Mordor, She Wrote – Part One
When the news reached Jessica Baggins that her second-cousin, Bilbo, had been charged with breaking and entry at the Hobbiton branch of Anne Summers, she packed a knapsack with a few bottles of juniper juice and caught the last dragon flight to the Shire. She didn't know, or even care if Bilbo was guilty or innocent, but it sounded like a great plot for a shit book.
* * * * *
Frodo was sitting against the trunk of a tree at the edge of a mossy glade, reading the tattered copy of 'Elven Wives' his uncle Bilbo had given him one drunken night, when he heard the wheels of the cart clattering along the cobblestone lane. As he stood, and with deftness not usually associated with the race of Hobbits, he pulled up his trousers and lodged the magazine back in its hiding hole in the tree. The brief exclamation of the resident tawny owl did nothing to distract young Frodo, and, clasping his belt, he ran off in the direction of the noise.
The cart trundled to a halt as Frodo stood on the grassy bank, overlooking the cobbled road.
"You're late!" mocked Frodo, his arms crossed.
The woman in the cart swigged back the last of the juniper juice and swayed a glance to the erect Hobbit.
Frodo lowered his hands, misconstruing the previous paragraph, which was simply trying to explain that he was standing proudly or standing straight… nothing to do with his genitals at all.
"Authors are never late, Frodo Baggins," began Jessica, bloodshot eyes peeking from beneath a flowery bonnet. "And neither are they... hmm… spiders."
"What?" said Frodo, checking his script. "What are you on about?"
"Well, it's a fact, isn't it?” drooled Jessica, smugly, as she opened another bottle of juniper juice. "How many books have been written by spiders? Answer me that!"
Frodo frowned. "But that's like saying that rats can't be car mechanics. It's nonsense."
Jessica stared wide-eyed at Frodo in a disturbingly long pause. "Where am I?" she asked at last, lapsing into a moment of sobriety.
Frodo's lips tightened. “Act one, page one. At the bottom.” He pointed a stubby finger to the open page of his script.
"Ahh, yes," said Jessica, looking over the top of her spectacles, then down to the untidy bundle of paper on the seat beside her. “Carry on, then.”
With a broad smile, Frodo jumped from the bank and into Jessica's arms. "It's so wonderful to see you!"
Jessica looked down at the young hobbit and chuckled. "You didn't think I'd miss your Uncle Bilbo's hanging?"
"What? But it's obvious there's been some sort of mistake," protested Frodo. "I thought you were here to help, not to watch Bilbo die?”
"I'll do what I can, my Frodo. I swear that on the life of my dear husband."
Frodo frowned. "But didn't he disappear mysteriously last year? And didn't you have him declared dead so you could get the money from his insurance policy?”
"That is neither here nor there..."
Suddenly, there was a burst of delighted laughter from the lane behind, as five excited children rushed out from their garden.
"Fireworks, Jessica! Fireworks!" shouted the smallest of the hobbits.
Frodo looked across to Jessica and smiled. Although she appeared not to have heard the voices, there was an amused twinkling in her eyes as she looked along the road ahead. With one hand on the reins, she delved the other into her handbag.
"Fireworks," moaned the dispirited voices as they watched the cart trundle away.
Jessica threw something in a high arc over her shoulder and Frodo laughed, then heard joyful screams as it exploded. At least he thought the screams were joyful, until he turned around and noticed that blood was running from the children's eyes and ears, and they were stumbling around and bumping into one another.
"Stop the cart," said Frodo urgently, causing Jessica to look over her shoulder.
The horses lurched forward as she whipped the reins.
"Didn't you hear me, Jessica? Stop the cart!"
“I think not,” snorted Jessica. "Offer ourselves to the police when those kids don’t have a chance of picking us out of an identity parade?” She shook her head.
Frodo crossed his arms angrily as the cart moved along the track at speed. He was beginning to think Jessica wasn't as nice as he’d remembered.
* * * * *
Bilbo sat in the cold, damp prison cell and whimpered to himself. Through the barred window, he could see the sun setting. Tomorrow morning, he would be hanged, and the world of Middle Earth would leave him; but his current disturbance came from a rather large and ugly Orc who sat, salivating, on the cot directly across from him.
"Go on..." said the Orc, “Show us your ring."
Bilbo stammered in hesitation. "N-n-no! It's mine, I tell you!"
"Just let me give it a little rub?" asked the Orc again, his lips twisting to a grimacing smile. He lifted to his feet.
Bilbo flurried and ran to the bars of the cell. "Help!" he shouted.
At that moment, the door to the holding block clunked as the lock turned, and the Orc sat back in his bed and snarled.
Frodo and Jessica were ushered through the door by a particularly small Hobbit guard who also played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, though it wasn't a primary role, and he was dressed in a bear costume at the time, which meant his friends always took the piss and called him a lying bastard.
"Frodo? Frodo, my lad?" gasped Bilbo, rubbing his eyes. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again. Did you find Gandalf?"
"Sort of," said Frodo. "Gandalf was elected Prime Wizard. He said he doesn't give a toss about local stuff any more. He wants to concentrate on his image, and he told me that aligning himself to petty criminals isn't good for his street-cred. He wishes you well, though, but he'll deny saying so if it gets to the papers."
A tear trickled down Bilbo's cheek. "Good old Gandalf."
"Jessica's here, though," brightened Frodo. "Maybe she can help?"
"I'm sure, cousin Bilbo, that there's been some terrible mistake," announced Jessica as she patted down her crumpled dress. "I intend to get to the bottom of this. I'll do anything I can to help you through this sorry situation."
Bilbo paced up and down, nervously. "Well you could start by having me transferred to another cell. He..." he said, pointing to the Orc, "wants to rub my ring!"
"That doesn't make sense, uncle," said Frodo. "The ring is in a sealed envelope back at Bag End."
"Exactly!" replied Bilbo.
* * * * *
Sheriff Brody reclined in his rocking-chair, sipped his coffee and pretended to listen as Jessica read her lines. He wondered for a moment why the author of the story had named him after the lead character in Jaws? Was it forgetfulness, or just bone-idle lack of research? 'Mr Cunningham', 'Father Dowling', or even 'Ritchie's dad from Happy Days’ would have been much clearer. At least they were recognizable parts, from programmes he still received a steady royalty cheque from. There were certainly no personal battles with sharks in his career which he could recall.
"Why would Bilbo Baggins need to break into Anne Summers, Sheriff?" asked Jessica with a dismissive, yellow-toothed smile. "That man has the greatest wealth in the whole of Hobbiton."
Sheriff Brody rocked the chair forwards and stood, trying his best to look like a better actor than he actually was. He raised his hands and let them fall again. "Jessica, you don't seem to understand," he sighed. "We've got positive identification; fingerprints; closed-circuit television footage; matching DNA samples... damn, we've got a signed confession from Bilbo himself, and we didn't even have to hit him."
"Yes, you bloody well did!" came Bilbo's faint voice from the corridor.
Jessica creased her brow. "But something just doesn't make sense, Sheriff. There's an element to this episode which we're not seeing."
Sheriff Brody flicked to the end of his script and sat heavily back in his chair. "You're probably right, Jessica, but I don't like to wear glasses on screen. Okay... I'll give you a day to prove Bilbo is innocent."
"Oh, thank you, Sheriff," said Jessica. "You won't regret it, I promise."
* * * * *
Samwise Gangee was cutting the grass in the garden of Bag End. He liked gardening, but all the more when he could cultivate his crop of high-wield cannabis skunk in the vegetable patches of gullible fools who paid him to tend their lawns unsupervised.
It was always good to play the idiot, thought Sam. He’d say “master” and “missus” and they’d laugh behind his back, paying him half the going rate because “the idiot don't know no better”. Then they’d carry on laughing down the tavern with the money they saved, and the news gets round that stupid Sam is a soft touch. Soon enough, he’d have a hundred gardens around the Shire to attend to, and a hundred different places to grow his gold.
And who would the police blame if they found all the plants? Not stupid Samwise, that's for sure. “He don't have the brains for that”, the Sheriff would say. And before you know it, Sam would be far away in Mordor, personally auditioning some pretty elves before pimping them out to the lustful orcs - making even more money - while the hobbits who laughed at his naivety were dangling from the branches of the oak in the market-place, feeding the crows.
Sam sniggered with his thoughts as he stood and wiped his soiled hands against the waist of his overalls. Next stop was Master Greyscurdle's garden, where a bit of pruning and trimming was required… though, of course, there would be no clippings for the compost heap.
"Samwise Gangee," said a sudden, ominous voice.
The hobbit startled and spun around, then rushed a sigh of relief. "You scared me then," said Sam with a nervous laugh. "What are you doing out, anyway? I thought if I set eyes on you again it would be through bars at best... or on a rope at worst."
A flash of light in the side of his skull threw Samwise to the ground before he realized he'd been hit. It was a numb pain, and even though he was disorientated, he tried to push himself back up. Then another strike came in - a heavy boot against his forehead - whipping his head backward and snapping his neck like a branch of a dead tree.
His body convulsed for a moment, and then he was dead.
End of Part One