The lamp over the bed had been blinking with increasing frequency for the past few hours. Mason had tried turning it off. He even unplugged it but it continued to blink. On… Off… On… Off… On… Off. It was driving him batty.
There must be something wrong with the bulb, he thought, reaching up to unscrew it but the lamp continued to blink on and off. He stared with confusion at the dark bulb in his hand. Did light bulbs work when they weren’t plugged into the lamp? It felt wrong to him somehow. His mistake was to peek under the lampshade.
“Ouch!” He exclaimed, jumping back and rubbing his nose. “What was that for?”
“For not minding your business!” A small, bearded creature, not unlike a tiny lawn gnome (but with orange skin) glared at him over the top of the light shade.
“You’re blinking the lights on and off! And you pinched my nose!”
“You’ll get a lot worse than a pinch next time you trespass on my territory!”
“Your territory!” Mason was outraged. “It’s my lamp! I bought it myself at the flea market!”
“Well, I’ve lived here for five eons. It’s my territory and you can keep your big ugly nose out!”
“Stop blinking the lights on and off and maybe I will.”
The gnome glared. Mason glared back. No one spoke. Mason’s brain was working overtime to make sense of the situation. They hadn’t said anything about a gnome when they sold him the lamp.
“The guy at the store didn’t mention no gnome living in there and I don’t want no gnomes in my house.”
“Well, I’m not a gnome. What’s a gnome anyway?”
“It’s a lawn decoration.”
“You know, for the lawn. Some folks think it’s pretty.”
“Hmmmph. I’m a Fire Troll”
“Mind your business.”
Mason didn’t know what else to say so he said, “Maybe I can just move the lamp to the attic so the blinking won’t bother me.”
“Is it warm?”
“I reckon so. Heat rises.”
“I want my bulb back.”
“What do you need the bulb for? You light up without it.”
“I warned you about minding your business. Do you want another poke in the nose?”
Mason rubbed his nose. It was still tender. He really didn’t want another poke. “Ok. You can have the bulb but you have to live in the attic… And you can’t live in any of my other lamps.”
“What would I want to do that for?”
“I have to pick up the lamp to move it. Don’t poke me.”
“Don’t look under the shade and I won’t.”
The fire troll disappeared back into the shade. Mason replaced the bulb as best as he could without looking, picked up the lamp by the base and carried it to the attic door. He pulled down the string, ascended the ladder and set the offending lamp carefully on the floor in the corner.
The fire troll poked his head back up and looked around. “I guess this is acceptable.”
“Good.” Mason turned to descend the ladder, thought twice, and called back over his shoulder, “Stay away from my other lamps.”
“Don’t worry. I will.” The fire troll answered. Mason thought he heard him mumble something about offspring but he decided he didn’t care if the fire troll had a million babies… As long as they left his lamps alone.