The Troll of Glasonbury Bridge

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TWO

Dilbert went about his day the way he normally would, by wondering from plot to plot. The land plots of Glasonbury Bridge were mostly without owner. Sskissen had once dictated that most land belonged to whomever had the strength, force of will, and or courage to take it.

However, being as Glasonbury was founded on different rules and laws, it was not to be the case, for the small hamlet ruled by the elders was with an iron fist. On the east side of town, adjacent to the main street, and only two blocks away from the Hub, was a small park. This park was new and there was a distinct reason d’etre; in the middle of the park a shadow stretched from a foreboding iron fist statue.

The statue had been set in place a mere two days before by the elders, inspired as such when on one fine evening they had come across their own destiny in the form of a premonition by an old lady who was passing through the town. This lady, an old lady it seemed, because she limped, her hair was white, and she laughed the kind of rattety, tattety, gnarly type of insanely self-deluding laugh you could ever hope to hear.

The old lady, trailed down the street. She had appeared from nowhere apparently, as nobody owned up to actually seeing her come from a particular direction. The little boys and girls playing marbles on the corner of Main Street and Dunill lane, held their breath as she went past. They weren’t used to strangers, and as far as this one went, it couldn’t have gotten any stranger.

When she arrived at the Hub, she stopped and looked up at the three elders who were about to have their usual weekly meeting before she shot off one of those gnarly sermon laughs and coughed. They wondered at what she was getting to when she sputtered some gibberish that even they, as over-educated as they were, couldn’t decipher. With time, and the morphing of her words into plain Sskissen, they were able to digest the tales she was weaving.

They understood this: that on a day, coming soon, when the goat of Alcandish frequents the tavern on the high side, their end shall come. The old woman, then clutching her long velvet skirt, paced off up Main Street where she most likely gave somebody else a mighty scare.

It was taken as a good evening’s entertainment that gave the Glasburian’s something to talk about for the rest of the week, and then some. Dilbert had heard about the old woman upon entering the tailors shop the very next day, only to be surprised at the lack of seriousness taken by anybody in town. Being so struck he took himself to the elder’s House of Commons - as they called it, as it belonged to the people.

The councilors welcomed Dilbert who so infrequently gave into such social frivolities, but this was different, he thought. The very tainting of Glasonbury was at stake, and he would very much dislike it if the town was run into the ground by some other old fools rather than the goodly-meaning ones in front of him.

As they were quite fat, especially Joquin, it was almost impossible for the three of them to be in the same room, let alone sit at the same table. The room had been custom built for them, and the elongated oak-wood table was grand enough for several men, thus the three councilors could seat comfortably.

“To what do we owe this pleasure Mr. Spoonwiter?” Tenyar addressed Dilbert.

“Dilbert if you please sir; I am here because I have found out that a warning given by an old nag of a lady, has been mocked, taken way-to-lightly, and from all reports totally ignored by this council.” Dilbert replied.

He wondered why he had not seen it before. Dilbert had for many years known about the elder’s lapse in cold-hard measures that dealt with any real threat to Glasonbury, but this particular one was disguised as no less than a rattle-snake in gumboots.

Tenyar leaned back, reviewed the dusty face of Dilbert, shuffled some papers and then took a deep breathe.

“Dilbert Sir, we have taken the time, albeit precious, to hear out this craven, fowl of a woman.” he blurted with disdain.

“I believe without a doubt that the lady to whom you are referring has some important news. I feel you have mistaken her for a blatant fool, instead, in my opinion, of heeding her true words.” Dilbert spoke with the conviction of a man who needn’t care, but did.

The elders gathered in, huddled up, whispering motions. Dilbert shuffled, bringing his hands from behind his back – clasped as they were, and proceeded to whistle.

“We’ve considered your request Sir Dilbert.” one voice, throat clearing - echoing through the room.

“Yes.” replied Dilbert.

“It is beyond our jurisdiction to consider such an ‘interesting’ point. If you will – the council would like you to be responsible. The council considers your interest, is in the best interests of Glasonbury.” an elder remarked, a smug smile on his face.

Dilbert stood shocked, although he refused to show it; he didn’t know what to say. Steadfast, he thanked the councilors for their time and took it upon himself to shuffle out of the room without any further ado. As he left the chambers he recalled the old lady – the witch who had wrestled with his stillness that day under his beloved bridge.

The main street suffered the usual business of a small hamlet. The baker chased a rat from the rear of his shop, leaping a dog, frantically trying to grab the quick-fire rodent. The dog looked on with surprise, and then leapt up to take chase. Dilbert laughed, the rat ran, and Dilbert retrieved his mind and clamped on the tethers of reality; something that the foray into the council chambers had temporarily released him from.

It wasn’t in his best interest to ever feel the weight of Glasonbury on his shoulders, and quite frankly not a least bit attractive. As Gilbert trudged down Main Street his mind wondered through the possibilities for the rest of the day, perhaps he could scrounge the forests for mushrooms, collect duck eggs from his neighbors, and then hopefully trade those for some crunchy bread.

The street opened up slowly becoming a dirt path, just trodden and barely visible. Two tracks were worn from the use of carts and in the middle were tufts of grass protruding upward, staunch and independent. Gilbert’s broad feet left prints in the dust, now and again he’d flick one foot in the air catching soft fans from the delicate fronds. His foot dropping onto the heart of one of the tufts - holding his weight, springing back as it lifted – its resilience stoic.

Up ahead he could see the forest. The pine trees sprouting into the air like darts resting in the soil surrounded by browning pine needles, and unwanted cones. The smell of the pine invigorated him as he scooted along like a child at play. The forest was calm; as if a blanket had been placed over the ground, sheltering the cold ground from unwanted elements.


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