Western Short Story
Recently, I was vacationing in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota with part of my family. After breakfast on our first full day, everyone split up into groups to pursue similar interests. My son-in-laws were going golfing, which I don’t do. My darling wife and the daughters were going shopping for new western outfits, which I also do not do.
I informed them I planned a quiet morning, sitting by the lake and possibly catching up on some reading.
“Perfect,” one of my daughters said, “The boys want to go swimming and they love spending time with their Pa.”
“The boys,” I repeated, “You mean Seth and Sam? No … now …just hold on … I said a quiet morning … alone … I can’t. . . .”
While I’m searching for a good excuse, the girls are heading for the door.
“Have fun boys,” the last one over the threshold said with a big grin, “behave yourselves and mind your Pa.”
So there I was, shanghaied, with my two little grandsons.
Seth and Sam are eight-year-old, rough-and-tumble, cowboy types. They wear big hats and cowboy boots everywhere they go. They don’t watch cartoons or play video games. If they’re even in the house they’ll be watching old Roy Rogers’ movies, lost episodes of the Lone Ranger on the Western Channel, or reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger.
When they’re outside, you can bet they’re roping the cat, bulldogging some poor unsuspecting kid on a bike, or practicing their spin-kicks on the taillights of the pickup.
By the time I was ready to go, the two of them were sitting up in bed, indulging their sweet tooth with doughnuts and root beer with their eyes glued to the TV.
“Alright,” I said, “Turn off the danged TV and come on. I’m going to the lake.”
“Hold on a minute,” Sam said through his powdered sugar mustache, “This is the good part.”
“Yeah,” Seth said, taking a pull on his root beer, “The Ranger’s hurt bad, if Silver can’t find Tonto in time, it could be real trouble.”
“He’ll be all right” I assured them, “I saw this episode back in 1956 when. . . .”
“1956,” Seth repeated.
“Nobody alive back then is still around,” Sam said.
“Yeah,” Seth said, “They’d have to be a hunnerd years old.”
“Two hunnerd,” Sam added.
“You boys ain’t too big on arithmetic, are you?” I asked.
“Nah, nor math neither,” Sam replied.
“All right,” I said, “As soon as the Ranger gets rescued, you boys come on out to the lake.”
I had been relaxing for nearly an hour without seeing hide-nor-hair of the boys. I was just about to get up and check on them when I saw two big hats coming at a run.
“Pa…Pa,” Sam yelled when he got close, “We caught us a Troll!”
“A Troll,” I said, “I never heard of a troll in a cowboy movie.”
“This ain’t no movie,” Sam said.
“That’s right,” Seth says, “We got him corralled … in the closet.”
“He’s madder’n a run-over badger,” Sam said, “and he’s wanting out.”
Now, the only thing bigger than their cowboy hats is their imagination, so I decide to play along.
“Well, tell him to give up his pot o’ gold and you’ll turn him loose.”
“What pot o’ gold?” Seth asks.
“All them dang trolls have a pot o’ gold hidden away somewhere,” I said.
“Yeah,” Sam says, “We’ll make him give us the gold.”
“Then we can buy us a ranch,” Seth says.
“Come on,” Sam says, “Times-a-wasting.” Across the grass they go, back toward the condo.
I just started chapter three when here they come again.
“Pa … Pa,” Sam yells.
“What is it now?”
“Say’s he ain’t got no pot o’ gold.”
“Claims … he ain’t … a Leprechaun,” Seth says, hands on his hips trying to catch his breath, “He’s a dadgum Troll.”
“Alright, what exactly is a Troll?” I asked.
“They’re ornery little fellers that hide under bridges and scare folks,” Sam said.
“Well there you go,” I said, “He can’t be a troll, there ain’t a bridge in sight.”
“Maybe that’s why he’s so mad,” Sam says.
“Yeah,” Seth says, “He wants to get back to his bridge.”
“You say he’s mad?” I asked.
“You remember the time we freeze-branded a Lazy S on Ms. Potts Pomeranian?” Sam asked.
“He’s that mad?” I asked.
“Even worse,” Seth said.
“He’s about as ornery as anything we ever run up against.” Sam says.
“Well if he’s that danged ornery,” I said, “Just give him a good thumping and turn him loose.”
“I don’t know about that,” Sam says.
“Yeah,” Seth agrees, “He seems pretty tough.”
“He’s making an awful racket,” Seth said, “People are starting to knock on our room door.”
“Well, just go up there and let him go,” I said, still playing along, “Tell him there are no hard feelings.”
“Maybe you aught to come with us,” Sam said.
“You’re scared to open that door, aren’t you?” I said, “Alright, come on.”
As the boys took off running ahead of me, I figured they had some little prank set up to scare me, but I got a little concerned when I got to the room. The boys were hiding behind the bed and there was a chair propped against the closet door.
To make matters even worse, somebody with a high squeaky voice was yelling their head off inside the closet. I’m not sure what language they were speaking, but I’m pretty sure if this was a movie, my grandsons weren’t old enough to see it.
The instant I removed the chair and turned the knob, out pops this bushy-haired little man wearing a fur coat and pointy little boots. Without even a howdy-do and as fast as his tiny legs would carry him, out the front door and down the road he goes.
“Just like a dadgum troll,” Sam says.
“Yep,” Seth added, “Didn’t even say adios.”