In a sleepy area of a rural section of Western New York State, near the edge of the great Alabama Swamp, a scaly, skinned troll, with a long, twisted nose and a large purple tooth sat cackling luridly, in the pungent ooze and greenish slime of a murky thicket. The copse of bushes lay within easy sight of an arched stone bridge. The bridge spanned a small stream that lay on the edge of the area’s largest village. Most of the farmers and traders in the area needed to cross that bridge every Saturday morning on their way to sell their produce at the weekly farmer’s market. They were laden with produce and products for sale. As each traveler crossed over the small bridge, the troll jumped up, uttering a piercing shriek, flinging handfuls of filth at the startled wayfarer. This usually caused the frightened farmers to drop whatever was in their arms and packs and run screaming back into the forest, away from the ugly, howling apparition. The troll would then scurry forth and collect the fallen articles into his arms before retreating to his murky thicket. In this manner he had amassed a considerable hoard of valuables. The Troll would not bother anyone who seemed to carry no valuables, so many in the area were skeptical of the farmer’s claims of shrieking Trolls. After all, who knew if trolls even existed anymore?
The local farmers, who were poor enough to start with, had grown weary of his antics and their continuing loss of valuables. Questions as to their credibility were even more hurtful. Who would make up stories of trolls in this day and age? “Enough is enough” one sturdy farmer said. He gathered together many of his neighbors in the village at the hut of one Clarence the cowherd. Together, they plotted how they might dislodge this miserable creature from his perch and make travel more secure for themselves to and from the market. They drank sweetened tea while they talked and talked, for many hours. Finally, they came up with a plan that they thought might work. For they knew that Trolls, like all bullies, were essentially stupid creatures who were as personally fearful as they were feared.
The following Saturday morning a sturdy lad with, a large bundle of goods, made his way quietly towards the Troll’s Bridge, as they had taken to calling it. The Troll saw the boy coming and gathered up large handfuls of filth to throw at him. He breathed heavily in and out so that his shriek would be especially frightening. As the boy crossed the bridge, the troll jumped up from his perch and gave a might roar. He hurled filth at the young lad and shrieked like a banshee from the nether worlds. The boy looked at him, smiled and continued walking across the bridge. The now puzzled and very angry troll shrieked louder and louder with the ferocity of a demon, throwing any and everything he could at the young lad. The boy just walked slowly on, with a gentle smile upon his face.
The Troll bellowed and roared until with a mighty spasm, he dropped dead like a stone, the victim of a massive stroke which exploded his angry brain. The boy smiled shyly and continued walking towards the village, few thoughts troubling his uncluttered brain. For, he had been born deaf at birth and was afflicted with what is those days was called a simple minded state. He never really knew or perceived what the noisy rantings of the angry troll had been all about. Fear never once entered his thoughts. The villagers of course were ecstatic. The lad enjoyed a new found popularity and respect in the area. The boy is “fearless” some said. Other older and wiser ones merely nodded and quietly acknowledged among themselves that Fear, and frightening things, exist only if the mind allow them to.
Joseph Xavier Martin