This post is part of the March 2013 Blog Chain at Absolute Write. This month’s prompt is “What the Leprechaun Said,” your generic St. Patrick’s Day sort of thing.

Our last thrilling episode!

“The Leprechaun took it.”

It didn’t surprise me that the trail led back to the Leprechaun. Every piece of gold in Halftown, everything that could possibly be converted into a piece of gold in Halftown seemed to wind up in his pot eventually. Many a gumshoe had gotten a good working over from his goons, provided that they were small or sloppy enough to be overpowered by halflings. So I suppose you could say not that many gumshoes had been worked over, since it was mainly me and Marlow the Low in the Halftown PI gig.

I found the Leprechaun at his usual watering hole, The End of the Rainbow Club, a little speakeasy under the city’s main sewer line. He was at the head of a sumptuous banquet, a fine old halfling tradition that had been driven (literally) underground by banquet prohibition. The guard at the door let me in for some reason when I said I had business with the Leprechaun, probably because I’d come out black and blue every time I went (or was dragged) in.

“Word on the street is that you have a Gorgon’s head-snake in your pot,” I said, cutting straight to the head of the feast with a causal lope. “Just so happens I’m in the market for one.” I casually took out a pack, shook a cigarette into my hand, and then bit the end off. Candy cigarettes kill more halflings than real ones; we like our sweets early and often.

“That so, Tuesday?” said the Leprechaun. He slid off his chair, which put him at about eye level for me. He’s a halfling, of course, not a real leprechaun–that’s just a silly idea. Everyone knows leprechauns are extinct. But if you’re a halfling redhead named Mungle Snuh, the name has a certain cachet.

I tugged on the brim of my fedora. “That’s right. Girl likes her hair the way it is and hired me to bring it back.”

“Do you have any idea what a Gorgon’s snake is worth to the right people?” the Leprechaun continued. “It sees everything they see, hears everything they hear. It’s an easy ticket to blackmail or more, and it’s going to take more than the sayso of a shoer punk like you to make me give it up.”

Halflings don’t trust anybody that wears shoes, you see, least of all their own kind. Me, I kind of like mine–gum sticks to it a lot better than the alternative. Being called a “shoer,” a shoe-wearer, is one of the worst slurs you can sling at a halfling, right up there with “kid” and “dieter.” “Oh, you’re going to give me what I want, Mungle,” I said, hooking my thumbs under my suspenders. “And you’re going to do it for free.”

“Is that so?” The Leprechan’s feastgoers began to rise, looking rather put out and brandishing clubs and small-caliber mohaskas. “And how exactly are you going to do that?”

“That’s an excellent question, Mungle,” I said. “I’ll let you know when I figure it out.”

The exciting continuation!

Check out this month’s other bloggers, all of whom have posted or will post their own responses:
robeiae
writingismypassion
Sudo_One
randi.lee
pyrosama
SRHowen
katci13
MsLaylaCakes
meowzbark
dclary
Angyl78
KitCat
Bloo
areteus
dolores haze
ConnieBDowell
Lady Cat
Araenvo
MichaelP
Ralph Pines

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It’s never a good sign when a client wants to meet you in an alleyway instead of your office. Granted, the average alleyway smells a bit better than my office and lets in less water when it rains. But the clients always want their suspicions to be alley’d, and I oblige; for my part, I think they’ve seen too many detective movies. I know I have; it’s where we both get our expectations for dress and the proper hardboiled tone for narration.

Evryali the Gorgon was waiting for me in the alley next to my office, her back turned, protected from the rain by a cheap paper parasol from Chinatown. “Your message said you had acquired it,” she hissed. “Let me see.”

I pulled out an old wooden crate–it’d held my last factory order of Lil’ Devil brand snack cakes– and dropped the small, wet packet on it, opening it to reveal the small but highly poisonous snake that had sent me to the emergency room three times and the toilet seventeen times since my halfling “brother” Mungle Snuh had surrendered it under duress of having his feast ruined by a torrent of sewage.

“I’m gonna bite you again, you know,” the snake said. “Even if you are bringing me back to my mistress. It’s just what I do.”

“You just do whatever you have to do,” I said. Sure enough, the tiny snake rose up and sank his teeth deeply into the iron knights’ gauntlet I was wearing, a late borrowing from Gilberte the Small, Knight Errant of 57th Street. The snake cried out in pain and recoiled.

“That’s him, all right.” Evryali turned and approached me, an envelope in her hands. “And here is our agreed-upon fee.”

I reached out to take it, but the snake interrupted my train of thought (money money money or something along those lines) with a startled squawk: “That’s not my mistress! What’re you trying to pull?”

I looked up, surprised. I should have known something was up; statistical analysis shows that 2/3 of my clients try to double-cross me (with the remaining third just settling for skipping out on the bill).

“Too bad you had to open your scaly mouth,” Evryali purred. She grasped her shades, ready to pull them down.

For my part, my anti-Gorgon shades were still with Chang’s Dry Cleaning and Pressing, so I pulled out my gun. I tried to, anyhow; it’s hard to handle a gun made for human hands, even human children’s hands, as a halfling. I dropped the gun instead, and it went off with a crack, with the .22 caliber bullet (hey, it’s the biggest round I can manage, recoilwise) ricocheted harmlessly off Evryali’s normal-looking but subtly armored skin. She laughed, and exposed her blood-red eyes.

Luckily for me, petrification isn’t instant death. As long as your ‘statue’ is intact, anyone with a little mandrake juice or harpy tear salve can being you back. In fact there are roving freelance gangs who do just that, picking up statues and holding them for “safekeeping” while relatives scrape together the cash for a de-petrification. That was the next thing I saw: a cigar-chomping satyr in suspenders and wifebeater, de-petrifying my face (and only my face) so I could arrange to buy my way into a full de-petrification.

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