Once was, folks feared the bridge. On its far side grass grew tall. Beyond was anyone’s guess. But in time, all that remained was a well-worn path to mundane countryside. The change in condition, a testament to the poor work ethic of The Troll.
Time was, nobody dared step foot on the bridge. The Troll, he would bellow from below and his inhuman growl would freeze blood and liquefy bone. He requested neither money nor services from would-be travelers—the shrieks of children, the hurried footsteps of once-courageous men in retreat, this was reward enough.
But The Troll got sloppy. In later years, one was likely to find the poor sap sprawled on the creek bed. Sleeping off a case of cheap beer or stoned silly on a stick of weed. His roar regressed to nothing but a mumble and he did little to dissuade townspeople from crossing the bridge that—not long ago—he had tended with territorial fervor.
At most he’d toss a few empties—of which there was no shortage—at an oblivious wanderer and fall back to sleep. On one occasion, he caught a young girl with a drained fifth of Jack Daniels. The thick glass and squared-off bottle resulting in seven stitches. The locals were angered, even a little disgusted. But not frightened much at all. Mostly, they shook their heads at the fallen creature. The pathetic beast.
Listen good, I tell you what’s what. Troll still hate people much as always. Still hate sad little girls and big angry men. Troll hate and hate because that what trolls do. But here my point: I such a troll, I even hate trolls. Really, this make Troll most troll of all.
Townpeoples say, “oh, that Troll. All he like is drink boozes and smoke dopes.” But townpeoples—how Troll hate them so—they is wrong. Troll hate the drinks and the smokes too. But it make I think less about hating little sad girls. And it make I think less about hating big angry men. And it make I think less about hating trolls. Also, make Troll sleep good.
So, one day, as happens to those in a freefall of spirit, The Troll hit bottom. What occurred was this: After draining four Olde English tall boys and punctuating with a joint—fat as a baguette—The Toll succumbed to a comatose slumber. Upon waking with a killer hangover-headache, he discovered the townspeople had played quite a prank. His hair—once black and oily and streaked across a blemished forehead—was dyed the most obscene shade of green. And more than that, it was washed and combed and spiked into some sort of Don King styling. It goes without saying, The Troll hated his new ‘do.
And I wish I could say The Troll rebounded. That after this unfortunate episode he went back to the same fiend all of us wanted him to be. I wish I could, but it just wasn’t so. Truth is, no one knows for certain whatever became of The Troll, though rumors abound.
Some say he moved to the city, developed a smack habit, blended in among the dirty, misshapen addicts of urban alleyways. Some say he filled his pockets with stones—from bitty pebbles to near-boulders—leapt off the bridge that once he protected and into the icy creek below.
Other folks—those more into the whys than the whats—they see the Troll as a tragic figure. A wretch who realized all too late that he was full of love. A pitiful soul whose broken disposition had skewed a passion for menace and uncrossed creeks and tall stalks of unmolested brush growing like over-moussed hair.