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Pot

Chuck Rothman has been publishing science fiction for over 30 years, with stories in Asimov's, F&SF, Analog, Galaxy, and many other places. His novels Staroamer's Fate and Syron's Fate are available from Fantastic Books and on Amazon.com. He lives in Schenectady with his wife, Susan Noe Rothman, and works at Siena College.
There was no doubt. Green clothing? Check. Top Hat? Check. Red Beard? Check. Smoking a pipe? Check.
It was a leprechaun.
Arnold couldn't believe his change of luck. Things had been going badly for him lately. There were rumors of firings at Burger King and he knew that Mr. Lawson never liked him in the first place. Sally had broken up with him, hinting that she had grown tired of long walks on the beach and going to Burger King for a treat with a discount. "I may not think money is the only thing," she had said, "but I'd like to do something nice every once in a while."
And now the leprechaun. He sat leaning against a tree, looking at the sunset and smoking on his pipe. He was about three feet tall, with all the accouterments of leprechaundom.
Including a pot of gold. It was small, about the size of a medium soft drink, but even half full, it'd leave Arnold sitting pretty. Gold was gold.
Arnold moved slowly and carefully until he was only a few yards from his prey. Then he charged.
It was easier than he imagined. In an instant, he had the little man in his arms.
"What the fuck?" the little man said. In a Texas drawl.
Arnold dropped him immediately. "Sorry," he said. "I thought..." He wondered what he could say that wouldn't make him look like an utter lunatic.
"You thought I was a leprechaun," said the man.
"Well...."
"I'm sick of it," he said. "A guy tries to mind his own business and some yahoo who saw Leprechaun suddenly takes it in his mind to attack me."
"What's Leprechaun?"
"The worst thing that happened since Darby O'Gill. Or haven't you heard of that, either?"
Arnold shook his head.
The man gave a snort of disdain. "Now, if you'll excuse me..."
But Arnold had replayed the conversation and had grown more than a little suspicious. "What's in the pot?" he asked.
"What pot?" Arnold noticed the drawl had started to drop away. And, on reflection, it seemed a little too broad, a little too obvious.
He grabbed the man by the arm again.
"Hey, you little hooligan. What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"I want your pot of gold."
"I told you--"
"I know what you told me. But leprechauns are tricky. I want that gold."
The little man struggled, but Arnold was too strong for him. He sighed. "All right," he said. "You can have what is in the pot."
"All of it?"
"All of it."
"Is it gold?"
"Well," said the little man. "It's gold-ish."
Without letting go of the leprechaun, Arnold reached for the lid.
The pot was empty.
"Where's the gold?"
"I haven't filled it yet," the leprechaun said, his voice now taking on the lilt of Ireland.
"Damn," said Arnold. "I need that gold. I need it now." He pulled the leprechaun's arm back him into a hammer lock. "Get it for me."
The old man yelped. "All right. I'll fill it. But--"
"Now!" Arnold had never felt this strong.
"Ow! All right. Just let me go."
"So you can run away? No."
"But I can't with you holding me like this."
It was an impasse. Arnold could let go of the man or he'd run away. But the leprechaun needed to be free to fill his pot. Arnold reached around and stole the leprechaun's pipe.
"Hey," the little man said. "I've had that for a century and it's just broken in properly."
"You'll get it back when I get my gold," said Arnold. He let go. "Now, fill the pot."
The leprechaun sighed. "You drive a hard bargain, human." He took the pot. "Now, if you'll look away for a moment. I need privacy."
Arnold did as he was asked.
Behind him, he heard the leprechaun grunt, then the unmistakable sound of a fart.
A horrible thought came to Arnold.
"Here," said the leprechaun. "Now, give me my pipe."
Arnold looked in the pot. It was filled with gold that shone like the sunset. But the shape was disturbingly familiar....
Before he could react, the leprechaun took his pipe back. "Farewell, boyo. Our deal is complete." He began to walk away.
"Do you want the pot back?" asked Arnold.
The leprechaun shrugged. "Would you?"
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 16th, 2015


When I got this idea for a story, I laughed and said "I shouldn't go there." Then I said, "What the hell; I'll go there anyway." You've seen the rest.

- Chuck Rothman

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