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Stories by Laura Lagana
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure - Chapter 6

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 address?”

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 Charlestown.”

“That’s pronounced 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 address?”

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. “What does?”

“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.

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