I was coming back into the house from cleaning the rain gutters when the phone rang. I had no clue what I was going to get myself into; after the Richardson’s experience, I had decided to take it easy and try to pick my next story more carefully. I look for strange cryptid occurrences. I know the terrible risk I’m taking as soon as I look into the eyes of my next “witness”. There are reliable and unreliable sources, and then there are the crazy ones; to be able to discern between the three types, borders with being a psychic, which I’m not. I take every lead as seriously as I can, showing as much respect and restraint as possible.
“What do you mean a leprechaun?” I asked. I hadn’t talked to my old pal from high school in at least two years.
“Yeah man, like a gnome or something. The kid says he sees it,” said Mikey. “The mother told me that she would like an interview and that she is willing to let you stay over, so you can take your notes and write about it. But no filming,”
“I never film. You sure the kid is not on prescription drugs or similar? Have you met them in person?”
“Yes, of course I’ve met them.” The economy has taken a toll on Mikey. Being 40 years old and living with your parents is not what one would expect from the American Dream. When he lost his job in 2008, he became a dorito-person. That’s all he ate. That and salsa. He then moved in with his mother and stepfather. His mom had told him about this “crazy lady” she’d met at the grocery store, who happened to have an unusual five year old son. That’s how Mikey’s family became acquainted with the MacAuley’s.
“It steals stuff in the house, moves it around…hell you need to come over. Either stay here with us and interview them, or even better, accept the invitation and stay with them.”
I was convinced. Even if the story turned out not to be of my liking, it’d be worth it. I care as much about the human interaction with a strange creature, as I do about the cryptid itself.
And so I found myself on my way down to New Jersey, in search of an urban leprechaun.
It was just about mid afternoon when I parked in front of the old two-story house. It snowed, and driving all the way there had been a big deal. I double-checked the home address twice before I got out of my vehicle. There was a tall, skinny lady holding a young kid by the hand standing on the white and blue front porch. The little boy was waving at me. As I walked across the snowed lawn towards the pastoral family, I saw the kid getting loose off her mother’s hand and ran towards me. “Daddy! daddy!” said the little MacAuley while reaching for my legs. He I had never been in this situation before and I wasn’t sure if I felt awkward or sad for the child, probably both. He managed to attach himself to my left leg and wouldn’t let go.
I tried to shake the kid off my leg the best I could, while making an effort not to be rude or look too disturbed as a result of my twitchy move. Finally, I managed to set free.
“I’m so sorry about that,” she said as she picked up the little boy off the snowy ground. Her hair was dark and curly, and the sun dressed it in a bizarre azure tone.
“Don’t worry about it. Hello there fella!” I replied in a probably forced happy tone, tapping the kid on his blond hair. I felt like I was petting a dog.
The mother introduced herself and I explained who I was. They were expecting me. I’m sure I was still blushing after the enthusiastic welcome.
“What you doing, takin’ notes?” she asked.
I was holding a dark-blue notebook on one hand from the moment I put my feet on New Jersey. I was already writing down every detail I could gather.
“Yes, I write down conversations, details and ideas as I interact with you. Is that O.K.?
“Sure, I was just expecting you’d be using a laptop or something like that,” she sighed. “Not a big deal, it’s just interesting you know?”
I like using a typical notebook and a pen. I am talking about the old notebooks, long before the smaller type laptops stole the name. They are versatile and convenient, flexible and they don’t break, get accidentally erased or stolen. Laptops are too heavy to carry and too hard to type on while working on a story. They also distance you from the person you are talking to. Interviewees don’t like them either. I like keeping it human, warm. There’s always time to edit the story later at home, sitting comfortably, drinking licorice tea and typing on a familiar keyboard. On a side note, laptops also slow you down when you find a weird enough weirdo and the fleeing instinct arises.
“I’m kind of old school, it keeps me connected to the person I’m talking to,” I explained.
She nodded. “Well, come on in, the water is fine. No filming. No audio recording.” She fixed her hair as she said that.
I explained to her that Mikey had already told me about the “no filming” part, and that I “don’t film”, so we were good to go.
The kid opened the door, coming in first. He was screaming strange, gibberish sounds that I’d swear reminded me of the Welsh language. Holy Lucky Charms, I thought, the child is messed up. I began to understand the terrible consequences of my trip. Reluctantly but respectfully, I followed the woman inside the house.
A thick, dense air entered my nostrils as soon as I stepped into the residence. There was some food boiling on the stove.
“I thought you would be hungry. We will be having dinner in an hour,” said Miss. MacAuley.
In the living room, the child was playing with his toys.
“Hey Joey.” The child didn’t move. “Hey Joey! your mom told me you have seen a little man around the house?”
“Yes,” replied Joey as he picked his nose.
“What does he look like?”
“He is like this tall,” the little boy explained, lifting his hand about five inches off the floor. “Black dress, and he screams at me, he teaches me new words.”
“What do you mean, like English words? what kind of words?”
“I don’t know, different words, a different language,” he said. “Bwgan! Lladwr! Anferth!” he screamed.
Creepy. That intrigued me. It would explain the earlier odd gibberish sounds that reminded me of Welsh. The words meant “happy! killer! monster!” alas, I didn’t know at the time.
“Do you know where he lives?” I asked him.
“In a tree, in the backyard,” Joey said pointing at the window. It would get dark soon. I went back to the kitchen and I asked the mother to give me a tour around.
It was a big backyard, with a swing and a sandbox. There were red maples, pitch pines, and right in the corner -bordering with the fence- there was a huge black cherry tree.
“That’s his house!” the child screamed.
I approached the tree and I noticed there were tiny tracks on the snow. They were the size of a thumb nail. Whatever walked over that patch only used two legs. I wondered if the mother had been purposely doing this before I arrived. I smelled a hoax. A few seconds later, I realized that the mother couldn’t have possible done that; the only one human tracks to the tree were mine. The diminute tracks were recent.
“So he lives here?” I asked.
“That’s what Joey says, I have never seen anything on that tree, maybe a squirrel or two every now and then,” said Ms. MacAuley.
“He lives inside!” The child was getting frustrated.
“Is there a hole or anything?” I inquired as I studied the tree thoroughly.
“He gets in from the bottom! He digs a bit then cling clang cling clang he uses the staircase all the way uuuuuup!” said Joey with a creepy lilt in his voice pointing at the sky with his little index finger.
I picked up a stick and unsuccessfully tried to find a burrow through the snow. It was getting cold.
“Michael? You wanna get back inside?”
“Just a second Ms. MacAuley” I replied.
I had just noticed a few strange animal droppings between the fence and the tree. In any case, I figured, if a leprechaun had the ability to build a staircase, most likely he’d also use a more sophisticated bathroom. My thoughts were diverging. Then I saw a miniature wooden object, shaped like a bowl; nature is strange sometimes, I thought. My mind was probably playing with me.
Back in the house we sat at the table to have dinner. I assumed we were having some type of warm food – because of the boiling pot I had seen sitting on the stove some time earlier – but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were more fun. Ms. MacAuley said that was Joey’s favorite meal. I noticed him saving little crumbs under the table.
“Who are those for?” I whispered, knowing already the response.
“Shhh! they are for the little man,” he said.
After dinner, Joey and I went to the living room and talked while his mom worked on some chores in the kitchen. There were crayons and a permanent marker over the coffee table. I asked the kid to paint the leprechaun for me. Children’s pictures are strange, grotesque, like a caricature; but Joey’s painting was dark, it inspired fear. Not what you’d expect from a five year old. Of all the colors, he chose black. The strong smell coming from the marker was hideous. There was something evil about that portrait. I decided to take a picture of it. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I couldn’t resist the painting’s fascinating resemblance to the creatures described by the Sutton family and their alleged encounter in the summer of 1955 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I needed to share this. Besides, it only showed the painting and not an inch of the house or the family.
Then the mother came and showed me upstairs. She told me about the missing and misplaced objects from drawers, shelves and tables around the house.
“Do you think it’s Joey looking for attention?” I asked.
“Nope, no way. At first, I thought of it. After his father left, my son wasn’t doing well. I almost called the cops twice, but I suspected little Joey was the one doing it so I thought it was something else. But this happens when we sleep, when we are away, buying groceries or at the park. We come back and things are either missing or put somewhere else. Sometimes at night I hear noises that sound like human steps, and believe me, we don’t have rats in this house,” she laughed. “And, if you wonder, I also took Joey to the doctor, they couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary in him.”
I told her about the nature of goblins, gnomes, leprechauns and the like.
These creatures are often not taller than a few inches. They are considered greedy and they like money. They love messing with human’s property and relish tormenting adults. Very sinister in nature, indeed. Usually, children claim to see such creatures inside the house, and often interact with them for their own selfish purposes. Most people associate these creatures with Irish folklore, but the truth is this cryptid has been portrayed in folklore books from all over the world. There are different species, they speak different languages, and prefer cold weather.
In 1989, a dead creature believe to be a gnome was found in Spain; to this day, no scientist has been able to prove the gnome of Girona a hoax. It is determined that the tissue belongs to an unknown animal never analyzed before.
“At least we are not the only ones,” she said. “That’s some relief.”
I was on my way out of the house when I couldn’t find my car keys. I was sure I had put them on top of the kitchen table.
“The little man took them,” said Joey.
“Where did he go?” asked his mother.
“To his house,” answered the child.
I went to the backyard, thinking I might have dropped the keys on the snow earlier, while I was inspecting the big tree. I couldn’t find them there either. Out of frustration, I looked up to the tree. Surprisingly, the keys were there: hanging on a branch 50 feet up. There was no way little Joey could have been able to reach up there. Also, there were no tracks other than mine from my previous inspection. There were however more little tracks on the snow around the tree. Another picture. This time Miss. MacAuley caught me and gave me a short lecture.
I said good bye to Joey and I thanked his mom for the hospitality. Mikey was right, they were a nice family.
I couldn’t take my mind off the MacAuley’s house. It felt like a curse and, paranoid enough, I turned my head around to make sure I wasn’t bringing an uninvited guest with me on the back seat. I hadn’t found a cryptid, a cryptid had found me.
I threw the notebook on the passenger’s seat and I began driving. On the mirror, I could see the damn kid running behind my car. That’s a messed up child, that Joey, I thought as I drove away in the snowy night.
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