On the day in question, it was sunny. Not unusual you might think—but you’d be wrong. Yorkshire isn’t known for its sunny weather, at any time of the year.
As a result of this unexpected boon, work had been manic with customers streaming into the shop to buy mounds of bread rolls, sausages and burgers—not to mention charcoal and firelighters.
By the end of our shift, Amy (my best friend) and I had decided to spend our evening relaxing in the sunshine. We watched, unimpressed, as my mother made a complete hash of coaxing our rust-bucket barbecue to life. If we were lucky, she’d eventually get some food cooked.
I know I should have helped her, but I had provided the sausages… and anyway, I was knackered. I’d taken her a cold drink, what more did she want?
The smoke from the barbecue set us coughing and the hiss and sizzle of the meat was annoying, but Mum looked a little flushed… so I didn’t comment.
When it arrived, the food was over-done. Mum didn’t seem concerned when I mentioned it, or apologetic. She hadn’t bothered toasting the bread, which was disappointing, and I had to ask her to get me the ketchup too, because she’d managed to forget it. After that, she seemed out of sorts for the rest of the meal. I said as much to Amy.
“She’s probably on the change,” my friend muttered. “My mum’s all over the place at the moment; mood swings, hot flushes, memory loss. Don’t worry about it.”
So I didn’t. Instead, I relaxed back on my sun lounger, took another gulp of my drink and watched the ice cubes slide around its creamy, almost caramel coloured depths. I didn’t care what anyone else said, Amy and I both agreed, there was nothing old ladyish about our preferred tipple. It had a smooth start, a fiery kick at the end and it was awesome ‘on the rocks’.
“Psst… over here!” came a scratchy whisper.
I’d been so relaxed, I’d almost fallen asleep, but I roused myself enough to peer towards the unexpected voice.
The sun was sinking lower in the sky now and the shadows from the garden plants created pools of intriguing darkness amongst the borders. I scrunched up my eyes, trying to focus, and as my blurry vision cleared, I saw him… a little guy, watching me from just in front of the garden shed. He wasn’t a child, but it was difficult to place his age. He wore baggy topped boots and tight breeches, both made from peat coloured leather, and a moss green jacket. He also wore a bright magenta messenger bag, slung across his chest, with a monogram stamped on it; two Bs, back to back? I rather liked that bag… Radley did one very similar.
His face was only a few shades lighter than his breeches and his hair and beard were a tangle of red curls. He had eyes like sparkling emeralds and his ears were—pointy?
He wasn’t what I’d expected to see at all.
“Good day to you, fair maidens,” he said, bowing low, his scratchy voice taking on a slightly sing-song quality. “May I trespass on your generous natures to beg you for your help?”
Amy sat up beside me, rubbing her eyes. I watched as she finished her drink, and then stared at the little guy. “Who’s that?” she asked.
Before I could reply, little guy introduced himself. “The name is Erin Whiskey, my lady… so pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Riiight… pleased to meet you too, Erin,” Amy replied.
She seemed to be taking little guy’s presence way too calmly, which worried me. I handed her another drink.
“What can we do for you, Erin? And… where did you come from, exactly?” I asked.
Erin grinned, showing yellowed, crooked teeth. “Why, I came from here, my lady. My current abode is below your most excellent shed, but I’ve recently travelled here from Ireland; my country of birth. I and my brother Leprechauns have been sent on a quest, to find the magic elixir.”
“Magic elixir?” Amy spluttered.
“Leprechauns? In Yorkshire?!” I added. “And what makes you think we can help you find this stuff?”
Again, Erin grinned. “My brothers and I, like all young Leprechauns and even some humans, rely on the elixir—in our fight against the oppression of our elders! Under its influence, and with the support of our members, we’ll show them that going to ‘Heroes Ensuring Leprechaun Liberation’ is an option for all!” he paused, punching the air with enthusiasm. “As for how I know you can help us… why, is that not the elixir you drink now?”
Amy and I stared at our glasses. Well, it did taste good. “Possibly,” I hedged, wondering where this was going.
“Well what we need, my lady, is MORE. The fate of all Leprechauns rests in your hands,” Erin announced dramatically.
I looked across at Amy, who shrugged. “Well, we haven’t got any cash right now… but I could ask Mum,” I suggested.
Trailing into the house, I was surprised to find that Mum wasn’t forthcoming with the cash. She kept spouting off about an ungrateful, lazy daughter who treated her like an unpaid skivvy and then went on about how she hadn’t been sitting on her backside all day, and had it never occurred to me that she might appreciate a rest?
Which brings me to the theft…but, come on…it was an emergency! Erin and his Leprechaun brothers were counting on me!
Luckily, it wasn’t far to the shop. Amy and I were soon back, rushing through the house to the garden… elixir in hand.
That must have been when Whiskey turned nasty. Before we knew what was happening, we were out cold and left unconscious on the patio all night. When we finally woke up, the elixir was gone, our memories fuzzy and our heads throbbing.
And let me tell you… I’ve never felt so sick…