"Oh, but it did happen," Johnny said, reaching up to the shelf that ran along the top of the settee cushion. "See, here's the, uh, the club." He lifted a shillelagh from the shelf and placed it in my lap. It was made of dark wood, very shiny, and surprisingly heavy.
"But you could have come by a shillelagh just about any way," I said, hefting the club. "It didn't necessarily have to come from one of the Little People."
"Well, look," he said, reaching up to the shelf again. "Here's the rope I used, as well. Yeah, I know, how can I prove I tied a leprechaun up in it? But really, I did." He handed me a coil of what looked to me like fairly ordinary rope, about a half inch thick, of twisted grayish-white material, somewhat soft to the touch.
I put the shillelagh on the table and picked up the rope, looking more closely at it. "I suppose I could have this tested for leprechaun DNA ... if someone in some medical lab had some leprechaun DNA to match it against -- which, of course, they don't ..."
Johnny grinned. "I hadn't thought of that, but maybe leprechaun DNA would at least be different from human DNA, so you could tell that the guy I tied up wasn't human."
"Oh, don't bother." I settled back on the settee, fiddling around with the rope. "Still, it was a nice story -- kept me entertained all evening." I looked up and saw a look of hurt and disappointment on Johnny's face, his eyebrows peaked up in the middle like an earnest puppy. "No, wait, it was more than just that, though." I reached for his hand. "You're a fascinating person, and just meeting you has been, well, something special. This is one evening I'm never going to forget."
"Oh, well, that's all right then," Johnny said, hardly sounding mollified at all.
"But I mean it. If you have more stories to tell, I'd be glad to listen to them any time. You have a gift for them." Johnny had picked up the other end of the rope and was scowling at it, tying it into knots and then untying it again. "Or maybe you could take me sailing," I said. "I don't know anything about boats, but I'd love to learn, especially from someone like you."
Johnny's face brightened a bit. "Now that, I'd be glad to do. You can stay here tonight, and we can set sail first thing in the morning ..." He looked at the nearly empty brandy bottle on the table and then picked it up, swirling the last of the liquid around the bottom. "Or maybe not first thing, but you know, as soon as we get going ..." He slugged back the last of the brandy.
"Well, I, uh ... I usually don't stay over at a guy's place on a first date ..."
"Who says it's a date?" Johnny asked, the twinkle fully restored to his bright-blue eyes. "Listening to the story's part of your work, right? And tomorrow's a sailing lesson, not a date. Hey, I've got an idea -- we can start on the sailing lesson right now."
"Yeah. You see, sailors need to know how to tie knots, and I can teach you a few right now." He held up his end of the rope and gestured toward my end. "Here. This is a bowline. It's used when you need a loop of rope that won't shrink --" He put a loop in his rope, pulled the end up and around and back down, and I followed suit with my end and then pulled it tight. "There, you got it. You're a natural -- it usually takes people several tries to get the bowline right."
"Well, maybe I just have a good teacher ..."
"Now, here's another one ... the clove hitch. You use it to tie something short-term -- it's not good for a lot of strain ..." He looked around for a moment, then picked up my hand and pulled the rope around my wrist, then looped it around again and under itself, making a neat criss-cross pattern. "See how that works?" He held out an arm. "Now, you try it."
I ran the rope around Johnny's wrist just the way he had done on mine, ending up with the same neat pattern. "What a way to spend an evening," I commented, giggling a bit, "tying each other up!"
"You know, you should try it," Johnny said, holding out his other wrist next to the first. "That clove hitch is the base of a lot of lashings. Work around both wrists in sort of a figure-eight a few times ... that's how I tied up the leprechaun you don't believe in."
"Oh, really, like this?" I asked.
"Yeah, that's exactly it," Johnny said as I made a few turns around his wrists, binding them together. Then he turned around sideways on the settee and brought his feet up to the seat. "Do my ankles, too."
By now, I was laughing full force, rather than just giggling. Boy, all those drinks were really hitting home. "You're kidding, right? Is this some weird sort of foreplay?" But still, I went ahead with the rope around his ankles, leaving him hog-tied on the settee. When I ran out of rope, I tucked a loop of the rope under the last coil around his ankle, leaving the end sticking out for quick release.
"There!" Johnny half-shouted, laughing himself. "That's exactly how I had the little guy, right down to having the slip-knot at the end." He rocked himself into a more upright position and leaned toward me, whispering, "Now you got me where you want me, don't you think?"
"What?" I was getting a bit dizzy; I wasn't sure whether it was from all the laughing or all the alcohol or both, but my vision was beginning to fade out.
He nodded his head toward a tall, narrow cabinet door in the opposite side of the cabin. "You see that hanging locker over there?"
"Go and look in there, in the bottom. It's all yours now."
-- Carol Anne Byrnes