3149 Varcroft Rd
Word Count: 1,228
By Shawn Neely
Paps give me the fire poker as he settled down in his ol' trollbone rockin' chair an'
uncorked a tonic bottle – only it weren't no tonic, an' we all know'd better. He'd al'ays
smack his lips an' grin at me afore startin' a good yarn.
"Now mind that fire good, boy. It don' do me no favers ta be livin' this long jus' ta
die o' fros'bite. It's gettin' colder ever' year, I swear it!" He waggled a bony finger at me
afore leanin' back in his rocker.
"I 'member once't when jus' a little bigger'n you when the cold come outta the
crags, fumin' somethin' fierce on accoun' o' the summer stayin' longer than it had a nat'ral
right ta. It drove them trolls outta the mountains as use'ta live up there with whips made a'
icy wind. Now, yer great granpaps was gone trappin' in the valley fer a coupler days an'
lef' me ta watch the cabin. He was a mighty fighter, yer great granpaps, don' you never
think he weren', cause ain't no troll could whup him. I seen him once't chop straight
through two trolls and fell a tree in one swing, and I ain't fibbin', no sir. He walloped that
tree so hard, when it done fell, it shattered inta the boards that built this here cabin. All
yer great granpaps had ta do was hammer 'em together. Yes sir. I seen it, an' my eyes don'
lie, no sir."
My sis perked right up, "You seen trolls, Granpaps?"
"Trolls!" Paps cackled. "These here parts use'ta be crawlin' with trolls. I ain't jus'
seen trolls, sugar. I used yer great granpap's axe up on yonder wall behin' me an' our troll
hounds ta hunt 'em nigh inta 'stinction. Ain't a troll roun' for miles on accoun' a me an'
those hounds. But afore that, I was a youngin' an' them icy winds come down outta them
crags yonder, drivin' trolls afore it like frozen slaves, an' me all alone in this here cabin."
"Was you scare't, Paps?" I asked.
"Scare't!" He snorted. "I was all lonesome, an' jus' a pup. I was more scare't then
I'll tell ya, that's certain!"
"Whad'ya do, Paps?" my sister asked, her eyes big as saucers.
"Why, I got me troll hounds t'gether and I tol' 'em that I ain't gonna let no trolls
cook me for dinner. No sir! If'n they were spoilin' fer a fight ta see who stayed and who
got et, it most certinly won't gonna be me. No sir! So quick as that," he snapped his
fingers, "them troll hounds, the best hounds ever been whelped, yes sir, they done barked
and whooped up such a ruckus I kicked 'em outta the cabin an watched 'em run off inta
the dark knowin' they don't raise no ruckus les'n there be trolls. Then I heard 'em."
"The trolls?" My sis slid closer.
"If you ain't never heard trolls cryin' in the night, coun' yerself lucky, yes sir. It
chills the bones even while sittin' nex'ta a hot fire, yes sir. Well, these here trolls started
howlin' mournful like the wind, an' I could hear those troll hounds just'a barkin' up a
storm all their own, and then I heard 'em yelpin' an a'hollerin' ta raise the dead. I knowed
right then an' there that them hounds had got 'em a troll cornered. Now trolls, them are
mean critters nat'rally, but cornered or s'rounded by good troll hounds, them beasties get
downright nasty. If'n ya don' show up right away ta kill the troll, the troll might jus' kill
some o' them hounds.
Now, I heard this commotion from right here in this cabin an' I got ta thinkin'
'bout that troll an' them hounds an' I knowed if'n I didn't git down there quick, I'd have me
some dead hounds. Now, I was scare't o' that troll, but not nearly as scare't as I'd be o' yer
great granpaps if'n he come back an' foun' some o' his troll hounds got kill't on account o'
me bein' craven. I looked up on yonder wall at that axe hangin' there an' made up my min'
ta get me that troll, yes sir."
Paps took another swig o' tonic, an' shook his head.
"I grabbed that there axe an' headed out th'door, my jaw tight as a knot, an me not
knowin' if I'd live ta see the mornin'. I could still hear them hounds cussin' at that troll, an'
I could tell they was down by the crik right off. Now 'member it was mighty cold. In fact,
it was so cold, my breath come out in little clouds that made new snow behin' me an'
cover't up my tracks. Well, by the time I got down by the crik, which was all frozed over,
them hounds had that troll trap't on the ice. I could tell it was scare't ta move on account
o' it not likin' water ta begin with, an' bein' a'scare't o' slippin' on the ice. It weren't a
biggun' nohow, an' I figgered real quick like that it was a baby troll. The hounds weren't
gonna go after it on the ice on account o' them knowin' better, but I still had ta kill this
here troll some way, somehow. What's more, where there be a baby troll, a momma troll
ain't far behin', an' they get mighty fierce when protectin' their younglin's.
Now, those hounds was yowlin' an' carryin' on like ta wake the dead, pacin' back
an' forth just a'cussin' an' a'fussin' at that troll. I was busy starin' at it wonderin' where its
momma was, and the troll was starin' back at me wonderin' if'n I was gonna kill it, which
o' course, it should'a knowed I was. Sure as I'm sittin' here taday, all'a'sudden I hear
somethin' a'trompin' through the bushes off ta the side an' I jus' knowed it was that
My sis grabbed ahold of my arm and 'bout squeezed it ta death. "What happened,
Paps?" I asked.
"Why, I did what any boy would do in my sitiation. I ran!" He cackled. "I
skedaddled so fast, I'da outrun them hounds if'n they'da followed, but they didn'. Know
He leaned forward in his rocker an' we shook our heads.
"On account of the fact it won't the momma troll!" He slapped the arm of his
chair. "It was yer great granpaps!"
Both me an' sis let out breaths we didn' know we'd been holdin'.
"Yer great granpaps come back that night jus' in time an kilt that baby troll with
the axe which I had done dropped when I skedaddled. In fact, later on, we carved its
bones ta make this here rocker." He patted his chair fondly. "But the next mornin', when
we went ta get the body, yer great granpaps was a'lookin' down here, and a'lookin' down
there, jus' a'scratchin' his head. When I aks'd him what he was a'lookin' fer, he looked at
me, grinned an' said, “So far as I kin tell, ya made it back ta yonder cabin in jus' five
We all had a good laugh an' Paps grinned afore takin' another sip o' tonic. As Paps
started a new yarn, I couldn' help but look at that axe on yonder wall an' wonder.