By Caleb Echterling
“May I help you?” A nasal voice that exuded the aura of perpetual annoyance greeted twelve mean motherfuckers, as they tromped through the front door of the municipal building. The body from which the voice emerged was female, with puffy-permed blonde hair and bug-framed glasses that had spent the last twenty years going out of style, then back in style, then out of style again. She flashed the dead-eye, don’t-mess-with-me glare of a seasoned civil servant.
“We’re here to claim a leprechaun bounty. We got us a dead leprechaun.”
The civil servant opened a drawer and fished out a stack of forms. She opened a second drawer and produced a thicker stack of forms. She dove into a third drawer, returning with a plastic cup. “Very well. Please complete Form LEP-152 and Form IUP-779. Those are two-sided, so be sure you get the front and back. When you’ve finished that, you can provide your urine sample. The rules don’t provide for multiple samples from a single bounty, so you’re all going to have to pee in that one cup. And it has to be at the same time. The rules don’t allow for multiple people handling the sample.” She dangled a stack of paper at the nearest mean motherfucker.
The twelve men stared at the instruments of bureaucratic governance still in the woman’s hand.
“We kind of figured we’d dump a body on your desk, and you’d peel bills off a roll of twenties.”
“You figured wrong. If you want your hundred bucks, you’ll jump through the hoops.”
Twelve sighs echoed off the vinyl-siding walls. Twelve men with a clipboard, a pen, and five double-sided sheets of paper huddled around a two-seat bench. Voices shouted information to fill in different lines on the form, until the pen-wielder threw up his hands and yelled “Stop! I’ll ask for the answers I don’t know.”
“Maxwell, what’s your address?”
“Jorge, what’s your shoe size?”
“Aristotle, where did you go to high school?”
“Fabio, does your family have a history of heart disease? How about diabetes?”
“Finished. Let’s go get our hundred bucks.” He dropped the forms on the nasal voice’s desk. “All done ma’am. Can we get paid now?”
“Not so fast.” She tapped the rim of the cup. “You have to fill this before I can take any action on your claim.” Zippers clicked down. Twelve penises snaked out and performed their best imitation of cherubs in a water fountain. Pale yellow lapped at the cup’s rim. “Well played, gentle sirs. Well played. Now take the cup to the Voter Registrar. Since you all contributed to the sample, you all have to keep constant contact with the cup.” A scrum of motherfuckers minced to the registrar’s office, one set of hands cradling a plastic cup and catching the liquid that sloshed out, while eleven pinkies camped out across the outer surface.
“You should receive payment in approximately ninety days,” the nasal voice said, once the motherfuckers had returned to the reception desk. “All that’s left is the small matter of you producing a body. As much as I’d like to take your word for it, the regulations are pretty insistent that you must turn over a dead leprechaun in order to receive the dead leprechaun bounty.” The twelve trekked through the exit, returning with a body-shaped package wrapped in newspaper. “Did you get him at the fish market?” the nasal voice asked.
The twelve men ripped open the newspaper. Inside was a thin young man with short curly hair. He wore black sneakers, a short-sleeve white polo shirt tucked into beige no-cuff, no-pleat slacks, and 1950s thick-framed rocket-scientist glasses. The motherfuckers dropped him on the reception desk.
“I notice one glaring problem with your submission,” the nasal voice said. “If this is a leprechaun, then I’m Father Christmas.” She pulled out a tape measure. “He’s seventy-three inches. The regulations specifically state that no dead bodies longer than forty-two inches will be considered leprechauns. Plus he’s clearly wearing nouveau-nerd attire, not the green old-timey outfit I’d expect. Even though I’ve never seen a leprechaun before, I call BS on your leprechaun.” With a rubber stamp as big as the behemoths from old Warner Brothers cartoons, she stamped REJECTED across the corpse’s forehead.
“But we shot him in the sewer. That’s the leprechaun quarantine area. He has to be a leprechaun.”
The nasal voice groped the dead man’s pocket. “Look here,” she said as she pointed to his driver’s license. “His name is Blastocyst R. Foofaw. He lives on Ralph Malph Circle. He’s an organ donor, so maybe you could sell his kidneys for a hundred bucks.”
“But we shot him in the sewer. What was he doing in the sewer?”
The nasal voice flipped over the driver’s license. “Hmm, doesn’t say. Maybe you should ask him. Oh wait. He’s dead. You can’t ask him.”
“Well crap. What do we do with this body?”
“I know what you don’t do with this body,” the nasal voice said. “And that is leave it here. So wrap your fish back up in newspaper and gut it someplace else.”