Behind the one-car, wooden garage where Granny housed the Ford sedan on our farm in southern Georgia was what folks now call a barbecue pit.
It was made of stone and concrete, and it had a narrow chimney that rose about five feet, which tells me the heat came from a real fire, not charcoal briquettes.
I don’t recall the pit ever in use when I was a child in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The pit predated me, and since the house was built in the 1890s, the Gilded Age, God knows how old it was.
The fascinating thing about that pit was the chimney, which I often peered into from above. That was easy to do. The pit was shaped like an L with the horizontal part holding the grill, and the vertical part being the chimney.
I would stand on the horizontal and peek down into the vertical. It was narrow, dark and grungy in there — a perfect place for trolls.
Yes, trolls are not restricted to beneath bridges. There is no law to that effect. The more adventurous — and perhaps physically smaller — trolls would sometimes migrate to old barbecue pits. This is not generally known, and trolls like it that way.
To catch children by surprise.
I last passed by the farm in 2001 in a rented car coming up from a beach house in the Panhandle of Florida. The farm had been sold by my parents in the early 1980s before they hightailed it back to Atlanta, bored to death with rural life and country people.
Everything was so different. I parked and started to walk toward the front door. The new owners knew of me because we go way back in those parts. I wanted a look-see. But a big, nasty dog began barking and nobody came out of the house, so I left.
Today I don’t even recall if the garage was there, and I certainly did not think of the old, stone barbecue pit. I regret that, and I wonder now what became of the little troll who might have lived in its chimney shadows. I know what became of the boy.