Image adapted from Schlüsselbein2007
Continued from Part 1
As a hobbit private eye, I’ve seen every hard-luck case walk through my office door: trolls needing lurid photographs for a divorce case; eldar lords needing a skip trace on a delinquent wizard. But they were all homely librarians compared to my latest client: a multiple personality anorexic in a loincloth holding me at gunpoint. And, no, it wasn’t the loincloth holding the gun.
“We intends to search your offices, Bramble Fardbottom,” he said. “We warns you that if you attempt to prevents us we shall certainly shoot you, gollum, gollum!“
I let him turn my office upside down and, predictably, he found nothing.
“Where is it?! Where is the precious?!” he screamed.
“I told you, Mr. Lorre, I don’t have it.”
“Peter Lorre! He thinks we looks like Peter Lorre, precious!” He jabbed his .38 into my ribs. “Come. We’re going to see the Fatman.”
Twenty minutes later we arrived at the Middle Earth Hotel, a swanky high rise for high rollers looking to spend God’s money in ungodly ways. Peter Lorre marched me into the penthouse suite, a room large enough to fit another hotel. Seated by the fireplace was the man of the hour: the Fatman — a rotund blob of flesh in its late 40’s with a bird’s nest for a beard. He looked up from the book he was reading and smiled, like some evil host of Masterpiece Theater.
“Mr. Fardbottom,” said the Fatman jovially. “So good of you to come. I’m Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson.”
“So you’re behind all this,” I said. “I told your gunsel that I don’t have this ‘precious’ that he’s all worked up about.”
Jackson chuckled. “Not ‘precious’, Mr. Fardbottom, but the ring.”
“The ring,” I said as it all started to click inside my head. “That seems to be a rather popular item lately.”
“Quite. You were hired this afternoon, were you not, by a lovely young Elfish woman by the name of Tinúviel with regards to the ring?”
“That’s right,” I said.
“So…” he held out his hand, “the ring, if you please.”
“I haven’t got it.”
Jackson frowned. “That is unpleasant news. I don’t like to receive unpleasant news, Mr. Fardbottom.”
“Then why don’t we skip to the sports section?” I swung my fist at Peter Lorre and sent him flying over the sofa. I started toward Jackson when I noticed a heater had magically appeared in his hand.
“A valiant effort,” he said. “Shall we dispense with the games and get back to business?”
“Look, I don’t even know what the hell this ring is all about.”
“Then allow me to educate you,” he said. “The One Ring is the most powerful ring in all of Middle Earth. One of its many powers is the ability to make one invisible.”
“If you want to be invisible, why not just make another Frighteners?”
Jackson scowled and continued. “The ring also offers great power to whomever should possess it. It gives its owner–“
“–The power to rule the world?” I interjected.
Jackson shook his head. “Lucrative merchandising rights. Movies, T-shirts, video games, graphic novels, Comic-Con appearances — the ring is a veritable cash cow. You see what I’m getting at, Mr. Fardbottom?”
“I’m beginning to,” I said.
“I derive all of my power from the ring. I am powerless without it.”
“I know,” I said. “I saw King Kong.”
“Yes,” Jackson frowned. “But to truly understand the power of the ring, one must understand the history behind it…”
Jackson walked over to the bookshelf and pulled out a large, hard-bound volume.
“This is The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien,” he said. “It is the history of Middle Earth. Allow me to read it to you so that you may understand why I seek the ring.”
“Actually, I’d rather–“
Jackson began reading aloud: “Ainulindalë, The Music of the Ainur… There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar…”
I went out like a light.
I awoke hours later to find Jackson and Lorre had left me all alone. It was rather clever of Jackson to slip me that literary mickey. My temples were throbbing, my head was spinning… I hadn’t felt that lousy since reading The Da Vinci Code.
Just then there was a knock at the door. I found my gat and got on my feet. Another knock.
“Who is it?”
“Mmfrefrr…” said the voice on the other side.
I quickly opened the door. It was a Dwarf in a dark overcoat and a fedora pulled down over his face, carrying a large bundle wrapped in shredded newspaper. He was bleeding under his coat.
“The ring…” sputtered the Dwarf, and he fell face first on the floor, dropping the bundle.
I examined the body. He was dead all right — shot in the belly. In one of his pockets were three strands of golden hair. I picked up the bundle and began to rip it open. I searched for the contents, seemingly to no avail. Then I found it. It was a ring.
“I’ve got it…”
The wailing sounds of police sirens grew louder from outside. Not wishing to explain the situation to Johnny Law, I quickly pocketed the dingus and made my way out from the fire escape.
About thirty minutes later I arrived at my apartment. I turned the lights on and saw Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson pointing a gun at Tinúviel.
“Bramble…” whimpered Tinúviel. The poor kid was in tears.
“Ah, Mr. Fardbottom,” said Jackson. “As you can see, we’re all here. Come in, sit down, be comfortable.”
I felt something jabbing me in the back and turned around. It was Peter Lorre playing Wild West again with his .38.
“Now, if you please, Mr. Fardbottom,” said Jackson. “Hand over the ring.”
To be concluded…