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Stories by Laura Lagana
Hamish McWallace and the Leprechaun Treasure - Chapter 7

Hamish walked though the front door and called out. “Hello? Anyone home?” His parrot, Marvin, flew around the corner, squawking. Hamish held out his hand for the African Gray parrot to land on his fingers. “What’s wrong?” Hamish cooed to the bird as he stroked the parrot’s ruffled feathers.

A moment later, the loud pounding of Captain Malcolm’s footsteps barreled down the hallway, followed by the soft shuffle of Grams slippers.

“Come here you daft parrot.” Captain Malcolm held his thumb to his mouth and shouted at Hamish. “He bit my finger!”

Marvin chuckled. “Good boy! Good boy!”

Hamish cringed and held Marvin’s beak. “Shush. Stop teasing him.”

Captain Malcolm held his hand under the parrot’s chest. After a few tentative pecks from the parrot, Marvin stepped onto the pirate’s fingers, and then nestled next to Captain Malcolm’s matted red beard before grooming several strands of hair.

“That is a good bird,” said Captain Malcolm.

“Give him back,” demanded Hamish. “Can’t you see that he doesn’t like you?”

“You’d be wrong about that laddie. Snack and I have come to an agreement.”

“Oh? And what would that be?” Hamish tossed his book bag in the corner of the hallway and paused. “Did you just call my bird Snack?”

“Aye, I did. He’s too small to be Lunch in case I ever grow hungry, so I now call him Snack.”

“His name is Marvin and he’s my parrot. Give him back,” said Hamish.

“Now don’t go having a fit. I’ve decided to take him off your hands. No self respecting pirate worth his salt would pass on owning a parrot. Besides, I stole him fair and square, therefore he’s mine.”

“You’re stealing my parrot?” Hamish threw up his hands and kissed his Grandmother on the cheek. “Nice to see you Grams. How was your day?” He glanced around the room before saying, “Where’s Mum and Dad?”

Grams coughed. “Well…your father went to work and your mum decided to take a shopping break.”

Hamish poked Captain Malcolm in the chest. “What did you do?”

“We should have a seat in the living room. My old bones need a rest,” said Grams as she avoided Hamish’s probing gaze.

Sighing, Hamish followed his grandma and the burly captain into the living room. “So, he said to Captain Malcolm. “What did you do?”

Grams patted Hamish’s knee as they sat on the sofa. “He didn’t mean to offend her cooking.” She looked down her nose at Hamish from above her thick rimmed glasses. “I mean, really dear, your mum has never been known for her cooking and Captain Malcolm didn’t mean to call her meal fit only for swine, but you know how sensitive she is.” Grams shook her head several times, tisking under her breath. “It’s very unfortunate.”

Hamish tossed back his head and sighed. “How angry was Mum?”

Grams fiddled with the hem of her shirt. “Well, she stormed out the house and told your dad that she’s not coming home until Captain Malcolm is gone. She even threatened to get a hotel room.”

“And?” Hamish waved his hands, encouraging Grams to continue.

A whistle sounded from the kitchen, breaking into Grams reply. “Ooh, my water is ready.” She stood and paused to say to Hamish and Captain Malcolm, “Are you two coming? I’ll not be drinking tea all by myself.”

Hamish knew better than to push his Grandmother. Once the pot of tea finished brewing, she would finish telling him what happened. He leaned toward Captain Malcolm and said out of Grams hearing as they followed her into the kitchen, “Don’t get used to the parrot, I’m taking him back.”

Captain Malcolm grinned at the challenge. “Doubt that very much.” He pulled out a chair for Grams once she added the tea and hot water to the porcelain tea pot. “Here you go Grams. Rest your bones while I grab those biscuits for you.” He snickered at Hamish as he reached for the plate of shortbread.

Hamish grumbled while Marvin nestled within the Captain’s scruffy beard and pulled out a chicken bone. He shook his head at the sight and smell of the pirate. Hamish couldn’t stop himself from saying, “How would you like to learn how to use a shower?”

Captain Malcolm leaned back in his chair and crossed one leg over the other. “What is this shower you speak of?”

Before Hamish could answer, Grams poured the tea from the pot before adding a spoon of sugar and a touch of milk. A moment later, she pulled out her false teeth and sat them on a plate next to her biscuits. She sighed as the warm brew flowed over her tongue. “That hits the spot.” Grams continued to sip her tea while Hamish waited for her to finish the explanation.

Unable to wait any longer, he said, “Well? What did Captain Malcolm do to run my parents from their home?”

“Oh, right, your parents.” Grams sipped her tea before continuing. “Captain Malcolm was exploring the house and the poor dear walked into your mum and dad’s bedroom and found them dressing. Why, your mother’s scream gave poor Captain Malcolm a good fright. That it did.” Grams patted the pirate’s hand. “And later, he told your mum that her soup wasn’t fit for swine.” She leaned close to Hamish and lowered her voice to say, “We all know that to be true. Your dear mum can’t cook at all. And for the rest of the day, you mum huffed every time Captain Malcolm did something that she found annoying. I mean, really dear, throwing a temper tantrum when Captain Malcolm clogged the toilet, or broke the microwave? He has never seen these things before. Your mum used the microwave to heat a cup of water for her tea and Captain Malcolm suffered yet another fright. He thought leprechauns were here to attack him, so he kicked and pummeled the microwave into wee little pieces. It’s now in the trash. That was when your dad left. Your mum left when Malcolm criticized the haggis that she was making for dinner.”

Hamish groaned as he held his head in his hands. “Where are they now?”

Grams bit into a biscuit before saying, “Your dad is at the office and your mum packed her bags and decided to stay at a hotel after all, until Captain Malcolm leaves the house. Oh, and she gave me some money and the keys to the car. I’m to take you out for dinner.”

“Which car do you have?” Hamish glanced out of the kitchen window for a better view of the driveway.”

“Your mum called a cab for a lift to the nearest hotel,” said Grams.

“So,” said Hamish, “my mum is gone until Captain Malcolm is gone and you have no idea when my dad will return?”

Captain Malcolm stroked Marvin’s feathers. “That is a fitting summary of the day’s events. It’s better this way.”

“And why is that?” Hamish glared at Captain Malcolm.

“They’d just get in the way and ask too many questions. I need to find a ship and crew before Finnegan show’s up to turn me back into a charm again.”

Hamish smacked his forehead and paced back and forth across the kitchen floor. “Please tell me you don’t believe any of this, Grams?”

She stiffened in her chair as she shoved her false teeth back into her mouth. “And why not? Every word of it’s true you know.”

Hamish noticed that his Grams grew defensive every time he admitted to doubting the existence of Finnegan and the truth of Captain Malcolm’s story. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, he kept his opinions to himself. “I’m rather hungry now. How about dinner?”

Grams scrambled from the table, calling over her shoulder as she hurried down the hall. “Let me get my purse and we’ll be going.”

Several minutes later, with everyone buckled in their seats, Hamish turned toward Captain Malcolm. “We should lock Marvin back in his cage.”

“His name is Snack and he’s staying right here on my shoulder where he belongs. A pirates parrot knows better than to fly away, unless he’s going for help.”

Hamish turned back around and crossed his arms over his chest. “When you leave here, I’m taking back my bird.”

A deep rumble of laughter came from the back seat. “Whatever you say. Whatever you say.” Captain Malcolm scratched Marvin’s head while the parrot cooed from the extra attention.

Grams pulled the car out of the driveway and hovered over the steering wheel as she drove down the street, watching for oncoming cars. She drove past several restaurants before Captain Malcolm shouted for her to stop the car.

“There! Let’s eat there!”

“McDonald’s?” Hamish searched the parking lot for a space.

“Aye. That’s a Scottish name and if I know my people, there will be excellent food within.”

Hamish shrugged. “Okay.”

Standing in line a few minutes later, Captain Malcolm leaned close to Hamish and mumbled, “Where’s the haggis?”

“They don’t serve haggis here. It’s not well known in America and it’s too much work to make.”

“What?” Captain Malcolm’s booming voice drew the notice of the other people in the restaurant. “No haggis?”

“Shush,” scolded Grams. “Try something different. You’ve been a charm for a long time and there are lots of different foods to try. Who knows, you may actually like some of them.”

“Tell you what,” said Hamish, “why don’t you let me order for you?”

Captain Malcolm grumbled. “As long as it tastes decent. I’m hungry since your mum never fed me today.”

Hamish eyed the menu for a moment before asking Grams, “Do you want a fish sandwich or a burger?”

She patted Hamish on the arm as she glanced around the restaurant for a comfortable seat. “That sounds lovely dear. Don’t be long. I’m quite hungry myself. Your mum was too angry to finish making lunch and I didn’t eat anything other than the biscuits and tea.”

Once the cashier handed Hamish the tray of food, he filled the sodas at the soda fountain before heading out to the patio to join the others.

“What’s all this?” Captain Malcolm eyed the paper wrapper and flicked at the straw poking out of the top of his cup.

“You sip the soda through the straw,” said Hamish as he showed the pirate how to do it. “And then you open the paper like a present where the burger is kept nice and warm.” He bit into the soft bun, groaning with delight as the juices from the meat washed over his tongue.

Captain Malcolm narrowed his gaze on the straw and took a sip. He leaned back in his seat, and exclaimed, “This tickles my tongue. It’s good.”

“That’s the bubbles,” said Hamish. “Now try the burger. I think you’ll like it better than haggis.”

“Oh…I didn’t know food could taste this good. What are these?”

“They call them french fries here in America,” said Hamish. “Dip one in some of this ketchup.”

Captain Malcolm’s gaze grew wider. “I think that once I find me a new ship, I will try to find this McDonald and make him run my galley.”

Hamish chuckled at the comment. “And how do you plan to convince McDonald to come aboard your ship?”

“Why shanghai him of course. If he still won’t do it, I’ll toss him overboard when we’re out to sea,” said Captain Malcolm.

“I hate to be the one to tell you this, but McDonald’s is a chain of restaurants across the United States. I doubt they’ll let you shanghai their cooks,” said Hamish, laughing at the idea.

Captain Malcolm shoved several more fries into his mouth and mumbled, “Then I’ll just have to take over these United States and force them to give me all their McDonald’s.” Marvin waddled down his arm and stole a fry. The parrot screeched when Captain Malcolm tried to take back the french-fry, but pulled his finger away before the birds beak bit down onto his soft flesh.

“Good luck.” Hamish snorted. “It’s a big country.”

“How big?” Captain Malcolm licked the salt from his fingers.

“Maybe a hundred times the size of Scotland and Ireland put together,” said Hamish, before he sipped from his soda.

“Then I’ll just need to get a bigger crew to help me take over this country.”

Hamish rolled his eyes, but kept his comments to himself as he finished his burger. A few minutes later, Hamish stood. “I’m getting another drink. Anyone else want one?”

“Aye.” Captain Malcolm handed Hamish the now empty cup.

Grams stared at the ground as she said, “No thank you dear. I’m quite fine with what I have.”

Hamish nodded and went inside the building. He returned several minutes later and slid into the seat next to Grams while handing Captain Malcolm his soda. “Grams? What are you doing?”

Grams sat on the edge of her seat, rolling tiny pieces of bread into little balls. “I’m feeding the ants.” She tossed several pieces onto the ground.

“You’re what?”

“Feeding the ants,” said Grams.

“Why would you do that?” Hamish shook his head, continuing to sip his soda.

“Someone needs to do it. Besides, they’re fascinating to watch. Just look at how they work together to help each other.”

Hamish slid closer to his Grams and peered over the edge of the table. “Show me.”

“See that wee ant?”

“Aye,” said Hamish.

“Well,” she continued, “he noticed the piece of bread, but it’s too big for him to carry by himself. Now see the others? They’re marching over to help him.” She waited a moment before saying, “See? They’re working together to lift the food.” Her voice sounded far away to Hamish’s ears when she made the next comment. “Too bad people don’t do that. We could learn a thing or two by watching and feeding the ants.”

Hamish reached over the table and grabbed the leftover pieces of Captain Malcolm’s bun and rolled them into tiny balls. Once he tossed all the bread onto the ground, he put his arm around Grams shoulder. “I love you. I wish you didn’t have to leave so soon.”

A pained look flashed in her gray eyes. “You know that I love you, right?” Hamish nodded. “If there comes a time when I’m not here, you’ll not forget that?”

Hamish shook his head. “No. You’ll always be my Grams.”

Her frail hands clutched his shirt with a surprising burst of strength. “Promise me you’ll make time in your life to feed the ants.”

“Why are you so worried about the ants? Is there something you’re not telling me?” Hamish put his arm around her shoulder.

A faint smile appeared in the corners of her mouth. “No, it’s nothing to worry about.”

He met her gaze and said, “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” said Grams. “You only have one life and before you know it, it’s over. I want you to take the time to enjoy the little things.” She sighed. “I tried to tell that to your father, but he didn’t listen. He spends more time at work than I like. Since he is my only child I do believe I spoiled him too much. Please don’t think you aren’t loved, because you are.”

Hamish chucked. “I know Mum and Dad love me. Moving here was stressful for them both. Besides, I have you here now.”

A faint whisper passed between her lips. “I may not always be here,” but Hamish was busy tossing more breadcrumbs to the ants and missed Grams comment.

Captain Malcolm squirmed in his seat. “Are you both finished with all this sappiness?”

Marvin squawked while Grams giggled. “Sorry to embarrass you like that.”

The pirate grumbled. “Don’t do it anymore. You know how much I hate it.”

“That’s only because I like to give you the occasional hug when I get to see you. You’re my favorite pirate.”

Captain Malcolm slurped the rest of his soda before answering, “I believe I’m the only pirate you are acquainted with.”

“That is true,” said Grams.

Hamish cut in to say, “I don’t remember reading about any Scottish pirates in school.”

“That’s because Finnegan turned me into a charm before I was able to become an infamous pirate. My name was feared up and down the Scottish coastline, but England had yet to learn of my power. If that daft leprechaun hadn’t become so angry at me, thinking I took his treasure, I would have become the most feared pirate on the seas. Besides, it’s a well know fact that all the greatest pirates came from Scotland.”

Hamish arched his brows. “And who might these pirates be?”

Captain Malcolm paused for a moment before saying, “Well…we have Captain Kidd, John Gow, and my favorite, Black Bart.”

“Black Bart is from Wales,” said Hamish, snorting at Captain Malcolm’s mistake. He handed the last french-fry to Marvin, who cooed at the tasty treat.

“Thought you didn’t know about pirates?” Captain Malcolm looked down his nose at Hamish and continued, “Even though he’s from Wales, I bet he can trace his ancestry to Scotland.”

Hamish shook his head. “Aye, sure he can.” A groan from Grams drew his attention. “Are you all right?”

She rubbed her neck before saying, “I’m just a bit tired, that’s all. Maybe if we head home, I’ll feel more energetic later tonight.” Grams patted Hamish on the leg. “I promise dear.” She rifled through her purse for the keys and led the way to the car before driving home. Once she entered the cool house, Grams settled in the recliner.

“Would you like some tea?” Hamish stroked Grams’ arm, worried by her pale complexion.

“That sounds lovely dear.” Her eyes closed. Her dark eyelashes fanned over her pale face, emphasizing the deep circles under her eyes.

Captain Malcolm sat Marvin on the bird perch before flopping down on the couch, calling out to Hamish after turning on the television. “Thanks for asking if I want tea. Aye, I’ll have some too!”

Fifteen minutes later, Hamish walked into the living room, carrying a tray of cups, saucers and a warm pot of tea. Once he sat the tray on the coffee table, Hamish handed a small plate to Grams. “Here. This is for your false teeth.”

“Thank you. You are such a considerate lad.” She laid her teeth on the saucer next to her elbow.

The three of them sat in silence, drinking their tea with the quiet occasionally broken by the muffled sounds coming from the television and Marvin’s grinding beak. Every now and again, Malcolm tossed a piece of biscuit to the parrot. Twilight settled across the land. Hamish closed his eyes, nodding off to sleep.

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