The Leprechaun's Pot of Gold
John Doe was broke. Not to say he no longer worked, like an appliance that's desisted on life, but that he no longer had any money. Ok, so he no longer worked, either, for he’d quit his job years ago, which is the main reason he no longer had any money. So he was both broke and no longer worked, but that’s not to say he was broken. John had spent the last two years chasing rainbows, kind of like those storm chasers, only he chased rainbows for a much different reason. John had a problem. That’s what everyone said. Not everyone, of course, since not everyone on the planet knew who John was, but those that met him knew that he had a problem. He believed too much. If someone told him something, he’d believe them. No questions asked. John took things too literally, especially clichés, and that was his problem. Not that it was a problem for him, because he did it quite well. And sometimes this problem left John in a confused state. Not that the state where he lived was confusing, but the people that lived there and the things that they’d tell him were confusing.
Some said the earth revolved around the sun and that the sun, itself, never actually moved, so John couldn’t understand the concept of a sunrise. If the sun never moved, how could it rise? How could it set? Why the hell did it move across the sky like it did? Was it moving or was the earth? So that’s one that John never did figure out. People kept calling it a sunrise, while still insisting that the sun never moved. This confused the hell out of John, and all he wanted in the world was for people to tell the truth. To say what they mean. That and the pot of gold. Not to be confused with the drug, but a different type of pot. Like a caldron. And this caldron was full of gold.
People said it was there at the end of the rainbow, but in the past two years, John had never found it. The elusive pot of gold remained out of his possession. And each time that he’d make it to the end of a rainbow, if it didn’t completely disappear before he’d gotten there, he’d find nothing but nothing. That’s something else that John didn’t understand. How can someone find nothing? Does nothing even exist? How does one go about finding nothing? If it’d been nothing that John had been searching for, he would have been a successful man, but he was searching for that pot of gold, not nothing. And each time he reached the end of a rainbow and didn’t find that gold, he’d just assume that he’d gotten there too late and someone else had beaten him to it. Not that they’d actually beaten him, for he never met any of them to get beaten up, but they’d certainly gotten there before he had. And people tried to tell John that there was no actual pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, but he just assumed they were trying to discourage him from looking. They wanted the gold for themselves. John knew there was gold there. Other people had said so when he was a child. There was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and there was a leprechaun that protected it from potential thieves. And it was the leprechaun, not the people who passed by, who always took the gold away, so if one could manage to take the gold from the leprechaun, then they could have the gold for themselves. John always carried a silver dagger in his belt, just in case he met one of these leprechauns and had to kill it to take away the gold. It was his get rich quick scheme.
His last job had been flipping burgers, not to be confused with flipping off burgers, which would have been quite pointless, standing there at the grill and giving the burger the middle finger. But John flipped burgers, and then one day, he decided he’d had enough of minimum wage and that he needed to solve his money problem, once and for all. And the money problem became an even bigger problem, for after chasing rainbows for the past two years, all his money had been exhausted. Not that it was tired, but it was gone. Long gone. If anything was exhausted, it was John’s hopes of ever finding that gold.
And so, one Spring day, St. Patrick’s Day, to be precise, John was feeling more discouraged than usual. He didn’t like leprechauns in the first place, so didn’t see why they deserved their own holiday. He walked to the nearest bridge, stood at the highest point in the middle of the arch of steel and concrete, and looked down at the river below him. John no longer had the means to continue his search for the gold. Chasing rainbows was expensive and required a lot of gas mileage, and he’d had to sell his minivan four months ago, just so he could afford to eat. So it was there, standing on the bridge and looking down, that John wondered if he shouldn’t just jump and drown himself, when he heard a voice behind him. Someone talking behind his back. John turned and saw a man walking towards him. A man with red hair and wearing a green shirt.
“How’s it hanging?” the man had asked.
John gave the man a confused look. “How’s what hanging?” he asked.
The man stopped walking when he was a few feet away and stood there, his hands in his pockets. They were still attached to his arms, but they were also in his pockets. “How’s it hanging?” he asked, again. “You know. It.”
It could apply to many things, so John had no idea what the man was referring to, and the man apparently wasn’t going to illustrate. “Whatever do you mean?” John wondered.
The man sighed. “What’s up?”
“What’s up?” John repeated, then glanced up at the sun for a moment. “Do you want the definition of up or are you asking me what’s in the sky?”
“I’m just asking you how you’re doing,” the man said, a little confused, by now.
“How am I doing what?” John asked. “You’ll have to explain.”
“Gosh, dude. How the hell are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” John said, and gave the man a small, almost sad smile. “How are you?”
“I can’t complain,” the man said, with a shrug.
“Sorry to hear that. I’ve met a lot of people who aren’t physically capable of complaining. It’s a strange thing.”
“Do I know you from somewhere?” the man wondered. “That’s why I asked how you were, because I thought I recognized you.”
“I have no way of knowing if you know me, because I’m not psychic,” John pointed out. “You might know me, but I can’t really say. I apologize. And I’m certain I don’t know you, because I would have remembered a man with red hair.”
“It’s dyed,” the man let him know.
“What, it’s a wig?”
“No, my hair’s dyed.”
“It no longer has life?”
The man stared at John for a moment, then shook his head. “What are you looking for?” he asked.
“Because I like to see who I’m talking to,” John replied. “What are you looking for?”
“Nothing, I guess.”
“You’re looking for nothing? I know where to find that, so you came to the right man.”
“What are you talking about?” the man asked.
“Finding nothing. I actually have nothing with me, if you want some.”
The man was silent for a moment, then said, “I guess I’ll leave you to whatever it is you’re doing. I have some things to do.”
“I hope your hair comes back to life. I’ve heard of some hair products that can do that.”
“For what?” John wondered.
“For the information,” the man said.
“I hope you find what you’re looking for. I hope you find nothing.”
“What? You just used a contradiction.”
“No, I didn’t. Whatever do you mean?”
The man took a step back. “I really need to go,” he said.
“The nearest restroom is at the gas station, a few blocks from here. I hope you don’t have to go too bad.”
“You’re a bit of a smartass, aren’t you?” the man guessed.
“Whatever do you mean? My ass isn’t even capable of thought.”
A car full of young people, often referred to as teenagers, drove past the two men with the windows down, and one of them shouted what was meant to be an insult to the man with the red hair and green shirt.
John’s eyes got wide. He’d never actually seen a picture of a leprechaun before, so he had no way of knowing what one looked like. But apparently this man was a leprechaun, and one of those young people had noticed the fact. John wondered why a leprechaun would bother coming to him, but could only assume it was to further discourage him from searching for the pot of gold. Or maybe to kill him. John slowly reached behind his back and laid his hand on the hilt of the silver dagger in his belt.
“Eat me!” the man shouted, replying to the taunt from the youth that had just passed, most likely mistaking them for cannibals.
John knew they weren’t cannibals, because the driver didn’t slam on the brakes and the youth didn’t return to eat the stranger who’d dared them to do so. But John wasn’t worried about the young people, even if they actually turned out to be cannibals. Standing before him was a leprechaun. The young people had said so, and he had no reason not to believe them. He had no reason not to believe, period. He always believed. And as he pulled the silver dagger out of his belt, he felt his hope return.
Broke? Yes. Not working? Not for some time now. But broken? Not in the least. No, better than ever.
The man with the red hair had barely turned around and lowered his hand (for he’d also chosen to flip the young people off, not to be confused with flipping burgers), when he was suddenly attacked. He gave a shout of surprise as the silver blade filled his vision.
John took a few steps back and put the dagger back in his belt. He stared at the man for a moment, and then smiled. “What are you looking for…” he said, to himself. Followed it up with a small chuckle.
The man kept shouting, now in pain, as well as surprise. He swung his arms wildly, trying to defend himself from the stranger that surely meant to take his life. But John never meant to kill him. He’d only taken his eyes.
“Not looking anymore!” John said, and gave a hearty laugh. Watched as the man kept moving around, swinging his arms and shouting.
The man ran into the street, unable to see without his eyes, and caused several vehicles to slam on their breaks to avoid hitting him. They honked their horns, urging him to get out of their way. They were busy and he was holding them up.
John took a deep breath and turned to look at the river. He glanced up at the sky, saw the sun slowly moving. Movement that was barely even visible. Or maybe it was just the earth that was moving, John couldn’t be sure. He never actually felt it move. The only thing he knew for sure was that there was a leprechaun behind him, one without eyes, and so one that wouldn’t be able to find his way back to his pot of gold. No, the leprechaun had made a big mistake coming there. John smiled again. When the first drop of rain struck his cheek, his smile only grew.
The storm was coming, but he wasn’t interested in the storm, only what followed. While others chased storms, he chased rainbows. There would be a rainbow shortly. And a pot of gold left unguarded. One that would be his for the taking.
The moral of the story is this. Don't call people names, like leprechaun. A crazy person might stick a dagger in their eyes. Also, try not to take things too literally.