Seamus Donley’s cauliflower ears perked up. He leaned forward in his stool at the bar at O’Connor’s and asked Colleen to turn up the TV.
She kept one hand in the sink under the bar, holding a mug on the spinning brush in the soap sink. With the other hand, she pulled a stray red curl away from her eyes and hit the remote.
Seamus stared up at the news anchor. He seemed to be talking directly to Seamus, the only customer at the bar this early in the day.
“Sorry, ladies and gentlemen we need to interrupt our weather outlook for a breaking news story at the Biltmore Fashion Park. As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, our intrepid reporter Anita Raze has exclusive footage of a very unusual situation.”
Anita smiled broadly, revealing perfect white teeth. “Yes, thank you Chip. I’m here with a very unhappy Danny Boyle.”
Intrigued, Seamus drank his Guinness from the side of his mouth so he could keep his eyes on the broadcast. Colleen stopped her work, turning to watch, too.
The reporter had to squat, her dress riding up mid-thigh of her tan legs, to get her mic to the face of a small man dressed all in green, a big Starbucks coffee cup sitting on the concrete between his green leather boots that curled up at the toes. In his right hand he held a sign with bold letters saying #Weetoo. In his left, he held a small gold object.
From his stool, Seamus couldn’t tell what it was. A tool? A pipe? Maybe a cell phone?
Danny Boyle spoke in a small voice that quaked with improbable volume. The feather in his green bowler hat shook like a kindergarten teacher’s finger.
“I’m freakin’ P.O’d, missy, yeah, You betcha.”
“Danny, we’re on camera now. Can you watch your language and sum up for our Fox 10 viewers your complaint? Tell us why you’re standing out here blocking the entrance to this store.”
“Sure, Anita.” Danny stared hard at the camera as his voice softened, became more lyrical. “First I need to say hi to my wife Polly and the kids, Danny, Connie, Minnie, Maxine. Little Sean. The twins. And baby Mikey. Time for your chores, kiddos. But you still gotta do your homework. Listen to your ma, and Aunt Franny and — ”
“Please, Mr. Boyle …” Anita cupped her earpiece as if getting a message from her earbud. “We don’t have much time, sir. Please. We need you to get to the point. We’ve overheard at least two 911 calls about a tiny man accosting shoppers. The police scanner said something about ‘unsolicited shoe repair.’ ”
“Now, now. Don’t get your knickers in a twist, Missy. That was a false report. Can’t trust those coppers. Both of those ladies coming out of the store approached me. I think they liked my fancy hammer.”
The camera zoomed in on the golden tool with the curved head as he proudly held it high and smiled through his tightly curled beard. “It’s not my friggin’ fault if someone forgets to take their bloody foot out before I start me work. I gotta make a livin ya—”
“Nevermind that, Mr. Boyle. You need to tell our viewers two things. Why here? Why now?”
“It’s a shoe store, duh,” Danny pointed to the Allen Edmonds sign and muttered to himself in an aside. “I guess ya don’t have to have much goin’ on up there in the noodle to make it on to the boob tube these— ”
“Please, Mr. Boyle. Back to your point. You’re upset at shoe stores?
“I’m a cobbler, ya stook! I work on shoes. But no one gets shoes fixed anymore! They just throw them out and run off to buy new ones at stores like this. These places will sell ya the eye right out yer head.”
Anita stammered about. She looked down at her own fancy shoes, trying to hide them from the camera by putting one atop the other.
Colleen used a bar towel to dry beer mugs and spoke as she laughed out loud. “Look at er. The floozie don’t know what ta say.”
Seamus smiled widely. “Eh. But she’s quite a ride, though, ain’t she?”
On the screen, Anita was still stuck. She motioned for the cameraman to raise the camera higher. It turned to Danny, who was on a roll.
“You freakin’ civilians out there just don’t understand the life of the wee folk at all, do ya. You think we’re a bunch of dossers, smilin’ and cloggin’ about. Well, I got news for ya. That’s fake news. Fake news I tell ya. Fer the sake of Jaysus, all dancin’ and flutes and pots a’ gold. C’mon.”
Anita tried to recover. “Well, I must say that I myself am a big fan of Lucky Charms. My grammy and I —”
“Anita, look. It’s clear to me now that you’re not the sharpest chisel in the shed. But I need your help. Listen closely. I’m a cobbler. I need work. Just like everyone else. I can’t be waitin’ about for rainbows day in and day out. When’s the last time you saw one here in the desert?”
Anita rubbed her dimpled chin in thought. “Do you count the Pride Festival?”
Seamus laughed so hard he spit his beer on the maraschino cherries. Colleen whacked him with her towel.
On the TV, Danny cursed in Gaelic then jumped up to try to take Anita’s microphone. She held it just out of his reach.
He yelped at her. “Listen, lassie. You’re quite the looker but you need to just let me do the talking.”
She held the mic even higher, but he kicked her in the shin with his right boot. As she bent to massage her leg, he grabbed the mic.
Moving closer to the cameraman, he spoke quickly and loudly, like an announcer for a car commercial. “Everybody out there just listen. We’re in the shoe repair business, not the freakin’ gold business. My people might have the beards and sideburns but we’re not Hasids. They’re a lot bigger, duh, and they wear all black and usually hang out in gangs. Not around here, either. Usually in the diamond district.”
“So, your picketing for better jobs?” Anita’s voice could be heard off camera. She wasn’t giving up.
Seamus and Colleen shrugged at each other.
“At least she’s feisty,” Seamus whispered, trying not to speak over the TV.
Danny’s face now almost filled the screen. His voice dripped with sarcasm. “Well, aren’t you perceptive, Ms. Investigative Reporter. Thank you Mother Mary for small miracles.”
Anita asked “But what’s your sign have to do with jobs?”
Danny did a double take to re-read his own message. “Geez I’m a whanker. Almost forgot. My mission here is actually two-fold.” He backed away from the cameraman and held the sign up high.
“I still don’t get it,” Anita said. “Hashtag Wee-Too? I’m not sure what—”
“Geez Louise, lady. C’mon. Where’d ya get your journalism degree, that community college over there in Mesa?
“So, it’s like Hashtag Me-too?” The women’s movement? But you’re not a lady. Are you?” She jumped back into the camera shot quickly. Her pert backside filled the TV as she bent down in front of Danny, saying “Inquiring minds want to know.”
Danny danced back with surprising speed. She didn’t get close to him. He sneered as she spoke. “Of course I’m no biddy, ya bimbo. If you weren’t so dense, you’d be see-through. I got an idea for ya. Why don’t you go to a mind reader? I’ll bet they wouldn’t even charge ya.”
“So, why —”
Danny shoved his hammer in his coat pocket and held his finger to his lips as a message to her to shut up. “I’m protesting harassment. Yes, Wee-Too! Do you know how many centuries it’s been perfectly OK to try to put your hands on a leprechaun?”
“Well, I’m only 27 years old Mr. Boyle, I—”
“Too long! That’s all you need to know there girly. It’s time for this to stop! Why just last week I was up there at Cruisin’, that drag joint on 7th, mindin’ me own, stayin’ out of the light, back in the corner booth like usual, watching a guy as full as a pregnant heifer doin’ Mae West and … wham!”
“Freakin’ biker from Tucson throws his leather over my head while his big goombah buddy, holds me down. The slobs didn’t let me outta the trunk until we got all the way to Eloy.”
“So, you gave them the pot of gold?”
“Oh for crissakes lady, you’re thicker than a donkey’s dangler. How many times do I gotta tell you? We are in the cobblin’ business! Cobblin’. We fix shoes! We don’t have any gold!”
“But on the cartoons, you always—”
“Look, just stop talkin’. You’re embarrassin’ yerself. Just focus on the sign. “Wee too. Wee too! Wee too!” He started prancing and dancing in time with his shouts.
Giving up on her bar chores, Colleen turned to Seamus and did a little jig. He smacked the bar with his free hand in time with Danny’s chant.
On the TV, a big man carrying boxes walked out of the door of Allen Edmonds and stared at the dancing little man in green. He walked smack into Anita. A woman who had been following the man walked smack into him.
The woman threw her shoe boxes in the air and shouted: “Holy cannoli, Jack. It’s one of those little Irish fairy guys. They’re good luck. Catch him!”
The man also tossed his boxes and they both ran at Danny. He did the little side juke-and-slide that always worked with the Big People and slipped between the big man’s legs. As he skipped away, the couple lumbered after him. Anita stood alone, staring into the camera.
She patted her hair into place and spoke with surprising composure. “Well, there you have it, Chip. Live from the mall. It’s Anita Raze from the I-Team signing off, er … wait. Just a sec. I almost forgot. I knew I’d be doing something cool for St. Paddy’s Day so I researched some Gaelic.”
She pulled a piece of paper out of the pocket of her skirt, uncrumpled it and read, “Ireland forever! Or, as they say on the Emerald Isle … ‘I’m wearin’ a bra!’ “
Colleen whistled and shook her head as she wiped down the glass fridge. Seamus motioned for her to change the channel.
“God Bless ’murica,” he said, before taking a long pull on his draft and mumbling to himself.
“Friggin’ yanks. Whankers. Everybody knows you can’t catch a leprechaun without a cold Guinness.”