Bagenders – Mirror of Modernity

Season 2, Episode 4

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Disclaimer: JRR Tolkien owns all the characters, apart from Sandra and the leering neighbours, who are ours.
Rating: PG-13 (baths; strife; language; Nudey!Boromir)
Feedback: yes please, please or else it means we have to work.

All the windows were open. A fan was going in the sitting room. Gandalf had stapled ‘magic pines’ round the brim of his hat. Legolas had moved into the shed. In short, Boromir had managed in the course of one hour to stink out the entire house.

Frodo had tried to sneak up on Boromir and cover him in ‘Febreeze’, but Boromir had fended him off. There had been multiple attempts to persuade him into having a bath, or at least changing his clothes and putting on some deodorant. Boromir was not giving in.

A conference was convened in the shed, with Legolas looking worringly like an international terrorist, what with the scarf round his face and the expression of homicidal disgust.

“What are we going to do?”

“Chuck him out.”

“He’ll never survive in the modern world. He’s not cut out for it. I have a duty to him you know.”

“No, you don’t. He doesn’t think you were ever his king, therefore you don’t have a duty to him.”

“He called me his king when he was dying…”

“Aragorn, he’d lost so much blood I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d called you his grandmother.”

“I knew her, and she was quite hairy…”

“We’ve got off the point again.”

“There was a point?”

“When?”

“What point?”

“Who?”

“What Are We Going To Do With Boromir?”

“Send him back, throw him out, give him to a nature reserve or Battersea Dogs’ Home. But we can’t keep him.”

“Yeees, we don’t have a good record with pets. Boromir’ll be like the hamster all over again.”

“Yes, but he can feed himself. And I don’t think the foxes’ll get him.”

“And we could take him for walks. I’d walk him, promise.”

“Merry, you said that about the ferret. You’re useless with animals.”

“Anyway, he’s not an animal, he’s an intelligent and sensitive being.”

“Really? He hides it well.”

“It’s a pity the Uruk-Hai didn’t kill him when they had the chance.”

“Ummm… they did.”

“Oh. So they did.”

“We’ve got to keep him. At least until we can persuade the Valar to take him back. He is the ninth member of the Fellowship, and we have a bond. We must remain true to one another.” Frodo held his head high.

“Frodo… You do remember him trying to kill you?”

“I have talked this through with both Boromir and my psychiatrist. He wasn’t himself at the time. I am completely at ease with the situation.”

“So, we keep him. But I am not going back into that house until he has been thoroughly washed, his clothes burnt, and he has been house-trained.”

“He won’t wash voluntarily.”

“So we’ll have to make him.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aragorn and Legolas were stalking Boromir through the house with the unusual weapon of a pair of kitchen scissors. Aragorn was in full indoor Ranger gear and Legolas had a lavender-soaked handkerchief tied over his face ninja-style. Although there were few ninjas who favoured delicate floral embroidery.

“Are you sure this is the only way to get his clothes off?” Asked Aragorn, who wasn’t even sure he wanted to see Boromir naked, even in the cause of getting him clean.

“It’s not like we’re going to keep them and he never takes them off voluntarily when he’s sober.”

“Why can’t we just get him drunk?’

“Because you’d get drunk too and the only thing you’re good for when you’re drunk is singing Gloria Gaynor.”

“I resent that, I sing other things too!”

“Such as?”

“…Aretha Franklin?”

“You see what I mean. We’ll just have to cut him out.”

Boromir was standing in the kitchen, seemingly engrossed in the microwave, which he was poking with his sword at arm’s length. This distraction was seen as the ideal opportunity to pounce.

“Commence operation Aberystwyth!”

“Aberystwyth? I thought we were calling it Clean-Steward.”

“Never mind, just get him!”

Aragorn and Legolas jumped out from underneath the kitchen table and wrestled Boromir to the ground, giving the coded whistle for the Hobbits in the cupboards to help with the actual cutting.

“Argh! No! Getoff! What are you trying to do to me!”

“We’re taking your clothes off-”

“I always had my suspicions about you, you know!”

“So you can have a bath.”

The shock caused Boromir to stop struggling for a few seconds.

“A bbbbb- b -”

“A bath, yes.”

The struggles recommenced with added screams, howls and clawing. Boromir may have grown up in a society with a noble warrior code, but when he was caught in a corner he could use even more dishonourable fighting techniques than Pippin on a Saturday night.

Legolas held the scissors poised over Boromir’s groin. “Boromir, I can cut off your trousers while you’re wriggling about, or, I can cut them off when you’re lying still. The choice is yours.”

There was a moment’s thought. Legolas was sure he could hear the rusty mechanisms of Boromir’s brain slowly beginning to work.

Boromir gave in. Maybe surrender was a valid alternative after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“No, noooooo! Not the bath, not the bath!”

The Fellowship had had to carry an almost naked Boromir up the stairs to the bathroom as he refused to cooperate any further with Operation Aberystwyth. He had tried digging his nails into the carpet, but Merry and Pippin had just followed behind him, gleefully jumping up and down on his fingers until he let go.

Boromir tried grabbing hold of the handle of the open bathroom door, but since this had been fitted by Aragorn, it simply parted company with the door.

“How are we going to get him in the bath?”

“I hadn’t thought too much about that, why don’t we just pick him up and throw him in.”

“NOOOOOOOOOO!”

Aragorn and Legolas took hold of Boromir’s arms and legs and hurled him in the direction of the bath. Boromir howled as he hit the mint scented water and the remains of his clothes dissolved on impact.

“Quick! Get the loofah!”

Boromir’s animal instincts cut in again and he began scrabbling wildly. A lucky blow caught Legolas in the face and dislodged the handkerchief. One nostril full of Boromir’s smell at such close range was all it took to overpower his delicate elven senses.

“Elf down! Elf down!”

“Quick, he’s getting away.”

Boromir was out of the bath and making for the door before Aragorn had time to respond, but his wet feet didn’t give him much grip on the carpet and he stumbled, giving Aragorn the opportunity to rugby tackle him at the top of the stairs.

Boromir made one last attempt to break free, which led to them both rolling down the stairs in a tangled heap to land in a compromising position at the feet of Gandalf, who had somehow materialised in the hallway with his chair and a pair of binoculars to allow him to see into the bathroom.

Gandalf leered.

Boromir froze with a ‘rabbit-in-headlights’ expression on his face and offered no resistance to Aragorn dragging him upstairs again.

Aragorn held Boromir up against the wall in an arm lock at the top of the stairs long enough for Frodo to wave a bottle of lavender oil under Legolas’ nose and retie the handkerchief before dragging him back into the bathroom.

“Right, we’ll try this again. Is everyone ready?”

“Wait a minute, we’ll have to run the bath water again. You wouldn’t believe how grey it went and he was only in there for a few seconds…”

Boromir tired to make a break for the door again, but was securely restrained as the water ran. Once the bath was full, and the temperature carefully tested by having an elbow dipped in it, Legolas and Aragorn grabbed Boromir and threw him in again. However, Boromir was ready for this, and managed to brace himself, starfish style, with his hands and feet grabbing on to the sides of the bath, so he was suspended above the water.

“Boromir! Let go!”

“Shan’t”

Aragorn tried pushing down on Boromir’s stomach, but he was made of sterner stuff and refused to move. Pippin, however, took a more direct and effective approach. He hit Boromir between the legs with a long handled scrubbing brush, and Boromir fell into the water, whimpering.

“Everybody in and wash!”

The whole Fellowship (well, apart from Gimli and Gandalf) attempted to wash Boromir as flailing body parts went past.

“Aaaaaaaahh! Noooooooooo! Nononoononononoono!”

“Don’t be such a baby.”

“Out, out damned spot!”

“I think that’s a freckle and if you keep scrubbing you’ll draw blood.”

“Hey, that’s my foot you’re washing, not his.”

“We need more soap over here! Stat!”

“Stat?”

“Like what they say on ‘ER’. Quickly.”

“The English language is perfectly adequate without ER-isms, thank you.”

“Aaaaaaaah, careful down there.”

“Yeah, Pippin, don’t damage the Gondorian not-quite-royal jewels.”

“Merry, shut up or you get a loofah stuck right-”

“Stop it.”

While the Fellowship were distracted by their bickering Boromir made a break for freedom. Both Aragorn and Legolas tried to stop him, but since he was covered with soap he slid out of their grasp.

He bounded down the stairs, past a leering Gandalf, and out through the kitchen door into the garden. The rest of the Fellowship were hot on his trail though. Boromir paused in the middle of the garden. He was naked, sopping wet, covered in soap and really quite cold. but a brisk run would probably dry him off. The rest of the Fellowship appeared in the doorway.

“Don’t tackle him in the garden, you’ll undo all our work.”

“Don’t let him near my compost heap either.”

“Yes, that would be nasty, make him even smellier.”

“I was worried about the compost heap, not him.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Lorna! Andrea! Gemma! There’s a naked man in Cute Pointy Ears Guy’s garden!”

There was a sound of running feet.

“Is it him? Is Pointy Ears naked?”

“No, different naked man.”

“Bugger.”

Four faces appeared at the now open window. Living diagonally opposite the Fellowship house had some advantages. For instance, if you leaned out of the upstairs bathroom window at the right angle, you could see right into Pointy Ears Guy’s bedroom. There was also a good degree more excitement to be had than from the normal suburban neighbour.

“I’ve never seen him before.”

“Bit old.”

“Nice muscles… and other things.”

“Ooooh… he’s got scars as well.”

“And what are you four doing?”

“Um, mum, we were just, um…”

“Is that a naked man in next door’s garden?”

“Um… yeah?”

“Why didn’t you say? Budge up, I want a better look.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More and more interested parties were gathering, some with binoculars, some with cameras, and some with those things on tripods you use for measuring things a long way away. Some people are even pedantic about accuracy in voyeurism.

“Boromir. You’re frightening the neighbours. Come inside.”

“They don’t really look frightened, as such. More intrigued.”

At this point, awoken by the hubbub, Gimli appeared, in paisley dressing gown and foul mood.

“What’s going on? Och.”

“We brought back Boromir from the dead, we tried to give him a bath and now he’s got loose. We need him back in the bath, he’s not clean yet.”

“Oh. I mean, ‘och’.” Gimli looked thoughtful. “We could herd him in. Get the hose out and get him inside that way.”

Boromir was unaware of this argument. He was more worried about the suggestive looks he was getting from various women. So he was taken by surprise when he was hit with a blast of freezing cold water.

“Boromir! Your choice! Nice warm bath, or freezing hose-down with an audience.”

Boromir was trying to simultaneously cover his modesty with his hands, and get away from the cold water. The bath had to be better than this, and he allowed himself to be dragged back upstairs again, to be greeted by yet another fresh tub of water, the last lot having been turned brown. He turned to look at Legolas and Aragorn.

“You can get in, or we can throw you in.”

Boromir gingerly lifted his leg and dipped a toe in the water. “AAAAAAAAAAAAH! It burns! It burns!”

“Oh, sorry, I’ll run some cold in.”

When the bath had been reduced to a temperature more suited to Boromir, he sat in the bath scowling.

“Are you going to wash yourself, or are we going to have to do it for you?”

Boromir picked up the loofah and brought it to within a few millimetres of his arm and waved it up and down a bit.

“No, wash properly.”

Boromir made some grumbling noises, but proceeded to wash himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A clean, fresh scented Boromir, dressed in Aragorn’s cast-offs, was sat in the sitting room.

“We need to sort out where you’re going to sleep.”

“Not in my room.” Legolas was very firm about this. Legolas and Boromir had inhabited each other’s minds and knew rather more about each other than they ever really wanted. So they were trying to, as politely as possible, avoid each other.

“He can sleep on the sofa.”

“That’s that sorted then. Now, Boromir, how much do you know about life in the twenty-first century?”

“Licentiousness. Lack of honour. Strange machines that go ‘ping’. Fornication in the streets-”

“You shouldn’t take Pippin as an example.”

“Ok, fornication.”

“What about art and literature and culture?”

“You’d have to ask Faramir.”

“Oh, yes, there was a note on the fridge for you, ‘please, please come back Boromir, Eowyn’s being mean’.”

“Ignore it. She’ll have been pulling his hair again.”

“We need to teach you about modern life. How to cope. What you can and can’t do. I mean, for example, you can’t punch people in the street anymore.”

“You can’t?” Pippin looked genuinely shocked.

“And you can’t grope women just because they’re wearing revealing clothes.”

“Since when?” This was educational for Pippin as well.

“Reasonably frequent bathing is the norm.”

Boromir looked worried. There seemed to be a good deal of explaining left to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…and those are the basic principles of Feminism.”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”

“It’s amazing how two men as butch as Aragorn and Boromir both scream like girls.”

Frodo was exuding smugness at recalling all the basics of the ‘Feminist Theory’ evening class, while Aragorn was holding a paper bag to the face of a hyperventilating Boromir. After about fifteen minutes Boromir had calmed down, and the lesson continued.

“Wearing armour in public is regarded as odd. Carrying weapons in public is illegal.”

“Um, has Gandalf been in prison a lot?”

“Not as often as you’d think. He’s got many identities and can convince juries that he’s weak, feeble and dying.”

“But, you should try and avoid prison. I mean you might be sharing a cell with him. Last time he was Inside he managed to get four consecutive cellmates put on suicide watch.”

There was a collective shudder.

“You’ll have to remember that you’re no longer rich, powerful or noble. Remember the people who lived in the First Circle? You’re like them, now. But with much better plumbing.”

“You may be first circle, but I think I’m second circle at least.”

“Ok, lets not bicker. You’re working class now.”

“I thought this was a classless society.”

“And even if it isn’t, I think forest ranger makes me lower-middle class.”

“But we’re definitely not upper-class anymore. You can’t go round ordering people about. Well, you can, Gandalf orders us around all the time, but we ignore him. Oh, and I know this will be a disappointment, but we now have a safe water supply so you don’t drink beer at breakfast. Unless you’re Gandalf.”

“Have you noticed that all our little rules come with a Gandalf-exception clause?”

“Yes, but do you want to get close enough to Gandalf to enforce the rules of modern society?”

“A wizard is never hidebound by rules and regulations. We are free agents.”

“Except when you’re in prison.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“My spoon has holes in it.”

“It’s a fork. You don’t eat with your fingers. Use the fork to hold things down while you cut them, and then use it to transport them to your mouth.”

“It’s a girly way of eating.”

“No it’s not. It’s civilised.”

Frodo, in deference to Boromir’s sensibilities, had cooked a large amount of roast lamb, with all the trimmings and enough Yorkshire Pudding to build a small igloo.

“Vegetables? We’re eating vegetables in the twenty-first century?”

“They’re good for you.”

“We’re immortal. Why do we care? It’s not like we’re going to have heart attacks.”

“Keeps you regular.”

“In a house with a limited number of bathrooms, this can be seen as a bad thing.”

“And anyway, why sprouts? Even Legolas doesn’t like sprouts and he even likes broccoli.”

“They’re traditional.”

“Yes, but so’s the Black Death.”

“Yeah, there’s loads of vegetables we will eat.”

“Just EAT THE DAMN SPROUTS!”

Everyone looked at Frodo’s expression and dived for the sprouts. They proceeded to eat them, while making comments of ‘mmmmn, sprouts’, and ‘I’ll have a second helping’. They even ignored Boromir’s complete failure to master the technology of Fork. He tried to subtly eat with knife only.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Boromir retired to bed, or rather the sofa, confused and depressed. This modern world seemed terrible, filled with strange rules about behaviour and odd foods. He lay down. Perhaps it would be better in the morning.

His dozing was rudely interrupted though, by “And now, on channel five it’s tonight’s erotic thriller, ‘Last Temptation of the Vestal Virgins’.” There was appreciative heavy breathing from the mound of accumulated rubbish (the core of which was a deckchair), that was Gandalf’s throne.

Boromir sat up. He may not have known much about the modern world, but he knew he didn’t want to be in a situation that involved both Gandalf and the word ‘erotic’. He was going to have to find alternative accommodation.

“Aragorn… can I sleep in your room?” Aragorn had managed to sleep through the knock at the door, but not the drawn out whinging that followed it. “I don’t take up that much space and I’m sorry for calling you a throne stealer…”

“Alright then, but only if we top and tail. I know you wrap yourself around anyone you sleep next to and your breath in the morning is even worse than a horse’s and I should know.”

Boromir said ‘thank you’ meekly and slid into bed.

There was a pause. “Aragorn… are you naked?”

“No, ‘ve got boxers on, go t’sleep.”

“Boxers?” Aragorn had already fallen asleep and ignored the question.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Legolas wasn’t entirely sure where he was when he woke up. His warrior reflexes had lost their edge in the last few years and it took him a few minutes to work out what was going on if he was woken up suddenly these days. He began to piece together the information he had. It was dark and the walls were vibrating. There was a word for this, he was sure of it.

“Earthquake!”

Within seconds of his scream the shaking stopped and the rest of the Fellowship emptied out of their rooms onto the landing to investigate.

“What’s going on?”

“It couldn’t have been an earthquake, you don’t get them round here.”

“It felt like an earthquake.”

Boromir trudged out of Aragorn’s room in Aragorn’s spare dressing gown. “What earthquake?”

Aragorn appeared behind him. “Why are we talking about earthquakes?”

“Why was Boromir in your room?”

Pippin made his suggestive face. “Did the earth move for you?”

“What?”

“What?”

“There was an earthquake. A few moments ago. Then it stopped.”

“Yeah, and you don’t get earthquakes that strong here.”

“I didn’t feel any earthquake.”

“Me neither.”

“Distracted, were you?”

The innuendo bypassed Aragorn. “No, asleep.”

There was a slight pause, and some cogs whirring. “Boromir… snores like an orc with sinusitis… Aragorn… can do a passable impression of an F-16 when he’s asleep. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Frodo filled in, “that their combined snoring is creating a harmonic effect not dissimilar to that of a minor earthquake?”

“Exactly!”

“Oh, I was thinking that since we were all up we could pop out for a kebab.”

“Well, that was the second thing I thought of.”

“You can’t sleep in the same room as each other, it might cause structural damage. And even if it doesn’t, none of us are going to get any sleep. You need to maintain separation, then you won’t reverberate.”

“I’m not going back to sleep on the sofa.”

“Gandalf?”

Boromir shuddered and nodded at the same time.

“You could sleep in our room.” volunteered Pippin.

They all turned as one and looked into Merry and Pippin’s room. They saw Festering Darkness. A black hole from which no laundry ever escapes. Something growled in a corner.

“Ummm… no.”

“He can’t sleep in Gimli’s room. After Merry and Pippin got in he’s had the place booby-trapped.”

Frodo looked at Sam, who shrugged. “You can take the futon in our room. But only temporarily.”

Boromir nodded and followed them back to their room. He lay down to sleep very quickly. That amount of chintz gave him migraines.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Boromir, Frodo and Aragorn had gone out clothes shopping. Legolas and Gimli were drafting a letter to the Valar.

“Dear Elbereth – does that sound too casual for addressing a deity?”

“Och, not one you’ve met.”

“Ok. Dear Elbereth, how are you? The Fellowship are all well. Including Boromir. He seems to have reincarnated back here for some reason. I know you can take him back since you had Glorfindel bouncing back and forth between here and Valinor like an elven yo-yo. Take him back! Please. Please! Please! Yours sincerely Legolas of Mirkwood.”

“Started off well, but got a bit informal towards the end.”

“So you think I should re-write it then?”

“Just a bit.”

“But we should send the letter?”

“Yes! I don’t want Boromir hanging round here for the rest of eternity. He’s like an unholy cross between Pippin, Aragorn and my grandfather. And it’s crowded enough as it is. Och.” He added, for emphasis.

“Perhaps if I phrased it as a ‘lost and found’? Dear Halls of Mandos, we have found an unwashed reincarnated Man, do you want him back? We’ll pay the postage.”

“No, maybe if we wrote to the Valar like a formal extradition.”

“Boromir, extradited back to Valinor for crimes against personal hygiene?”

“Something like that.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Boromir, would you stop that?”

“Stop what?”

“Playing with the indicator lights while I’m driving. You’re only supposed to use them when you turn corners.”

“But it makes the dashboard light up and it makes this weird clicky noise.”

“Just leave it alone.”

Aragorn turned off into the shopping centre car park.

“You just used it.”

“Yes, it’s called an indicator because you use it to indicate what you’re about to do. You don’t just use it randomly because you like the noise it makes.”

“There’s a space there, Aragorn.” Frodo decided it was best to distract Aragorn before he tried to kill Boromir and get blood all over the seats.

Aragorn, a proponent of manly driving, drove past the space, then slammed the landrover into reverse and swung it in so fast that Frodo and Boromir were flung up against the passenger door.

“You don’t have to drive like that, you know.”

“You sound just like Legolas.”

“Well, Legolas is a very sensible person.”

“Elf. He’s a sensible elf.”

“See, you admit it.”

“Oh come on, we’ve got to get Boromir some clothes of his own and it’s only five and a half hours till the shops shut.”

Boromir was forcefully dragged into the shopping centre, Frodo and Aragorn keeping hold of his hands. This caused them to receive some strange looks, but it had been decided that it was better to keep hold of his hands because they would get even stranger looks if he was allowed to let them wander.

While Boromir was staring in horrified fascination at the bright lights and scantily clad young women, and young men for that matter, a debate was taking place.

“But we can’t get him expensive clothes. Merry and Pippin eat more when they’re unemployed. We can’t afford it.”

“But it wouldn’t be fair if we got him things that fall apart the third time you wash them.”

“How do we even know he’ll be here long enough for you to wash his clothes three times?”

“Think of it this way, you’re both about the same size, so if he goes – when he goes – you can take them back.”

Aragorn grudgingly agreed and they pulled Boromir into a shop.

“What new devilry is this?” asked Boromir.

“It’s a clothes shop.”

“No it’s not, I’ve been in clothes shops. They have fabric and strange old men with tape measures. They’re definitely not like this.”

“The principles of clothes shopping have changed since you were last here. Now they make clothes that aren’t quite the same shape and size as anyone who really exists and you have to find the ones that come closest to not quite fitting.”

“It sounds horrible.”

“I know. I miss the good old days when clothes fitted and beer actually tasted of something, even if you didn’t want to speculate what.”

“Ah, the good old days, when your clothes fitted because they’d rotted on.” Frodo stopped, clapped a hand over his mouth and looked at Aragorn and Boromir in horror. “I made Legolas’ sarcastic comment because Legolas isn’t here? Is sarcasm a communicable disease?”

There was a pause. “No, I shared a room with him for years and it never affected me. Apart from getting annoyed with him.”

“It’s almost as if I was being controlled by some malevolent higher power.”

“That’s just normal paranoia, everyone gets it.”

“Oh. Are we going for casual, smart or smart-casual?”

“What does that mean?”

Aragorn shrugged.

“I like red. What have they got in a nice dark red? What about that?”

“Boromir, that’s ladies clothes.”

“Why?”

“It just is, and if you wear that you’ll look like a drag queen.”

“What is a drag queen?”

“Ummmm… we’ll talk about it when we get home. Just stick to the things in the ‘mens’ section.”

“None of them are red.”

“You’ll just have to deal with that.”

Boromir was finally harassed into choosing some clothes. Then he was introduced to the concept of ‘zipper’ (having borrowed button fly cast offs from Aragorn). He emerged from the changing rooms looking distinctly uncomfortable.

“I hate these clothes. But they are the best they have.”

“You look great.”

“Where do I keep my sword in this?”

“We told you before. The sword stays in a box, at home, under the bed, where Gandalf can’t find it.”

The collection of shop security that had gathered behind them took note of this with interest.

“Why don’t you put back on the clothes you came in in and we’ll pay for these. We have got enough socks and underwear, haven’t we?”

There came back the reply from the changing rooms. “What do I need underwear for? I never used it before.”

“Hygiene!”

There were muttered grumblings from Boromir. They trooped over to the cash desk to pay, still followed with great interest by security.

“Hola Frodo!”

“Oh, Hola Sandra! Como estas?”

“Bien, gracias.”

Aragorn pointed an accusatory finger at her. “Who’s this?”

“Oh, sorry. This is Sandra, she’s in my Spanish conversation class. Sandra, this is Aragorn, my housemate, and Boromir… ummm…”

Sandra gave an understanding look as she put the clothes through the till. “He’s from your group therapy meetings isn’t he?” she said in a low voice, so people wouldn’t overhear.

Frodo nodded gratefully. “Yes, I, um, said I’d help him with shopping.”

“Oh, that’s nice of you. Coming to class on Tuesday? Cos me and Angela wondered if you wanted to go out for coffee afterwards.”

“Oh, yes, that’d be nice.”

Sandra finished running the credit card through, and Frodo signed the receipt. “See you Tuesday.”

As they walked out of the shop Aragorn looked at Frodo. “Conversation classes?”

“I do have a life outside the Fellowship, you know.”

“Really? None of the rest of us do.”

“Sam’s a member of the local horticultural society.”

“You live and learn. Is that where he disappears every Wednesday evening?”

“Yes. What did you think he was doing?”

“You hang round Merry and Pippin long enough, you learn not to speculate.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back at the house, Legolas and Gimli had received an unusually speedy reply from the Valar. On pink scented notepaper with flowers on it.

Dearest Legolas,

Thank you for your letter. Everyone here is well too. It is nice to hear that Boromir is settling in to the modern world so well, which is a good thing, because we have investigated his case and come to the conclusion that he belongs both alive and immortal.

Lots of Love and Best Wishes
Elbereth
XXX

“Looks like we’re stuck with him.”

“We could introduce him to Frodo’s psychiatrist. I mean, he thinks he’s been brought back from the dead, and that he’s a six thousand year old warrior.”

“But he really is a-”

“Yes, so that means he’s not going to admit to being anything else. And someone like that shouldn’t be roaming around the streets. He’ll be locked up, for sure.”

“That’s not fair on Frodo though. Means there’s less psychiatry to go around. And they might come after Aragorn as well.”

“And the problem with that would be?”

“Legolas, when they talk about the perfidy of the elves, they mean you don’t they?”

“Oh Elbereth! I’m turning into my father, aren’t I?”

A pink notelet was spat out of the fridge. Gimli picked it up and read it “Yes, you are, dear.”

“I was trying to blaspheme! And that was a rhetorical question.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That evening Aragorn and Boromir were sharing pints of ‘Curmudgeon’s Seriously Bizarre Ale’, and commiserating about modern life. They were making so much noise about this that all the rest of the Fellowship (with the exception of Gandalf and Gimli) had retired to the shed to play poker. But not, to Merry and Pippin’s disappointment, strip poker.

“Used to be heir of, of, thing. Now I’m living in a cupboard under the stairs. We didn’t even have cupboards under the stairs in Minas Tirith.”

“That’s because you had spiral staircases. They’re a complete bugger to put cupboards under.”

“And I hate modern. Hate it. I mean, take war. I liked war. Good career for a man. Show your mettle. Now it’s all from a very long way away. Not proper fighting.”

“I know, I know. No skill anymore. I got out of the war thing when gunpowder started happening. All downhill from there.”

“And all the women are like Eowyn now. It’s terrifying.”

“Noooo, some of them are like Arwen. That’s even worse.”

“Everything’s so, so, shoddy. Not built to last.”

“I know. I build things from the flat-pack and then they fall apart the next week.”

The conversation continued on the same theme for some time, bemoaning the lack of something, the decline of something else, and so on. As the amount of beer consumed increased they gradually became less coherent, more maudlin and less vertical.

The others came back from the shed, doing the complex mathematics required to work out exactly how much they all owed Legolas. This was not helped by Legolas demanding his metaphorical winnings be in Euros.

Legolas saw Aragorn and Boromir comatose on the floor, and formed a plan, but one for which he would have to have Gimli’s help.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning the Fellowship was greeted with an unusual sight in the kitchen.

“Why is the fridge chained shut? And why is all the food in buckets of water? And what’s that thumping sound?”

Legolas folded his arms. “Boromir came in through the fridge. He can make his way back out through the fridge.”

“I don’t think he’s going back. And he wants to come out, by the sounds of it.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Pretending to be deaf is not convincing, coming from an elf.”

Aragorn tried to sidle past Legolas to open the fridge, but a hungover Ranger is no match for an unnaturally chirpy elf. He found himself pinned to the floor.

“Lets be reasonable. We need to use the fridge. Boromir does not seem to be leaving the fridge. We have to let him out.”

“No.”

“He’ll suffocate.”

“He’s been in there three hours. If he was going to suffocate he would have done so by now.”

“If you leave him in there for long enough he will die. Of hunger or hypothermia. Then we’ll have to deal with the body.”

“He’s immortal. Not a problem.”

“He’ll get really, really pissed off. And he’ll tunnel his way out. And then go after you.”

“Because I’m soooo scared of Boromir.”

The argument rambled on. Meanwhile, the hobbits were utilising cunning. Pippin had ventured forth, deep into the recesses of his room, between the peaks of the Forgotten Laundry, past the valleys of the Lost Dishes, battling the fell beasts evolved from last week’s takeaway, to the fabled Sock Graveyard. There he lifted the most fearsome sock-corpse he could find, using salad tongs to keep it at arm’s length.

The sock was brought out and placed in the sock launcher, a thing constructed of wooden rulers, elastic, rubber bands and garden canes. They sneaked to the door of the kitchen.

“Range – three metres.”

“Three metres, check.”

“Elevation – thirty seven degrees”

“Thirty seven degrees, check.”

“Wind speed – negligible. Fire at will.”

“I thought we were firing at Legolas?”

“Oh, good grief. Fire at Legolas.”

The sock was launched. The accuracy of the sock launcher could have done with some work, since it sailed past his left ear, but the virulence of the odour was enough to knock him out.

Boromir was released from the fridge and revived with large amounts of sweet tea.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A week passed. Boromir was adopted back into the Fellowship, with all the arguing, hatred, petty jealousies, plots, violence and bickering about washing up that this entailed. Legolas’ attempts to remove Boromir from the house had failed. Poisoning him had just made him feel ill.

Then, at 3am in the morning, after a particularly horrible nightmare about being molested by schoolgirls on the train, while trying to explain to Elrond exactly why he was dressed as Heidi, inspiration struck.

He bounded downstairs, and, for the first time in about a year, voluntarily spoke to Gandalf.

“Do you want rid of Boromir?”

“Yes. Keeps talking over all my soaps, turns off the erotic thrillers. Last week, he broke my tape of ‘Xena: Warrior Princess: What They Don’t Show You On TV’. Do you know how rare that video is? And, much as I enjoy making your life a living hell, he manages to be more annoying than you are.”

“I have a plan. I know you are more powerful than you make out. I want you to return to Valinor.”

“No. I like it here.”

“Only temporarily. Tell the Valar when you get there, that they can either keep you, or swap you for Boromir.”

“Do you think it’ll work? I don’t want to be stuck there. I hate their bridge parties.”

“Believe me, neither do the Valar. It shouldn’t be a problem.”

Gandalf looked thoughtful, then nodded. “Just let me get together my magazines, and I’ll be off.”

And so it came to pass that at breakfast there was a flash, the sound of a celestial choir, the smell of burning rubber and a lot of swearing. As the smoke cleared it could be seen that where Boromir had been sat there was now Gandalf, apparently unconscious, with a note pinned to him.

Fine. You win. We take Boromir back. But try and pull one like that again and there will be righteous and vengeful smiting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Epilogue.

Frodo looked on anxiously as the workman examined the fridge. There was the obligatory sucking of air through the teeth.

“Ah, see here? That’s where your problem is. Coolant’s got down here, into the mechanism and created a portal into the Other Realm.”

“Can you do anything about it?”

“I can do you a quick fix now, but it won’t last. Happens a lot with these models, that’s why they don’t make ‘em anymore. Best bet’s to buy another one, soon as you can. I mean, you were lucky, it got posessed by someone you knew. I can tell you some tales about vengeful spirits in fridges I can.”

“Does this problem affect any other models?”

“Not that the manufacturers’ll admit. I’ll give you the names of some I know are good.”