” All the leprechauns nodded. “Now!”

King Rogan fell to the floor and then leapt into the air to try and escape, but not fast enough. The clan of leprechauns formed a semi circle, tossing a cloud of dust in his path. Once the king burst through the gold cloud, he turned to stone.

Hamish grinned. “Stupid leprechaun.”

Captain Malcolm grabbed the treasure from inside the sweater. “Ah, here you are.” He hugged the bag to his chest. “Now, what do we do with this?” The Captain tossed the stone statue of King Rogan onto a nearby table.

Hamish glanced around the room before saying, “How about on the shelf up there, between those empty bottles?”

Grams nodded, grabbing the sweater from the floor that was used to trap the king. A moment later, she shoved it into her bag. “Shouldn't waste good yarn.” She turned to Gobban who had tears streaming down his face. “What's wrong with you dear?”

“I'm just... so... so... happy!” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “You can't imagine how nice it is to have him gone from power.”

“Aye,” said Donal. “He worked my nerves like a harpy.”

“So you'll be forgiving us then?” Alpin peeked out from behind the bar while scrounging through the shelves for food. Upon finding a bag of mixed nuts, he shouted with joy.

“Of course,” said Grams. “It was all for a good cause.”

Hamish clenched his fists while he listened to the leprechauns apologize and Grams forgive them. He shoved aside a chair, knocking it to the floor. “Has everyone gone daft?”

“Hey! Watch it,” said Captain Malcolm, sidestepping the chair and yanking it toward the shelf. “You almost hit me with that.” He rubbed at a smudge on King Rogan's cheek before shoving the statue into the back corner of the shelf above a window, mumbling to the former king, “At least you get a nice view while you are stone, I was shoved into the bottom of a drawer for several decades.”

“I don't understand any of you,” cried Hamish. “First Grams is kidnapped by all of you,” he pointed toward Gobban and Alpin, “and then she dies while trying to save us and now she's come back to life.”

“What’s your point dear?” Grams sat her bag on the table.

“How are you alive?”

“Oh, that's an easy one to explain,” she said while strolling over to the bar. “Ah, here we go.” She twisted the cap of a bottle of tea and guzzled the fruit flavored liquid. “That was refreshing.”

“Grams, are you going to tell me what's going on?” Hamish tapped his foot while he crossed his arms over her chest, waiting for an answer.

“Aye, right.” She slammed the empty bottle onto the countertop. “It was the leprechaun dust. It has many uses.”

Hamish arched a brow. “Leprechaun dust?”

Finnegan hopped onto a stool and rummaged through the crate of whiskey before he grabbed a bottle for himself. “Are you deaf? Is there wax in your ears? She said it was the leprechaun dust that saved her.”

Captain Malcolm grabbed the whiskey bottle from Finnegan. “I’ll be taking that now.”

“Hey! I was going to drink that,” said Finnegan, stomping his foot.

“You don't need it. It'll stunt your growth.” Captain Malcolm winked at Hamish before tossing back half the contents of the bottle. “Now, about the treasure.”

“What about it?” Hamish found a can of soda and guzzled the beverage.

“Since I've been put to all the trouble of saving it, I should be allowed to keep it,” said Captain Malcolm.

Finnegan opened his mouth to protest, but Grams next words cut them off. “Done.”

“What?” Finnegan jumped onto the counter and glared at Captain Malcolm.

“You can have King Rogan's. I'm sure he won't need it any longer,” said Grams patting the leprechaun on the head.

Finnegan glanced at the ceiling for moment and sighed. “All right, I'll keep the king’s treasure.”

“Wait a minute now,” said Captain Malcolm. “Isn't the king's treasure much larger than Finnegan's?”

“Don't you mean, your treasure?” Grams grinned for moment before declaring, “I do believe I'm rather tired and lord knows that Hamish could use a bath.” She wrinkled her nose. “Is that oil all over your clothes and hair? And do I smell french fries?”

“Oh, aye,” said Hamish, “but it was for good cause.”

Grams pursed her lips. “No doubt. Now fetch the car. We should be going back to the house. I need to pack for my flight back to Scotland tomorrow evening.” She whispered in Gobban's ear and he nodded before gathering the other leprechauns together. A few moments later the clan disappeared from the pub. Meanwhile, Captain Malcolm headed out the back door to retrieve the car.

Staring at Captain Malcolm’s retreating back, Finnegan jumped to the floor. “I think I'll go with him. He's not very good at driving the car.”

Once everyone left the pub, Hamish pulled his Grams into a bear hug. “I thought I lost you. Don't ever leave me like that again.”

Grams return the hug and grunted. “You can count on that. Now fetch me my bag and let's get out of here.”

Hamish grinned. “Sure thing.” As he and Grams headed toward the front door, he failed to notice the trail of leprechaun dust scattered onto the floor from Grams shoes.

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