Story A 'How to Find Things' by Raelinda Woad

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Well, on the one hand I have never believed in magic. And I have certainly never allowed myself to believe in hocus pocus, or anything of that nature. But on the other hand, I never would have believed that I could long for something for so much of my life that wanting it would become a part of who I was, like a secret lining of moss growing inside a plain, wooden box.

But the point is, I was trying to find a Leprechaun. I believed that a leprechaun could help me with my problem.

I had complete confidence that I could find a leprechaun. It is my uncanny talent. In fact, it is my only talent. I'm not a very clever man and I don't have a sense of humor. But never mind all that. Whenever one of my coworkers down at the office is missing something they always come to me because I know how to find things.

It's so simple that I'm surprised that no one else has figured it out. The trick to finding things is to close your eyes and forget about what things look like, and concentrate on what they do. Because things never disappear, they just change shape. But no matter what they've made themselves look like, they cannot change their behavior. And that always gives them away.

For example, you might say, "I don't see any wild horses running around anymore." That's just not true. I can see wild horses running all over the place. But they've changed their shape. Now they look like guitars. But if you closely observe the faces of the women and men as they are playing, you will note that many of them are actually riding wild horses.

Of course locating a leprechaun would be a bit more tricky because their behavior is to hide. I would have to figure out the one thing that they could never resist doing, and then figure out what was around today that was doing that same thing.

Well, I had plenty of time in which to accomplish this because, when I'm not down at the office working, I'm not doing much of anything else. I don't like watching television, except for the News because, so far, it doesn't have a laugh track. I don't like to go out. I tried going to a poetry reading once, but I did not enjoy myself because the poems did not rhyme. And nobody ever calls me.

So I sat down in my living room and I thought about leprechauns and what they used to do. They used to trick people. They used to dance around in front of people enticing, "Follow me to a pot of gold." But if you followed them into the woods, all you would get would be dirty and torn and lost.

Well, I resolved to keep an eye out for anyone offering me a pot of gold. But several weeks went by and no one approached me with that offer.

I was beginning to get discouraged when one day I opened my mailbox and found that I had received a large, neon bright postcard with a 900 number on it. "HURRY! HURRY! IT'S ALMOST TOO LATE!" the postcard screamed in large letters. "YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON ONE OF THESE 3 VALUABLE PRIZES! A ROLLS ROYCE! HIS N' HERS DIAMOND WATCHES! OR A MICROWAVE GRILL MADE OUT OF GENUINE POLYMERS! BUT HURRY BECAUSE IF YOU WANT TO GET A PRIZE YOU MUST MUST MUST DIAL THE NUMBER!!!"

"Goodness me," I thought. "It's the leprechauns."

So I went upstairs and I got my gun. And then I dialed the number.

A woman with a glossy voice answered the phone.

"Global Telemarketing Networks," she sang. "May I help you?"

"Yes," I said. "I am calling about my valuable prize."

"Oh, sir!" the woman gushed. "You may have indeed won a prize! But before I can process your claim number and tell you which prize you may have won, our computer just needs a little information from you. Your name, your address, your annual income, your preferred credit card."

"Never mind all that, I'll buy it."

"Excuse me, sir?"

"Whatever it is that you are selling, miss, and I know you are selling something, I will buy it."

There was a pause. And then she said in a quiet voice, "Well, now that you mention it, sir, we are selling a little something. It's a portable water purifying system. It will bring years of healthy drinking to you and your loved ones. And it's only $369."

"Fine, I'll take two."

There was another pause. And then she said in a loud voice, "Wow! Nobody's every bought two before. Thank you, sir! Will this be Visa or Mastercard?"

"Neither. I don't have a credit card."

Another pause. "Well, sir, if you want to pay by check there will be a slight delay until it clears because-"

"Never mind all that. I want to pay in cash."

"Cash!" squeaked the woman. "But, sir, this is highly irregular! Um, I'll have to ask my supervisor."

I closed my eyes and concentrated. "You do that, miss. I'll wait."

A few moments later a man with an even glossier voice answered the phone.

"Sir!" the man boomed cheerfully, "What's all this about cash? Are you aware that you can go into any supermarket and purchase a money order?"

"I don't like supermarkets," I said. "They keep interrupting the music to announce a sale in aisle seven. Now, I'd like to buy three water purifying systems, and I'd like to pay cash."

The man stopped booming. "Three, you say? Well, this is highly irregular...but I suppose we can make an exception."

"Good," I said. "And I'd like to pay in person so that I might get a receipt."

"Of course, of course, sir." And he gave me the address.

So I put my gun in my pocket, and I drove over to the Global Telemarketing Network office, and was ushered in.

Well, the moment I saw the man from the phone I felt very good indeed. Because he was almost 6 feet tall and he had jet black hair. Surely a leprechaun who could disguise himself that well would have access to a lot of magic. I decided not to waste any time so as soon as we entered his office and shut the door, I pulled out my gun.

"Right," I said. "The gig's up."

"Oh my god!" gasped the man. "Please don't shoot, sir! You can have the water purifiers for free."

"Never mind all that. You can stop pretending now. I know you're a leprechaun."

"Oh my god," wept the man. "This can't really be happening."

"Well, if that's the way you want it," I said. And taking careful aim with my gun, I pulled the trigger.

Bang. Right on target.

It was a very special gun. I had purchased it myself at a joke shop. When you pulled the trigger a little flag popped out that said, "bang."

But I had removed that flag and replaced it with something else. A flag with a picture of a four leaf clover.

Well, as soon as the man saw the picture of the clover he gave a little scream and started shrinking. His hair seemed to catch fire as it went from jet black to bright red, and his ears and his nose became as pointed as a fox's.

"Begorah!" he fumed. "How did ye find me after all these years gone by?"

"Never mind all that. I have found you. And now you must grant me a wish."

"Aye, that I must," he grumbled. "Well, ok, what would ye be wanting?"

I said nothing. His pointed face took on a sly look. "Wait a minute, I know what ye want, sir. A pot of gold. Ah, yes, yes! And it just so happens that I have this enormous pot of gold stashed in the woods nearby. And mercy me, me motorcycle's parked right outside. Why, sir, if ye'd follow me in your Oldsmobile, I'll lead ye right to it."

"Never mind all that, I don't want gold."

"Ye don't want gold! This is highly irregular. Well, what do you want?"

Now that I was finally so close, I found that I could not speak. My throat had become dry and I thought that I might even blush. Finally I had to lean over and whisper my wish into his pointed ear.

"Begorah!" he gasped. "Are ye sure ye don't want gold? It's been centuries since I've done that sort of magic, sir, and frankly I'm a wee bit rusty. Oh, but if I only had a drink to loosen me up..."

"Well, it just so happens," I said, "that I brought along this bottle of fine Irish whiskey for that very purpose."

He snatched the bottle from my hand and then he drank the entire thing without offering me a single sip. Yet I felt as if it was I who was becoming drunk because things started to get blurry. The leprechaun started to swim around in the air in front of me.

"Hee, hee, hee," he hiccuped. "Here goes nothing!"

And then it was too blurry to see.

An hour later I was driving up a dirt mountain road when my back started itching like a thousand mosquitoes were biting me at once.

"Hurry, hurry," I thought. "Almost there."

And then I arrived at the edge of the cliff.

I parked my car and I got out. I tore off my shirt and I kicked off my shoes. I did not even bother to untie my laces.

I ran to the edge of the cliff. I did not even hesitate. I jumped over the edge.

Cold mountain air spilled across my body, while behind me my brand new wings unfurled. They were not made of feathers like in those dusty paintings you see in churches. Nor did they look like they had been cropped off a giant butterfly and then crazy glued onto some anorexic Gibson Girl.

No, they were made the way wings were supposed to be made. They were made out of brightly colored scraps of hastily torn wrapping paper. And photographs of old people smiling. And long, handwritten letters with stamps from far away places.

And when they beat against the wind, they smelled of peppermint.

Oh well, I suppose that I shall have trouble explaining my new wings down at the office. And people are going to look at me funny.

Never mind all that, people look at me funny anyway. I still don't get their jokes. I still think that the News is the best show on television. And I don't like poems that don't rhyme.

But I have always wanted to fly.