The troll under the stairs and his herds of 20,000 meese or more.
My house is a chatterbox, always was, not even the syrup drought could silence it. Noisey and vibrant, like those lullabies of the mostly forgotten Moose Season. They used to roam wild, 20,000 or more, but that was before any of us could remember. All that’s only if you listen to Floorboard Troll. I love em but he’s far more fabled than abled if you get me; he lives under the stairs. Under the sink lives Leaky Banshee, but she is shy as a carved pumpkin with no candle, and we don’t see much of her. Behind the mirror lives a family of ticks. It can get quite loud, especially in the evenings when the day’s work comes to a close and folks start getting curiously social.
Leaky Banshee chimes in when I’m brushing my teeth, but I never say anything. That was more Seymour's gag; he's a floaty sort, always has something quick to say, even when he didn't want to say it. And that Floorboard Troll clucks resentfully when I go upstairs to settle in for the night. There’s those moments when I'm about to fall asleep, and dreams begin to seep in, and then in a moment it's all gone when the family of ticks begin their nightly ceremonial throat singing circle.
Fife, the runt of the tick family, spends his mornings chinned up in one of my headphones. For a while I hadn't even noticed him there. I mistook his wails for the frog in the back of my throat, who had long back eloped with my uvula. That wasn't really something that bothered me, he was a transplant and never felt at home.
Tick songs are a rare breed. Imagine a maraca filled with day-old paint, add in a hint of muffled readings of tattered letters to Santa and a faint pinch and blister crack of Retrovir IV settling into the vein. It's enough to almost make you want to say something, but I don't speak Tick. Even if I did, I couldn't say much, not with daily visits from the Smoke Monsters, but I think that's something Fife and I have in common. I'd like to think the Smoke Monsters were friendly too, but maybe majestic fits 'em better. Those silk-grey Dollar Store clouds barge into my lungs and borrow my throat. When I cough their wispy arms stretch out like they woke from a long nap, and took the dream with 'em, they flutter twirling out in shapes like balloon animals dancing with smitten sewing needles. But I know they're just trying to find an itch to scratch. They just like making a show of the morning, even though I never feel rested. My throat just tastes like burnt Gatorade and my voice doesn't sound like me, but hell it never really did, too lispy.
It wasn't for a bit after when I recognized Fife was the one singing in my ear, and not that Ian Curtis demo I grifted. He'd musta been curled up there two days back. He moaned while he slept, and out floated murmurs of things I don't think I should've heard, odes of him and Seymour's late night playdates and how the smoke monsters stole him away to play somewhere higher.
Last night I dreamed of Seymour. He was standing on a bridge, looking down at the water. The water was made of gold and shimmered in the sun. Seymour was wearing his yellow jacket and the blue jeans I bought him for his birthday. He glanced behind me and smiled sadly. He jumped, but instead of falling to his death, he floated up toward the heavens. He disappeared into the yellow clouds. The further up he floated, the lower Fife felt. I guess it's some brand of funny, I'd never imagine the sound of a tick gulping as it falls, it sounds like they’re singing, huh.
Ol’ Seymour used to live in my armchair. We were close, Seymour and I. Seymour was no sinner, I’ll tell you that. We used to talk on the phone together, the three of us would have a blast, cackling carefree into the wee hours of the morn. Last night felt almost the same, Fife, Troll and I really did Seymour proud. Maybe it was how far into a rumpus we got, just a change in tone, it coulda been all we needed. But the yawning of this morning dawn brought back the arrival of meese upon the lawn.
They say the moose season always brought good luck and better feels. Even in the moods that coated these past weeks, the meese were always a sign of good things to come. Good weather or a fully stocked Great Canadian canned isle. No smoke monsters, or waking up to Fife in a late night cry. When the meese came into town, the people were happy. The house lost its creaking from moldy wood and rotten friends, now it just sounded alive again. Even my old dear maple tree’s carving caught auburn color again like ‘fore they went all bloody and raw. I think they would've liked to be here, even if they wouldn't have said so.
The air carried a smell of strawberries and pound cake. The smell reminded Troll of Aunt Jitter, and of Seymour. Troll thought of summer days, Sundays before church, when Jitter would make a hot stack of chocolate chip pancakes, with a hard face and just a few wrinkles of pride. This was before the syrup went dry and the maple leaves flew off on a south-bound breeze. Before the Smoke Monsters, and before Retrovir IV was a word we used often. Times of Seymour's playful pranks.
Troll didn’t have time to think about Retrovir IV, it was just a figment of the past. And Troll was of a future filled with herds of 20,000 meese or more.
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