Old Hodges and the Leprechaun

 

This was my first legit short story, written for class when I was fifteen. I still like it. I’ve cleaned up a few of the more egregious errors.

 


 

Old Hodges enjoyed the mild spring sun on the back of his neck and smelled the small herd of cows nearby as he mended his fence with the serenity of habit.  Hodges was very proud of being able to maintain his farm all alone at eighty-two. He knew people, like that McCready down the road, who were brittle as dried leaves and batty to boot even though they were ten years younger than he was.  But Old Hodges always dressed well and wouldn’t take help from nobody. He knew what he was about.

    As he wound the wire together, slowly but dexterously, he heard a small voice cry out in pain and anger.  Hodges stood up slowly and turned to listen. He heard it again, cursing loudly near one of his cows, who seemed unaffected.  Concerned, Hodges ambled over to the noise and nearly stepped on the little screaming man as he sat yelling in the grass. “Well, I’ll be damned,” Hodges muttered.  He had never seen a leprechaun before, didn’t really know what they were, so he didn’t know what to make of it. The leprechaun was about a foot and half in height, which was difficult to see right now because it was sitting on the ground.  One of its legs was bruised and looked broken. It was wearing a green jacket and trousers, its fingernails were long, it had anything but a pleasant green face, and its emerald eyes shone wickedly. The leprechaun stopped cursing long enough to give the old man malicious look, then turned back to screaming at the cow, which was actually starting to look ill and had taken to staring back at the leprechaun, entranced.  

   Hodges interrupted its screaming, more on the cow’s behalf than for conversation.  “She stepped on yer leg, there?” The leprechaun gave him another dirty look and said “What’s it to you?” in its small but rough voice.  Its green eyes flicked over Hodges, and it must’ve seen something it liked, because its attitude softened into slight geniality. Before Hodges could answer its first question, it said sharply, “This your cow?”

    “Yep, she’s mine. D’ya think I’d be here fartin’ around in someone else’s pasture?”

    The leprechaun ignored the sarcasm and made an effort to get up, putting its weight on its good leg.  It winced.

    Now Hodges was no fool, he knew this thing was trouble, but he had a soft spot for little things in helpless situations, and he couldn’t leave it there all by itself.  Besides, who knew what revenge it’d do on his cow if he left it alone with her. So he said, “You need some help, Kid?”

    The leprechaun turned a darker shade of green at that familiarity, and answered with regal pride. “I want to go inside and lay down.  I will pay you well.”

    Bossy little green bugger, thought Hodges.

    There was an awkward moment while Hodges decided how to move it.  Eventually, rather than carry the vicious thing, he sat the leprechaun on his cow and led the cow home.  That way he could keep an eye on her as well. She still wasn’t looking her perkiest. Hodges tried for conversation on the way but the thing gave him very short answers.  This he attributed to the pain it was in, and he fell silent.

    They arrived at his house.  Hodges went inside first, leaving the leprechaun on the cow.  The house was small and old but warm and dry, and had few decorations since his wife had passed away. Hodges set up a box and put some blankets in it.  He wasn’t sure what the thing wanted out of him, but he could make it comfortable at least.

    Hodges went back outside, took the cow by the halter, and tied it to a nearby tree.  She noticed the deep grass there and brightened up. He helped the leprechaun down. Its eyes smoldered green fire as it looked over Hodge’s house.

    “It ain’t much, but it’s home,” said Hodges, amused at the way the leprechaun stared contemptuously at his house.  He didn’t know what it had expected, but he was getting joy out of its disappointment. Hodges was never a vindictive man, but this thing, he thought, would drive anyone over the edge.  “Come on in,” he said, and picked it up (the startled look on its face would have been comical if it weren’t so ugly), took it inside, and put it in the box of blankets.

    “I made you up a little bed of sorts.”  Hodges said. “Are ya hungry? I’ve just got stew on the fire right now.  You like stew?” not that it was in his house, he had a bad feeling, but his country hospitality prevailed.  He couldn’t just kick it out of his house. It hadn’t really done anything to justify that, and he especially couldn’t kick something out of his house if it was a fourth his size and had a broken leg.  Hodges turned to check the stew.

    The leprechaun stared at the box around it in shock and horror.  It had never been treated so casually. It colored green with anger again, but it thought of something, its color faded. A wicked smile spread across its face and it murmured something under its breath. At that moment the pot of stew overturned, putting out the fire and scalding Hodges’ hands.  Hodges jumped back, shaking his hands and swearing.

    The leprechaun laughed a merry cackle.  Hodges waited for it to finish, but it just doubled over and kept laughing until tears ran down its face.

    “Well, you nasty little varmint, if yer feelin’ lively enough to laugh that hard, I suppose yer lively enough to get back to yer little green hole in the ground or whatever it is yeh live in.  I’m too old to put up with devils such as yerself. I could be having a mighty pleasant evenin’ without yeh, and my day’s work would be done on top o’ that.”

    The leprechaun stifled its laughter and looked at him, face still wet from the tears, and said, “You don’t wanna do that.  I’m rich. I can give you all the gold you ever wanted.”

    “I don’t see no gold,” Hodges said, raising a bushy eyebrow.

    “I can magic it up here faster than you can think,” it said with a twinkle in its eye Hodges didn’t quite trust.  “I can give you a gold house, you can sleep on gold blankets, your garden can have gilded flowers which will never die, and you will be the richest and most respected man in town, in the world!”

    “What in the hell–”

The leprechaun interrupted him.  “All you have to do,” it said, “is let me stay in your house until I’m healed.  Cook for me, entertain me, and make me laugh. For one week, until I’m better. That’s all I ask, for all the gold you can ever want.”

    Hodges was far too old for such tricks.  “What in the hell,” he repeated, “is the use of a gold house?  I’ll be damned if it won’t invite every robber and good-for-nothing into my house.  Kids’ll be taking chips off the thing. I wouldn’t get no peace. And gold blankets sound mighty uncomfortable to me.  Pretty, sure, but if anything’ll warm you up at night, it sure as hell ain’t gold. And I don’t need to be rich to be respected.  Folk already respect me ‘cause I’m old and I’ve got sense. If you’re so magic,” he said, “you make yourself a little ole gold cast and hobble on out of here on your own two little dirty little legs,” he said, and he laughed.  “Magic, my old ass,” he said.

    The leprechaun turned a darker green than Hodges had yet seen him.  He muttered something, and Hodges heard a heavy thump outside. He looked back just in time to see the leprechaun disappear with a pop.

    Old Hodges was startled at this display of true magic, but it just made him all the more glad the hateful thing was gone.  He almost went outside to check on his cow, (that thump worried him) but he looked around first and saw that his rug had caught on fire.  He stomped it out with his heavy work boots. He took the smoking rug outside and saw his cow. She was dead. It was too close to dark to get rid of her now.  He looked up the hill and saw his other cows grazing, alive and well. He went back inside and cleaned up the stew, then fixed some bread and butter for dinner instead.  He went outside, put his feet up, and lit his pipe. “Oh, hell,” he said, looking at his hand. His wedding ring, a plain band and the only piece of gold he owned, was gone.  Being a widower, he hadn’t exactly needed it anyway. He could remember her without it. He reckoned he could have gotten off a lot worse.

“Hope something gets that little critter, out there with its broken leg.” He said to himself.  “Ungrateful nuisance,” he said, and he smoked his pipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Tonsil Hockey

 

I got into painting briefly, about four or five years ago. It was educational. I have many sub-par paintings in my closet to show for it.

This one’s not too bad though, probably because it’s mostly in black and white. Also because it’s a reproduction of a famous photo. I always do a better job when I’m stealing another’s work!

 

IMG_20191111_224533352.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Haibun, “Pride Before Fall” – writing process

 

Three drafts of a haibun, for those of you who like to analyze writing to pieces. If that sounds awful to you, just read the last one (in bold), since it’s the final draft.

 


First draft: stream of consciousness. Passionate, but lacking cohesion. Doesn’t really make sense here and there. Many repeated words.

 

I drive through a frosted urban landscape. A sudden cold has passed through in the night. The grass is fuzzed white with frost.

It’s the tail end of the changing colors. The more vibrant trees, shocked, have dropped their leaves on the sidewalk. Heaps of vibrant color piled under the trees. No one yet has walked through them and disturbed the perfection of their distribution. The leaves coat the sidewalk an inch thick, pour over the curb and into the street, forming a perfect ombre circle underneath each tree. Only the most vibrant trees, the ones with the most to lose, have collapsed this way. As I drive by, they are still raining steady drops of color.

A death so graceful and extravagant, it looks like a wedding.

 

 


Second draft: the first draft edited to death. Reordered some, added some explanatory and expository phrasing. Rewrote most repetitive usages of “tree” “leaf” and “color.” 

Turned out awfully proper, don’t you think? I actually liked it a lot. But it doesn’t read easy.

 

Early morning. A cold snap passed through in the night, leaving the grassy urban landscape fuzzed white with frost.

It’s the tail end of the changing colors. Many trees have already gone leathery, taking the chill with stodgy, taciturn dormancy, blinking against the freeze, half asleep, withdrawn. The prouder, full-feathered trees, vulnerable by virtue of their vitality, shocked by the abrupt weather change, have dropped half their heavy pride overnight. Heaps of vibrant color pile on the sidewalk under the trees in crisp lemon yellow, or blushing peachy orange. Untossed by wind, untrod by morning commuter, nothing yet has disturbed the perfection of their distribution. Leaves coat the pavement an inch thick, pour over the curb and into the street, forming perfect ombre circles. 

Even as I drive by, they still steadily rain drops of brightness.

 

a death so graceful

and extravagant, it looks 

just like a wedding.

 

 


Went to lunch, came back, rewrote from scratch. The parts that stuck in my head were the keepers. I already had lots of alternate words in my head so I didn’t have to worry so much about repeating too much. It has more passion and flow like the first draft, while also retaining some of the form and vocabulary of the second draft.

 

The trees are raining color.

A cold snap has passed through, fuzzing the grass with frost. Most of the older trees sensed the turning of the seasons, and have already gone leathery and mute; they squinted through the onslaught as the first of many, prepared for the siege of winter. The young maples and honey locusts, vivacious and blustering in ostentatious reds, yellows, and peachy oranges, have suffered a setback. They lost leaves at an astounding rate: half of their burden dropped in one night. The sidewalks underneath them are buried in brightness, inches deep. Unable to contain the bounty, it spills over the curb and onto the road.

No people have passed through. No playful wind has yet mussed the heaps. The trees drip their pride, leaves falling fast like vibrant rain.

 

a dignified death

generous, extravagant

feels like a wedding

 

 


 

Aw crap. I looked at it too long and now I don’t like this draft either. Maybe I like the second one better. I couldn’t decide and that’s why I posted them all, under the guise of a “writing process” post. Tricked you.

Well, that’s the process. Now do what I do! Go out there and write something you won’t like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

it’s fine.

 

hold still and listen.

you have time.

that dead weight pressing down from overhead,
the ticking clock,
the way it interrupts silence,
Louder,
Louder,
Louder.
an illusion.

you have time.

time to make, time to fill
there is always
one more minute.

talk to your friends
waste your moments
make french toast
watch TV
read books
create
vegetate

that buried alive feeling
the you-havent-done-enough
the you-havent-done-it-right
the you-arent-who-you-should-be

you made that up.
leave it behind and see how nothing changes
except a renewed sense of freedom
freedom
a cool breeze, a new car, a flushed cheek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Cruel Fickle Fate

 

 

Haa, this is pretty cringey. I must’ve been around fourteen when I wrote it? I even thought it was passable when I reread it a few years ago. Now it pains me… oh, so much. That’s proof of how much I’ve learned.

Enjoy.

 


 

I first noticed your gait, and your carriage, your state

Then the look in your eyes took me right by surprise.

I knew not fickle Fate had been lying in wait

Creeping silently nigh, telling love to arise

 

When I realized what happened, I was far too late

I was caught in the clutches of cruel fickle Fate

In hindsight, my life grew gradually towards you

But I saw it not, no, naught I saw ‘til ‘twas through.

 

Years of calluses cut in a single, swift blow

How did I let it happen? I simply don’t know

But I cherished your care, you’re still dearer than air

Though you’re now underground, now I drown without you.

 

I followed, thou led — O cruel fickle Fate!

Thou’d said we would wed — O God, now this hate!

Thou’d left me for dead — I wept, thou unmoved

I watched as thou bled — how dearly I’d loved!

 

You know I still love thee, Beloved, Unlovéd

I know you’re above me, Unlovéd, Beloved

You hurt me, I hate thee, Beloved, Unlovéd

I’ll never forgive thee, Unlovéd, Beloved

Why did you leave me,  Beloved, Unlovéd

I had to revenge me, Unlovéd, Beloved

Murder isn’t easy,  Beloved, Unlovéd

Why’d you make me hurt thee? Unlovéd, Beloved

I’m torn in between me —  Beloved, Unlovéd

I love thee, I hate thee — Unlovéd, Beloved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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