February 2018

I know, it’s actually March and that means I’m late posting the next short story.  But, February has fewer days, so I have a little leeway, right?  How’s the first quarter of the New Year going for you?  It’s been busy here.  So many projects in process, time management has been key.  And self-discipline, which is always a struggle, especially after all that resolution stuff.  If you have any tips, feel free to share them!

Giving Back

One thing that has me so busy, is volunteering.  I recently joined the Exec Board of a local non-profit as their Communications Liaison and talk about hitting the ground running!  I’m breathless with all the work that needed to get done.  I already volunteer at an assisted living facility teaching tech skills to retirees, and as a family, we volunteer at a food bank once a month, so this new gig seemed like a great idea at the time.  Giving back is a powerful way of keeping your thoughts positive, gratitude in your heart, and being happy.  If you aren’t currently doing something, you really ought to give it a try.  Don’t know where to start?  Try visiting www.volunteermatch.org. They are a great resource for finding opportunities in your area.

Story Background

Anway, let’s get on to the story stuff, yeah?  That’s what you came for!  This story was written with the idea that March is the month of St. Patrick and all things green and Irish.  Since St. Patty’s Day falls before month’s end, I thought a story to get you in the spirit now, might be fun!  In this one, you’ll meet Torre Smith, a middle-aged farmer who has lived a simple life, yet deep inside has always craved something different.  Change and risk are hard, however, and much of the time, our self-doubt and self-preservation get in the way.  With the help of a little magic and a powerful storm, Torre is given the opportunity to explore life-altering change.  How will he fair?  Read on and find out!

The Trouble with Clover

Torre Smith leaned against the door frame leading to his front porch. The roof sagged with age, and much of the floor planks rotted in place. Hell, the whole porch needed replacing. Maybe he would, or maybe he wouldn’t get around to it one of these days. For now, he twirled a four-leaf clover in his hand, as he watched dark clouds of an approaching storm gather over the open field separating his land and the neighbors. The electrically charged air signaled the area was due for a real boomer. Might even turn into a twister with the dramatic change in weather in the last 24-hours.

His gaze shifted to his front yard. Rusted and twisted metal littered his line of sight. One would think a tornado had already ripped through these parts. There was the ass-end of an old ’56 Buick, several 50-gallon drums used as burn barrels throughout the years, and a couple of lawn mowers that hadn’t seen action since before the war. World War II that is. As well as a few pieces of farming equipment, an old refrigerator, or as Gran used to call it, the icebox, and a toilet that his sister had planted flowers in when she was a young thing. They were in their 60’s now.

He thought about why no one ever bothered to move the trash, why no one put any effort into maintaining the place. After his Gran died, she’d left everything to his parents. When his parents both died, he and his sister had inherited it all. Natty didn’t want anything to do with it. She’d moved to the big city as soon as she finished high school and was hard pressed to even come for a visit during holidays.

He hadn’t thought much about the look of things because it had all been there since before he was born. Going about his life, he worked the fields with a small staff of skilled farmhands, raising some animals for food, and growing vegetables in the warm months. None of it was enough to really live on, but he got by.

Before he knew it, he was in his 40’s. Doc Blenis told him he needed to stop drinking, or his liver would stop working, so he gave up working the fields and switched to light beer because everyone knew it was mostly water anyway. He picked up odd jobs fixing broken machinery and helping with livestock issues with the intent of using that income for sprucing up the place. But time got the better of him. And there were other things to spend money on, like Cable TV and Internet. He imagined that’s what Gran, Mom, and Pop had all thought too.

It wasn’t until this morning when he was walking the perimeter of his property, something he had been doing since a child, that any of this was a concern. He had been perfectly content living the same day over and over until something like a heart attack took his life too. Before today, everything was as it had always been. Except for that damn gopher hole. Caught unaware, he’d tripped and landed face first into a patch of clover. While shaking off the shock and trying to gain enough strength to pull himself up, his eyes fell upon a four-leaf clover the size of a rosebud. He couldn’t help but pluck it. And the minute his skin made contact with it, it was like a veil had been lifted from his eyes.

Of course, it could’ve been that he’d hit his head on a small rock during his fall and all these new feelings were because of a slight concussion. He didn’t think so. Because when he got home, he had set the clover down to wash his hands and face, and everything had been set back to rights. The minute he picked it up again, the veil lifted, and he saw everything through new eyes. Set it down, back to normal. Pick it up, new outlook. He tried it several times, and each one ended the same.

Now he watched the sky grow darker and darker from his spot at the doorframe wondering what it all meant. Part of him wished a funnel cloud would come and wipe it all away. Every last piece of shit that made this place ‘The Old Smith Farm.’ He wanted something new, something exciting, and something he could live out his days doing. He’d always been interested in haberdashery, collecting buttons and odd pieces of fabric for mending things. It was one of the reasons why he walked the perimeter each day. He often found scraps of things while out walking, assuming it was the strong Mid-West winds blowing the items onto his property. The items now filled two whole cookie tins.

He pictured himself sitting at his kitchen table, sorting buttons and zippers, and other sewing articles, mending things that were too good to giveaway, or too unique to part with. Deep in the daydream, he didn’t notice the winds picking up or the short pines that lined his property starting to bend to one side. He didn’t smell the damp air, the signs of rain coming, or even hear the distant rumble of thunder.

“Psst. Hey, boyo. You best get inside your storm shelter. This one’ll be a doozy.”

Snapped from his imaginings, Torre looked around trying to place the sound of the voice.

“Yoo-hoo. Over here.”

Torre’s breath caught as looked to his left and spotted a bearded man, no more than 3 feet high. Dressed in a red square-cut coat, laced with gold, and knickers that buckled at the knee, the man waved his hand in a friendly manner. It was as if he had stepped out of one of those old-timey photos hanging in the upstairs hallway. Dazed, Torre returned a weak hand flap.

“Come on! That storm has its eye turned right towards this house. You don’t want ter be inside it when it comes a-knockin’, do ye?”

“I suppose not,” Torre replied, reaching behind him to close the front door before stepping out onto the porch.

“You need to leg it!”

Torre watched as the little man ran off towards the mountain of dirt that served as the root cellar and storm sanctuary. Was this all a dream? Where had the little man come from and how did he know where the shelter was? Before he could think about it too long, the tornado siren was blaring, a throwback to the cold war era, that would’ve alerted townsfolk of incoming bombs. Now, the weather service used it to let people know that a funnel cloud was in the vicinity.

He watched with amusement as the man tried to reach the latch on the heavy metal door. Even on his tippy toes, he couldn’t reach.

“Step aside. There’s a trick to it,” Torre instructed, deftly maneuvering the latch and opening the door.

The cellar was nothing more than reinforced earth with some wooden shelves built between the joists that kept the dirt walls from collapsing inward. Torre had stored some jarred fruits and vegetables, and pickled meats. Now that it was only him on the farm, a single rusted folding chair sat at the back, where he would be comfortable waiting out a storm. Offering his unlikely companion first entry, the stranger tipped his cocked hat in gratitude. As Torre backed into the dank room to secure the door from the inside, he saw it.

The mothership. Well, not an actual mothership. But, the rare mothership cloud formation that Torre had learned about in school, years ago. It was massive and looked like a flying saucer with its flat base and oval columnar funnel that had to be 10 miles wide. In the center was a bright light, like a laser beam ready to beam up a human for experimentation, but more than likely the sun, as the clouds gathered around its sides to release a torrent of rain, like nothing he’d ever seen.

A freight train-like roar screamed out across the land, startling Torre enough that he slammed the door shut and locked it. As he did, the sound of thunder reverberated inside the shelter, while the earth shook in reaction.

“Jaysus. It’s been donkey’s years since I’ve seen it bucketing down like that!”

“I’m sorry, but who are you?”

A scraping sound and the smell of sulfur filled the small space. Then light began to flicker out of an old lantern Torre had forgotten he’d left inside.

“Me name’s Cian. I live along the riverbed. Have for centuries.”

“Centuries? I must be losing my mind.” Torre scrubbed his calloused hand over the small lump on his forehead from where he fell earlier. “This is all a dream.”

“‘Fraid not, lad. After me neighbor Kieran complained about you smashing in his back door, I had to see the Culchie responsible.”


“Farmer, rural chaps.”

“I didn’t smash anyone’s door!”

“Then where’d you get that clover?”

Torre clutched the four-leaf clover in his left hand, never having dropped it in all the commotion.

“I fffound it this morning.” Placing it over his heart, he added, “It’s mine!”

“Well, not according to Kieran. He’d like it back, and he’d like ye to fix his door. And while we’re at it, I’d like you to give us back our buttons and clothes you’ve been stealing over the years.”

“What are you talking about? Clothes and buttons?”

“Like these ones here.” Cian pointed to his neatly pressed coat. There were seven rows with seven buttons in each row. Or there should have been seven buttons in each row. There were seven buttonholes, but some of the notions were missing.

“What I find on my property is mine to keep.”

“Normally, I’d agree with ye. But t’isn’t your land. T’is ours. We allow ye to live here because of a deal we struck with yer great-grand pappy eons ago. Everything gets left the way t’is, while we let ye work the land and live yer lives. We overlook the occasional theft, for we do the same with yer harvest.”

Hail struck the ground around them and pelted the steel door to the shelter. It rattled like the hounds of hell were trying to gain entry. It made it hard for Torre to think.

“This is all quite unbelievable, and I’ll probably wake up in my bed, having slept off these weird imaginings. But, I’ll indulge in the story for now. How’s my PawPaw connected to you?”

“He caught one of us in one of his critter traps.”

“And one of you being?”

“Leprechaun of course!”

Torre burst into laughter. It was so sudden that it startled him, and he stopped for a second. Then resumed, clutching his belly and folding at the waist to help gather his breath.

“If there weren’t a giant tornado out there sucking up everything in sight, I’d think I was on one of those TV Shows. You know where they trick you and everyone laughs at how gullible you were?”

“I assure ye, t’is no laughing matter. Yer PawPaw, as you call him, trapped one of my kin who lived further down along the riverbanks. In exchange for his release, the leprechaun granted him three wishes.”

“Wait. I thought leprechauns wore green and carried pots of gold.”

“Some of us prefer green, true. Those are the troopin’ fairies. They run around in the fields and towns makin’ all kinds of mischief. Us Reds, we’re solitary. Preferin’ the simple life, livin’ out our days as craftsmen.”

“And what do you craft?”

Cian cocked one stockinged leg out and swept his hand over his ensemble, “From the tip of our heads to the soles of our feet, everyting is handcrafted.”

“Wow. That’s impressive. I’ve been admiring the threading on your coat. And the quality of your shoes. Is that leather?”

Cian nodded, proudly showing off his clothes.

“I fancy myself a craftsperson too! Or I would if I wasn’t stuck out here at the old farm, waiting for my life to pass. It’s why I was collecting the cloth and other odds and ends I’d find on the property. One day, I hoped to become a Haberdasher.

Cian narrowed his eyes at Torre as a particular nasty roar filled the small space. The joists creaked, and the food jars rattled.

“What’re playin’ at boy?”

“What do you mean?”

“Do ye really want to be an outfitter?”

“Oh yes! Right before you appeared, I’d sorta made a wish that the farm would go away so I could spend my time on my true passion: mending and fixing things.”

“Hmm.” Cian scratched his beard and furrowed his brow. “If ye give us back all the buttons and clothes ye’ve sourced over the years, I might be willin’ to overlook the clover incident. In exchange, I could teach ye a few tricks of the trade.”

“I can keep the clover?”

“Indeed. But ye’d also have te fix Kieran’s door.”

Full of excitement, Torre threw out his hand. “It’s a deal!”

Cian put his small, calloused hand in Torre’s and they shook on their agreement. Then they waited out the storm, listening for the noise to lessen, before taking a chance on opening the door.

When enough time had passed, Torre took charge of unlatching the safety mechanisms and with great effort, forced the door open. They were instantly blinded by the bright sunshine that peeked through the white puffy clouds dancing through the sky. Once their eyes adjusted, they took in the scene around them.

“The house! It’s gone! And all the trash? Gone, too.” A sinking feeling gathered in the pit of Torre’s stomach. “All my stuff. My collection! Oh no! Without my collection, we have no deal!”

Cian’s eyes sparkled with something Torre recognized.

“Wait a doggone minute! This all started with that hole. A hole you said belonged to one of your fellas. But, I walk this land every day and that hole has never been there! Then I find the clover.” Torre looks at the clover, still crushed in his left hand. “If it weren’t for that clover, I never would’ve made that wish! The wish that took all my stuff. And now I’m left with nothing!”

Cian’s body quaked. But his attempts at stifling his laughter were for naught. Soon, he was cackling mischievously, slapping his knee at his cleverness. “I thought ye almost had me, when ye spoke of the prankster TV shows.” He wheezed out between fits of giggles.

“So, you never intended to teach me your craft?” Torre frowned, lowering his head and kicking at a loose rock.

Cian sniffed, his nose runny from his tittering. Plucking at his coat to invite some cool air between it and his skin, he fell into another short burst of giggles. “Ye’ve been this sad sap yer whole life. I’ve watched ye repeat the same 64 years and call it a life. I’ve decided to give ye a little nudge is all.”

“A nudge? A nudge! I’ve got nothing left. How will I live now? Where do I start?”

“That’s the beauty of a storm, boyo. Ye never come out of it, they way ye went in!” Cian slapped Torre on the ass. “Now git! Go out there into the great big world and do sometin, anytin other than mopin’ around these parts, waitin’ te die.”

And with that last message, Cian disappeared. Torre looked down at his hands. The clover had also vanished. Grabbing fist fulls of what remained of his thinning hair, he howled at the sky.


He sobbed and shook as the loss of his physical possessions seemed to affect his very soul. Then the sound of an approaching vehicle crunching on the gravel of his dirt drive snapped him from his despair.

“Torre? You Ok?”

It was Yancy Jacobsen, the head of the local volunteer fire department and a neighbor who lived a couple of miles down the road.

“Oh, Yance! The place is gone!”

Yancy stepped from his vehicle, holding a blanket. “Come on now Torre. You’ve still got you. Everything else is replaceable.” He laid the blanket over Torre’s shoulders and patted him gently. “Get in the truck. I’ll take you into town. We’ve set up a small shelter. There’s food and drink, and a dry place to sleep for the night.”

“Were other people hit like me?” Torre asked as he shuffled towards the awaiting vehicle.

“Only two others. On the other side of the river, the old Jankins farm, and those new folks fixing up the Jamison place. But, by the grace of God, no one got hurt. That’s the most important thing, don’t you think, Torre?”

Torre wasn’t so sure.

As they bounced back down the drive towards the main road, rays of sunshine broke through a group of clouds.

“Look at them Stairways to Heaven. Isn’t it a sight? One minute hell is unleashed upon the Earth and the next, heaven.”

Torre wasn’t feeling very confident in heaven at the moment. Avoiding the picturesque view, he chose to look out the passenger window and survey his property. As they reached the end of the road, something glinted in the sunrays.

“Say, Yancy. Could you stop a minute? I see something over there.”

“It’s probably your mailbox. I’ve got to get to the other townsfolk.”

“Now, I’ll just be a second.”

“Alright. Hurry up.”

Torre leaped from the truck, twisting his ankle on a loose rock and nearly falling again. He threw off his borrowed blanket and ran towards the bright object. Tall grass and weeds hindered his progress while a sizeable cloud threatened to steal the light. But, he made it in time.

Picking up the object, he headed back to the truck, more limber than he’d felt in 20 years.

“What’d you find?”

“I’m not sure.”

Torre set an iron colored box on his lap. The painted lid had an ornate pattern etched in gold. He slid his arthritic fingertips over the design, trying to recall where he might have seen it before.

“Sure is pretty. Open it up.”

Torre pried the lid off. Inside were old coins, jewels, and buttons, as well as a few scraps of fabric. He shifted the items around and found a yellowed, folded piece of paper at the bottom.

In an elaborate script, the note read: “Now this ain’t a true pot o’gold. But its ‘nough to get you started. The true gold lies in how you use it in realizin’ your potential. – C.”

Torre began to laugh. At first, it was a chuckle. But soon he threw his head back and had a right old teary-eyed fit.

“You alright, Torre?”

Swiping the back of his right hand across his eyes, he nodded, swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat. “I think I might be.”

— The End —

Did you love Cian as much as I did?  How about Torre?  Was there something about him that resonated with you?  Leave a comment and let me know.  As always, once you do, you’ll be entered into a random drawing to win a $5 Amazon GC emailed directly to your best email address.  Be sure to go through the whole process of leaving your name, email address, and the answering spam filter question or your review doesn’t get to me.

Thank you for stopping by!

~ KT

© K.T. George 2018 | This post was first seen on ktgeorge.com


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Short Story Series: Story 6 – The Trouble with Clover
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4 thoughts on “Short Story Series: Story 6 – The Trouble with Clover

  • March 3, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I think you have a real talent for describing the setting and placing the reader in the scene. Fun story and the message is relevant without clobbering you over the head with it.

  • March 6, 2018 at 10:30 am

    I want to know more about this Leprechaun! He sounds cool!

  • March 17, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Great story. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

  • March 19, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Your Leprechaun was spot on with his Irish slang. Nice job. Slainte!


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