When I was a kid, my Uncle Joe used to tell me stories of when he was a traveling salesman for the Sears Roebuck company in the forties. Now Uncle Joe always had a reputation of being a bit reckless, so I was always ready to hear one of his tales. One day, when I was about six or so, he catches me on the porch and says:
"Son I ever tell you 'bout the time I tangled with that troll?"
I said no.
"Well it was the summer of forty-six and I was out driving through Arkansas or Mississippi or some other patch of Satan's deep south when I see this big ole fallen tree a ways out in a field. Now normally I could give two shits about some fallen tree, but this sonnuvabitch was movin! So I pulled the ole Chevy over and I get out to have myself a better look. I scoot down one side of the ditch and then scramble up the other and start makin' my way across the dirt to where the tree is rockin' and rollin'. I get about twenty feet away from the thing before I see it ain't a tree at all but a goddamn troll. You ever seen a troll before son?"
I shook my head.
"Your average troll stands 'bout twelve foot tall, with splotchy grey and brown skin, kinda like an elephant or one of them things with the horn on its nose..."
A rhinoceros, I offerred.
"Don't get cute. Anyways, so a troll has a thick ole hide like an elephant or a rhinoceros. They got beady little eyes, a long nose and pointy ears with hair growin' out of em. They got tusks too, like a boar. Nasty curved things they are. Trolls ain't too smart, but they're about as strong as a box full of bears, with a temper like a a stirred up beehive."
"Now this ugly sonnuvabitch wheels around and squints his nasty little eyes at me. I ain't lying when I say this ole fucker is ugly, even for a troll. Pointy ole nose and just bushes of hair sproutin' out of his dirty ears. He weren't wearin' nothing either, so when he stood up his wedding tackle was just a flappin' in the breeze. He gets a good look at me and starts gruntin' and growlin' in whatever the hell passes for words among trolls. I can tell he's mighty pissed off and I want no part of it, so I hoof it back across the field before the big dumb lump knows what happened."
"I'm just clearing the ditch when I hear him let out a beller. I turn in time to see him haulin' ass across the dirt towards me, swinging that ole log like he means to tenderize me with it. I yank the door to the truck open and hop in, only to find the keys are not in ignition where I left 'em. Now I know if the troll smashes the shit outta the truck (which he will, believe me) so I jump outta the cab and go runnin' down the road, and not a moment too soon, because the dirty bastard had just jumped the ditch."
"He sees me and starts comin' after me, swinging that goddamn log. Now trolls are pretty quick, and I know I don't have long before he eats up my head start and proceeds to thump the brains outta my head. So I look around, ain't much but farmland and a little stand of trees off to my right, 'bout one hundred or so yards from the road. Now I was an all state wide receiver back in my high school days, so I put my head down and light out for those damn trees, like the devil himself is after me."
"I get halfway across the field when I feel the earth move under my feet and I'm thrown about ten feet into the air. When I open my eyes, I know at least one of my ribs is busted. I'm covered in something sticky, which I can only assume is blood. I roll over, expecting to find the troll standin' over me, ready to smash my skull into dust and all I see is clear blue above me. I sit up slow, lookin' around, and that's when I get hit with the smell."
"Now once or twice as a boy I got sprayed by a skunk, and this made that skunk musk smell like your grandma's pumpkin pie. It was like the dumpster outside of Thompson's Fish Market on an August day marinated in ruptured septic tank. I look down, and I'm just covered in this dark goo. All that's left of the troll is what's all over me and a big smokin' hole in the dirt. Guess that farmer didn't like strange people on his land, so he left a few army surplus mines for any would be trespassers. It took me over an hour to make it those fifty feet back across the field and limped my way back to the truck. Goddamn keys were under the seat."
"I drove the rest of the way to whatever small town I was stayin' in that night with the windows open. The goddamn hotel owner made me hose off in the back parking lot before he'd let me in the door."
He looked at me as if expecting some comment. When I didn't speak up, he continued.
"May God strike off my dick with a bolta lightnin' if ain't every word of my story isn't true."
Then he closed his eyes real tight, hunched his shoulders and shielded his crotch with both hands. That was how every Uncle Joe story ended, with him cringing and cupping his balls.