A Troll

A troll walks through Harlem.

His name is Jefferson Anthony. His father, long since dead of a broken heart, thought that Jefferson was a funny name because of the old sitcom. He wanted to be a professional comedian and projected that dream onto his son, as is the popular tradition. (Why else would there be bankers’ sons named Hunter? Or for that matter, Kal-El Cage or Prince Michael Jackson?) His father never knew about President Thomas Jefferson’s indiscretions with slaves, from which the TV show got its name. Jefferson Anthony, being very young, doesn’t know about the TV show long since off the air.

Jefferson calls himself a professional blogger and, in a way, ignorance is his profession. He writes about things he doesn’t understand, like astrology, music, farming subsidies, and women. Gathering other people’s words, other people’s work, makes him a decent wage in traffic and advertising.  But his true calling is instigating fights among strangers.

Jefferson can find an article about any divisive topic, scan it, and post a comment in about two minutes. Then he sits back and enjoys the mayhem, like a more cultured man might appreciate a symphony. He doesn’t hound people nor type out expletives in all caps. He just poisons the discussion with a short, slightly vague but firm statement, which causes some to take his side, some to object, and most to misinterpret. He makes an art of pushing people, and thus is an expert at pushing them away.

The loneliness is staggering.

A troll walks through Harlem.

Trolls have no names, this one included. They are not born, or hatched. Trolls are grown. This troll’s parents pissed their genetic material onto a porous rock ledge on a brownstone on 130th Street. One parent in 1826, the other in 1985. The process left behind a sharp metallic smell in the air, a curious but forgettable hole in the masonry, and a new troll.

This one is a bull. Stunted for its age, it has no false heads. Most trolls have one true head while the others are just masses of hair and non-functioning organs: blind eyes with blinking lids, mouths complete with teeth and tongues but no throats. The extraneous heads serve to intimidate rivals and fool predators. (No creature eats trolls, none at all, though many hunt and kill them.) The very oldest trolls grow so many heads, six or seven, that the true head becomes surrounded on all sides and can no longer see and breathe. Sometimes it is absorbed by the body, or is pushed so far to one side that a troll may look out at the world from an armpit.

Trolls exist the length of a molecule away from our world, drifting along the frequencies of the universes like a broken tuner on a Bakelite radio. It is a curious evolutionary trait, an extreme form of camouflage that protects trolls from anything and everything. So effective is this quantum defensive mechanism that most trolls die having never seen another of their kind.

The loneliness is staggering.


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