A horn blew in the distance
as a cargo ship pulled into the Charleston harbor. Finnegan peered through
the wooden slats of the animal pen that he’d hid inside for the last several
days and sniffed the pungent salty air of the humid southern climate. Using
an elephant’s trunk for leverage, Finnegan climbed onto the creature’s back.
The elephant whispered to
Finnegan. “When the Custom Agents boards the ship, hide behind my ear and
I’ll have all the other circus animals act agitated so that the people don’t
poke around too much in our cages.”
Finnegan patted the elephant
on the head and said, “You’d do that for me? Even though I spent the last
couple of days complaining about the smell of the cargo hold?”
The elephant nodded. “Yes. We
elephants pride ourselves on forgiveness, besides, you’re right, it smells.”
A moment later, several men
in uniform opened the door to the cargo hold and as promised to Finnegan,
the animals grumbled, growled, and knocked about in their cages. Once the
animals were off loaded from the ship, Finnegan slipped from behind the
elephant’s ear and scurried from the port to the nearest telephone. Several
people paused when they caught sight of a movement from the corner of their
eye, but like a hazy dream, the image of Finnegan faded away. The humidity
hovered in the air like a blanket. Finnegan’s emerald green coat stuck to
his small frame while beads of sweat ran down his spine. He found an empty
wooden crate, dragged it over to the phone booth before climbing on top.
After pressing the zero key on the number pad, he called out, “Hello…is
there an operator?” Finnegan tapped the receiver several times until a voice
came on the line.
“May I help you?” The nasal
voice of a woman cut into Finnegan’s abuse of the phone.
“Aye. I am searching for a
family,” he said in a heavy Irish brogue. “A Scottish family to be precise.”
The voice chuckled before
continuing. “I need a little more information. Do you have a last name or an
Finnegan paused for a moment,
trying to remember Grams last name as he tapped his fingers on the glass.
“Uh…McWallace. That’s it, McWallace. And they live somewhere in
Charleston, not Charlestown. Give me a moment please,” said the operator.
Silence filled the void while Finnegan waited for the lady to finish
searching for the McWallace family. Several moments later, she joined him
again on the line. “I found an Alasdair McWallace and the phone number was
recently set up. Would you like the number?”
Finnegan tried to remember
the name of Grams’ son, but when the name eluded him, he figured this was
his best option, so he asked for the address before hanging up the phone.
Finnegan climbed down from the crate and crept along the storefronts that
lined the wharf. A lone cab idled next to an old brick front building while
Finnegan waited for a moment to make sure no one else was around. He dashed
toward the cab and opened the door, slipping inside the cool interior.
“Where you headed to?” The
cabby’s voice broke into Finnegan’s thoughts.
Finnegan paused for a moment
as he tried to remember the address. “Uh…it’s in Mount Pleasant.”
“Do you know the street
Finnegan rambled off a number
that he hoped was the one the operator told him and crossed his fingers
during the ride. “For the life of me, I can’t remember the street name.”
“You’re in luck,” said the
cabby. “It’s a new neighborhood and the address shouldn’t be too hard to
find.” He adjusted the rearview mirror to get a better look at his
passenger, but his gaze grew round upon seeing Finnegan for the first time.
He glanced at the small calendar taped to the dashboard before saying, “Now
it makes sense.”
Finnegan tugged on his
collar, trying to loosen the tight material that constricted his throat.
“Your Irish accent and your
leprechaun clothes.” The cabby paused at the stop sign before pulling into
traffic. “You’re here for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, aren’t you?”
Finnegan sighed with relief.
“Aye, that I am. In fact, that’s where the other leprechauns are going.
We’re practicing for the big day.”
The cabby chuckled. “Good
thing you found my cab then. I’d hate to think what would have happened if
you got lost and missed your parade.”
“Aye…lost…that would be
upsetting.” Finnegan released a pent up breath. This was going better than
he thought. Now all he needed to do was find Grams, release Captain Malcolm,
and find his treasure before King Rogan and the rest of his clan did. Piece
of cake. Finnegan crossed his arms over his chest and inhaled. For the first
time in several centuries, everything was going his way.