How The Troll Met Ar Lain Ta (Part One)

Marc D. Goldfinger
Spare Change News

There’s dope houses and then there’s dope houses. Any junkie knows what I mean when I say that. The dope house of the Troll is like the last house on the block, you know, for the junkie who has tried everything to stop using and nothing works.

The Troll. You’ve probably heard those tales from medieval times where there’s a bridge that you have to cross to save a maiden, or get water so the village can survive, or maybe just cross to get to market every day. This bridge has a gatekeeper who you have to pay the toll to to get across, whatever that toll might be. In those ancient stories, the gatekeeper was often a hunch-backed creature with hooves for feet, bumps and hair on his massive nose, broken, yellowed teeth, and the breath of a demon from hell issuing forth from his mouth. If you were unlucky enough not to have the money to pay the toll, you might have to give up some precious possession to get across the bridge and get what you need, whatever that might be. If you were desperate enough, maybe you would sacrifice anything you had, maybe a child, even the first-born male, just to make things right. But as any junkie knows, nothing will ever be right again.

The Troll was a modern-day gatekeeper in a basement underneath a three-decker apartment house. The lights were never on in the dwellings above the basement. People were said to live there, but no one ever saw anyone coming or going. Now and then, there would be screams or cries from above us. The Troll would look up and the furrows on his brow would deepen and he would wink his good eye. Red mottled the whites of his good eye, the brown one, not the pale blue one surrounded by yellow with a drooped lid that kept it half-closed all the time, even when he might be asleep (no one ever knew for sure whether he slept at all or whether that bad eye could see or not). He would wink his good eye at us and say, “The angels. Can you hear them cry? Trapped in a heaven that they never made. Wing rot. They can’t lift off anymore without the help of God. And He’s down here with us, fixing to chase the nightmares away. Heaven help ’em.”

And then he’d chortle and snort from deep in his chest until a hacking cough would cut him off. Usually it would be time for another fix, and Veronica de Veux would be slithering through the door with a brick of heroin for the gatekeeper.

Veronica. Really, everyone called her Ron, so that’s what I’m going to call her for the rest of this tale. Ron de Veux was one of the Troll’s pets. She was a tired old whore, used to be a dancer, used to be a cover girl, used to be a porn star, used to be a call girl, used to be a streetwalker, and at the end no one even called her to the car for a two-bit blowjob, but always a junkie, always a junkie; no man ever moved her like the spike running the horse into her blood. It was the only time she ever came close to orgasm, except maybe when the Troll would roll his creaky wooden wheelchair into the back room of his crib with Ron de Veux right behind him with two loaded syringes. Those of us who knew would perk our ears up and wait. It wouldn’t be long before the moans would start and then suddenly it would sound like a choir of demons mating in twelve-step rhyme from behind that kitchen door. Whatever they were cooking, we knew that we didn’t want any part of it and we’d all drop another bag in the cookers ourselves to dim the lights in our cursed minds.

After a bit, the door opened up and they’d come out. She’d be pushing the chair by the cracked rubber handles on the old dark wood and the Troll would wink at us as the spittle ran down his grizzled chin. Ron would be scratching at her crotch for hours after that, with a dreamy look on her face. Then she would curl up at the foot of his chair and he would drop two bags into her cooker. The fire from her lighter flashed and within seconds she’d be sleeping with the dustman, who was a close relation of the sandman, lord of dreams. The Troll would pull part of the blanket covering his withered branch-like legs down over her and put his grimy gnarled finger to his bearded lips. Sometimes his other pet, Nadia Chance, would be there too, yet she had many other functions in that last house on the block, which I’ll go into at another time.

Then the Troll would start to speak. His low, guttural voice would rumble out into the cement and brick basement and echo from corner to corner. Even those of us in the deepest nod would listen up and the basement would get so quiet that you could hear a dull spike skewer the fibrous scar tissue of an overused vein if you were sitting next to someone who happened to be fixing, or maybe the sound of the slide on the barrel of a hypodermic that had been run up and down so many times that even the Vaseline on the rubber stopper was locking it up, or maybe even the powder dissolve when the spray hits the stash covering the grayed old cotton in the spoon. Instead of the clink of glasses there might be the ting of the metal buckle on the belt or the creak of the old leather as someone tightened up so they could get a clean hit. Might be that you were listening so hard that you missed the popping of air bubbles in your vein as you overshot the air from the syringe right in after the dope. Don’t worry though, it takes a lot of air to kill an old junkie and we’re not that lucky anyhow.

Did I drift off for a minute or two? Hey, that happens sometimes. Some sentences take an hour to finish, if you know what I mean. Anyway, it would get real quiet and then the Troll would start to spin a yarn.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a formerly homeless vendor who is now housed. He can be reached at “” and via his web page MarcDGoldfinger Marc also has books on “” that can be downloaded for $2.99. .

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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