Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Nuahcerpel 2

When I returned home, I found that my worst fears had been realized.
"M'lad! How couldja let one o' these, these things in here! Were ya that desperate to be rid o' me?"
"My good man! However could you have neglected to warn me about the presence of this creature in your home?"
The nuahcerpel and the leprechaun were locked in some kind of wrestling hold, with the leprechaun trying to bite Lord Godfry, who was holding the leprechaun's head at bay with his arm.
"I, uh, I..." I stammered.
"Well, don't just stand there, do something!" the taller, red clad creature yelled.
"If I could get rid of him, I would have, but..."
At this point something happened very fast. I'm not sure how, but somehow the nuahcerpel got the better of the leprechaun who, quickly realizing he was beaten, promptly vanished. The remaining man got up and dusted off his red overcoat.
"He'll be back," he said, "This is troublesome indeed. He'll be back and he'll bring an army. I am going to need backup."
"Yes. Though I had hoped to hide out here to get away from this tiresome struggle, I'm afraid that's no longer possible. So, instead, the rest of my family will be here first thing tomorrow morning. We'll be ready when the leprechauns arrive."
"How many people are we talking about here?"
"No more than 15, I should think."
15? I could never handle 15 more people. I struggled to think of an excuse.
"Is there any way you could stay somewhere else."
"I'm afraid not, my friend. The battleground will be here. If only you had told me. Now I must go and prepare."
And he promptly vanished. I was getting very tired of vanishing, but I knew at this point it was my turn. I grabbed my suitcase (still packed from Ireland) and began repacking it with anything I didn't want damaged. If my house was to be a battleground for Yriaf and Fairy folk, I wanted to protect as much of my stuff as possible. Appropriately enough for the mood, thunder crashed ominously as a rainstorm began outside my window. I began to wonder what the battle would entail. I doubted it would just be wrestling. Surely there was weaponry that the magically inclined used. My questions were answered when Lord Godfry came down the stairs with a sword and shield.
"You'll want to take these. I assume you'll be fighting for our side tomorrow?"
"Well, you're not just going to stand around are you? I know you only agreed to let me stay, but this is war."
"Lord Godfry, your beef is with the leprechauns, not mine. I'm not going to be a part of your battle. Tomorrow morning I'm leaving the house for a few days. When I come back, I expect this all sorted out."
Lord Godfry looked at me with a hard stare until he finally spoke.
"Go well friend. I hope for your sake we are victorious, because if the leprechauns win they won't leave your home. Goodnight."
I tried to sleep that night but there were popping noises all through the night as Nuahcerpels popped into my house. Several of them showed up in my room, mumbled apologies and walked out. Even the calming sounds of the storm failed to help me sleep.
The next morning I bid Lord Godfry goodbye and left. As I drove off I saw a short green army approach my house from the other direction. I looked forward instead. The rain had stopped and had left behind a near-perfect rainbow. I thought of the research I'd done on leprechauns. If they're all at my house, I thought, then who's...? Aw, what the hell. I drove as fast as I could toward the end of the rainbow. When the road was no longer useful I got out of my car and ran. The rainbow was fading, but the end was in sight. I knew logically this was impossible, yet there it was! And sitting there, at the end of the rainbow, was an unprotected pot of gold.
I picked up the pot of gold and slowly made my way to my car, then I drove to my brother's house, where I'd been planning to stay anyway. Once there, I switched the contents of my suitcase and the pot of gold and took my pot of stuff inside.
"Dave!," I yelled, "I need you to look after this for a while!"
I didn't wait for an answer. Slamming the suitcase of gold shut, I sped off toward my house.
The scene there was terrifying. The battle had not begun. Instead the Leprechauns and Nuahcerpels were lined up on either wall, completely decked out with weapons and armaments.
When I walked in, all eyes went to me. I held up a single gold coin.
"If any of you want to see the rest of this again," I said to the leprechauns, "You'll all get the hell out of my house before I get to ten. 1..."
The leprechauns stood, staring at me.
They looked from side to side nervously.
They began to run. The leprechauns were on my yard by 6.
And from there there's not much to tell. I gave the leprechauns their gold, and they said I could keep the pot. They've still got my suitcase. The nuahcerpels decided just to go home. Ultimately it was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Coffeestand Love Story

4:30. She had an hour and a half left in her shift. In the afternoon sun, it might as well have been a day. She needed a shower, and a change of clothes, and there wasn't a customer in sight. Every now and then a car would seem to be heading for the stand, but they all turned to leave the parking lot instead. There were hardly any bikes today; it was simply too hot. There had been one though. A boy with messy black hair. The boy came every Thursday (she worked Thursdays and the coffeestand) at about 4. He was sitting alone at the picnic table drinking his Smoothie, watching her. It was odd, a regular customer like this. The coffeestand was mainly for those who happened to be in the parking lot for some other errand and needed to pep up or cool down. But the boy was there every Thursday, working his way through the smoothie flavors. He was up to number 4, wildberry. She wondered idly if he'd stop coming after number 8, seasonal special pomegranate, or whether he'd just start over on the list.

He liked wildberry more than the other three. Or maybe he just appreciated it more in the heat. He shouldn't have come today, not in this heat. No one else was out here. Of course she'd see him looking at her, she'd know he was out here staring at her. But how could he not? Those beautiful curls, framing that face, that smile that made his heart melt. She had to have picked up that he was into her. She had to have already decided exactly how she would shoot him down if he ever got up his guts to make a move. But of course he wouldn't anyway. It had taken him a year and a half to ask out a girl he had every class with in school. He'd never be able to ask out this cute barista. He didn't even know her name.

The boy sipped his smoothie slowly, staring straight out in front of him, at her booth. He wasn't watching her at all, she thought. He's dreaming, staring into space. Just like I am. Only I have to be here to get paid. What's his excuse? He looks so intense. Maybe he's a newspaper food critic. Maybe he's trying to try every smoothie flavor so he can rate them for some article. Maybe I should have been more careful with his drink. She tied her curly blond hair into a ponytail as it had been a few minutes before and looked at her watch again. 4:45. She looked at the parking lot again. Nothing. Finally she got out her cell phone and started on a new game of Tetris. Maybe she could beat her record.

He'd never figured out what it was she did with that phone. The first time he'd thought she was calling someone, her boyfriend perhaps. Of course she would have a boyfriend, why wouldn't she, a girl like that. Everything came back to how foolish he was to be even thinking about her. He looked down at his smoothie. Half gone. Soon he'd finish and go home. He'd miss his chance and bike home, thinking about how discovering a new smoothie flavor was accomplishment enough for the day. And then he'd be back the next week, and the next, until one Thursday she would be gone, or school would start up and he would be gone. It was funny how he knew how pointless it was, yet he kept coming back. He did it, he reasoned, for the smoothies.

She was up to Level 8, but it wasn't looking good. She had gotten a few too many awkward blocks in a row and she was having a hard time making any rows at all. And now it was too late. Game over. She was bored of Tetris. She was bored of the coffeestand too, truth be told. She wasn't bored of the boy. She wondered if maybe she should go talk to him, strike up a conversation. Well, she couldn't do that, but she could call him over. But what if they had nothing in common? What if he came here to do deep thinking and she just interrupted him. She decided just to watch him. It was amazing the way he sat, thinking. She could see the thoughts running through his mind. She wondered what thoughts a boy like that could have that would trouble him so. Oh well, she thought, perhaps I'll never know.

The smoothie was gone. It was over. He got up and walked across the lot to the stand, and knocked on the window, setting his cup down on the ledge. She came, opened the window and took his cup as he headed back to his bike. She would close the window and it would be over.

She sighed when the boy left the cup and walked off. It had been the same the last three times. But this time, as she closed the window, he called to her.
She stopped, opened the window the rest of the way, and cocked an eyebrow as if to say "Yes?"

He paused. Why had he said hey? What would he say now? Something suave, he thought, something suave.
"That was a really good smoothie," he said, "My favorite flavor so far."
"Yeah," she replied, smiling her sweet smile, "It's my favorite for sure."
"Do you get free drinks, working here?"
"Just one a day."
An awkward silence. This would be it then. HE fastened his helmet and hopped on his bike, just as he heard her say, "Hey!"

She paused. She shouldn't have said hey. It was a stupid question. Well, she'd done it, she might as well finish what she started.
"What do you think about, when you sit out here and drink your smoothies? I see you out here everyday, just staring and thinking. What's it all about?"

He got off his bike and took off his helmet. He kicked down the kickstand and walked over to her, across the lot. This was it. Suddenly he didn't care. He'd come this far and he was going to try this. He would get shot down and it would hurt, but then it would be over.
"It's about you," he said, "I've been coming out here every Thursday since the first day I saw you, drinking smoothies and trying to get up the courage to ask you out."

She laughed. She couldn't help it. The boy was so red. It had obviously not been easy for him to say that and she knew it was horrible to laugh, but she found the whole situation so very funny. All these deep thoughts she had thought she'd read, and he was just another guy. She finished laughing, ran her fingers through her hair, smiled and said,

"What do you mean so?"
"Are you going to ask me out?"
He hadn't expected laughter. Right out laughing in his face was the worst thing that could happen, and now she still expected him to go through with it. It was like she was mocking him. He didn't need this. And yet... He'd come this far.
"Yeah, I think I am." He cleared his throat, and she giggled again. He'd hate her for it, but it was the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard.
"When do you get off work?" She checked her watch.
"In 54 minutes."
"Would you like to meet me, in 54 minutes, over at that Chinese restaurant for some dinner?"
"You buying?"
"Ok, then. See you there."