It had been one of those days. You know the ones. Hot. Sticky. Sue dabbed the back of her hand to her brow as she pulled on her running shoes. The heat had instilled an uneasiness, a feeling that wouldn't go away no matter how hard she tried to distract herself. Picking up an easy pace, she makes her way along the narrow track leading toward Central Park.
A rainbow still filled the sky with its vivid colors, the summer shower had been brief, but the illusory arch still remained. Her mind was anywhere but on the trail as she stumbled over a lump jutting out of the ground and fell heavily. Getting to her feet, she curses profoundly.
Turning to see what had tripped her, she stands dumbfounded, staring blankly at the shimmering gold sprawled out on the path before her. Like magic, a bright flux of colors radiates from the coins, glowing like a miniature rainbow. There must have been hundreds upon hundreds of dollars worth of gold there, spewing from the small black cauldron left toppled on its side from where she had stumbled.
"Aye, ya clumsy lass. Why don't ye be lookin' where ya goin'?"
Turning around sharply to see who had spoken, she fixes her eyes on the large bush to her side. Standing transfixed, she watches the leaves rustle as a pair of beady eyes peer out at her from within its dense core. Unable to move, her jaw drops as she watches his form emerge from the mess of sinuous branches.
Standing no more than two feet tall, the little man glares up at her. His stumpy arms bent at the elbows, fists clenched at his thick waist, resting against the wide band of his black belt. The creases formed around his small dark eyes are framed by thick upturned brows, messy and unkempt with long strands of coarse hair twirling high against his brow. The uncouth bristles of his beard hang long beneath his smooth chin, splaying out from his jaw-line to meet the mess of tangled auburn hair of his sideburns.
"And what ye be lookin' at thar lass? And git awey from mar gold!"
Jumping back, she watches as his pudgy hands sweep the coins into a pile, scooping them back inside the overturned crock in a frenzied haste. Looking up at her, his eyes glow a bright crimson red.
Stepping away from the strange little man slowly, she turns and runs, not stopping until she reaches the safety of her apartment. Resting against the closed door, she takes deep breaths, telling herself it had to be a dream. Still, her heart races as she sees his face, and hears his screechy voice. She closes her eyes as a trickle of sweat makes its way down the side of her temple. I must be going mad, she laughs as she catches her breath, shaking her head as she cups her face in her hands.
As she raises her head, she kicks off her sneakers. The sound of metal hitting bare wood resounds inside the small apartment. Looking up, she follows the noise. Seeing the shimmer of something rolling across the floor, she follows curious as it rolls, swaying side to side before stopping and circling upon itself before resting against the grain of the wooden floorboard.
"I wasn't dreaming!" Picking up the gold coin, she studies it close. A sheen of light seems to radiate from it as she holds the strange coin up toward the sunlight. A shamrock covers one side, and on the other is an almost three-dimensional version of the weird little man she'd met earlier.
"One be fer me darlin'
"One be fer me maid
"One be fer the dragon
"Standin' over his fresh slay"
Dropping the coins one by one into the open mouth of the crock, the leprechaun counts as they fall. Casting eerie shadows across the table as he works, the flickering flame of a solitary candle reflects against the dewy walls of the cavern.
"Aye, what's be happenin' here now!" Tipping the pot over, spewing the coins onto the rough surface, he begins counting once again.
"Uugh! There be missin' one of me monies." Slamming his small fist against the table, he pushes the crock hard, spilling gold across the surface and onto the floor. His eyes close to form tight slits as he grabs his jacket and pulls on his short stovepipe hat.
"Don't ye be sleepin' after the dark of night
"'Tis to be sure ye be waken in a fright
"If ye take mah monies ye best be runnin' fer the hill
"I'll be huntin' ye down ready fer the kill"
"Honey, would you please check the oven? I'm going to jump in the shower quickly before Jeff and Trudy get here."
"Sure, Sue. Do I need to do anything?" Dave calls from the lounge.
"Maybe just turn the potatoes, the chicken should be fine," she yells, grabbing her towel as she heads toward the bathroom.
Peeling the robe from her shoulders, Sue reaches in to turn on the taps. Glancing quickly at her reflection in the mirror she spots a pair of beady eyes staring back at her from behind the door. Turning to find herself alone, she inhales deep, brushing it off as her over-active imagination playing tricks. Still feeling uneasy, she washes herself quickly before turning off the water and grabbing her towel.
"I just had the strangest sensation," Sue says as she enters the kitchen.
"Oh yeah?" Looking up from his paper, Dave whistles. The subtle curve of her breast forces the front of her robe open, allowing him a clear view of her cleavage.
"Stop that," she says with a laugh. "I'm serious. I could swear I saw a man's reflection leering at me while I was in the bathroom. When I looked there was nobody there."
"Want me to check it out?" he asks, a look of concern crossing his face.
"Would you mind? I know it's probably nothing, but I'd feel better if you did."
"Sure, honey." Getting up from the table, Dave kisses Sue's hair before making his way toward the bathroom.
Opening the doors and closing them theatrically, he checks all rooms and cupboards before heading back to the kitchen.
"No boogey-man in there now," he teases, playfully grabbing her ass through the robe.
Slapping his hand, she smiles. "Thanks honey. It just had me spooked."
"Are you sure it was a man and not just your eyes playing tricks?"
"It could have been anything. Like I said, it was probably nothing." Shrugging it off, Sue pulls the waist tie on her robe. "I'm going to finish getting ready."
"I guess I'd better start getting ready myself," Dave says, following her down the hall to their bedroom.
"Hey Sue, tell them about that little man you saw today," Dave says as they sit around the dinner table.
"What little man?" Trudy asks, gazing at Sue.
"Oh, it was nothing," Sue says, feeling the heat rise to her face.
"Seriously, she fell over a pot of gold in Central Park!"
"Bullshit!" Jeff chokes, holding back a laugh as he washes down the lodged piece of chicken with a mouthful of wine.
"She did! Tell them hon."
Looking at her husband, Sue gives him a 'just drop it' look.
"Okay," she says finally, after some encouragement from her friends. "I was jogging and fell. When I got to my feet, I turned to see a pot of gold spilled, coins all over the path. There was this little man with pointy ears that came out of a bush... I thought I was going mad until I got home and took off my sneakers. One of the coins I'd seen fell out of my shoe."
"Oh wow! Can we see it?" Trudy asks excited.
From the darkness of the bedroom, the leprechaun sits quietly and listens; hearing the sound of footsteps approaching, he slides himself under the bed and waits. From his position, he looks on as the room lights up, and watches a pair of feet move toward the dresser. He hears the sound of a drawer opening and closing, then watches as the feet retreat and the room is once again left darkness.
"Don't ye be turnin' out the light, the end draws nigh, lassie," he whispers as he climbs out from under the bed.
"Oh wow! It's heavy," Trudy says, holding the coin in her palm.
"Let me see." Jeff holds out his hand as Trudy passes him the coin.
In the bathroom, the leprechaun glances around; a wild look covers his face as he reaches for the cake of soap from the shower recess. Reaching into the vanity cupboard he pulls out a packet of razors and carefully slides one into the soap, leaving enough protruding without it being noticeable. Replacing the soap, he reaches for the bottle of shampoo...
"I'll be back in a minute," Trudy says, excusing herself from the table. Looking up from the coin, the others smile an 'okay' as she makes her way toward the bathroom.
As the toilet flushes, she leans over the sink to wash her hands. In an instant, the leprechaun pounces, landing on her back forcing her forward. With a crack, her head smashes against the basin. Holding Trudy by the hair, he yanks her head back as he glares at her reflection in the mirror before them.
"I'll teach ye to be touchin' mah monies," the leprechaun sneers as he pulls out a length of pantyhose; slipping it around her neck, he pulls tight. Struggling for breath, Trudy slides her fingers between the nylon and her neck, desperately trying to pull it away. The leprechaun is too strong, as she feels her battle wane. Her cries for help sound like soft rasps as the stocking is pulled tighter. The burning of her throat as she gasps for air, the last thing she feels as she slumps in a heap to the floor.
"I'll get the video ready," Dave offers as they finish their drinks.
"Thanks honey." Placing their dinner plates in a pile, Sue carries them to the sink.
"I'll go see what's taking Trudy so long."
"Okay, Jeff. Tell her the video's just about to start," Dave calls from the lounge room.
"Will do, mate," Jeff says as he makes his way down the hall.
Pulling a fresh bottle of wine from the refrigerator, Sue switches off the kitchen light before joining her husband in the lounge.