Hamish rubbed at a spot he
saw on the stone charm. Afterwards, he tossed the necklace onto the
nightstand and turned off the lamp. Once snuggled under the covers, Hamish
fell asleep. The antique grandfather clock in the living room chimed
midnight, the bewitching hour. A moment later, footsteps padded over the
plush carpet, stopping in front of Hamish’s bedroom. The door creaked open
as a ghostly pale hand pushed against the wood. Undisturbed by the noise,
Hamish snored, oblivious to the giant figure creeping through the darkened
bedroom. The man ripped a hunk of meat off the chicken carcass that he held
in his grubby hands. Grunting and slurping broke through the fog of Hamish's
sleep, but he rolled onto his side and continued to snore.
“Wake up laddie.” The man
smacked Hamish on the forehead with a chicken leg.
“What the--?” Groggy with
sleep, Hamish swatted at the offending object before he tucked the corners
of the blanket back under his chin.
“Laddie.” A deep voice boomed
in Hamish’s ear. “I said wake up.”
“Who? What?” Startled, Hamish
paused upon seeing the hairy man wearing a filthy kilt, a white shirt now
stained gray with age, and holding the leftover chicken carcass from dinner
under his left arm.
“About time. You make a poor
night watchmen, since you sleep like the dead.” The man pulled a chair next
to the bed and ripped a hunk of chicken off the bone with his yellowed
teeth. “Now then, tell me why I’m here and where is that pesky leprechaun?”
Hamish rubbed the sleep from
his eyes and opened his mouth to scream for help, but the man's grubby
fingers covered Hamish’s mouth.
“Shush. Don't go waking
everyone. I just wanted to know why I was turned back into a human. Did
Finnegan think the time spent being in my stone prison would make me
remember the treasure and where I supposedly hid it? Not going to happen. If
I haven't said anything all the other times over the last several centuries,
today won’t change anything. By the way, this is delicious.”
“Who are you?” Hamish pinched
his nostrils shut to keep the rancid smell of the stranger’s unwashed body
at bay. “And why do you smell so horrible?”
“Excuse me, but you called
me, so enough with the questions.” The man paused before sniffing under both
his arms. “I don't smell that bad, do I?”
“I never called you and I
still don't know who you are. And by the way, you really do stink. It’s
enough to bring tears to my eyes.”
“The name’s Captain Malcolm
McWallace. Where's Finnegan?”
Hamish grumbled, searching
for the patience to deal with the daft man. “There is no leprechaun in here.
Look around if you don't believe me.”
“You turning me back into a
“You were a charm?” Hamish
yanked the necklace chain off the nightstand. “Hey, where's my statue?” He
gritted his teeth as he glanced at Captain Malcolm. “That was a gift, now
give it back.”
“I told you, I was the charm
and you brought me back to my human form.” He slammed the chicken bones onto
the nearby desk and snapped his fingers. “Now I know who you look like. You
look like Grams. Are you related to her?”
Hamish arched his brows
before saying, unable to keep the sarcasm from his voice. “She’s my
“That makes sense. She made
something out of me and gave it to you for safekeeping, didn’t she.”
“She gave me a necklace with
a charm of a Highlander, not a full-size man. Believe me; I don't think you
would fit around my neck.” By now the stench from the unwashed man, brought
actual tears to Hamish’s eyes. He wiped at the moisture with the corner of
A moment later, Captain
Malcolm smacked Hamish on the back of the head. “I know that, but this daft
leprechaun turned me into a statue so I wouldn’t spend his treasure.”
“That wouldn't happen to be
Finnegan now, would it?” Hamish rubbed at the pounding in his skull,
signaling an oncoming headache.
“Aye, it would be at that.
How did you know?”
“You mentioned his name a few
seconds ago,” said Hamish.
Captain Malcolm scratched his
head, “Did I now?”
Hamish nodded. “Aye, you
did.” He tilted his head before asking his next questions. “Are you right in
“What do you mean?” Captain
Malcolm sucked the meat off a chicken wing and tossed the bones over his
“What could I possibly mean?
You're claiming you were a charm on my necklace 0and that a daft leprechaun
is chasing you.” He shrugged. “Did I miss anything?”
“No. That about covers it
all,” said Captain Malcolm.
Hamish crawled out from
beneath the covers of his bed. “You say you know Grams?” Malcolm nodded as
he leaned back in the chair. “Let's go wake her up and see if she can help
you.” Under his breath, he mumbled, “But I doubt it.” Hamish opened the
bedroom door and tiptoed down the hallway. The sound of a small table
bumping into the wall made him turn around. “Shush. Don’t wake my parents. I
would have a hard time explaining who you are and why you're in my house in
the middle of the night, so watch where you're going.”
Malcolm sneered at the
darkened hallway. “If you were one of my crew, I’d have you punished for
your insolence with a taste of the lash.”
“But I'm not, so keep it
down, will you?” Using his fingertips, Hamish scratched at the door. “Grams,
are you awake?” No sound came from within. “Grams?”
Captain Malcolm bumped into
Hamish. “What’re you waiting for? I’ve pillaged whole towns in less time
Hamish lifted a finger to his
lips. “Shush. I don't want to scare Grams. She’s a bit on in years.”
Captain Malcolm snorted.
“Don't let her age fool you. She’s sharp lady.”
Loud snoring came from the
room. Grams snorted several times before rolling onto her side. Hamish
tiptoed into the room, followed by Malcolm. “Grams...Grams.” He nudged her
shoulder several times, jerking her awake.
“Who's here? Is that daft
parrot talking to me again?” The parrot cackled from the next room.
“No Grams. It's me, Hamish.”
She sat up and leaned against
the pillows. “Couldn't sleep? Is everything all right?”
“I'm not sure. I have someone
here who says he knows you. Frankly, he looks more like a criminal than your
“Well, don't keep me waiting.
Who is it then?” She reached into the glass of water at her bedside and
popped her false teeth back into her mouth. Captain Malcolm stepped into a
sliver of moonlight that peeked through the drapes. Grams gasped. “What are
you doing here Captain Malcolm?”
“The young lad must’ve given
me a spit polish, releasing me from my prison.”
She turned to Hamish. “Now
dear, when did you do this?”
Hamish curled his upper lip.
“I have no idea. All I know is that the daft man woke me from a sound sleep,
scared me half to death, reeking to high heaven, oh…and he keeps rambling on
about a leprechaun who cursed him.”
Grams squinted at the
darkened room. “Finnegan is here? Where is he hiding himself these days?”
Captain Malcolm shrugged. “I
haven't seen hide nor hair of that annoying leprechaun”.
“Now Captain Malcolm, you did
go and steal his treasure, making him the laughingstock of his clan. I do
believe he has a right to be angry, don't you?”
“No. He turned me into a wee
statue and now I'm a charm on a necklace. I don't believe the punishment
fits the crime,” said the pirate.
“You told him he'd never see
any of his treasure because you were going to spend it all,” said Grams,
while managing to look down her nose at the unruly pirate.
“That’s what he claims, but I
remember no such thing,” said Captain Malcolm.
Grams rummaged around on the
nightstand for her glasses. Once found, she shoved them on her face. “Ah,
that's much better. You haven't changed at all Captain Malcolm.”
He swaggered to her bedside
and fingered her silvery gray hair. “But you have. How long has it been
since I last saw you?”
Grams tapped her chin for a
moment. “Oh, maybe it was five or six years ago.”
He narrowed his gaze on her
frail body. “You've grown old in so short a time. Are you ill?”
She lowered her head while
twisting a piece of quilt in her gnarled fingers. “Nonsense, I'm fine. I've
never felt better.”
Captain Malcolm whispered
into her ear, “Liar.” He nodded toward Hamish. “You keeping it from the
She whispered back. “Please
keep this between us.”
“Grams,” said Hamish, “You’re
She patted his hand. “Not to
worry. I just look older to the Captain because it's been awhile since he’s
Hamish pulled out the chair
next to her bed and sat. “You don't really believe this leprechaun
“Of course I do. Ever since I
was a little girl, Finnegan’s been coming to the cottage to change Captain
Malcolm back into his human form and find out where the treasure is, but
Malcolm keeps denying he know anything about it.” She turned to the pirate.
“You are quite stubborn.”
He arched his bushy brows.
“So I keep hearing.”
Hamish cocked his head toward
Malcolm and said to Grams, “How long is he going to be here?”
Grams paused while scratching
her chin. “I guess until Finnegan shows up to either set Captain Malcolm
free, or to turn him back into a charm.”
“Since I don't see any sign
of a leprechaun, I’m guessing he’ll be here for a spell? Where's he going to
“He can stay in the other
spare bedroom,” said Grams.
“I keep Marvin in there. He
might not like sharing the room.” Hamish waved his hand under his nose.
“Besides, Mum would be quite put out to find so filthy a man on her clean
“Your mum wasn’t known for
her clean laundry so it shouldn’t make all that much of a difference. She
could use the practice of doing the wash,” said Grams.
Captain Malcolm let out a
loud belch as the chicken digested in his stomach. “As long as there's a
bed, I’ll be fine.” He stood and strolled to the door. “Now lead the way.”
Hamish yawned and stretched.
“All right, but be nice to Marvin. He's sensitive.”
Captain Malcolm snorted.
“He’ll lose that flaw once he’s been around me for a spell.”
Hamish hid his grin. “Oh you
think so, do you?”
Captain Malcolm shrugged. “He
will if he knows what's good for him.”
“Be nice to him,” said Hamish
as he opened the door to Marvin’s room.
Captain Malcolm paused.
“Marvin is a bird?”
“Actually, he’s a parrot. Now
be quiet, he’s sleeping.” Hamish grabbed a spare blanket from the closet and
tossed it onto the bed. “Here you go. Now have a good sleep.”
Captain Malcolm flopped down
onto the mattress and rolled back and forth on the sheets. “This is nice.
It's been forever since I slept in a real bed and this one is most
comfortable.” He tucked the blanket around his body and closed his eyes.
“Thanks laddie. Now leave so I can sleep.”
“Night then. By the way, you
can call me Hamish instead of laddie.” He closed the door and return to his
own room. Once Hamish turned off the night lamp, he stared out the window as
rain fell from the sky, spattering against the glass pane. Thunder boomed in
the distance. Lightning flashed across the sky. Hamish closed the curtains
and slid between the sheets of his bed, and drifted off to sleep, lulled by
the storm. Little did he know that this would be the last peaceful night for
quite some time.