Sunday, July 15, 2012
At the word badhb, Kevin froze, and the little man chuckled. "I see you're just as afeared as before. And wisely so."
"I'm not... afraid at all." But the pause in his sentence gave his apprehension away. As a child, the older adults in the O'Kenney and O'Brien families would brandish stories of the badhb as a weapon against naughty behavior. This Irish "bogey man", with bird like face and raven black hair, looked for misbehaving boys and girls, so that he could swoop down and carry them off to his nest. Once there, the badhb would use the children as a meal, keeping them alive and eating them piece by piece. Fr. Kevin shuddered, remembering a certain Christmas Eve when he was seven years old. He and his sister Maureen, who was five at the time, were wrestling near his Nana O'Kenney's Christmas tree. In the melee, several of her ornaments were knocked off, and went crashing to the floor. Nana pointed her finger at them, and warned that the badhb especially like the flavor of bad children at Christmas time, and that they should watch their step. He and Maureen had fled in terror, and while their siblings and cousins rejoiced in their holiday gifts, the two frightened children huddled under a bed and could not be coaxed out.
As the tiny man continued to chuckle, Kevin demanded, "Stop laughing at me. It isn't funny."
Wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes, the man explained, "I mean no harm, lad. But the expression on your face was priceless. Not to worry, though. The badhb has no use for adults."
"Don't be ridiculous! There's no such thing! Those were make believe stories for adults who didn't know how to parent very well. You don't expect me to believe that nonsense, do you?"
"Very strange words for someone who set out a line of fairy gifts. As to to the gifts, I could do with some hospitality, lad. A bite to eat, perhaps, and some more of that fine Irish whiskey?"
The priest was a bit unsure about leaving the wee man alone in his room, but not knowing how to refuse, padded his way down to the kitchen. His research earlier that evening had suggested that fairy folk were partially to sweets, especially honey. Rummaging through the cabinet, he could only find some saltines, and an opened jar of peanut butter. Smearing several of the crackers with the peanut butter, he arranged them on the plate. Deciding it looked rather sparse, he eyed a ripe banana on the table, and cutting it up, added it the platter. Grabbing the bottle of Jameson, and an extra glass for himself, he headed back upstairs, hoping the inelegant snack would suffice.
When he arrived back upstairs, he found the creature had made himself very much at home. He had propped himself up with all the bed pillows, and had removed his long, pointy shoes. Tried as he might, Fr. O'Kenney could not help staring at the man's feet. They were dark and hairy, with toes as long as fingers that he waggled back and forth, as if glad to be free of the confining shoes. Trying to tear his eyes away from the creepy toes, the priest placed the tray with the food and whiskey near the man. "Go ahead. Be my guest."
The man picked up a peanut butter cracker, and somewhat daintily, held it to his nose. Giving it a quick sniff, he nodded and popped it in his mouth. "Strange feel to this fare, lad", he mumbled with his mouth full, "but quite tasty!" He reached for the Jameson and poured himself a full cup, and seeing the second glass on the tray, poured a double shot and handed it to Kevin. "I be supposing himself has a question or two, so go ahead and ask."
Kevin dropped the shot down his throat in one gulp, and in his next breath asked, "I'm not really sure how to put this politely, so I'm just going to go ahead and spit it out. Who...or what... the hell are you? Leah Bhrogan?"
The small man, grinned, and poured himself a second glass of whiskey, all the while curling and uncurling his long toes. "Well, if you're looking for instant wealth, lad, I hate to disappoint. I'm no leprechaun, and there's no wee pot of gold."
Not wanting to appear uneducated about fairy matters, Kevin continued, "Well, I doubt you're grogach, as you most certainly would not be making yourself at home in the presence of a clergyman.""
"I see you've been well versed in fairy lore, my lad. That is correct. I am no wee grogach, and for that I thank the Creator. Ugly, smelly things are the grogachs." he pushed the bottle of whiskey toward Kevin, and added, "Drink up, lad. The evening's early."
Tossing down another double, and feeling quite mellow, Fr. O'Kenney went on, "Then, I must deduce that you are certainly a clurichaun, given the way you're tackling my Jameson."
Clapping his small hands, the fairy giggled, "Well done! Well done, lad! Margaret would be proud of her ginger grandson. You be her favorite, ya know."
Knowing full well the fairy was feeding him a line of shit, and not much caring after four shots of whiskey, Kevin leaned against the bed post and watched the man polish off the plate of crackers, carefully avoiding the bananas at all costs. "Do you have a name? Something I could call you?"
"Ah lad, you must be knowing the power one's name invokes. I no be sharing that power with you, mortal. But your Granny liked to call me 'Brian', and I'd be well pleased if you did the same." Leaning over the tray, Brian poured Kevin another shot out of the nearly empty bottle. "The question an buachaill ...is what is it you want of me?"