Author: Kent Rosenberger
Everything was about to pay off for Riley. All of the years of planning, preparing, researching, waiting and traveling had all brought him to this particular spot on this particular day at this particular time. At any moment now the elusive Irish sun was going to break through those gathered, gray, dripping cumulonimbus clouds and point him in the right direction, toward his final destination. Toward his destiny.
Patiently he stood, ready to run in any direction, his upwardly turned face getting splattered time and again with whatever final remnants of precipitation the storm had to offer.
Without fanfare or revelry, the slightest sliver of whitish light burned through the murkiness above, triggering the temporary natural phenomenon he was waiting for.
Like an Olympic sprinter he took off in a northeasterly direction, the multihued spectacle shimmering brightly, bending low to touch the earth somewhere just ahead of him.
He had missed this opportunity on several previous occasions, but he swore he would not have a repeat performance of that failure. Not this time.
Not this time!
He actually arrived more quickly than he expected. He was out of breath, sweating, and had a few tears here and there in his clothing from the tree branches he had barreled through to get here before the raindrop-inspired spectral specter vanished completely, but he made it. He had arrived.
He had arrived!
And a quick check around verified he was the only one here.
The treasure was all his for the taking.
With giddy anticipation, he approached the single unnatural item placed fittingly at the base of the rainbow, directly under where the colors mingled and sparkled like sequins at the edge of a huge, fleeting, U-shaped ribbon arcing through the sky.
The mouth of the sizeable black kettle from which the anomaly seemed to sprout and climb up, out and over to somewhere in the far southwest offered nothing but its beautiful, bright colors as far as he could see. Reaching in blindly, the anticipated feeling of golden disks of unimaginable wealth was not what met the touch of his greedy, quivering fingers. Instead, he found a large white card that offered no riches or reward for his trouble, only a disheartening message:
CONGRATULATIONS, WHO E’ER YE MAY BE
THE BEGINNING OF THE RAINBOW IS WHAT YE SEE
IF COLLECTION OF GOLD IS WHAT YE INTEND
YE MAY FIND SUCH A TREASURE AT THE OTHER END
Distraught beyond words and disappointed more deeply than he could ever have imagined, Riley dropped the unhelpful note back in the pot just before a fresh batch of thunderheads drifted in front of what little of the sun came through to blot it out again. Before his unbelieving eyes, the rainbow, the pot and the note it held all vanished back into the realms of legend and lore, leaving him alone and empty-handed, The cold, uncomforting rain resumed all around him.
A particularly loud roar of thunder announcing that the storm was, in fact, continuing masked Riley’s scream of unbridled outrage.