“The Hollow Hills of New Hampshire” by Frank Muse from Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction (Volume One), Pink Narcissus Press (2011). Edited by Margarita Bezdomnya and Rose Mambert.

This collection calls itself eclectic and it certainly is that. Here’s a tale about a brownie, the Scottish relation to leprechauns, elves and gnomes.

Poor Derek MacLeod. Just a week ago he returned from his father’s funeral and the ordeal of watching him succumb to death after a protracted illness; now the strain of it seems to be taking a toll on his mind. He’s begun hallucinating, seeing—and conversing with—a stranger only three feet tall, buck naked, and not pleasant to look upon, who appeared out of nowhere in Derek’s apartment the night he got back.

What’s worse, Derek has flashes of memories of having seen the stranger before, at various points in his life (usually after funerals), and many more memories that are evidence that what the stranger says is true: he’s a brownie who has served their line of the family as a house servant for centuries. Their prized family recipes and meticulous way of keeping house? All him. He does the work in exchange for being able to live in the sunshine and enjoy the occasional saucer of milk. Without that arrangement, he’ll have to return to the Land Under the Hills, the world from whence he came. A book Derek inherited from his father warns that when enraged brownies can become malevolent spirits.

All those funerals mean that Derek is the last remaining McLeod of his line, which means that the brownie is now his house servant. It also means the brownie has a vested interest in seeing that the line continues, so he won’t be forced to return to the underground. The trouble is, Derek is thirty and has no interest in ever becoming a father. The story explains this by citing the fact that he’s gay. Although in real life lots and lots of gay men are fathers, it works as a device to set up an interesting conflict. Who will win the battle, the man or the brownie?