When the Troll was born he did not cry, he looked as if he was studying everything even though babies’ eyes are near sighted. His mother’s friends would say, That boy, he’s a thinker. He’s going to grow up to be smart. They would get down in front of him and look at him looking at whatever he was looking at and say, You watch this one, he’s got scientist or philosopher written all over him.
The Troll was indeed a thinker, but he did not go into the Sciences or anything of note for that matter. He scraped by on C’s and when he graduated High School he still didn't know what to do with his life so he got a job at the Mill as a labourer and in the evenings drank with his buddies and played video games. Playing games gave him the chance to learn how computers worked and this brought about his interest in IT. Or more to the fact, IT found him since he was pretty good at it that a friend of his father offered him an assistant job in the IT department at his office. After a year of that the Troll moved to the Horton Flemmel building where he has worked for 2 years but never felt like he was doing an actual job since it came so easy. Never allowing himself to admit his career was computers.
All thinking ever got him was over analyzing conversations, and the ability to get through a Sudoku at a fair clip. You see, the key is to think in lines and squares, he would tell anyone who asked. I find you sometimes have to think myopically, but be ready to pull out and see puzzle like a map. Then he would laugh and say, I am the cartographer of Sudoku's. No one ever laughed at this. The Troll would not see until the evening of the next day that using his stratagem for puzzles on his relationships would have saved him years of torment had he allowed himself to rise above the confusion he put on things to then see the bigger picture.
So when Brenda the Older arrived the Troll was ready. The ready he felt was not whether he would slay this woman like the bad dating and self-help books referred, he was not going to make things up and play her like she wasn’t a person like he was. He was going to talk to her. Just. Talk.
That is to say, until he recognized her.
The 3rd Brenda was always fashionably late. Not because she had a propensity for attention, she was beyond that, she would say. She would then say that she also did not mind the attention if she received it. And finally add, Come on, who wouldn’t? The actual reason she was the last Brenda to travel to the Butcher’s house was that she was in the middle of an online session for her site and the tips were coming in faster than she had expected for a Friday night in November.
After taking off her clothes for the webcam she always needed to wash up. She thought of her webcam job as a well job. She had a second computer just for that sort of thing. She placed it in a hutch in the corner of the room that she only opened when she was working. No emails from the site would go to her iPad and no business was conducted while she was anywhere else in the house. Her best friend Trish just kept her laptop in the kitchen and that seemed strange to Brenda; having your food where you had men ask you to take off your top. Plus, this was a job. She was making easy six figures these days and the money went directly to an accountant that allowed money to GIC’s, some long range stocks, and then the rest was dispersed between two bank accounts that would be bequeathed to her sisters when she died.
The Troll knew he had seen Brenda the older from some porn site he had been on at some time. Possibly in July when he was going through a MILF thing. He had never paid for porn, but he knew he had seen her face on an Ad somewhere, or in a page of pictures. He knew he had seen her naked, and he now felt the blood rush to his face and his tongue seemingly grew larger as if he was meeting a celebrity.
Brenda wished the Troll a Good Evening.
The Troll said, Are you Brenda the older?
She turned to him and with a smile said, well, if you want to pick me up you might not want to use older. You dig?
The smile calmed his nerves and he brushed a hand through the air to indicate her to lean against the railing with him, oh my goodness, I sincerely apologize.
Forgiven, she said, and paused for a brief moment before she too came closer. I suppose I am older than you, but I am well younger than say that tree over there.
I have met your sisters. They spoke with me, and I them. I have learned so much this eve.
Oh have you? Well, then wonderful. Why is it that you want to speak to me? she said.
If you had asked me that earlier today it would have been answered with two parts, 1) To view the beauty of the 3 Brenda’s, and 2) and forgive my crassness, to have one of you fall in love with me.
Brenda did not laugh as the Troll had braced himself to hear, she thoughtfully nodded and said, and has that happened yet?
No, but that is okay. I was foolish to think it could happen as quickly as the movies make it seem. A touch of the hand, a look across the room, the perfect word. None of this is true, and I am happy to have learned it.
Well, said Brenda the 3rd, that does happen, it just happens infrequently, and in the long-run, turns out badly.
I gotta tell you I recognize you from the internet. I expect it is impolite to mention but I want you to know that we have met if only one sided.
Yeah, she said, you've probably seen me. I have a little webcam thing. It’s no big deal.
The Troll himself nodded, and said, Why? Are you not worried that someone will recognize you?
This time Brenda did laugh. It was big and full and echoed through the wood to where a brazen wolf was stalking a young girl in a red hood causing him to abandon the quest and question his place in the world. He would remember that laugh while he asked to work late at work so he could afford a vacation to Disneyland with his family, and when he played with his children; the laugh would resonate in him as he learned to fall in love with his wife again, every day.
Brenda said, So.
But are you not worried that someone somewhere might use this against you, that someone might judge you?
To this the older Brenda grew quiet then said, Then I do not want to know them. These poor women who send their pictures out to these boys, and yes I say boys, and those boys send them to their friends like a sad conquest, and I say to that. Screw ‘em. Your body is yours and no one else’s. Show it off, love it. If someone is uncomfortable that you are comfortable then they have the problem. And no one needs them in their life.
But people do, said the Troll. I think I might be one of them.
Then you have more learning to do this night, but you admitted and that means you are half-way there. How did you find my picture? Through porn, yes?
He nodded. He was on the verge of shame.
Don’t look away. Everyone looks- well, mostly men, but everyone does. And what do you look at? she said, then waited for him to answer.
The women, the nudity, he said.
And now you act ashamed for it. So who is in the wrong? Are you not putting your shame on them- on us. Look at me? I am old, my breasts have dropped, my skin will never be as nice as my younger sisters’, but men- people, pay to have me take my clothes off. They tell me nice things, they like me. They like my body. And, you know what? I like my body.
The Troll said, You are beautiful. You say you like your body so why do you need to have someone else tell you you are beautiful.
Because, said Brenda the older, because sometimes we all need to be reminded.
And, you know what? she added. The money is remarkable.
It is not just women who want to be told they are pretty, men want it too. Don’t they?
He looked back at his life, at all the times he looked in the mirror and only saw the flaws. How he could only see the ugly in the hair, and the skin, and the nose. How his eyes seemed smaller when he wore his glasses, how his shoulders seemed to always slump even when he was standing. How no matter how much he worked out he could never get the muscles like the other gym members had. He thought of all the times the kids in school would make fun of him that he was a bit short, or tease him about when was he going to lose his virginity. How all of that weighed on him and affected his moods, and how he projected all those past ribbings on every word every person spoke to him. Had he been the problem all along?
I see you agree, she said. Now, look. I got this thing to go to. Why don’t you come along?
To the Butcher’s party? he said.
Yes, come with me. We will have fun. We will have dance.
I can’t dance.
Who cares. We will will laugh. We will eat- oh my God, the food, young Troll. The food. And we will not care who is around. Because, we will not be doing anything but being alive.
Brenda the Older, Brenda the 3rd, Brenda the confidant linked her arm into the Trolls and said, How about it?
And the Troll agreed.
Great, now I am not going to sleep with you, she said.
And the Troll smiled, then stopped smiling. She then said, you may have seen me naked but I am not easy. We shall find you someone your own age, yes?
They made their way across the bridge, through a wood, past the empty hull of the would-be Community College, and up the hill to the Butcher’s house. Brenda introduced him as her date and they immediately enjoyed the immense buffet. They swayed to John Coltraine, and Oscar Peterson, they shimmied to the Spice Girls, and Taylor Swift. They dipped their toes in the fountain in the Butcher’s foyer when they were hot, and they snuck into all of the rooms on the 2nd floor that were unlocked on before they found Brenda the Middle smoking a joint in a bathroom, to which they joined.
Just after midnight Brenda the Younger came to the Troll and whispered in his ear and pointed to girl across the room. She said that the lady was interested in talking to him, but was too shy. Without a moment’s hesitation he sashayed through the throng of people and offered her his hand, and then both. They danced to what they would later cite as their song, and then escaped to a balcony where they spent the rest of the night talking. They talked of their past, and their present, they told their secret wishes for their futures.
When the chimes of the clock in the main hall rang three AM the Troll and the young lady had their first kiss. It was awkward and wet, and they both were not sure it went well, so the Troll asked if he could try it again to get it right.
The young girl agreed, and they kissed again. And then she said, I don’t think that was right either, perhaps we shall try again.
And once more they kissed, and she said, Again.
After the next kiss, the Troll said, I think this might take some practice, have you got the time?
She said, All the time in the world.
To say the Troll lived happily ever after would, of course be a lie. No one ever lives happily ever after, they simply live and be happy. But sometimes they aren’t happy, but the Troll tried to be happy in the sad days as well, in the fights, in the bad days at work. In the times he wasn’t sure of himself and laced his comments to his wife with passive aggression. In the times she felt he was not helping enough around the house. Through all of that he made sure to write down all the good that happened every day, in a journal he kept in the living room. He wanted it to be there for everyone to look at whenever they too felt down, and hopefully it helped them through whatever they were involved in .
He would tell this story every time someone asked why he and his wife named their daughter Brenda. There was much more the Troll would learn throughout his life, but he would always remember the time he found himself on a bridge with the Three Brendas.