(New York City) – This story begins as many Micah Laaker stories begin, with a devious scheme to upgrade computers. It ends, though, unlike many Micah Laaker stories end: in a rowdy troll attack within Mr. Laaker’s apartment.
Wanting to upgrade to the latest and greatest computer on the market, Mr. Laaker took out a free classified advertisement in the venerable Craig’s List offering his many old Macintosh computers at bargain basement prices. As soon as the ad was placed, the calls and emails began pouring in. Interested buyers began lining up for the machines, and then in similar fashion, fell away to never call again.
Except for one.
Soon after the ad was placed, Mr. Laaker received a call at 11:15pm on a Monday evening. The woman calling (Ed. note – All names, minus Mr. Laaker’s, have been changed out of disgust.) expressed an interest in one of the computers and wished to ask some questions. Her name was Poinsettia.
Firstly, what was the origin of the name "Micah?" It was a very interesting name, she thought. Where did it come from? How did he get the name? The questions concerning the name continued for nearly 5 minutes. After clearing up this matter, Poinsettia moved on to providing the background of her name; she also pointed out the uniqueness of her own name, which lasted another 5 minutes. The following 15 minutes then documented her use for her existing Macintosh computer.
Poinsettia likes to sing. She likes to sing so much that she often downloads MIDI sound files (known for their horrible 1980s synthesizer sound) to sing along with. When she’s not belting out the classics, she may use her Mac for tax preparation. "Do you know anyone who needs some tax preparation?" she asked. Somewhat surprisingly, Mr. Laaker was unable to recommend any clients for her at 11:32pm that evening. The remaining 8 minutes detailed the floundering of her aromatherapy e-commerce web site; she was shocked that she had spent so much on the site but hadn’t made any sales online yet.
Mr. Laaker then asked if she was interested in again spending money to buy a new computer. Indeed, she was, she replied. After running through the machine’s specifications, Mr. Laaker insisted it was truly late in the evening, and that if Poinsettia was interested, she should call again to set up a time to pickup the computer. Five more minutes passed as she rambled through her "unique" situation, followed by an insistence that she would call again to let him know her decision.
Mr. Laaker awaited the call. Crazy old lady or not, he wished to sell his machine. A new computer cared not whether its old counterpart was pawned off to wackos.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings all saw late night calls from Poinsettia. Insisting she wanted to purchase the computer, she agreed to pickup the machine around 10:00pm after Mr. Laaker returned from class on Friday. The time and date was set, and Mr. Laaker anxiously looked to quickly complete this transaction, thus eliminating further late night calls and endless babble.
But sadly, this tale was just beginning.
Friday night arrived, and Mr. Laaker called Poinsettia at 9:30pm as agreed upon his return from class. No one answered, so he left a voice message. She returned his call at 9:50pm, asking whether his building had an elevator. "Yes," replied Mr. Laaker. Does it also have a stairwell, she asked. "Yes," replied Mr. Laaker.
5 minutes again passed as Poinsettia described her aversion to elevators. Her friend, however, would certainly need an elevator, as he would be the one carrying the computer.
"Whatever," Mr. Laaker said. "Are you coming now?" The time was now 10:00pm. Indeed, they were, she replied. She told him to expect them within half an hour.
At 11:30pm, the odd couple had yet to arrive. Mr. Laaker was now quite annoyed and tired, and wished to complete this exchange of goods as quickly as possible. He called Poinsettia again who then returned his call at 11:50pm. Apparently, she was still on her way; she would be right over.
At midnight, Poinsettia rang Mr. Laaker’s door buzzer for an exceedingly long time; he buzzed them in. Peering through the door’s peephole, Mr. Laaker could not believe his eyes.
Shuffling towards his door were two loud, hunched trolls.
It is important here to note that the term "troll" is not used as a disparaging connotation. Rather, it is used literally: these people were, as far as Mr. Laaker can discern, honestly crawl-up-from-under-a-bridge, eat-little-kids, knaw-on-bones trolls. Disheveled, with long black, matted, dirty hair, stretched lips, and pallid skin, the trolls ambled into Mr. Laaker’s apartment, running their hands along anything within arm’s length.
As Mr. Laaker tried to herd them towards the center of the room to avoid contamination, Poinsettia’s friend, Roland, asked if he could use the rest room. Before Mr. Laaker could say no, he had shuffled past him and into the bathroom. (Ed. note – For those unfamiliar with the confines of Mr. Laaker’s apartment, the bathroom, kitchenette, and studio room all exist within a 13′ by 16′ dimension. Thus, the bathroom is a mere couple feet from the center of the room.) What happened next was truly beyond the pale.
Having seemingly just devoured a goat or some other creature that wandered too close to the bridge’s edge, Roland decided to make the most out of his new-found modern amenities. Loudly (very loudly), Roland emptied his entire system with a ferocity never before witnessed in the kingdom of manimals. Including a couple of good wall whackings and dozens of coughs and sputterings, Roland let the entire apartment complex (and certainly Mr. Laaker and Poinsettia) know that he truly was "king among things."
As Mr. Laaker’s eyes bulged and sweat poured from his brow, he was forced to stay in the present by Poinsettia’s hands which were suddenly digging in his desk drawers. Apparently looking for a pencil and paper to take notes on, she decided to make herself at home. Mr. Laaker, in as calm a voice as possible when trolls are ravaging and looting his home, asked her what she thought she was doing. He explained that he would be the one providing the pencil and paper should she need to take notes, which he then not-too-happily provided.
As Poinsettia began writing, Roland emerged fresh-faced, belching and coughing, from the commode. Mr. Laaker quickly turned, and asked him if he was all right. "Actually, you could get me a glass of water," he replied.
Mr. Laaker simply stood where he was, and turned to Poinsettia, who again was shuffling around, looking for things to rummage. Trying to ban the possibility of Roland spluttering and slurping from one of his glasses, he plugged the computer in to show the machine was in working order. After demonstrating its ability to operate, Mr. Laaker moved to place the machine in its box.
Roland, however, insisted that Laaker unplug his computer system and show the machine working with his monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Mr. Laaker replied that show-and-tell would have been possible at 10:00pm, but would not be happening at 12:20pm. Irate, Roland threatened to walk. The sassy grey beret covering his filthy locks needed to be straightened as he grew angry, but Poinsettia insisted that she trusted Mr. Laaker, and that surely Mr. Laaker trusted her.
Matters cooled off quickly, and Roland began asking questions about Mr. Laaker’s work. Maybe if Laaker needed a programmer he could call, suggested Roland. Mr. Laaker assured everyone that he was not in need of any help, but thanked Roland for the offer. Nonetheless, Roland reached for Laaker’s printer and desk drawer to find materials on which to jot his contact information. Titling himself as "hard-ass" and "programmer," he chuckled as he passed the information back to Laaker. Mr. Laaker then said he would call anytime he needed such a unique pairing of skills.
Quickly, Laaker loaded the computer into Roland’s arms (preventing further rummaging), herded the trolls to the door, and wished them well. The door was quickly shut, bolted twice, and Mr. Laaker collapsed in the hallway, shaking from the disbelief that his home had been so egregiously violated. A bottle of 409 was quickly snatched, and the bathroom and main room proceeded to receive the delousing they so desperately needed.
Mr. Laaker crawled into his bed that night a changed man: a man who no longer had anything to lose. As if the sewage attacks had not been enough, now trolls had been proven to exist. Not only did they exist, they lived nearby! As his eyes closed, he thought of his girlfriend’s words the week before.
"You know, it’s probably not the best idea to let strangers into your home when selling this stuff."
She couldn’t have known that strangers might include trolls, he concluded, but decided he should probably listen a little more closely to her advice.
(Ed. note – Mr. Laaker still has a computer available for sale, should anyone know a non-troll interested in handling transactions on the street corner.)