“Sell me five liters,” pleaded Prudencia,

whose mother needed the milk to make cheese

she sold every week to evangelists at a cooperative

farm. Alfonso shrugged, “The cows are on strike.”

In San Juan de la Vega, a banner hung from Town Hall

like a festoon. Benefit Dance. April Twelfth. Only Animals

With Feathers or Wings May Attend. Prudencia’s mother

was an unpredictable woman who would explode

at minutiae. But this morning she woke at dawn

in an exceptional humor. Prudencia knew 

the anguish the news of the shortage would cause.


Alfonso looked at his cows. They were black

with white patches on their faces. They grazed

and they ambled, how simple their life was. 





Miss Tillie, the Director, wants the public to see beyond

the familiar beady eyes, pug nose, impish grin and long,

fuzzy hair. She points to an Elvis troll with gold-trimmed

white jumpsuit; a rastafari troll with beaded dreadlocks;

and a rare two-headed troll from the 1960s, described

by Miss Tillie as “the only polycephalic troll.” A Mona Lisa

troll with a hand-painted smile sits next to a troll Barbie,

and next to her is one dressed like Rod Stewart, with hair

any troll would envy. There's even an X-rated troll.

"We keep him in the box," Miss Tillie says.


The collection has survived earthquakes, Miss Tillie’s

Chihuahua, Lupe, and the steam pipe explosion of 1997,

for which she holds the babysitter troll responsible.

She blames it for the increase, since its arrival,

in paranormal activity at the museum, including flickering

lights and strange sounds; and for the blinding of the cowboy

troll with the hand-stitched vest and chaps, whose gun

has also been missing from its holster.





Why would a grown man collect penguins?

Some in the audience nodded when

the psychologist on TV said, “Normal is a myth.”

After the whale show and the dolphin show

Morris told his father they had to see Fat

Freddy, the star at the penguin show.

When he was nervous, Morris sometimes

stuttered. He asked the trainer, “How do you get

F-F-Fat F-F-Freddy to do what you ask?”

“I give him a hug and a fish,” she answered.


Then he asked her which penguin was her

favorite. She said, “I love each one

in a different way and for different

reasons. You know, just like with The Beatles.”

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