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I needed the coolness of the ice, but the taste was horrible a sickly sweet thing like a banana left to rot. Funny, it never bothered me that much before.. I never liked it very much, but it USED to be standable.. ''Damn that witch..'' I muttered to myself, and wondered if I would ever be able to enjoy ANY coffee ever again.. ''Witch??'' Unfortunately I had muttered it too loud; I forgot how good Stan's hearing was and he had heard me. I had forgotten that his hearing was so good that it had saved our lives a dozen times, and always made sure that he was in the jeep 10 seconds after I would whisper to someone '' I'm going into town for a little fun.. Don't tell Stan.. He always gets the girls before me'' ''Witch? Or did you mean something else? Something like..''
''No,'' I sighed.. ''I meant 'Witch'. Witch! Maddog! Gnome killer!'' ''Oh, you mean Mattie..'' ''MATTIE????'' ''Yeah, she and Hosee go to church together.'' ''Church?? Stan, Hosee is a Buddhist! She doesn't go to church!'' ''Actually, she goes to the Russian Orthodox church here in Hayward, along with Mattie.. I hear they have a hell of a bake sale each year..'' ''I'll bet ''.. I muttered, delighted that suddenly there was a second chance to taste those cookies again. I HAD to get to that next bake sale. . ''It's a pity they had to cancel it this year.. Too many traffic jams..'' I should have known.. The light in the dark tunnel always turns out to be the light of the train coming..
''But wait a moment.. Why does Hosee go to a Russian church? Did Maddog put a spell on her? Give her a cookie? SERVE HER COFFEE???!!'' ''No.. She's been going to Russian Orthodox all her life'' ''In Vietnam?? How?'' ''Her father was Russian Orthodox. He built a church there and did services when he came to Vietnam'' ''What? Wait a moment.. her father was an American serviceman. A black man.. and even though we have freedom of religion in America you don't see too many blacks joining a Russian Church'' Stan sighed, sat down , grimaced, then looked me in the eye.. ''He wasn't an American serviceman.. Hosee's mom put in the paperwork so she could claim support after American forces drove Hosee's dad away.. Thought she was entitled..'' ''Wait a moment, wait a moment! American forces drove him away? Why on Earth would.. would.. Oh my God.. Vietnam.. American forces driving him out..Russian..'' Stan just stared at me. What could he say? How long had he known this secret? When had Hosee told him?? He must have wanted to tell me for years.. I bet..Wait a moment.. ''Stan, this is impossible! The USSR would never have sent a Black ''Adviser'' to Vietnam. They hated Blacks worse than below the Dixie line! They made all the Blacks live in the same area of Moscow, and wouldn't let them have decent jobs! The KKK would have been ashamed of the way the USSR treated them! And you're telling me that Hosee's Dad was an adviser for a government that treated him like that??'' ''Besides, Russian Orthodox? They hated religion just as much.. Why would they send someone like that..?'' ''Because it works.. No one would have guessed.. No one in his right mind would have thought of him working for the USSR..'' ''That's ridiculous!'' ''Worked on you..''
''What?!!'' ''You remember that reporter from Australia? Joe McSharkey?'' ''Yeah.. I liked him.. We used to play cribbage and talk about Perth all the time.. I remember one time..one time..oh..my..god..HIM???!! ''Yep.. Hosee's dad.. He once told Hosee that he was very grateful for all the information you gave him about Australia. Helped him with his cover..'' I held my head in my hands.. I think I wanted to cry '' Oh wonderful.. I gave aid and comfort to the enemy... Just beautiful...'' Stan took a sip '' Well, at least he paid you back..'' ''Huh?'' ''Remember Herat?'' ''Oh yeah.. they had us caught there. I'm amazed the patrol didn't show up like it was supposed to. If it had.. Wait a moment.. You made a phone call before that.. I always thought you were calling someone who worked with us.. You don't mean..No..'' ''Drink your coffee Kat.. How are you feeling ? Your knee still hurting?Why the Hell did you do something like that by the way?'' How am feeling? How am I feeling? Well, let's see, I was thrown by a Pooka, attacked by a witch, almost castrated by a Gnome, then got into a fight with 3 bandits and saved by a Golem. PLUS I find out that I used to play cribbage with communist spy, who is not only my best friend's father in law, but a man who I was once ordered to hunt down and kill!!'' ''Yeah, he thought that was hilarious! Did you actually bring him with you on one of those patrols? He told me once that he wanted to grab you, kiss you and say ''Here I am!!"''SHUT UP!!! I'm going mad I tell you!! Totally, totally Mad! 'Pookas, Witches! Gnomes! Golems! My universe is going crazy! I used to believe in a world that made sense! Everything made sense, acted logical made sense, then poof! The Little One appears out of nowhere and now I'm seeing things with
an eye that sees things out of fantasyland!'' ''And kissing men..'' ''Shut up!! That was your wife's idea! She suggested it for when I would be outnumbered and use it for shock value'..'I smiled at Stan ''She and I practiced 6 times the other night ''I smirked ''6 times? ''Yes..'' ''Damn, you must be a lousy kisser.. She did it 8 times with the postman last night.."' I should have known.. '' And my knee hurts..'' ''I'm not surprised.. You don't hit anyone with your knee! Where'd you get a fool idea like that?'' I was so embarrassed.. ''I got the idea from an ad I was watching on the TV before I left..'' ''An ad for what? America's Dumbest?'' ''Almost as bad..WWE.. ''Oh for.. Well, if you're going to be THAT stupid you deserve any pain you got. Damn man, I thought you had an IQ higher than 10.. Anything broken? You need a doctor?'' ''I AM a doctor'' ''Not that type!'' ''I went to medical school!'' ''Yeah, but you didn't graduate!''
''Picky, picky, picky.. anyway, I'll be alright.. Just bumps and bruising. I'll scream tomorrow..a lot.. But that reminds me..'' I gave a call to Jessie at the house and asked her if Dr. Hastings was there. ''Yeah.. he is.. And he's got cages with him. Little ones. What the hell..?'' ''Has he gone upstairs yet? Can he talk to me? Any messages?'' ''He WAS upstairs, but he suddenly ran out back with one of the cages.. I don't see him now. Yeah, he had a message..'' ''What? '' I asked, knowing, and finally admitting to myself that I was dreading the answer that I knew was coming.. ''He said it was time.. Oh here he comes.. Do you want to talk to him? I can..OH MY LORD!! WHAT IS THAT IN THE CAGE?? GET IT AWAY! GET IT AWAY!!'' I hung up the phone. I didn't want to hear anymore.. ''Kat? Kat? You alright? You look horrible.. Are you in pain? You still want to go to the cable company?'' ''Yes Stan, I do. I don't give a damn about the pain. No pain, No Pooka, witch, gnome or even Golem is going to stop me. Let's go..All for the little one..''
Finally.. the cable company. I stood there in line with Stan. He had tried to talk to me, but after I had told him what Dr. Hastings had said he realized that I really didn't feel like talking and had sat in one of those chairs the company puts in the corner to torture people by. He pointed to a poster on the wall. ''Oh! Is THAT what this is all about?? NOW it makes sense! Tonight? No wonder you wanted to get here so badly. You won't have time tomorrow if you're going to the Airport..''
He shut up when he saw the look on my face, except for the comment '' And that's a lousy picture of you next to it.'' I looked at the poster next to it and sighed. Old joke, and one I heard FAR too often.. It was a poster for one of those horrible ''Leprechaun'' movies. I hate them, and I don't take kindly to people who remind me that I do, in fact, look like a leprechaun (but not THAT one.. he'd give nightmares to a banshee). The movies suck, and I hope that if there are such things I hope they curse the asses that release them. Leprechauns were a ''real'' part of my childhood home. They were the ones who made things disappear, or appear for you out of nowhere. They were footsteps heard at night with no one there, sometimes a noise in the cupboard, and something seen off in the distance running away from you on four legs, but if you had good eyesight, the four legs seemed to become two. And sometimes, sometimes, there would be warm breath fog outside the window with no one seen to breathe it, save for some eyes that seemed to sometimes look in from nowhere. After seeing and hearing that many nights in our lonely old farm in Ireland, we never felt the least bit foolish to leave a bowl of milk every night on the doorstop (and a glass of whiskey on Sunday). We always told each other it was for a cat we never saw, but we knew we were lying. We did it out of respect of what we couldn't see. Respect, and mayhaps,a little fear.. Oddly enough, it's not the scary leprechaun that the movies make that I object to. Americans only know the cute wee folks shown on Lucky Charms, greeting cards, and cartoons. But the tales of the Wee Folk we hear in the older areas of Ireland can be dark and dank things. Horrible, terrible things of angry leprechaun getting even for things done to them, even if the ''revenge'' is done to someone who didn't know the ''crime'' they had done. Like the farmer who disturbed a leprechaun while he was hunting for game. The leprechaun changed him into a hog, and he was found by his family, but since his family didn't know where he was , his staving family had to sell the hog to the butcher, who gave the family part of the meat as part of the sale. Or the man who the leprechaun changed into a candle because he was making too much noise at night, then takes the candle to his wife who has mourned for her missing husband for days. When she begs him for advice on what to do, the leprechaun suggests she keep a light burning in the window in case he's lost his way. The leprechaun can still hear the cries of the husband in the candle as he walks away, and just before he goes over the hill, he looks back and sees the wife light a match.. (and my parents used to wonder why I didn't sleep at night..brr) So it isn't the horror of the movies that I hate. I've seen leprechauns do worse in my nightmares. In fact, the writers of the movies are amateurs, and I'd be surprised if they took more than a half hour to write them. They're crude and boring and insulting to all us leprechauns (Yes, us. According to family tales, I'm desented from a leprechaun that got a woman with child, then disappeared when she took him to the church to get married. It's an old and common story in a lot of Irish families.. If you want proof, don't look at me. Look at my father. He even had the size almost right, as well as the ''family'' habit dealing with church and child.) ''Family? Or just an old friend?'' That question from the the girl behind the counter who was watching me stare at the poster suddenly made me realize that I was at the head of the line and she was waiting for me. I lifted up the pack with the cable box and came forward and stupidly joked ''Well, it's true that leprechauns are damn ugly, but I
like to think that..'' And I stopped and put my hand to mouth in horror. My God, did I actually say THAT?! Out loud??!! What the hell was I thinking? I swear to God that I had meant ''That leprechaun is damn ugly'' and I prayed that someone who wasn't there hadn't heard but would understand.. and forgive.. I did my best to try to forget about it and bent down to grab the cable box. ''I need to replace the box.. '' I told her as I stood up and tried to hand her the box . Maybe it was the weight I had lost recently because the pain pills I took at that time made me lose my appetite. Maybe it was because I was sweating. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the Leprechaun's prank in return for what I said. My pants fell.. And since it had been a hot day, I wasn't wearing underwear.. And I couldn't move without dropping the cable box.. Now I didn't hear any laughter from any Leprechaun, but I wouldn't have since Stan, my buddy, my pal, was laughing and rolling on the floor loud enough to drown out a hundred leprechauns. One person clapped; there's always one idiot who does that when something happens. I just stared hard and said ''Oh look, a trained seal..'' Mostly there was a stunned silence, some giggles, nervous and otherwise. Some of the ladies were staring like cat at a bird. Most men like that look, especially THERE, but I hate it; makes me feel like a freak, and one of the reasons I NEVER go out with tight pants. The reaction of the girl behind the counter was the most interesting. She at first tried the Old'' You can't shock me, I've seen it all the time'' attitude, and said ''That's not going to help you get any discount I'm afraid-'' then I saw her eyes go lower .. ''OH-MY-GOD!!! OH MY GOD!!" "Lady!! Take the damn box will you?!! I need to pull up my pants!!'' ''Why?? I mean.. yes..'' I swear she leaned over and took another look '' Yes..Oh God yes... What was your address again?..'' ''LADY!!!!!!'' ''Oh.. oh.. I am so sorry. Here, give it to me..please.. I mean I mean..'' I handed her the box, then pulled up the pants (I swear I heard female moans behind me as I did so)
''Thank you, now, could you please hand me a new box? Today? I went though a lot, walking here to get it..'' ''You walked? I'm off in a couple hours and I could give you a ride home.. or anywhere else you want to go with, uh, to'' I admit, I thought about it. She was a sweet redheaded beauty, with eyes that you could gladly drown in and a body unbelievable, but then, looking at that red hair reminded me, and I realized I still had things to do with the Little One. I had done a lot to get here, and it would be my final chance.. my final chance.. ''Thank you very much .. I like that idea. But not tonight..not tonight'' ''OK.. I'll call you.. But in the meantime , call me if you need anything.. anything at at all..'' ''Oh for God's sake!'' I turned around and looked at everyone in the lobby ''Size doesn't matter!! It's what you DO with it that matters!!'' ''How would YOU know??'' ''Shut up Stan! We're leaving!!"' Stan later told EVERYONE that I got four phone numbers handed to me from women before I went out the door, but that's pure bull.. It was only three and one ''call me''... Next: Talking to Papa..
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