Steve’s shorts: A Helluva Fix…

A Helluva Fix

Copyright 2017, Steven M. Moore

[This tale was inspired by two books I’m currently reading—The Stolen Child by Lisa Care and Court of Twilight by Mareth Griffith—but I’ve long held that it’s unfair that leprechauns can’t be female. Actually I finished the second one–my review can be found on Bookpleasures.]

Casper Pepperell decided to turn off the AC because he was afraid his old car would overheat in the traffic jam on the 405. He lowered the windows to keep from baking, but he kept on singing Diamond’s “Beautiful Noise” right along with the old singer. Even the traffic chopper flying overhead couldn’t drown out the song.

He heard another voice join in. He glanced at the huge pickup on the driver’s side. Its giant driver was a bald guy with an upper arm as big as Casper’s thigh; an angry red swastika was tattooed on his shoulder. He gave Casper the finger and scowled.

Casper glanced the other way. Something lime-green was at the wheel of a red Lexus sedan. The something had a strong, gravelly contralto voice; “she” smiled and then winked at him.

He blinked. The something morphed into a hot redhead. Maybe the heat, he thought.

The song finished. The woman held up a piece of cardboard. “Call me!” and a telephone number was written on it. What the hell? He wrote the number in the thick layer of dust on his dash.

He soon lost track of the red Lexus and its enchanting driver. A tough commuting hour later, he pulled into the carport corresponding to his small apartment, walked the short distance to his front door with a wave at his retired neighbors who looked like cooked lobsters in their pool chairs, and used his two keys, one for each deadbolt, and punched the code into the keypad (he was on the ground floor).

When he entered, he tripped over Oscar. The tomcat had been waiting for his food, of course. He hissed at Casper as if to say, “You’re late!” He always demanded his food before Casper could even think about his own dinner. He opened a can of cat food to calm his roommate down, checked to make sure all the piranhas were still in the tank (would Oscar dare molest them?), and entered the bathroom to scrub up as if he were preparing for surgery. The cuckoo clock on the wall over the toilet did its hourly thing; it announced eight p.m.

Oscar had gobbled up his meal by the time Casper returned to his galley kitchen. The cat jumped up on a stool and studied him to see if he was going to prepare something interesting, but Casper decided he’d just have some cold cereal. He sniffed the milk before pouring, though, because he couldn’t remember when he’d opened it. Expiration dates meant nothing after the carton was opened. He wasn’t sure they meant anything before that either if the crates of milk were left on the supermarket’s delivery dock in the hot sun.

He sat in his recliner and watched a stupid TV sitcom while he ate. By the time the corn flakes got soggy and were ready for the disposal, he remembered the redhead. He reached for his cellphone, an old flip phone, but he couldn’t remember the complete number. He fed his piranhas some minced mouse and went out with a pad and pencil to look at the dash of his car. He was copying the number down when someone tapped him on his shoulder. He tried to stand but hit his head on the old car’s low roof line.

“Ouch!” said a contralto voice.

Casper extricated himself and stared at the redhead. He pointed to the pad. “I was just going to call you.”

“I know. Why did you wait? If I were you, I would have called me as soon as you got home. Even from the car, if you have a cellphone, that is. I’m your dream girl, am I not?”

“I don’t use a cellphone while driving.”

“You were stuck in a traffic jam.”

“How did you find me? And why are you here?”

“I have my ways. And you’re an interesting specimen.”


“As a human being, that is. I’m your neighborhood sci-fi and fantasy muse.”

“I don’t read sci-fi and fantasy. I don’t read much of anything. I’m just a boring guy with a boring job and boring life.”

“I don’t know. I find piranhas interesting. Pure eating machines, but they don’t kill their own kind like humans.”

“How do you know I have piranhas?”

“Oscar told me. And where are your manners, Casper? Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

“You mean, to my apartment?”

“Where else? We need to have a little talk.”


Casper removed two piles of the magazine Piranhas Today from his couch and placed them on the kitchen counter. “Please sit down.”

The woman plopped down on the sofa, taking a lotus position. He wondered how old she was. Maybe she does yoga?

“A real crappy place you have here, Casper.”

“More unclean than crappy,” he said. “I don’t have a housekeeper.”

“Yes, your boring job and your boring commute takes all your time.”

Oscar waddled in front of her, sat on his haunches, and then hissed and spat.

“Behave yourself,” he said to Oscar. “He’s not used to company,” he said to the woman.

She hissed and spat back at the cat, so Oscar fled to the bedroom.

“I love cats,” she said. “They’re so much like humans. Cat owners are their slaves, and they don’t even know it.”

“He’s usually a purr-baby.”

“You need a human sleeping companion.”

“Excuse me? Who told you that I sleep with my cat?”

“He did, of course. He’s very jealous of me, I think. We’ll have to give him a big hug tonight.”

“Excuse me? I hardly know you.”

“Then why were you going to call me?” She winked at him.

He thought a moment. “You can’t really talk to him, can you?”

“It’s not exactly talking, but you’d be surprised what leprechauns can do.”

“Are you saying you’re a leprechaun? You’re crazy. They’re male.”

“The myth that leprechauns are always male is…well, a myth.” She laughed. “It’s a misogynist world, and the Irish have always been misogynists.”

“Oscar Wilde was gay.”

“I won’t touch that one. Besides, Mr. Wilde’s parents were British. He was a classicist at Oxford. We often discussed the classics.”

“I thought he just wrote plays.” We often discussed? What’s that mean? “Gay men can’t be misogynists, right?”

“Hell if I know. I never asked Oscar. Are you telling me you’re gay?”

“I guess I’m basically neuter. I have trouble with people in general.”

“That’s obvious if you sleep with your cat. An interspecies relationship doesn’t have much future.”

“Say, would you like a drink?”

“Do you have Irish whiskey or ale?”

“I might have the dregs of a bottle of Jameson. Will that work?”

“Neat, please.”


“You never told me your name,” Casper said, clinking the woman’s glass. “Cheers.”

Sláinte mhaith,” she said back.

They each took a sip and he returned to his chair. “Do leprechauns have names?”

“Most of the time.” She took another sip and smiled. There was a brief flash of green as she morphed into something, but then the human form was back. “Nice. Twelve-year-old Jameson. I prefer it aged a bit more, but that’s hard to get in your country.”

Casper nodded. “You still didn’t tell me your name.”

“It’s Granuaile,” she said.

“What kind of name is that?” he said.

“Irish, of course.”

“It’s very strange.” He sounded it out carefully: graw-nya-wail.

“It’s a good name. It was good enough for James Joyce. And like his Granuaile, I’m a captain. A starship captain.”

“What? Were leprechauns ETs?”

“Are. Present tense. We first landed in Ireland twenty-five centuries ago, liked the place, and stayed a while. You didn’t believe all that crazy Irish folklore, did you?”

“About the same as believing you’re an ET starship captain.”

Granuaile took another sip of her Irish whiskey. “I suppose. But down to business.” She smiled at him and cocked her head to the side. “I’m thinking that I don’t have to sleep with you to know you’re the right human for the job. Anyone who raises piranhas must be good, courageous stock.”

“Whoa! I’m anything but courageous. I’m really just a—” There was a whoosh! and Casper found himself covered in armor. “—wus.” He looked around and found he was in a strange space like a large but bare jail cell, but the ceiling dripped a bit. He checked out the armor. It was made from some kind of plastic material. Not going to rust.

“You’re in my ship,” said Granuaile over some kind of intercom. “Let me just get us on our way, and then I’ll be right with you.”

Casper leaned against one wall and sighed. This isn’t one of my better days. Of course, he never had had any particularly good ones.


After a duration Casper couldn’t estimate well because his watch had disappeared, part of the wall shimmered and something stepped through. By the umbrella, homburg, and spats, he figured it was Granuaille. She grabbed his sword. “Kneel, Casper.” He didn’t have any choice. The urge to kneel overwhelmed his mind. “I dub thee Sir Casper Pepperell, Queen Meghan’s new knight.”

He realized she was speaking Gaelic and was amazed that he understood. He found his tongue. “Queen Meghan?”

“Queen, Royal Protector of the Orion Worlds, Wizard of Galway, etcetera, etcetera. She outsources the dubbing, of course. That’s where American businesses got the idea to outsource to Ireland. Now stand.” He came to his feet. She crooked a finger. “Follow me.”

“Was that room an airlock?” he said as they wound their way through corridors.

“Heavens no! It’s a decontamination cell. We can’t have you infecting the whole ship, can we?” They entered a room full of equipment and big screen HD TVs. “They’re not TVs, Sir Casper. They’re monitors. When we reenter normal space, you’ll see stars as they were meant to be seen. Not with all your human pollution in the way. That should happen just about now.” She snapped her fingers. Thousands of stars filled a huge spherical region of stars. “Your scientists call it a globular cluster.”

“And what am I supposed to do to merit my status as a knight?”

“Why, follow the rainbow to the dragon’s lair, slay it, and recover the pot of gold, of course. Metaphorically speaking. The pot of gold is really a talisman, and the dragon stole it. The Queen’s living essence depends on that pot of gold. She’s fading fast.”

“Why me? I’m not a professional dragon slayer. I’m an accountant. And aren’t you mixing up your legends? Dragons were part of English folklore.”

“The dragon is really a rival queen. A hive queen, to be precise. A non-bipedal and evil lifeform, not that I’m prejudiced. She might be English, who knows? She’s certainly not Irish. Whiskey would probably poison her.”

“Again, how do I go about slaying her?”

“The seers don’t say. Or won’t. Maybe they don’t know. They just say that a schmuck does it. You’re a professional schmuck, as well as a knight.”

“Thanks for the compliment.” He whipped out the sword. “Maybe I have to use this?”

“Probably not. It’s just ceremonial. You’ll probably need atomic weapons. We’re not sure those would even kill her, though, unless you get close enough.”

“Wouldn’t they kill me too?”

“Collateral damage. We invented the term for your C.I.A.”


Casper watched the shuttle leave and then stared at the vehicle. Granuaile had explained most of its controls. It was weaponized, the major weapon being a rocket-propelled grenade where the grenades were small nukes. There were other weapons too, but he didn’t pay much attention after learning about the nuclear grenades. He doubted American tanks had such weapons, but he wasn’t sure. He never knew what the Pentagon and C.I.A. were doing nowadays. There was also a homing device that had tagged the dragon queen.

She wasn’t the only one in her nest. As he approached the cave with his tank, her consorts spewed forth. They didn’t look much like dragons. They couldn’t breathe fire and they couldn’t fly. They all had six legs and two arms. They were about the size of a St. Bernard, the lower part from the thin waist down horizontal and resting on the legs while the upper torso containing the arms and head with its six eyes was vertical. They were carrying nasty looking weapons. Thousands headed toward him, brandishing their weaponry.

He didn’t think the nuclear grenades were appropriate because of their numbers and his exposure, so he used the flame thrower until it ran out of flame. The odor of burned chicken filled the air; his eyes watered from the smoke. Still they came.

He searched the remainder of his weapon menu. DDT? Hot oatmeal? Tar and feathers? Poisonous darts?  There were more. He couldn’t quite remember what they all were or what they’d do, so he pressed all the buttons save the grenade launcher. That gave the desired result. The tsunami of nightmarish creatures parted, and he played Moses moving along the cleared channel of red bodies and heading for the cave.

What’s in store for me? An underground nuclear test with me at ground zero? As he went farther into the cave, he felt he was moving in slow-mo as if he were oozing through the oatmeal and tar. It’s only the hive queen. She’s using her mind games. And time is relative.

He smiled. Granuaile is in my mind too.

His vehicle came to a stop in front of a wall that blocked farther progress into the cave. The wall was pulsating. He realized it was the queen. He shot off all the grenades as the creature’s huge mandibles reached for him.

Everything went black.


“He’s coming around.” This leprechaun had whiskers. Same gaudy green skin, homburg, and spats, but no umbrella. “Queen Granuaile, your knight is awake.”

Casper heard a door whoosh open. Granuaile soon bent over him.

“You got close enough to kill the hive queen. Congrats. You have saved all the Orion Worlds, Galway, etcetera, etcetera.”

“I didn’t fetch the pot of gold. I did see a rainbow, though.”

“All in your mind. The rainbow, that is. The pot of gold is vaporized now. We’ll have a royal funeral for Queen Meghan.”

“She died?”

“She needed the talisman, but didn’t get it. That’s OK. It’s purely a ceremonial job, just like the British Queen’s. Unfortunately I’m the new queen. I was next in line, you see. Do you want to be my consort, Sir Caspar?”

“How would that work?” he said.

The other leprechaun held up a mirror so Casper could see himself.

“You’d call it magic; we call it a lifeform transformation,” said the other leprechaun. “Po-tah-toe, po-tay-toe.”

Casper decided to call him Dan.

“And we love them almost as much as we do the whiskey,” said Queen Granuaile. “You don’t have to decide now.”

Casper raised one hand and wiggled his lime green fingers. “It will take some getting used to. What about Oscar and my piranhas?”

“Some of our kind on Earth will take care of them. Don’t fret about that.”


Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and at Smashwords and its affiliate retailers. It’s also available as a print version at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask for it). See a review and interview at Feathered Quill.

In libris libertas!



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