Drew: We are sorry this took so long. Sorry sorry sorry! But... You can't rush good humour... You rush good humour, you get rotten good humour. No one likes rotten humour.
AW: And to make up for it, the second chapter is about twice
as long as the first one. It was completely by accident, but we won't tell
you that. ... Wait... D'oh!
Chapter Two: "It's Thursday!"
It was several minutes before we could look directly at the van again, or at least, what was left of it. The tires had melted onto the concrete, the glass had been blown out and now sparkled in the dancing light, and the worn plush upholstery had been very content to go up in smoke and reveal the metal springs beneath. No one had moved, then again, without a vehicle, where could they go?
The stunned group of travelers were lost for words.
"Goodness." Frodo muttered.
"Gracious." Merry whispered.
And surprisingly, ended with...
"Great balls of fire." The elf had completed my thought. I had to stifle the laugh that threatened to erupt.
"Is it cool enough now, Mr Strider, sir?" Sam quietly inquired.
I would have thought that would have been the end of the Hobbit, if it wasn't for AW falling off the table from where he had been sitting. I stood up to see if he was alright. He was fine, but paralysed; with laughter that is. At length, he gasped for air and roared in mirth, causing Aragorn to spin around and focus the concentrated frustration and rage on my hapless brother. The nose whistle had returned in full force.
"I fail to see what is amusing in this situation, blue-elf!" He slowly approached AW, clenching and unclenching his fists as a way to control himself, though I have never seen knuckles turn that white. "That was our only mode of transportation and I emphasize the word 'only'."
For a moment, AW stopped guffawing to look at Aragorn. A stupid grin was on his face and tear trails marked his cheeks. Only for a moment, for he started up with a "...green... cloud... BOOM!" and he was off again. It was then that Aragorn leaped at AW with a sound that resembled what my dog makes when the mailman ventures too close to our mailbox. How AW got out from under there while bent over double, I'll never understand, but that began the chase that could have only been accompanied by some fast-paced piano music from the twenties.
While AW ran around the parking lot clutching his sides at the hilarity of the situation, and Aragorn closely behind him with his arms stretched out, ready to grab any part of my brother and rip to shreds, the hypnotic spell the flames had cast over everyone else was suddenly broken.
The small crowd of six men and I turned and looked to the source of the outlandish statement. Frodo stood, staring at the van as if his prized possession was burning along with it. Legolas was the first to say what was on everyone's mind.
"Your... finger?" he stammered out. "You had your finger in the van?!"
Frodo nodded. "Yes. In a large jar of formaldehyde, in fact."
Suddenly, my lunch failed to be appetizing.
Legolas paused for a moment for that to seep into comprehension. I don't think it ever made it. "And how, little sir, did you happen to reclaim your finger when it was still attached to the One Ring, and dragged into the heart of Mount Doom by the miserable creature, Gollum?"
Frodo looked up at the blonde elf with his impossible blue eyes. "A plot hole," he stated simply.
Legolas paused again and then simply nodded, as if this was the most logical solution ever conceived and left it at that.
At that moment, AW came running up to the table breathing heavily and holding his aching sides from laughing and the quick sprint he had taken around the parking lot. He put up one hand to stop Aragorn from fulfilling a half hour wish; the annihilation of my brother. This motion did in fact just that.
"I have a proposition for you." AW spoke between gasps. "I will allow you to kill me, if-" he looked at the shocked Aragorn from the corner of his eye, "if you can find a something that rhymes with orange."
The dark man blinked several times, unsure what to make of this statement that was just given him. He looked as if he was about to answer, when Gandalf jumped in. "Give it a try, Aragorn. It is a good challenge and what have you got to lose?"
Aragorn spun on his heel and faced the old man. "Only my chance to wring his little blue neck and see what colour blue elf turns when you choke it!" he shot back.
The old man got a look in his eye that I give to my daughter when she's misbehaving. "Aragorn..."
Strangely enough, Aragorn returned Gandalf's look with the same look my daughter gives back. "But Gandalf...."
Gandalf continued to look.
Grudgingly, Aragorn kicked the dirt in frustration and turned to my brother. "I accept." he said, barely audible.
While getting AW out of trouble was normal, getting him away from homicidal nose-whistlers was a novelty. I wondered how I could save him without endangering myself. Looking at my watch, I was relieved to see it was nearly one o'clock. I glanced across the parking lot. Sure enough, Alfie was running towards us, paranoid about being late. I nodded to him and walked over AW, placing myself between him and Aragorn.
"I have to get changed, Alfie's coming, and he'll need the uniform... Make sure no one comes into the shed?"
At AW's nod, I headed to my car to retrieve my blouse and skirt. Closing the car door, I entered the dark shed and proceeded to change out of the Rent-All shirt. One size fits all, my foot! I just hope Alfie remembered it was his turn to wash it. Yuck. Wearing my own clothes once again, I walked back outside, feeling much more like myself, and much less like a carbon-copy employee. I squinted in the sunlight and realized that everyone was still standing, much to my relief.
As much as I would have liked to stay and watch the travelling circus, AW and I had an appointment. Passing the uniform to Alfie, who was standing in front of the table starting at the new arrivals with an expression that could only be described as 'When did we get to Disney Land?', I nodded to AW and we headed off to "The Hole in Two... or Three."
We had crossed no more than half of the parking lot before Aragorn screamed at us, "And just where do you think you're going?!"
AW turned around and started walking backwards as he replied, "Mini-golfing. It's Thursday" and, as if that explained everything, he turned back around and jogged to catch up with me.
There was a moment of complete silence from behind us before... "Wait... they're leaving?"
"Yes, apparently, Sam," ...I assumed that was Frodo.
Silence descended on the strange group once again, and we thought we were free. Could we have been more wrong? Walking quickly, we hoped to escape unscathed, but the powers that be had other ideas.
"Don't turn around," I whispered to AW, "but we're being followed."
AW, being an idiot, turned around immediately, saying, "What? Wh-?.. Gah!"
Seeing as we had no chance of avoiding whoever was behind us now, I turned around and was confronted by a very strange tableau: AW and Legolas stood nose to nose, AW's face was frozen in that expression that comes just before laughter consumes your entire being, and Legolas was rooted to the spot, reaching out to tap AW's shoulder. Neither Elf moved for the space of about fifteen seconds. Legolas was the first to break eye contact and he stepped back a pace. That movement seemed to remind AW that this was by far the most bizarre afternoon of his life, and he dissolved into giggles... again.
Giving AW my "I'm not impressed" look, I turned to Legolas and waited. He directed his gaze towards me and smiled, managing to ignore AW quite nicely. I liked him already. Anyone who can ignore my brother is OK in my books.
"I beg your pardon, Lady," he began apologetically, "but my companions and I are in a bit of a situation. Our van is... feeling under the weather, our belongings have... joined the weather, and our driver is ... in no condition to be left alone. For providing us with a luncheon, we thank you. I would ask you one question further..."
I merely raised my eyebrows and waited. AW was still trying to breathe through the worst case of the giggles this month.
Smiling beautifully, Legolas continued, "I was wondering if you would be able to recommend us to suitable lodging for the night?"
I nearly melted under the smile. Mentally slapping myself, I turned to AW and punched him in the arm.
"Snap out of it," I told him, "It's not that funny."
The laughter stopped, but when he turned to look at me, his eyes were wide with mirth and unshed tears.
"Well?" I prompted.
I rolled my eyes. "AW, you are pathetic. Have you heard nothing?"
He grinned, "No, not since 'stuff has joined the weather,'" nearly losing it again.
Giving Legolas an apologetic look, I asked AW, "Can you think of anywhere they can stay tonight?"
AW thought seriously for a moment. "Well, they can't stay with the Moffats, the Williams' or the Morrisons... Ottawa is too far away for them to walk, and they won't all fit in your Saturn. They wouldn't like the Webster's barn..."
Legolas took advantage of the pause to ask hopefully, "Do they have horses?"
I smiled wryly, "Nope, just pigs."
He shuddered and went silent.
AW continued to think out loud, "What about the Charrons?"
I shook my head, "They've gone to Alaska... you know how they hate the heat."
AW nodded, "Right. I can't think of any other place."
Disappointment was written all over his face and Legolas shoulders drooped almost imperceivably. He bowed shortly and said very politely, "Again, I thank you." With that, he turned to join the others.
Not wanting to leave him... er.. them stranded in the parking lot, I surprised myself (and AW) by blurting out, "Wait! Youcanstayatourhouse!"
Legolas paused, and turned around. He looked at me for a minute, one eyebrow quirked, apparently trying to figure out what I had just said. He eventually deciphered it and smiled again.
AW stood there, stunned. He grabbed my arm, panicked. "Nonono!! They can't stay at our house!" he freaked.
"No? Why not?" I countered, trying not to melt... again.
He spoke forcefully, through his teeth, "What about Father?"
Right. Father. How could I forget such an obvious obstacle? The melting ceased. I thought for a moment. "What about the backyard?"
"The big, green, nasty, canvas piece-of-crap-tent?"
I nodded, "And the Rent-All has a pup tent... good for two men..." I glanced behind Legolas to the others, "or four small people?"
AW shrugged, "Yeah, sure!" he turned to Legolas, "It's Thursday. Wanna go mini-putting? Casey will be holding our spot."
The poor blond Elf. He had no idea what mini-putt was, or if he had a place to stay. He did know that it was Thursday, though.
Oops! He didn't even know who we were!
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry." I said, moderately horrified, "We haven't introduced ourselves yet. I'm Drew, and this is my brother AW."
Legolas paused a moment. "Forgive me, but neither of those are very 'elvish' names, if you'll pardon my saying so."
AW pretended he hadn't heard the question. I started to explain, and AW stomped on my foot. I knew immediately why he did so and he had good reason. I stopped, saving that juicy bit of information for later.
I walked over to Legolas and put my hand on his arm, meaning to offer his friends the use of our backyard. Mmm.. Muscle... Strong....I looked into his eyes... Wow, were they ever blue...
Um, hi. This is AW. Drew kinda stopped noticing things for a while. So I guess that makes it my turn. Now, where did we leave off?... oh, right... the parking lot, just before the mini-putting.
I think Drew may have muttered something about the backyard, but his look of confusion made it clear that he needed to be asked again. After I offered Legolas and Co. the use of our background and piece of cra- tent, his entire demeanor changed. He left us standing there and sprinted back to tell Aragorn. The nose whistling stopped abruptly.
"We're going camping?" Aragorn asked hopefully.
Legolas nodded again.
Pippin spoke up worriedly, "But... aren't there bears outside?"
Aragorn was starting to get excited, "Oh, I hope so!... and maybe we'll see a moose!"
"Is a moose anything like an oliphaunt?" Sam was curious.
"Uh. No, Sam. No," Aragorn said, starting to mellow.
This was getting stupid and I was getting bored. "I'm leaving. It's Thursday. The mini-putt bus is leaving the station. Move it or lose it!" and I turned to leave. To my surprise, every last one of them got up and followed me down the road.
Drew soon caught up to me, and as we walked she kept tugging on my sleeve and whispering.
"He's stronger than he looks."
I nodded. Really, I didn't care.
"He looks like a stick!"
.... This was getting old fast. "Drew, how old are you?"
She blinked. "That isn't something you ask a lady."
"You're no lady!" I snorted, "You're my sister!"
.... She hit me.
She hit me again. This could have gone on forever and likely would have continued for some time, had we not arrived at "The Hole in Two... or Three" just then. Casey looked out of his window. He froze mid-wave as he saw more and more unusual people come around the corner, apparently mini-putt bound. I could almost see the dollar signs in his eyes.
He leaned out. "Hey, AW, Drew... and... friends?"
I nodded, "For lack of a better term. And, yes, they're with us."
"Right," he said calmly, "how many?"
I counted quickly, "Ten."
"Eleven," Pippin spoke up, "you forgot to include Boromir."
Yes. He and Merry had dragged the body all the way over here.. with their patented 'left, right, left.. No, my left' method.
"Absolutely not," I said, shaking my head vigorously, "There is no way I'm paying for the corpse!"
"Please?" Merry pleaded, "Be a sport."
Drew was snickering. I turned to look at her. "What?" She pointed at Casey.
Casey, the poor guy, was totally lost. At this point, he had removed his glasses and was blinking rapidly at Boromir, as if trying to make him disappear... or reanimate him. I felt sorry for him (Casey, that is)... really, I did. But there was still no way I was paying for a corpse to play mini golf.
"NO!" I said more forcefully.
Drew quit laughing momentarily, and walked over to the counter. She waved her hand in front of Casey's eyes and said softly, "We don't need to pay for the body."
"And the rest of us will play for free," she continued.
Casey blinked and then grinned good naturedly. "Drew, your 'Jedi mind tricks' didn't work last week, and they won't work this week. Though I do agree. I won't make you pay for the ... remains."
Drew smiled, convinced that weeks of trying her mind tricks on Casey were starting to pay off. Shaking my head, I pulled her away from the window and pushed her aside... lucky for her, the blond was nearby. She didn't seem to mind.
Casey scanned the group. "Four kids under 12 and six adults?"
"But I'm not-" Pippin protested.
Aragorn glared at him, "And are you paying?"
Pippin looked at Casey, nodded and confirmed, "I'm eleven."
Gandalf, who had been remarkably calm and collected since the whole fire episode, spoke up. "I thank you for the offer, but I believe I will decline. It is so pleasant not to be confined to the back seat. I will take myself on a walk."
I looked at Legolas, "How is his sense of direction?"
"Excellent," he replied, "though he tends to wander."
Wonderful. Glancing at my watch. "I'm assuming an hour should be enough for us to complete the course," I told Gandalf, "Could you please be back by then?"
With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "I shall endeavour to do my very best." And he walked towards Sticksville 'downtown.'
That sounded distinctly ominous. Drew and I looked questioningly at Legolas. He grinned and shrugged. "You guess is as good as mine," he said, "He likes to keep us guessing. And he's quite good at it."
Wunderbar. Having paid for four children and five adults (not including the cadaver), the instructions of the game began.
"Everyone takes a putter." I designated a putter for each. "And everyone take a ball."
"AW, here's your green ball. Drew, here's your blue ball. And for the rest, here are the rest of the colour choices-"
"I would like a green ball too."
" -white, red, orange-"
"I want green."
" -navy, yellow, pink, purple-"
"Can I have a green one too?"
" -and black?"
I turned around to face the group to see who had spoken of the request for my ball colour choice. All seven of them were grinning stupidly at me. I blinked. "You have got to be kidding. You all want green balls?"
"But," I tried to explain, "you all need different colours of balls so, you can keep track of which one is yours!"
"I'm a Ranger" snapped Aragorn, "I can track anything!"
I turned to Casey. I saw it in his eyes. They were mocking me. Loudly. "Seven more green balls Casey, please." I said, amusement lacking from my voice.
"Sorry, no can do, AW." His eyes were just screaming 'I'm just glad it's not me.' "You see, with the lack of business here in Sticksville, we only have seven of each colour, green included."
If I were an anime character, I would have tear-dropped. As it was, I merely stood there staring at Casey. Courtesy demanded I let my 'guests' chose first. I sighed.
"I'll take a blue one."
Drew hit me.
"I'll take a red one."
I passed out the balls and lead the way to the first green. "The point of the game is to hit the ball into the hole using as few shots as possible. The lowest score at the end of the 18 holes wins. It's very simple."
"I don't understand." I turned around. Pippin. Of course.
Breathing in slowly and counting to ten, I tried again, "You put your ball here, hit it like this and it goes in the hole there." As I spoke, I demonstrated, allowing myself a small smile as the red ball made a bee line for the hole and sank into the cup with a satisfying "plunk."
"Now, I hit the ball once, so my score so far is 'one.'"
"I don't understan-," Pippin interrupted me
"Hush Pip. He's not finished." I didn't even look. Merry. I was beginning to understand why Aragorn had a nose whistle.
I counted to twenty this time, ten not being enough, but before I could say anything, Drew stepped up and said, "You whack the ball with the stick until it goes in the hole. Try not to whack it too hard, or too often."
"Oooh! Is that all?"
I nodded patiently and I turned to Drew, "I talk, you translate for me."
She chuckled. "And why is it I'm the one that can translate? You're the guy."
I shrugged. "Maybe they'll listen to you more."
She shrugged in return and dropped her ball almost casually onto the green. To the untrained eye, it looked like she hit the ball at random because it bounced from edge to edge the whole length of the green, but I knew better. We didn't play every Thursday and not improve. She was just showing off. I didn't even have to watch to know the ball dropped into the cup. It always did. I heard the familiar "plunk". She walked over to the hole and picked out both balls, tossing mine to me.
"Ok, who's next?" she asked, looking at the crowd.
Before anyone could speak, Pippin stepped forward and stated determinedly, "I am."
"No, Mr. Frodo should be first." Sam countered, "He's a Baggins." As if that explained everything.
Pippin was annoyed, "And that makes him better how?"
"A Took wouldn't understand," Sam said loftily.
Pippin just glared at Sam, but moved aside to allow Frodo to putt. As Pippin muttered something under his breath, Sam practically pushed Frodo to the front of the line. Seeing as no one minded him going first, Frodo tried to ignore the interested stares of his companions and placed his ball precisely in the centre of the starting green.
"Now keep your head down," I instructed. "And keep your eye on the ball. The little line on top of the putter is to help you aim for the hole."
He nodded and tried to line up the putter. Just as he started to swing, Drew added, "No pressure."
He caught himself before the club made contact with the ball and took a deep breath. Sam glared at Drew and she backed up, supposedly to write everyone's names on the score cards. Frodo's second put was more successful, though it didn't make it in the hole. Sam cried out in disappointment. Even Frodo looked slightly shocked that his ball was still on the green. I heard a snicker, a jab in the ribs and a cry of pain. When I looked, Pippin was doubled over, glaring at Merry, who was shushing him.
Drew looked sorry for Frodo. "Don't feel bad," she said kindly, "AW and I play every week, so I guess we make it look easy. In truth, it's a game that requires good math skills, balance, finesse, aim and depth perception."
Sam was next, but I don't believe his mind was on the purpose of the game, for he hit his ball as far from Frodo's as was physically possible, and then ran to Frodo's ball and watched it intently.
He looked at all of us, "This one is Master Frodo's ball. No one is to touch it."
I'm pretty sure Aragorn sighed here. Can't say that I blamed him. The Hobbits were enthusiastic, energetic and like they were eight years old. I could only hope they were playing along with the 'under 12' facade. But somehow, deep down inside, I doubted it.
Legolas quickly stepped up to the putting green, with the air of expertise about him, though I am sure had never hit a golf ball in his life.
"Hey!" Pippin protested. "I thought I was going next. How come you get to go?"
Legolas smirked (a look I recognised as Elven superiority... Drew gives it to me all the time), "Because I have all the qualifications for this game and you, Master Pippin, do not."
Pippin gave yet another glare, but not to his partner in crime. It was then that I noticed that the... um... carcass wasn't being supported by the young hobbits. I glanced around and finally saw him, kneeling, leaning up against the wooden pole that hosted the hole number, a aluminum putter placed on his lap with his arm to keep it from slipping.
I shuddered. Why on earth would they be dragging around this body everywhere they went and pretended that it was real? Was it time for their medication? Or mine, for that matter? Must be way past mine, since I'm not on any medication.
It was most definitely them.
"Um," I began, trying to phrase this correctly as to not doom myself to yet another bombardment of fresh nose whistling. "But, why are you carrying around ...uh... the... um..." I couldn't think of anything, so I pointed, though I knew and had been taught since child hood that I shouldn't.
Merry smiled. "Boromir? Oh well, the story about why we," he indicated the unusual group, "are together in the first place is a fairly long and detailed one. To shorten it to a blunt point, when Boromir was alive, he was part of the group. Aragorn thought it would be a good idea to have everyone back together as it was for a time. Though sadly, we can't resurrect him, hence the state he's in."
I nodded. Just how does one absorb that?
Just then, Legolas came, picked up Merry and moved him closer to the green. "Stay there," he instructed to the hobbit and seemed to test the air resistance. I looked at Drew, who looked like she was going to start to fall asleep. I leaned over.
"What's going on? What's he doing?" I whispered.
Her eyes came back into focus. I was wrong. She had been sleeping. Drew blinked, and turned to look at me. "Hmm?" she said, "Did you say something?"
I nodded in the other Elf's direction, just in time to see him pick up Frodo and move him four feet to the left. He licked his finger, held it in the air, moved it around, then bent Frodo's right arm at a 90 degree angle, at the elbow. He then repeated the process with his finger, adjusting Frodo twice more. Seemingly satisfied, he walked over to Sam.
"What's he doing?" I repeated.
She shrugged, looking bored. Apparently the fascination for the blond had worn off. "Do you remember how we told them," she said, motioning to the group, "that mini-putt was a game of skill and accuracy?"
"Well," she sighed, "He has taken it to heart, and has yet to hit the ball."
Again, tear-dropping would have been appropriate, but instead, I just blinked.
Aragorn strode over to Legolas and stood just behind him. "Are all Mirkwood Elves so slow to take aim?" he asked sardonically.
The Elf didn't change in posture or facial expression, but I knew Aragorn had hit a nerve. How, you ask? Legolas hit the ball immediately. With all his preparation, you'd think the ball would have gone in the hole. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He did not even bat an eyelash, but I think he was miffed.
The other two hobbits, Merry and Pippin, putted quite uneventfully, for which I would be forever grateful to them.
Gimli motioned politely for Aragorn to precede him. Aragorn stepped forward regally and tapped his ball without much preamble. After his putt, his ball was the closest to the hole and he silently gloated over Legolas.
Seeing that he was the last living player to attempt the first green, Gimli stepped up to the astroturf and placed his ball slightly off centre on the mat. After studying the terrain a moment, he gripped his club confidently and hit his ball. We all watched with growing amazement as his ball propelled itself in a direct line to the hole, narrowly missing the apparently random green ball that Sam was guarding. The moving ball dropped into the hole almost silently. Gimli ignored Sam's indignant glare and retrieved his ball proudly.
Aragorn blinked. Legolas blinked. The hobbits cheered. Drew and I applauded softly.
Gimli looked smug. "What?" he asked, "You didn't know? The Dwarves have been playing something very similar for centuries. We call it Glîm Clawbow."
"You play mini-putt?" Drew was astounded.
"Yes," Gimli grinned, "It is a favourite pass-time for the Dwarves."
I nodded. "Nice."
Finally it was the cadaver's turn. Supported by the small figures of both Merry and Pippin, Boromir "walked" to the green. They had, by this time, taped his hands to the putter with duct tape and were trying their best to "teach" him how to putt.
"Bend your knees... Boromir. Now look down, watch the ball." The two hobbits were having a time trying to keep him from falling while also getting the flopping appendages to function properly. It was quite a feat to watch. But it didn't stop Pippin from trying his best. "Keep your back arm bent..."
By the sound of Merry's voice, it sounded as if he was shaking his head. "Oh, Pip... It's not going to work; he's all straight."
I think Aragorn had had enough of waiting for people to putt. "Just have him hit the ball, if you don't mind, little gentlemen." I could tell he was trying his hardest to remain polite.
With the first round of putts completed, the chaos began. With eight identical green balls in various closeness to the hole, the only ball that we knew for 100% who's it was, was Frodo's, for Sam was still watching it closely. In fact, his nose was six inches away from it, and it looked as if he expected it to come alive at any moment. But for the first hole, at least everyone was fairly sure which ball was whose.
After completing the first hole with Drew, Gimli and I tied for first, we headed for the second hole. I placed my ball onto the spot where the green was the most worn. I lightly aimed at the hole, as I could most likely do all eighteen holes with my eyes closed, or better yet, asleep, when Drew pulled on my sleeve again.
"His eyes were blue!" She whispered.
"Yes Drew." I lined up to putt again.
"Like my ball." She held up the blue sphere.
"Yes Drew." I lined up to put-
I glared at her. "Shhh!" I hissed. "Not while I'm putting!"
Just as I swung to hit my ball....
"Bluuuuue mooooooon...." came singing from right behind me were I knew Drew was.
I couldn't stop my putter as it was on the down swing. I tried to miss. I really did. But I made contact and it moved three inches.
"THAT COUNTS!" Came a gleeful shout from the Drew vincinity.
I spun around with wrath most likely flashing in my eyes. "You know, this means war..."
Drew smirked with inner delight. "Like it wasn't before?"
"... Quiet you."
I had to tune Drew out this time, in case she tried it again. It worked. "Plunk." A hole-in-two.
Since Drew and Gimli were tied, she turned to him and said, "Guests first."
Gimli looked truly shocked. "Of course not!" he argued, "Forgive me for contradicting, my dear, but I believe it is 'Ladies first.'"
Drew smiled, blushed and stepped forward.
I heard snickering from behind me. Merry and Pippin, again.
"She does that an awful lot, doesn't she?" Pippin observed.
"What?" Merry questioned, "Go all pink like that? I think it's charming. Not many ladies can blush nowadays."
I stifled a laugh. Distracting Drew from mini-putt is an art form, and I need to pay attention, not get lost in laughter.
The tips of Drew's ears were slightly pink, but other than that, she was completely composed. She dropped her ball with a practised ease and lined up for the putt. Payback time. As she turned her head to spot the hole, I took my putter and lightly rubbed the backs of her right knee with it; she's very ticklish there. At first, she tired to ignore me, but that didn't last long. "AW, quit it." I stopped, but only briefly. Naturally, I began again as soon as she aimed once more. "Quit it." I did. ... and started up again. "AW...!" I stopped, and was about to try for a fourth time when a hand stilled my putter. What the...? I turned, then looked down.
"Can I help you, Master Dwarf?"
"Yes, you can stop pestering the lady."
"She's no lady," I said, echoing our earlier conversation, "She's my sist-"
He hit me. Hard. I hurt. A lot.
I had long forgotten how stubborn dwarves could be.
Drew hit her ball... directly into the whole. Her champion fairly beamed.
And then Legolas spoke quietly, "Gimli my friend, these kind ...er... folk, have agreed to put us up for the night. Please remember your manners."
Gimli snorted, "I'll remember mine, once this boy remembers his."
After that I kept my mouth shut.
Needless to say, with seven green balls, and growing impatience... a simple game of 18 holes became.. chaotic, to say the least. Legolas still thought he needed to aim for five minutes, Merry and Pippin were sparring with their putters (Boromir having been temporarily forgotten on a bench), Sam was glowering at anyone and everyone who wandered within a foot of Frodo's ball, and Aragorn had realized that no matter how hard he tried, his ball would not go in the hole. Unfortunately, he had found a new skill: hitting everyone else's ball with his ball. We had to let six other groups of golfing tourists play through. I was so embarrassed.
On the up side... Gandalf did make it back before we finished. In fact, he had to wait with the corpse for an hour. He was an hour late returning. I couldn't believe it: Three hours for 18 holes!
And we never did find out who won! Drew insists it was her, only because she was the only blue ball. I like to believe it was Gimli... simply for the fact that it wouldn't be Drew... even though he did punch me. He was the lesser of two evils.
I looked at my watch when we had returned the putters, some a little more dented than when he had received them, but none worse to play. It was an hour past my break time. Al was going to kill me. "Oh crap. I'm really sorry, guys." I said hurriedly, "but I'm late for work. I'll have to see you all later."
"Wait!" Drew grabbed my arm. Now she looked panicked. "You can't leave me with eight men and a corpse!" She whispered in my ear, careful as to not allow the elf to hear. "You can't."
Right. I could see why she was so at... unease with this group. I couldn't blame her. "Okay... okay." Sure, she annoyed me, but she was my sister, after all. "I'll see if I can get the day off, ... that is... if Al isn't furious with me."
I took off towards the diner and ran as fast as I could. I had never been late before. It was hard to be late for Al. I didn't know how he would react. I flung open the door...only to find that Al had just finished his soup. He wasn't finished his lunch. I could have killed him. But remembering Drew, I took a deep breath "Al, I was wondering if I could have the rest of the day off. Something has... come up and it needs my immediate attention. ... Could I?" I asked as calmly as I could.
Though he was a little angry since I had been so loud upon entering the diner, it looked as if he was controlling his anger too. But he surprised me with, "That's an excellent idea, AW. That way I can eat in complete peace and quiet. Done. Take the rest off."
"With pay?" I asked hopefully.
"Don't push it."
I didn't pursue the matter further, but grabbed my change of clothes and my book that I normally read after Drew and my daily lunch activities and exited the diner as quickly as I had come. Al began on his main course.
I reached Drew's car and waited for the group to arrive. I changed out of my "Al's" uniform shirt and put on my most loved 'Legend of Zelda' t-shirt and also changed my socks. As I watched the group approach, I prayed to Eru that Dad wouldn't have a new litter of kittens when Drew and I arrived home, with all of our new "friends".
Now, the problem of getting them all home... in one piece. Well, I'm sure Boromir wouldn't mind arriving in more than one piece, but Pippin and Merry would make sure those pieces remain together.
When Drew jokingly suggested that the Hobbits ride ontop of the little red Saturn, I laughed, but they on the other hand jumped at the idea. She tried to explain that she was only joking, but by that time, both Pippin and Merry had already climbed up. We carefully stuffed Boromir into the trunk, but were not allowed to close the lid as for the fact that he was "afraid of the dark". I quickly "rented" the 'Rent-it-all' pup tent and crammed it into the trunk when the hobbits were too busy chatting happily together.
The hobbits were having a wonderful time. I had managed to find enough duct tape to make their hands and knees sticky, so they wouldn't slip of the roof at the first corner. I could hear them cheering on the invisible horse, and giving a running commentary to Boromir. I'm sure he was enthralled.
I'm glad they had fun. The rest of us were crammed into the back seat of Drew's Saturn like so many sardines. It was not as fun.
Legolas, Aragorn and I were belted in the regular spots, with Gimli very heavily across our laps. I had long forgotten how pointy armour was. Gandalf and Drew were comfortably seated in the front of the car. Lucky them.
Drew drove as slowly as she could, so as not to jolt her double decker passengers. She looked like a nervous wreck - well, to me, she did. To most people, she looked as unperturbed as usual. I can't say that I blamed her. It had been a long day, and now, we were breaking so many laws I had lost track. Wouldn't that just top it off? Getting pulled over by the RCMP?
I sighed with relief when she pulled into the driveway and put the car into park. My relief was short lived, however. Father was sitting on the front steps enjoying the sunshine.
Ai, Valar! We had forgotten about Father! Again! How could we have overlooked such an insurmountable obstacle? Again!!
The hobbits leaped off the roof and pulled Boromir and the pup-tent out of the trunk. Dropping the tent on the ground they looked around, commenting on everything. Drew and Gandalf climbed out easily and opened the back doors for us. Gimli crawled out. Dwarves also have bony knees. Finally freed from our burden the rest of us exited the vehicle, only to be confronted by Father's angry face.
I've never seen that shade of red... or was it purple?... on a face before. Drew saw it and went pale. I saw it and felt death coming. I saw my life flash before my eyes... so little time... so little cheese.. I was too young to die.
I wondered what the Halls of Mandos were like.