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Shamrock Disposal

D.K. Holmberg lives and writes speculative fiction in rural Minnesota. His short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction and various short story anthologies. He can be found online at www.dkholmberg.com.

The bright green truck pulled in front of the house and parked in the driveway. Tracy watched as the driver leaned toward the passenger seat before getting out. He wore bright blue coveralls and a funny looking hat--not quite a beret--with a shamrock logo on it and carried a thick wooden clipboard in one hand.
She pulled the door open before he reached the step. Taylor squirmed in her arms but she refused to set him down until she knew what was happening. Noise blasted behind her as she pulled it closed.
"You called for a pickup?" the man asked. He had a thick way of speaking, as if his tongue was too big. Up close, his lips seemed puffy and one eye had a dark ring around it.
Tracy nodded quickly. "I wasn't sure if you were serious."
The man nodded. "Yup. We get that a lot." He tipped his head toward the door. "So what you got there? Pretty noisy. Some kinda golem or leprechaun or--"
A loud rattle at the door cut him off.
"Worse than that?" He frowned at Tracy, eyes skimming over the stack of boxes still in front of the garage. A ladder leaned against the green siding, threatening to fall. With everything that happened, getting the boxes put away from the move seemed less important. "Let me guess--streak of bad luck?"
Tracy nodded. How could she be having this conversation? "I don't know what happened. One moment everything was fine, the next..." Somewhere in the house, glass shattered. Tracy hoped it wasn't a mirror.
"Anything... unusual... happen?" the man asked.
"You mean like all of this?"
He tried to offer her a smile, but it only made his face more grotesque. "Walk under a ladder or have a black cat cross your path or spill salt or break a mirror or pick up a penny or--"
"What was that?"
"Break a mirror?" The man shrugged. "That's the most common one I see." He nodded toward the boxes. "People moving and don't pack things well enough, and then..." He shrugged again. "Kinda starts up. Keeps me busy at least."
She shook her head. "Not the mirror. At least, not until this all started. But what did you say about the penny?"
The man's brow furrowed and he shifted his hat with his free hand. "Pick up a penny? You don't wanna do that if it's face down. Most people know that."
"I thought the saying went 'find a penny, pick it up and all day you'll have good luck'?"
The man's laugh turned into a thick cough. "Only when it's face up."
Tracy looked at Taylor. Dirt smudged across his face from one of the plants that had broken. A small scratch across his arm from the angry cat he'd found in the backyard looked red and inflamed. "I told him he could keep it. I didn't think anything of it."
The man grunted. "It's the kid?" He made a mark on his clipboard and then held his hands out and waited.
Tracy just watched him. "What are you going to do?" Her eyes flickered to the sign on the truck. Shamrock Disposal.
The man frowned. "Well, got to get rid of it, don't you think? Sounds like he started something pretty fierce in there. Not gonna stop until we take away the source."
"He's the source?"
He shrugged. "Happens sometimes. Kids can be a powerful focus. You wouldn't know how many parents called me like this. Most are happy when I come. Nothing else really works." He sniffed and wiped his hand across his mouth. "Shoulda known when I saw the scratches on him. Probably pissed off the cat too! But I'll take him away. Won't cost too much, this size and all. Best thing for him, really. No good fix, you know?"
"You mean to take my son?"
"Like I said, you gotta get rid of the source. No other way."
"You can't--you know--fix the luck?"
He scrunched his face and gestured at the sign on his truck. "That's not what we do. Disposal. Not fixers. Besides, I said there's not much you can do with this sort of thing."
She squeezed Taylor. "That's horrible!"
"Hey! You're the one who called me."
She shook her head. "Not for this."
The man shrugged and waited, arms out. She still didn't give Taylor over to him.
The racket in the house had died down, and she didn't know when it might start up again. She looked at Taylor and he looked back at her with deep blue eyes. When he giggled, something shattered in the house.
Tracy hugged him close as he squirmed, turning away from the man with the swollen face and the funny beret. She would work through this. Besides, it had to stop sometime, didn't it?
And if it didn't... well, better bad luck than no luck at all.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Author Comments

This story came from a writing prompt to write a story for a character working in a job which doesn't exist in our present day world. While working on the prompt, I saw a truck with the company name Shamrock Disposal. The story came together quickly after that. My daughter may have added to the inspiration.

- D.K. Holmberg
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