Written by Richard McFarland
As far back as I can remember people would talk about the Leprechaun’s gold at the end of the rainbow. So much so that urban legends grew from the sightings of these little people. Hiding in the deep forest, they would come out when a rainbow appeared to move the gold before anyone could get to it.
Tricky little buggers constantly moving the rainbow around misleading every adventurer. It became a child’s game searching for the end. Every child claimed to be the lucky one as they found four-leaf clovers. Cartoons were made for television and Leprechaun cereal became a popular breakfast.
It was just an old tale to keep children entertained. Everyone knew that. That was until the famous McNeil photo. Jeffery McNeil’s photo blew up the internet with 22 million views in just one day. His photo was dissected by the best as they tried to discredit him, but it was a good picture. No, a great picture. Not some fuzzy, blurry shape of something, but an actual photo of a little person dressed in green next to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. His body was proportionate, like someone shrunk a full-sized man. He had a full beard that matched his dark, reddish brown hair. A golden hue hugged his hair that flowed past his pointed ears. He wore a short top hat with a gold buckle that matched the one around his waist. His green coat hung down to his knees. His face displayed the total shock of being discovered.
Scientist, enthusiasts and media flooded the areas of the photo searching for evidence of the event. Some determined the Leprechaun barely stood two feet tall as they examined the surrounding trees. An indentation in the ground was measured and speculation grew that it was the location where the pot of gold sat and it was determined it weighed hundreds of pounds.
The hunt for rainbows was born. A group formed that called themselves, “Hunters.” Thousands of Hunters participated daily with a sole purpose in mind: To find the pot of gold. Hunters followed the weather patterns waiting for a chance to give chase as the sun peeked through the clouds.
It was said “To claim the gold all you needed to do was touch the pot.” Some hunters used the latest technology in hopes of getting that gold. Camouflage gear, tranquilizer guns and high tech surveillance donned as part of their armory. Others, with only a camera in hand. It became a worldwide phenomenon and I joined the craze.
I was just a kid when I started, barely 13. My friends all shared the dream. We would run through the fields during the rain hoping for a peek of the sun to reveal the location. When a rainbow would appear we would run as fast as we could, determined to catch it. Many times, our mothers would call us in as we rode our bikes around the block chasing the rain.
The years went by and cars replaced our bikes. We ventured further to find the elusive end. As time passed, we hunted less and less. Responsibilities filled our lives.
Blurry pictures of Leprechauns guarding their gold popped up on the internet from time to time but nothing could compare to McNeil’s photo. Over time most people claimed it was just an elaborate hoax and many gave up the hunt. A couple of websites remained with a dedicated few to fuel the belief.
As I grew old I lost my friends. Some had passed of illness and others of old age. I became unable to take care of myself so I moved in with my daughter and son-in-law. When my health became a burden to my family I was moved into a nursing home. It was there that I discovered the end of the rainbow.
I was sitting in my wheelchair preparing to go to dinner. I looked out the window and watched the raindrops dancing on the ground. Spotting a clearing in the distance I rolled out of my room and down the hall. I turned at the waiting room and moved up to the patio doors leading out back. The doors automatically opened as I approached. I could hear a staff member calling for me to stop. I had to hurry, the rain was letting up. The clouds began to part as I rolled onto the patio.
I felt the sun hit my face as the colors danced around me. There wasn’t a pot of gold or a Leprechaun waiting. I reached up to feel the rainbow. Moving my hand through the colors I looked down and saw my body sitting in the wheelchair as I floated above. Peace hugged me like a warm blanket as I ascended.
I finally found the end of the rainbow. It took a lifetime to get there.