THE TRUTH ABOUT THE TOLL BRIDGE by Taria Karillion (3rd place, Jan22)

Dear Sirs,

I am a hard-working, law-abiding troll and am writing to seek your legal advice regarding a recent workplace injury of a distressingly violent nature and hope that your expertise will help me to claim for considerable lost earnings after an unprovoked attack by a physically abusive customer.

I am employed as a toll collector at the public footbridge adjacent to my home and have performed my duties for many years without incident, so it was – as you can therefore imagine – a most unpleasant surprise when, last week, I was faced with a customer who declared his intent to ‘trit-trot over the bridge’ but stubbornly refused to pay the required fee.

I politely informed the young gentleman that regardless of how green the grass was on the other side of the bridge, without the payment of said fee, he could not be permitted to cross.

At this he looked at me menacingly before turning on his hooves and leaving, muttering something in his native tongue, which I believe may not have been entirely polite.

Shortly afterwards, a larger gentleman of similar appearance to the first appeared (the two may have been related). He also demanded to cross without paying.

When I calmly but firmly pointed out the fee and its necessity for bridge maintenance, taxes and staff wages, he became intimidating in his stance, snorting aggressively and faking a threatening lunge at me, before leaving.

Before long I was dismayed to see both individuals returning, accompanied by a far larger, burly companion / relative who looked angrier than Daddy Bear after the break-in. At this point I would have liked to have called for backup, but being a lone worker with only remote, regional support, I did not have this option at my disposal. The largest of the three – a Mr. B.G. Gruff – a fellow in possession of the most startlingly enormous, spear-like horns – proceeded to paw the ground aggressively (causing malicious damage to the new cobblestones) before charging at me at terrifying speed. Before I could take evasive action, he lowered his humongous horns and flung me from the bridge into the treacherously rocky river below, resulting in the considerable injuries for which I am seeking compensatory advice, namely:

– Concussion

– Several broken fangs and one smashed horn

– A severely bruised hump

– Four disfiguringly straightened fingers

– Numerous lacerations to the scales all down my left side

(Please note the attached letter of validation by my Doctor, enclosed herewith, and  eyewitness accounts and a character reference, likewise.)

As a loyal and devoted servant of the Grand Old Duke, I promptly sought an audience – as soon as my incapacitation allowed – to humbly request the assistance of just one of his Grace’s ten thousand men as a workplace guard for my protection, until such time as this violent menace can be apprehended. (I would have attempted a citizen’s arrest, but at a diminutive stature of four foot two, I didn’t fancy my chances against such a hefty, well-armed opponent.) You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I was told that the entire army was away on marching manoeuvres halfway up Jack and Jill Hill!

I feel very strongly that it is the responsibility of my employer, the Duke, to compensate me for my loss of earnings and the considerable medical and dental costs I have incurred as a result of the incident. His brusque and minimal response, however, was to deny responsibility, claiming it to be a criminal injury claim against the attacker, not himself as an employer. Some clarification of this dispute would be welcome, as my knowledge of the Law in this regard is as limited as his Grace’s conscience.

I would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience, as I am presently prevented from working by my injuries, and my cousin Grendel, who is kindly standing in for me, is unintentionally scaring off the customers due to his enormous size, and my neighbour, Mr. Thumb, was accidentally trampled on when he generously offered to help. I would also be grateful for a chaperone at any mediation sessions that may be felt necessary, as I have, furthermore, experienced some appalling discrimination from the duke’s advisor, a Mr. H. Dumpty, who referred to me as “a grotesque little lump of a man who no more deserves Your Grace’s protection than that awful mouse-mutilating Farmer woman”.

Should you need any further information, I can be contacted care of Mother Hubbard’s B & B, where I am currently residing for fear of reprisals. It is the only establishment I can presently afford in my current impecunious state. (Lovely landlady, dreadful cuisine, or – more accurately – lack thereof.) Thank you in anticipation of your assistance.

Yours Sincerely,

Mr. Urgl E.N. Skaari (Bridge Guard 3rd Class)

PS: Please forgive the no-doubt charred notepaper – Postman Puff is a lovely chap, but a little prone to combustible breath.

Addendum: Letter of Validation from my personal Physician

To whom it may concern,

After examining my patient, Mr. Skaari, I can confirm that he has sustained several serious and limiting injuries as a consequence of his unfortunate workplace incident. It is my professional opinion that his convalescence has necessitated a period of bedrest that has rendered him unable to work for some weeks. Furthermore, I have recommended a course of counselling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the costs of which are being temporarily met by the King Midas’ Benevolent Fund. As this is a loan, however, and my patient is anxious as to its repayment, I would urge you to extend your full and expedient support for his claim for compensation. Thank you for your anticipated support.

With Kind Regards,

Dr. H. Jekyll

(Enclosed: Invoices for medication, poultices, physiotherapy and leeches. Also – with apologies – soothing drops for your eyes as a remedy for the blinding nature of my stationary – also kindly supplied by King Midas.)

Eyewitness Account

The Bridge Guard, Mr. Skaari, recently gave my two brothers and I safe shelter beneath the toll bridge after we ourselves were subject to a vicious attack which resulted in sight loss and amputation. Being vision-impaired, however, has resulted in an acute sharpening of our hearing, and on the day in question, whereas we were obviously unable to see the unfortunate events unfold, we did hear the entire altercation word for word … and stampede, scream and splash. We can – all three of us – testify that the terrifying attack was entirely unprovoked, and Mr. Skaari was admirably polite in the face of such needless aggression.

As amputees, we understand the problems involved in long-term sickness absence and its financial consequences. In fact, only Mr. Skaari’s kind hospitality has saved us from becoming destitute. We hope, therefore, that you will be able to arrange swift and appropriate compensation for this generous and gentle citizen.

If we can help further, please do not hesitate to contact us c/o the Union of Disabled Rodents.

(NB: Tiny notepaper only, please – the letter box is very petite.)

Yours Faithfully,

Marmaduke, Mario and Melvin Mouse

Character Reference – Ms. H. Hubbard

Dear Sirs,

My name is Hilda Hubbard – owner of Mother Hubbard’s B&B.  I’ve been Urgl’s Landlady for some weeks now, and I just wanted to let you know what a top bloke he is, bless him. I used to know his dear old Mum, years back, and she’d have been right proud of him, I reckon. He’s got manners as nice as any mother could want. He’s a sweet lad – smart and decent and very caring.  Always shares the food parcels his pals bring him with me and Fido. Helpful an’ all – earns his keep by doing whatever odd jobs as he can manage, considering his injuries – he’s ever so good at book-keeping and prepping the feed for the chickens and goats.

I know I ain’t been the best Landlady – the house is proper draughty, and there’s never much in to eat, thanks to the duke’s taxes on small business owners – shocking, they are! But nevertheless, Urgl’s spent hours of his own time sending out my carrier pigeon with flyers to drop in the town square. He’s kind like that. Why trolls have such a scary reputation is anybody’s guess – I think they’re a lovely bunch – down to earth and honest and hard-working and kind. Even the night he arrived, still bruised and bleeding, poor soul, he was looking out for others. I’d patched him up, an’ all, but after that nice Doctor had left, Urgl could see I was off my head with worry, coz some of the livestock had gone missing. Always escaping, they are – every full moon, like clockwork, for some reason. Anyway, Urgl organised his friends into a search party. Never did find them, but I’m probably best off without them – they were always a bit aggressive for my liking… especially the goats.

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