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Stories by Laura Lagana
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure - Chapter 3

Hamish rubbed at a spot he saw on the stone charm. Afterwards, he tossed the necklace onto the nightstand and turned off the lamp. Once snuggled under the covers, Hamish fell asleep. The antique grandfather clock in the living room chimed midnight, the bewitching hour. A moment later, footsteps padded over the plush carpet, stopping in front of Hamish’s bedroom. The door creaked open as a ghostly pale hand pushed against the wood. Undisturbed by the noise, Hamish snored, oblivious to the giant figure creeping through the darkened bedroom. The man ripped a hunk of meat off the chicken carcass that he held in his grubby hands. Grunting and slurping broke through the fog of Hamish's sleep, but he rolled onto his side and continued to snore.

“Wake up laddie.” The man smacked Hamish on the forehead with a chicken leg.

“What the--?” Groggy with sleep, Hamish swatted at the offending object before he tucked the corners of the blanket back under his chin.

“Laddie.” A deep voice boomed in Hamish’s ear. “I said wake up.”

“Who? What?” Startled, Hamish paused upon seeing the hairy man wearing a filthy kilt, a white shirt now stained gray with age, and holding the leftover chicken carcass from dinner under his left arm.

“About time. You make a poor night watchmen, since you sleep like the dead.” The man pulled a chair next to the bed and ripped a hunk of chicken off the bone with his yellowed teeth. “Now then, tell me why I’m here and where is that pesky leprechaun?”

Hamish rubbed the sleep from his eyes and opened his mouth to scream for help, but the man's grubby fingers covered Hamish’s mouth.

“Shush. Don't go waking everyone. I just wanted to know why I was turned back into a human. Did Finnegan think the time spent being in my stone prison would make me remember the treasure and where I supposedly hid it? Not going to happen. If I haven't said anything all the other times over the last several centuries, today won’t change anything. By the way, this is delicious.”

“Who are you?” Hamish pinched his nostrils shut to keep the rancid smell of the stranger’s unwashed body at bay. “And why do you smell so horrible?”

“Excuse me, but you called me, so enough with the questions.” The man paused before sniffing under both his arms. “I don't smell that bad, do I?”

“I never called you and I still don't know who you are. And by the way, you really do stink. It’s enough to bring tears to my eyes.”

“The name’s Captain Malcolm McWallace. Where's Finnegan?”

Hamish grumbled, searching for the patience to deal with the daft man. “There is no leprechaun in here. Look around if you don't believe me.”

“You turning me back into a charm?”

“You were a charm?” Hamish yanked the necklace chain off the nightstand. “Hey, where's my statue?” He gritted his teeth as he glanced at Captain Malcolm. “That was a gift, now give it back.”

“I told you, I was the charm and you brought me back to my human form.” He slammed the chicken bones onto the nearby desk and snapped his fingers. “Now I know who you look like. You look like Grams. Are you related to her?”

Hamish arched his brows before saying, unable to keep the sarcasm from his voice. “She’s my grandma?”

“That makes sense. She made something out of me and gave it to you for safekeeping, didn’t she.”

“She gave me a necklace with a charm of a Highlander, not a full-size man. Believe me; I don't think you would fit around my neck.” By now the stench from the unwashed man, brought actual tears to Hamish’s eyes. He wiped at the moisture with the corner of his blanket.

A moment later, Captain Malcolm smacked Hamish on the back of the head. “I know that, but this daft leprechaun turned me into a statue so I wouldn’t spend his treasure.”

“That wouldn't happen to be Finnegan now, would it?” Hamish rubbed at the pounding in his skull, signaling an oncoming headache.

“Aye, it would be at that. How did you know?”

“You mentioned his name a few seconds ago,” said Hamish.

Captain Malcolm scratched his head, “Did I now?”

Hamish nodded. “Aye, you did.” He tilted his head before asking his next questions. “Are you right in the head?”

“What do you mean?” Captain Malcolm sucked the meat off a chicken wing and tossed the bones over his shoulder.

“What could I possibly mean? You're claiming you were a charm on my necklace 0and that a daft leprechaun is chasing you.” He shrugged. “Did I miss anything?”

“No. That about covers it all,” said Captain Malcolm.

Hamish crawled out from beneath the covers of his bed. “You say you know Grams?” Malcolm nodded as he leaned back in the chair. “Let's go wake her up and see if she can help you.” Under his breath, he mumbled, “But I doubt it.” Hamish opened the bedroom door and tiptoed down the hallway. The sound of a small table bumping into the wall made him turn around. “Shush. Don’t wake my parents. I would have a hard time explaining who you are and why you're in my house in the middle of the night, so watch where you're going.”

Malcolm sneered at the darkened hallway. “If you were one of my crew, I’d have you punished for your insolence with a taste of the lash.”

“But I'm not, so keep it down, will you?” Using his fingertips, Hamish scratched at the door. “Grams, are you awake?” No sound came from within. “Grams?”

Captain Malcolm bumped into Hamish. “What’re you waiting for? I’ve pillaged whole towns in less time than this.”

Hamish lifted a finger to his lips. “Shush. I don't want to scare Grams. She’s a bit on in years.”

Captain Malcolm snorted. “Don't let her age fool you. She’s sharp lady.”

Loud snoring came from the room. Grams snorted several times before rolling onto her side. Hamish tiptoed into the room, followed by Malcolm. “Grams...Grams.” He nudged her shoulder several times, jerking her awake.

“Who's here? Is that daft parrot talking to me again?” The parrot cackled from the next room.

“No Grams. It's me, Hamish.”

She sat up and leaned against the pillows. “Couldn't sleep? Is everything all right?”

“I'm not sure. I have someone here who says he knows you. Frankly, he looks more like a criminal than your friend.”

“Well, don't keep me waiting. Who is it then?” She reached into the glass of water at her bedside and popped her false teeth back into her mouth. Captain Malcolm stepped into a sliver of moonlight that peeked through the drapes. Grams gasped. “What are you doing here Captain Malcolm?”

“The young lad must’ve given me a spit polish, releasing me from my prison.”    

She turned to Hamish. “Now dear, when did you do this?”

Hamish curled his upper lip. “I have no idea. All I know is that the daft man woke me from a sound sleep, scared me half to death, reeking to high heaven, oh…and he keeps rambling on about a leprechaun who cursed him.”

Grams squinted at the darkened room. “Finnegan is here? Where is he hiding himself these days?”

Captain Malcolm shrugged. “I haven't seen hide nor hair of that annoying leprechaun”.

“Now Captain Malcolm, you did go and steal his treasure, making him the laughingstock of his clan. I do believe he has a right to be angry, don't you?”

“No. He turned me into a wee statue and now I'm a charm on a necklace. I don't believe the punishment fits the crime,” said the pirate.

“You told him he'd never see any of his treasure because you were going to spend it all,” said Grams, while managing to look down her nose at the unruly pirate.

“That’s what he claims, but I remember no such thing,” said Captain Malcolm.

Grams rummaged around on the nightstand for her glasses. Once found, she shoved them on her face. “Ah, that's much better. You haven't changed at all Captain Malcolm.”

He swaggered to her bedside and fingered her silvery gray hair. “But you have. How long has it been since I last saw you?”

Grams tapped her chin for a moment. “Oh, maybe it was five or six years ago.”

He narrowed his gaze on her frail body. “You've grown old in so short a time. Are you ill?”

She lowered her head while twisting a piece of quilt in her gnarled fingers. “Nonsense, I'm fine. I've never felt better.”

Captain Malcolm whispered into her ear, “Liar.” He nodded toward Hamish. “You keeping it from the lad?”

She whispered back. “Please keep this between us.”

“Grams,” said Hamish, “You’re fine, right?”

She patted his hand. “Not to worry. I just look older to the Captain because it's been awhile since he’s seen me.”

Hamish pulled out the chair next to her bed and sat. “You don't really believe this leprechaun nonsense…do you?”

“Of course I do. Ever since I was a little girl, Finnegan’s been coming to the cottage to change Captain Malcolm back into his human form and find out where the treasure is, but Malcolm keeps denying he know anything about it.” She turned to the pirate. “You are quite stubborn.”

He arched his bushy brows. “So I keep hearing.”

Hamish cocked his head toward Malcolm and said to Grams, “How long is he going to be here?”

Grams paused while scratching her chin. “I guess until Finnegan shows up to either set Captain Malcolm free, or to turn him back into a charm.”

“Since I don't see any sign of a leprechaun, I’m guessing he’ll be here for a spell? Where's he going to sleep?”

“He can stay in the other spare bedroom,” said Grams.

“I keep Marvin in there. He might not like sharing the room.” Hamish waved his hand under his nose. “Besides, Mum would be quite put out to find so filthy a man on her clean white sheets.”

“Your mum wasn’t known for her clean laundry so it shouldn’t make all that much of a difference. She could use the practice of doing the wash,” said Grams.

Captain Malcolm let out a loud belch as the chicken digested in his stomach. “As long as there's a bed, I’ll be fine.” He stood and strolled to the door. “Now lead the way.”

Hamish yawned and stretched. “All right, but be nice to Marvin. He's sensitive.”

Captain Malcolm snorted. “He’ll lose that flaw once he’s been around me for a spell.”

Hamish hid his grin. “Oh you think so, do you?”

Captain Malcolm shrugged. “He will if he knows what's good for him.”

“Be nice to him,” said Hamish as he opened the door to Marvin’s room.

Captain Malcolm paused. “Marvin is a bird?”

“Actually, he’s a parrot. Now be quiet, he’s sleeping.” Hamish grabbed a spare blanket from the closet and tossed it onto the bed. “Here you go. Now have a good sleep.”

Captain Malcolm flopped down onto the mattress and rolled back and forth on the sheets. “This is nice. It's been forever since I slept in a real bed and this one is most comfortable.” He tucked the blanket around his body and closed his eyes. “Thanks laddie. Now leave so I can sleep.”

“Night then. By the way, you can call me Hamish instead of laddie.” He closed the door and return to his own room. Once Hamish turned off the night lamp, he stared out the window as rain fell from the sky, spattering against the glass pane. Thunder boomed in the distance. Lightning flashed across the sky. Hamish closed the curtains and slid between the sheets of his bed, and drifted off to sleep, lulled by the storm. Little did he know that this would be the last peaceful night for quite some time.

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