Thirteen short stories
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A Blirt to the End and Other Stories
A Blirt to the End
Donal can’t do anything right, as his wife has frequently pointed out to him. Can he manage the perfect murder and suicide, or will it all end in tears?
A Famous American Poet Meets the New Irish Woman
A largely factual autobiographical tale set in The Suffolk House (as it was then) in Dublin.
Tommy saved Pat’s life and won’t let him forget it, but Pat finds a way to get even.
Mother Knows Best
Mother Earth is on hunger strike against the stockpiling of “nucular” weapons, but there is an Irish solution to a worldwide problem.
The Forged Autograph
When Rhonda the Rock and Roll Queen, disguised as a man to evade her adoring fans, needs to pee, which door will she choose: Ladies, Gents or Exit? Clue: it’s been snowing.
A spiritual savings account pays off explosively.
Emma’s Ice Cream Tree
Can ice cream grow on trees? Six-year-old Emma hopes so.
A childhood obsession lasts a lifetime.
A horse catches a would-be arsonist.
Until Death Do Us Part
The story behind the headline: “Deathbed Nuptials. Lovers cut down in a hail of bullets exchange vows among wildflowers.”
A leprechaun shows 11-year-old Brian the truth about pots of gold.
The Joy as It Flies
Can bitter enemies ever be friends? Are people really good at heart, as Anne Frank believed?
A Christmas Without Snow
A northern tourist in Key West, Florida, finds an unexpected gift from an unlikely Santa.
Once I caught a leprechaun
And asked him for his gold.
He stamped his foot and looked at me,
And this is what he told ...
Brian Sullivan scowled at the four lines of verse that he had managed to pry out of his eleven-year-old brain and bit through his pencil eraser. He pushed his freckly fingers into his russet hair of moderate but fashionably acceptable length and pulled his head back until his neck muscles ached. With a sigh, he spat the eraser toward the ceiling. His brain throbbed with the strain of composing words into a meaningful pattern.
As usual, he had put off the assignment until the last minute and then some. It was half an hour past bedtime, and he could not work his way around the rhyme and rhythm of the Saint Patrick’s Day poem that was due the next day. Miss Kelly had given the sixth grade a week’s notice, so he had no excuse.
“I could write a story about something real, like baseball or Indians or horses,” he grumbled. “But a poem, about an imaginary thing like a leprechaun! Blah!”
In a fit of temper at the injustice of it all, he slammed his chin into his hands and flung his elbows toward the desk. But the desk wasn’t there. It hadn’t moved – it had vanished. And something that felt like a small foot between his shoulder blades pushed him forward. He found himself in a heap on the floor under the desk, which had suddenly reappeared.
He heard music overhead. “Garryowen”, an old and disreputable Irish drinking song, was being hummed softly by a voice that sounded like the mellow uillean bagpipes on the traditional music tapes his mother got from Ireland. He rose on his knees and peered over the edge of the desk.
A cloud of smoke surrounded the old lamp with the heavy brass base and hand-painted glass shade that looked like a mushroom. A smoke ring spurted from within the cloud and, enlarging as it approached him, encircled his face and stopped. He held his breath, expecting to choke. The cloud around the lamp began to rise, revealing a pair of silver-buckled black leather shoes at the bottom of the lamp base.
He finally had to take a breath in spite of the smoke wreath that had now settled around his neck. Surprisingly, it smelled like outdoors – trees and flowers and a freshly dug hole.
The smoke cloud was thinning out, and Brian saw first a clay pipe with a long, curved stem, and then a creature at the puffing end of it, leaning against the lamp base with a proprietary air. He was about a foot tall and looked like an elderly Peter Pan or an underfed Santa Claus, if you changed the red to green and the white fur to brown velvet. His scraggly grey beard grew to various lengths and looked chewed on. The clothes had the appearance of being travelled and slept in regularly. His body was angles and knobs, and his face was corners and creases. Brian was reminded of a moss-covered tree root. The stranger continued to hum in his pleasantly reedy voice and allowed himself to be thoroughly inspected while the smoke dispersed. Then he sat cross-legged in front of the lamp base and stared down his nose at Brian with smug superiority.
“Well,” said the leprechaun, “are you convinced?”
“Convinced?” Brian repeated vaguely.
“That I’m not imaginary?”
“Imaginary?” Brian’s brain struggled to catch up.
“Do you notice an echo?”
Brian nearly echoed “Echo?” but the leprechaun’s point came across.
Questions tumbled out of his mouth.
“Who are you? Where did you come from? What are you doing here? What’ll my mom say if she comes in and sees all this smoke? Was that you that pushed me?”
The leprechaun held up one finger, puffed furiously on his pipe – it had gone out – and said officiously, “I am called Padowic.”