|Written by Rebecca McFarland-Kyle / Artwork by Lee Kuruganti
|Bilious and the Green Brigade
St Paddy’s is a fun holiday, everyone said to Luke Killian—he hadn’t enjoyed it since the Great Green Shake Debacle
when he was nine. And he was stuck with a pounding headache babysitting his poxy niece and nephew.
That cacophonous pounding was not just his head or the water coming from the shower. Luke turned off the
shower and threw towel around his middle then rushed out into the living room to see just how the kids were killing
A dozen tiny green clad men step-danced to a spritely Irish tune on his sister Tig’s brand new hardwood floor.
Both nine-year-olds, suffering more from sibling rivalry than chicken pox, were naturally on opposite sides of the
room with the family’s four dogs barking and trying to get rid of the red-haired interlopers in the middle. Blonde-
haired Ashley, his sister’s step-daughter, was up trying to learn the dance. Vincent, the full-blood Comanche boy
his sister was working through the tribe to adopt, stood alone by the door to the safe room, watching the
proceedings with eyes too wary and wise for one so young.
“Hey!” Luke said, damp and a whole lot freaked when he stood. The kids were even taller than the interlopers.
“No bark!” he ordered his sister’s three German Shepherds.
Luke exhaled and managed not to rub his throbbing temple while still holding onto the towel.
“Howya,” the closest leprechaun greeted him. “Welcome to the hooley. I’m Bilious.”
Indeed he was, The minute the little man spoke his name, a green cloud smelling of beer, broccoli, and
braunschweiger assailed his nose.
“What’s your name? I didn’t hear it.” Ashley asked, giggling. She’d fully embraced being Irish for the day, including
wearing green, pinching him and Vincent who were not wearing any, and doing her best to learn how to play the
chanter, which had driven Luke and the dogs crazy until he’d found Darby O’Gill and the Little People for the kids
to watch and foolishly gone to take a shower.
“Bilious,” the little man belched out his name again, disgorging a cloud that’d make a goat ill.
“What’s your—” Ashley repeated, giggling. Peace, their Siamese cat, turned his back on the little man and
commenced to try and cover up the air.
“They came in through the dog door,” Vincent said.
“They knocked,” Ashley admitted cheerfully. “I let them in.”
Clearly Vincent and the animals didn’t approve of Ashley’s decision. Tig’s three German Shepherds were stationed
at alert around the periphery, waiting for the little men to do something that would endanger their charges.
Luke stopped Ashley before she could ask the inevitable question. Nope, Tig was a veterinarian so she was good
about just about any kind of pet, including the crazy cat. But, he was pretty sure Ashley’s ex-cop Dad wouldn’t like
it if bunch of noisy and smelly little green men moved in.
“You didn’t hear the rest of the Green Brigade’s names…” Ashley’s chicken-pox ridden face was bright red with
Luke snatched at the towel when he felt a tug behind him. Then a pinch on his abruptly cold behind.
“Yer not wearing green,” the little man standing behind him said.
“I’m wearing a towel,” Luke snapped back.
The dogs voiced their objections, near ready to strike save for Vincent’s intervention. Vincent glanced at the little
men and shook his head at Luke. He got the message. Some things were just better left unspoken.
“Out!” Luke ordered the dogs pointing at their door. The last thing he needed was one of the dogs biting whatever
they were. Vincent got the four of them outside. Tig was planning on getting Vincent his own dog so he could take
it through obedience classes and possibly agility. One of the reasons she’d been allowed to adopt him when she
was only a quarter Comanche was his desire to become a veterinarian—and his natural magical gift for healing which
only a few on the tribal council knew about. His mother, a skinwalker, abandoned him when she’d gotten tangled
up with unsavory characters and he’d been used as hostage for her help.
“All right,” Luke said. “I’m getting dressed—in something green. Now will you please play nicely for five minutes?”
How did parents do it? If this babysitting assignment was to convince him not to have kids, he already agreed.
Unfortunately, the wee folk were still there after he’d hastily dried off and dressed himself. Luke had been warned
there was a gate to Faery nearby and things occasionally came through on Magically Auspicious Occasions. The
Equinox was a few days away and the moon wasn’t even full yet. Probably St. Patrick’s Day counted as a high holy
event for leprechauns. He had a bad feeling he shouldn’t kick them out without some kind of hospitality.
“We heard the Irish flicks on your telly and thought we’d bide a wee,” the tallest, who seemed to be the spokesman
said. “Cheesed off it’s lashing out there. On our day, no less.”
“Maybe there’ll be a rainbow!” Ashley said, looking hopefully out the rain-streaked windows. “We could find the pot
of gold at the end.”
“Maybe you could, Lassie.” Bilious grinned as wide as a Texas politician during election season.
That was dubious. All the wee folk were known for making promises, but there was always a price.
Luke rubbed his forehead until he glanced outside to see rain coming down in sheets. Yup, he was going to have a
mess on his hands with four dogs. Ashley’s Labradoodle would be the worst. They were bred for easy-care, but the
truth was just the opposite. Ashley’s Mom gave her kid the dog based on status and nothing else.
“Got any tayters?”
Yeah, Tig had started a brisket in the slow cooker for the traditional corned beef and cabbage before she left on a
family emergency this morning. All he had to do was add vegetables and more seasoning later. He went to the
vegetable drawer and pulled it out and tossed a potato to Bilous, who let it thud on the hardwood floor.
“Crisps, they call them…” Bilious amended.
Luke’s rail thin sister never ate junk food, but her husband Dennis did. He opened half a dozen cupboards before
the found the appropriate cabinet. He tossed bags of chips to the little green men. They caught the huge bags in
their tiny hands and ripped them open with their teeth, spewing chips and salt all over their faces.
They chewed like they danced, noisily and with lots of crumbs and dirt left behind. Luke didn’t mind babysitting the
kids even if it was his only weekend off in months. He did mind having to clean up Tig’s house.
“Gentlefolk,” Luke addressed them with grave courtesy. “As you can see, the children have pox and should be
resting…You have had a dance and a snack. Perhaps it’s time for you to depart…”
“Not without a serenade,” Bilious said. “It wouldn’t be proper not to thank our young hostess for her kindly
Luke nodded. Music was good. The kids had been listening to Tig’s Irish CDs when he’d gotten there and he’d
switched them to the movie to get them to settle down. How much trouble could they get into?
They commenced to sing. He expected them to sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. For men so tiny, they actually
still could sing pretty well from fine Irish tenor to a deep rumbling bass. The tune was slow enough, Ashley could
match their steps and Luke found his own feet moving along.
Only it wasn’t O Danny Boy they were singing to the wee lad and lassie!
They started out innocently enough. Their first song only suggested. The next one had verses where most adults
could fill in the blanks. Tig probably had both in her collection of Irish CDs. They’d sang them often enough when
they were kids, even.
The third song was the kicker. It was about the bawdiest lyrics he’d ever heard and working faires and tournaments
as a knight, he’d heard them all. Luke’s cheeks flamed and he opened his mouth to object when he noticed that
Ashley and Vincent for once were standing together clapping in time and stomping to the beat.
The doorbell’s bong offered a coda to the impromptu serenade.
“You gentlemen wouldn’t mind obliging me and hiding in the master bedroom,” Luke suggested when he heard firm
knocking on the wooden door frame. Whoever it was, didn’t plan on going away and they’d probably heard the
music through the door to convince them they were home. Luke added, “Please,” when they didn’t immediately
Bilious and his crew hastened to the door Luke indicated.
Of course, their appearance in the bedroom only made the dogs go nuts. Bad enough the strangers were in their
home without their mistress there. Now they were in the master bedroom with a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows
looking out on the backyard.
“Coming,” Luke called before the person could knock again.
He nearly panicked when he peered into the peephole to see a Native American woman waiting. While her skin was
unwrinkled, her hair was the mix of steel and silver that marked her as being aged. Just before she left, Tig had told
him they shouldn’t be expecting anyone from the tribe, but from the woman’s suit and bearing, she appeared
“Hello,” Luke said, when he pulled solid wood door open. “May I help you?”
“I’m Mrs. Doyebi,” she produced an ID and held it up to the screen so Luke could see. “I’m a social worker with the
Comanche tribe. We got a report from Vincent’s school that he’s ill. Dr. Killian was supposed to have called us to let
“Oh,” Luke suppressed an oath. “My sister got a call this morning that her mother-in-law’s had a stroke and is
gravely ill. She and her husband, Dennis, flew out to Nebraska to be with them this morning. He’s got chicken
pox…I thought the school knew.”
“Do you mind if I come in and have a look at Vincent to make sure he’s doing all right?” the woman asked.
“Sure,” Luke unlatched the door and let her in. “I’m sorry for the…”
At that moment the German Shepherds lost their restraint and burst back through the dog door into the house.
Ashley’s Labradoodle shook her heavy coat off all over the leather sectional as the larger dogs gathered at the
master bedroom door, barking angrily.
Luke yelled the command for the dogs to hold, but the little men were just too much provocation. They burst
through the bedroom door barking. Bilious and his men came rushing out only minutes later with the dogs in hot
Bilious led the charge for the entertainment center which held a big screen television and stereo equipment.
Luke barely managed to grab two dogs’ collars before they climbed up after them. Vincent had the other.
“HELP! HELP!” Bilious squeaked, every word coming out a green cloud near Luke’s eye level.
A cell phone rang. Mrs. Doyebi calmly stepped into the kitchen to answer.
Luke lugged the two biggest Shepherds back outside with Vincent following with the third and the ‘Doodle. This
time, Luke made sure the dog door was firmly latched.
He walked back in to see the little green men still perched on top of the entertainment center. The floor was a
muddied mess of wet doggy pawprints, potato chip crumbs, and broken fragments of whatever the dogs knocked
down in their frenzy to reach the interlopers.
Mrs. Doyebi stood off to the side.
“That was your sister apologizing for not calling sooner,” she said.
Luke’s jaw dropped. His eyes involuntarily shifted to the mess. “You didn’t—”
She shook her head. “Dr. Killian’s worried about her mother-in-law, how her husband’s going to take the loss, and
her children being ill while she’s gone…I didn’t want to add to that burden.”
Ashley began singing the worst of the bawdy songs. Mrs. Doyebi glanced at her minutely and she stilled.
Luke tried not to goggle at the woman. Her eyes rose to the top of the entertainment center where the
leprechauns still cowered.
“Pardon me,” Luke said to her as though helping leprechauns off entertainment centers was part of his daily
routine. “I need to help these guys down.”
“Come on, lads,” Luke said. “I’ll help you down from there…Sorry about the dogs…”
Everything was going well until the last man.
“That’s Flatus,” Bilious provided the name as Luke wrapped his hands around the little man’s capacious waist
commenced to lift him off the entertainment center.
An ear-shattering fart came out of the leprechaun’s back end loud enough to rattle the electronic equipment on the
shelves, followed by a green glittering cloud…
Ears ringing, eyes stinging and nose watering, Luke dropped to the floor with the little man on top of him. Of
course, Flatus let out one more long squeaker which put out another gaseous cloud before he got off Luke’s chest.
Luke’s vision cleared to see Mrs. Doyebi and the two kids standing over him with their fingers pinching their noses
shut. Vincent offered him a hand up and he managed to stand.
“Pardon me,” Flatus said in a voice which started out a rumble and ended in a high-pitched tenor.
“Sure…” Luke managed to right the shelves and clicked on the remote to see that somehow the television and
stereo still worked though both were going to need a serious scrubbing before Tig got home. And how on Earth
could the little men be in the house for hours now and still leave muddy footprints on top of the entertainment
center? He shook his head wondering if this was just a dream he was going to wake up from—hopefully soon.
“Perhaps we might have a wee bit of a dram to soothe our nerves?” Bilious suggested, winking broadly.
Luke’s mouth watered. He glanced at Mrs. Doyebi, who nodded slightly. Hospitality demanded food and drink and
he’d only upheld half the bargain. He went to the refrigerator and pulled out a six pack of Shiners. He was definitely
going to have to make a trip to HEB before Dennis got back or he’d have some ‘splaining to do.
Much as his mouth watered, he passed the last ice-cold can to the little men who commenced guzzling and burping
like elementary school kids. Luke glanced at Mrs. Doyebi, who still seemed so unfazed by the sight he almost
wanted to pinch himself to make sure wasn’t some kind of illusion.
“Well, I’ll be seeing to the children now,” Mrs. Doyebi checked both Vincent and Ashley out to make sure they were
all right. They were definitely poxy. Luke grimaced when poor Vincent pulled off his shirt to expose a slender chest
and back with more red bumps on it than a pack of teenagers right before a hot date.
Vincent checked out fine. He was cool about most everything. Ashley, on the other hand, was up for complaining.
“He gave me the pox,” she pointed at Vincent accusingly.
“No,” Luke shook his head at her. “You got it first. Yours are scabs. Vincent’s just popped up.”
Ashley made a sour face at him. Yeah, Luke knew she wasn’t happy with the new arrangement. Her parents fought
over custody in the divorce until Ashley’s mom met a guy with money who didn’t want prior attachments. Then she
dumped Ashley on the newlywed couple like an unwanted kitten. She was pretty content with two parents to pay
attention to her until Tig chose to adopt a tribal kid whose mother abandoned him and she had to share. Luke
knew most of the family thought Dennis and Tig had done the right thing—both for Vincent and for Ashley.
With her blonde hair and brown eyes, she was going to be even more beautiful than her mother. She didn’t need to
be spoiled rotten and selfish as her mother taught her to be.
“You’re not wearing green,” Ashley said to the social worker, her mouth curving in disapproval.
Before she could pinch her, Mrs. Doyebi straightened the lapel of her blazer. There pinned on the lapel was a
shining shamrock pin.
“Look closer next time.” Mrs. Doyebi just grinned at Ashley. “I could have gotten to pinch you seven times for
Ashley winced and hastened back.
Bilious finished his beer and settled back on the couch after a contented and malodorous burp.
“You guys think it might be time to…”
The doorbell punctuated Luke’s sentence. Before he could ask himself, Mrs. Doyebi hustled the little men into the
master bedroom, once again, setting the dogs on even higher alert than the doorbell.
Luke moved to the door, hoping against hope it was a salesman he could brush off.
Stephanie Steele stood on the front steps, her pretty mouth turned down in a frown.
“Hi Steph,” Luke said brightly when he opened the door for Dennis’s ex, a beautiful woman who’d done some
pretty ugly things to both her ex and his sister. “It’s not your week for custody.”
“My daughter’s ill,” Stephanie snapped. “I’m here to check on her.”
Luke unlatched the door and stepped out of her way.
“This place is a mess,” Stephanie noted the footprints on the floor, both canine and what she took to be the
children’s. “And it smells of beer. What on Earth are you doing?”
“He’s just letting the children play,” Mrs. Doyebi stepped forward and introduced herself. “When I arrived, they were
listening to Irish CDs and learning to dance.”
“When my daughter’s ill?” Stephanie reddened as only a fair-complected blonde could.
“She’s not running a temperature and none of her pox are infected,” Mrs. Doyebi said. “Why can’t she play?”
“And you had beer?”
Actually, he hadn’t. Luke glanced at Mrs. Doyebi, who merely nodded at him. “I had one. I’m nineteen. It’s legal.”
“And you could take the kids somewhere after you’ve had the beer!”
“No,” Luke said. “They have chickenpox. They’re in quarantine. The only place I’d take them would be the doctor—
and they clearly don’t need to go…”
Mrs. Doyebi nodded affirmation.
“I’m taking my daughter out of here.”
“No,” Luke said. “It’s not your weekend. Dennis was real explicit…”
“I’m calling the police…” Stephanie pulled out her cell phone.
Luke stared. She must have lost the wealthy boyfriend. Now it was clear she wanted Ashley back. He’d seen her
looking at Dennis and Tig’s brand new home and the land around it. She no doubt was calculating child support
“My daughter doesn’t need to be playing with a dirty little Indian boy.” Stephanie’s finger hovered over the nine on
“He’s my brother,” Ashley stepped forward, surprising them both. She’d refuted both her Dad’s and Tig’s
assertions this was so up until this very moment.
Stephanie was so startled by Ashley’s objection she nearly dropped her phone.
“You should come home with me,” Stephanie took on a more pleading voice. “Where I can take care of you…”
“You mean like not getting my shots for chickenpox so I’d get sick?” Ashley put her hands on her hips. Tig had not
been happy to get Ashley’s medical records and discover she hadn’t been vaccinated. They’d started the shots.
Chickenpox would have been next.
Stephanie opened her mouth and Ashley continued.
“Or dumping me on my Dad when you had a date…”
Stephanie’s flush turned abruptly pale. “I’m entitled…”
“I told the judge I wanted to stay here with my Daddy, my new Mom,” Ashley paused, considering her situation.
“And my brother. I’ll tell the police the same thing—and they’ll listen because you used to dump me on the police
station when Daddy worked there. They all know.”
Luke almost felt sorry for Stephanie. Almost. She had done all of that and a whole lot more. He just hadn’t realized
up until that point that Ashley knew and was clearly hurt by it. He extended a hand and Ashley moved to his side,
wrapping her arm around his back.
Stephanie started to hit the next numbers when the bedroom door opened and the Green Brigade came out
dancing and singing.
“You need to get out of here!” Stephanie stared. “There are …”
“What?” When Ashley ignored the leprechauns, the rest of them chose to do the same.
“Little singing men,” Stephanie said.
Luke tapped the power switch on the stereo and the Green Brigade stopped singing.
“Mrs. Steele, I think you might need to go home.” Mrs. Doyebi suggested gently. “Perhaps you’ve been enjoying
the holidays a bit too much.”
“The men…” Stephanie said to the professional-looking woman.
“You mean, Luke?” Mrs. Doyebi said. “He’s the only man here.”
Peripherally, Luke noted the Brigade tiptoeing out of the area. For a troupe who’d sounded like jackhammers when
they were dancing, they were peculiarly silent on the hardwood floors now.
“Luke had one beer. Have you had too many?” Mrs. Doyebi suggested kindly. “If so, you shouldn’t be driving…”
Stephanie backed up, staring from one to the other. “This place, it’s….”
Luke glanced down at the hopelessly filthy floors only to see a few muddied dog prints.
“Yes,” Mrs. Doyebi said. “I’m sure Ashley and Vincent will wipe up after their dog’s muddied feet.”
Ashley was back with cloths before Luke could even blink. Generally, it took her Dad or Tig ordering her to clean.
This time, she did it with just a suggestion. Vincent gestured for her to toss him a cloth and he set to work beside
“Is there anything else?” Mrs. Doyebi subtly guided Stephanie to the door. “I’m sure the children really do need
their rest after they finish the little bit of cleaning…”
Stephanie shook her head, more denial of the situation than demurral from what Mrs. Doyebi said. But by then she
was out the door and Mrs. Doyebi gently shut it in her face.
Nobody relaxed until they heard Stephanie’s Lexus pulling away.
“Now,” Mrs. Doyebi said to the leprechauns who stood quietly in the corner with their hats in their hands. “You’ve
been paid for your song and dance with drink and food. It is time you made your way elsewhere and let the children
Bilious nodded his head. “I would offer three wishes…”
Luke winced, glancing at Mrs. Doyebi who paled visibly beneath her bronze skin. Wishes were traps for the unwary
Bilious turned to Luke first.
“I am content,” Luke said. He offered a bow he’d perfected at Ren Faires. “I wish you gentlemen blessings for your
Vincent’s eyes widened at the chance. Luke could see him flushing. “I am content as well. I wish you all find crisps
and good food where you go next.”
Ashley swallowed hard. Luke knew there were lots of things she would wish for, starting with a pony, and who
knows what else. She glanced from Luke to Vincent to Mrs. Doyebi and then surprised them all.
“I wish everything would be okay for my Daddy,” she said finally. “He’s been through a lot.”
Luke started. It was the kindest thing he’d ever heard the little girl say. Dennis had been through a lot with a
service-related injury, then the betrayal of the divorce when Stephanie saw him as a burden, now his mother’s
sudden illness. He was going to need the love and support of family.
Bilious had been rubbing his hands together, a sly smile spreading on his face.
“Your da will be fine,” the leprechaun said finally, glancing at the members of his troupe for agreement. They all
“May the road rise up to meet ye, then.” Mrs. Doyebi offered the Irish blessing to the little green men who departed
with a tip of their hats to all of them.
Luke almost embraced the elder woman he was so relieved.
Mrs. Doyebi smiled at him gently. “I’ll be on my way, too. You children are fine?”
Ashley nodded. “I wish we could have found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…”
“My dear,” Mrs. Doyebi chuckled using her hands to illustrate. “Rainbows are circles. We just cannot see that when
they touch the earth.”
“So, there’s no pot of gold,” Ashley said.
“But there are other riches to be found…”
Ashley nodded, glancing around at her home and the photos of all of them together on the mantel.
Vincent looked wistful, but as usual kept his peace.
“I wish I could have asked about my mother.” Vincent ducked his head. He excused himself and went to his room,
his steps tired. Luke was surprised when Ashley followed, her expression concerned.
“Thank you for your help,” Luke walked outside with the Comanche woman. He started, realizing there wasn’t a car
in the drive.
A gesture shushed him. The woman’s hair transformed from grays to midnight black, her glasses disappeared
revealing dark lively eyes. Her body firmed into that of a young woman in her prime.
“I wanted to check on my son before I left for good,” she spoke. “I can see he is in the home of a healer where he
will learn to use his gifts and his family does love him. That’s what’s important. I will periodically send friends
through the faery gate—ones that will be more helpful than this lot.”
Luke nodded as she faded into the misty rain.
Born on Friday 13, Rebecca developed an early love for the
unusual. She currently lives between the Smoky and
Cumberland mountains with her husband and four cats.
Her first novel, Fanny & Dice, is available via WolfSinger
Publications. She has three young adult novels and a mystery
novel currently in the works.