Legal Widow

A young man wakes up in a room. He walks out to find himself in a strange village with multicoloured housing and a succession of ham actors

Young man: Hello. Where am I? I remember, I resigned from my job – I was working in a City law firm. I got back to my flat, then I passed out and woke up here.

Young woman: I don’t know. I just asked a man in a suit for directions to the City of London library and woke up in this village. And there’s a Scandinavian chap who thought he was going on an exchange trip to Stevenage.

Two men carrying ridiculous umbrellas appear.

Henderson: You are in The Village. It is impossible to escape. If you try you will be stopped by a series of unconvincing white airbags. I am number two. Jack, why are you giggling?

Pratchard: You said “number two”.

Henderson: Lordy. This is…

Pratchard: Jack Pratchard.

Henderson: For the last time young Pinochet, you’re number three. And you are number six. And you lady are, err, number eight.

Young man: Mr Henderson, is that you? Have you kidnapped us because I resigned from the corporate department?

Henderson: I am not Henderson. I am number two. We want information. Your job in The Village will be to work 23 hours as a lawyer in The Village corporate law firm. As will yours, number eight.

Young man: What’s going on?

Pratchard: Yes Tom, you’ve lost me a bit here, too.

Henderson: It’s all these dotcom firms pinching our trainees. I thought, how do we keep our staff? Some firms have started paying better salaries and improving working conditions. Yeah, and why don’t we just let them go home at the weekend while we’re about it? I, on the other hand, have constructed this elaborate village like in the cult 1960s show The Prisoner. No one can escape.

Young woman: What about me? I work in a sandwich shop near Aldgate. I only wanted to go to the library.

Henderson: We need new trainees as well, so I thought we’d ‘harvest’ a few. Big Tosh is driving a big sweet van round Southwark as we speak – like in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Young woman: But I know nothing about the law.

Henderson: That’s why we chose you. You’ll fit in perfectly.

Pratchard: Can we really just imprison these people here?

Henderson: Why not? They imprisoned me, didn’t they? This place is cushy compared to Ford Open Prison. There was no room service until six, three inmates sharing one tiny jacuzzi, and they made us fork out for the pay-per-view late night boxing on Sky. Don’t remind me of that rural hellhole! Anyway, I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to get staff. One trainee told The Guardian: “Anyone thinking of joining the profession should first read John Grisham’s The Firm.”

Pratchard: The Firm? What a ridiculous name for a book. Anyway, that’s just a fictionalised and inaccurate portrayal of life in the law. Not like our little outfit.

Henderson: The Village has everything you need. We’ve got medical and dental facilities.

Young man: In case we get ill?

Henderson: No, in case you fail to put in the requisite billable hours. You’ve seen Marathon Man I take it?

Young man: Wait a minute. That’s St Paul’s over there. You’re so mean you’ve constructed this village in The Firm’s car park. I’m out of here.

Henderson: How do you intend to escape?

Young man: On the central line.

Henderson: Release the airbags, number three.

Pratchard: Oh, I hadn’t finished blowing them up yet.

Henderson: I simply give up.