March 1971- Unofficially charged with the title, “exterior St. Paddy’s decorator extraordinaire,” young Thomas took to it with gusto, whimsy, and more than a wee bit of tradition. He loved his Gaelic heritage. And then came a night Tom would never forget.
At the ripe old age of 34, Tom’s father wanted a career change. With a growing family, finances were tight, and the machine shop he’d spent years with ran its course. So, he looked into law enforcement as a second career. The cut-off age for the Sheriff’s Department was 35 years so there wasn’t any time to waste. One problem though – as a younger man, Tom’s dad was robbed at gun point. The incident really took a toll on him.
Mom asked him, “Hon, are you sure you’re up to this?” Dad said nothing. But in him, they both saw lingering doubt. This meant leaving a job “making widgets” and going to one working with bad guys. Shortly thereafter, his efforts paid off being hired to the force.
One night, right around 9 p.m., he was coming home from a full, arduous day of peace officer classes and firearms training, exhausted beyond exhaustion. But, his dedication to duty – marrow deep!
As he made that final turn into his little cul-de-sac, just yards from home, he slowed toward his driveway. Through the darkness of night he noticed a figure; someone or something lurking on his roof top.
Earlier that day, unbeknownst to Tom’s mom or dad, the youngster had been decorating. With excited purpose, Tom fashioned chicken wire he found in the family’s garage and mom’s leftover sewing material to resemble a good-sized green leprechaun. Tom thought his “lucky charm” looked pretty darn good too! You know, for a wire gnome.
Then, without mom’s permission, he quietly climbed up dad’s extra-tall ladder, carefully positioned away at the side of the house, and hoisted his life-sized creation. With authentic tenacity, Tom set the pipe-smoking dwarf on the roof, street side, using bricks to hold its felt boots in place.
It took several trips up and down to complete the mission. How Tom’s mom didn’t hear the all of the ruckus, he didn’t know, but he was jazzed. “Wow, how cool is this gonna look?”
With centurion-like instincts, and reflexes on high, his now-alerted dad pulled halfway into their driveway and stopped. Quickly, he exited his vehicle and drew his off-duty service revolver from its holster.
Legs spread wide in a hostile stance, he aimed the snub-nosed .38 Smith and Wesson and, with commanding authority Tom never heard before, shouted, “Sheriff’s deputy – halt or I’ll shoot!”
From inside, they couldn’t believe their ears. “Wow, that sounds like dad,” Tom said to his mom as her face lit up with joy. They raced outside. “Dad,” Tom shouted, “It’s a leprechaun!” Tom’s dad looked at both of them as they all busted out laughing. Thomas and his mom were never more proud of the man. He could do this job, and do it well!
Goodbye lingering doubt, hello super cop dad. Soon, the whole block came out to see, and praise, the new Sheriff in town.
Scott Taylor is currently working on a narrative non-fiction concerning his days in the trenches as a Los Angeles undertaker. He is a member of SLO NightWriters, for writers at all levels in all genres; find them online at slonightwriters.org.