Once upon a time I saw a leprechaun.
I was on the el, going into Center City for one reason or another. It’s neither here nor there for this story. The point is, he was there, and he was holding a pot of gold.
I’ve never been a fan of leprechauns. This stems from a slumber party I attended in second grade that went horribly wrong. All of the girls in the class were invited to spend the night in a big tent in the backyard, gleefully gorging ourselves on sweets and movies. This was such a good idea in theory. The night took a dark turn when we found out that all of the movies that we settled in to watch were horror.
I was feeling good. I staked out a spot in front of the television, right next to the birthday girl. Popcorn and candy was all I could smell. Birthday girl popped the tape into the VCR and up rolled the credits for the film Leprechaun. It started out innocently enough. Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the cast bumbled their way through gold theft. The leprechaun shows up, rightfully angry, and begins his murder spree.
Watching the movie now, it is, at best, a mediocre slasher flick one watches to try and remain awake. At age seven, it was a gorefest with which my mind could not cope. I cowered in my sleeping bag, watching in horror through my fingers. No one wanted to be the one to cry uncle, to beg for the tape to be turned off. But they weren’t in my seat. They didn’t see the blood-weeping gashes up close. They didn’t hear the snap of a neck echoing through the trees. They didn’t see the leprechaun’s eyes gleaming as he cackled maliciously.
The party was on a Saturday. When we returned to class on Monday, no one had slept. But the others seemed to get over it quickly. I didn’t. I saw him around corners. I heard him skateboarding down the street. I spent the St. Patrick’s Day after the party choking down tears, constantly reminded of the little creature I knew wanted me dead.
Sitting on the el so many years later, I was faced with my childhood foe. A rotund man, hair and beard spray-painted the same florescent orange usually used by road crews, he was dressed all in green and carried a large cauldron with him. I don’t know if it was full of gold, but I wasn’t going to be the one to investigate. I knew how that story ended.
Other people noticed him, too. It was hard not to. But the nonchalance affected by the passengers was amazing. In the middle of a July week, with no real purpose, a man dressed up as a leprechaun and took the el into Center City. And not one person cared.