The Lord of the... whatever, Book IV, Chapter 2:
The Passage Of The Marshes
Spiegel moved languidly, with her bust thrust forward so hard that
Frodo thought that surely her upper back must ache like sonofabitch,
which it did. Sam was in a fix: hand in Frodo's hand, Frodo's thumb
caressing; eyes on Spiegel's bosom; and mind ferociously on Rosie, Red
Rosie, Revolutionary Rosie. Rosie with the athame and hands as swift as
Spiegel glanced at Sam and felt satisfied. She started down the path
towards the marshes, her small yet shapely bottom drawing Sam's eyes
like Playboy magazine draws adolescent boys and televangelists. The
cat-calls from two passing joggers on their way towards the fast-food
joint below proved that it wasn't just Sam: Spiegel was not as abhorrent
as she thought herself.
Two hours later they were gorging cheeseburgers and french fries.
Spiegel would at first take only a few fries and a bit of salad from one
of Sam's burgers. "Gulible, you really should eat some more," said
Frodo. "You look starved." Looking guiltily at Frodo, the stick-thin
hobbit-girl replied in song:
The greasy food
upsets my mood
it swells my bod.
I'm grossly big
I look a pig
I feel a clod.
I always feel ---
"Ha! ha! What does we feel?" she said, looking furtively at the two
men. "We'll tell you," she whispered. "He told me years ago, Baggins
told me when I was just a little girl." A shudder shook her body, and
Sam catching the look in her eyes felt a sudden sympathy welling in him.
Nose like a hat;
Always starving, ever growing;
Look like needing tugboat towing;
Never noticed till he said:
Boys would always want me dead!
Menfolk laugh behind my back
'Cause I waddle like a sack!
That's what Bilbo Baggins told
When I was just ten years old ---
Suddenly Sam understood poor Spiegel's troubles. A self-starver, an
anorexic little girl. How beautiful and popular could she have been!
Even in her emaciated state she was attractive. With her green eyes and
hair that when washed and tended would be a shock of flaming red, she
should be the proverbial man-killer.
That was the deciding moment for Sam as far as old Bilbo Baggins was
concerned: with just a few comments to an impressionable little girl,
just to while away some tedious afternoons probably, this rich bastard
had shattered this poor working-class (Sam's assumption) girl's
self-confidence... oooh, Sam couldn't wait for the revolution.
Frodo felt a little of the same. He didn't notice that she was (to a
straight man) beautiful, but he felt her shame and knew how unneeded it
was. He looked at Sam. "Don't look at me," he whispered. "I know as
well as you that Bilbo should not have said such things."
Loudly he said to Spiegel: "Look, old Bilbo is my uncle. I know him
better than you do. He is full of bovine refuse. You should have heard
those language lessons I took from him... you are not fat!"
"Yes, we isss!"
"No, you issn't! Here, have a hamburger!" He handed her a
quarter-pounder with extra cheese. Doubtfully she took it, and nibbled
a single crumb.
"Ack ack phbttt! Trying to poison poor Gulible they are, dumb
menfolk! Grease and fat, Spiegel cannot eat that!"
"Come on," said Sam. "Try it. Give it a chance. Frodo is right:
you are thin as a twig. Ten of those would do you good - ten each day
for a month. We aren't teasing you!"
"Yes you isss! Baggins said we iss fat as a hippo in a butter
"And another Baggins says otherwise," Frodo replied. "Why believe in
him and not me?"
"Becaussse he isss straight!" The look in Spiegel's beautiful eyes
Frodo shrugged, not noticing Sam opening his mouth and shutting it
again. "Have it your way then, fatso," he said.
This being the last restaurant for several days, the hobbits bought
several packs of vacuum-packed hamburgers in a nearby supermarket. Then
they started towards the marshes. At first they followed a tourist
trail, but this soon veered aside, and they left it. They were in the
"I have been here before," said Spiegel. "Hobbit-mens should be
careful. There are alligators here. They don't touch me, because I'm
too fat: I bet their cholesterol count soars at the sight of us."
"No, they won't eat you because gators eat meat and not sticks and
wire with blobs of fat on them," replied Frodo, without noticing the
hurt look that this produced in Spiegel. Sam noticed, and his hate
against the upper classes increased another notch.
Some time later, when Frodo was passing hraka behind a bush, Sam
tried again to explain to Spiegel that she was not fat. "Have you heard
about anorexia?" he asked.
"Yes. What's that got to do with us? Only thin people who think
that they are fat have it!"
"Have you looked in a mirror?"
"No! We hates mirrors!"
"You cannot honestly think that you are fatter than me and Frodo!"
"Yes we are! Look!" She grabbed a fold of skin between two fingers.
"Look like the Michelin man, we does! Like a stack of car tyres. Truck
"There is no fat inside that fold," said Sam. Spiegel turned away
and would not answer.
"Spiegel, why do you always refer to yourself as 'we'?"
"Because we are so fat that if ever we went by plane, we would have
to buy two or three tickets. And boy would we be in trouble if they
were not adjacent! Baggins said so."
"How would that old coot know? He's so rowdy once he's had a drink
or two that every airline has him on a file - they refuse him whenever
he tries to buy a ticket. They've had enough of him!"
At nightfall they made camp. Frodo took out the gas burner and
inexpertly lit it. Then he put a grille inside a thick-walled pot and
put three hamburgers on it. Soon a somewhat delicious smell spread.
For a while Sam tried to convince Spiegel that she was not fat, when
suddenly she relented. With a look of terrible revulsion on her face,
she wolfed down a hamburger, and then two pounds of lettuce. Sam
whispered to her: "And please don't sneak off and throw that up!" After
a moment of thought he added: "You won't be a good girl if you do."
Spiegel, the eyes of her mind upon Frodo's camera, sighed and curled up
Some hours later she woke up, finding the camera placed next to her.
The other two were gone, but from behind some densely leaved bushes came
a quiet, rythmic rustling. Heart pounding, she grabbed the camera and
sneaked over to the bushes. Quietly she peered over them, then put the
camera to her eye.
And then lowered it with a sigh. Midnight and a low half moon are
not the perfect lighting for photographing without a flashlight, and
that was not an option.
The next morning Sam asked her if she had got a few good snaps that
might be used for some revolutionarily useful extortion. She returned a
brief explanation. Sam thought for a moment.
"Hey, Frodo. I think we should stop travelling during the day.
Spiegel says there are evil things about. Evil things with eyes, and
they report to Minas Tirith. It will go ill with your Núrnenshire
hovel, er, estate if they get their hands on that deed." Frodo, by
now trusting Sam totally, made no objections.
Sometime later that day, Spiegel got some interesting snaps among
That evening Sam lit the gasfire.
"Won't those Minas Tirith-spies see that gaslight?" asked Frodo.
"No," replied Spiegel. "For one thing, it is difficult to see that
little flame in broad daylight. For another, marsh-lights can often be
seen around here."
Frodo looked at Sam, who nodded. A little later, Sam convinced
Spiegel to have another hamburger, with extra cheese. They were out of
green stuff, but she ate tomato slices instead. Two pounds of them. At
nightfall they packed their things and got started.
"What did you do that for?!" Sam's voice was angry. "Had a change
of preferences? Suddenly like women again now?"
Frodo chuckled. "Not in a lifetime. Just wanted to see that lard
"Spiegel, don't pay that rich slavemaster no attention! Just like
his father Bilbo, he is. It's just one of them simian alpha-male
power-displays that that family is so fond of. They'll be up against
the wall the both of them one of these days, and you can be in the
firing squad!" The girl, sobbing quietly, threw him a glance but said
The night was dark, but not altogether so. Civilization was far
behind them, and they were in a trackless land. But miles and miles
away the lights of civilization were strong enough to illuminate the
tops of the reeds even here: billboards, headlights, roving searchlights
reflected off the clouds. As they walked deeper into the marshes,
further from these lightsources, the night became darker. Then the sky
turned pale in the east, and the mountain fences of Mordor glittering
with pinpoint lights showed faintly against it. They made camp next to
a wide mere. Now they were deep into the marshes. The ground was wet.
The rustling reeds were tall, but there were no bushes. To Sam's
relief, Frodo judged that they could have no privacy from Spiegel here.
"The reeds would rustle too much," he whispered coyly. "They would sway
like clusters of flagpoles in a gale. They would..." Sam closed his
ears to the rest.
Twice that day they cooked hamburgers. During their first meal, Sam
coaxed Spiegel into having an entire quarter-pounder. "She already
looks healthier," whispered Frodo to Sam. "Yes, really swelling," he
added more loudly. Spiegel maintained a stony look. At their second
meal they had to go without any vegetable stuff - she had eaten their
onions, a whole pound of them, and her breath was not very nice for a
while. More than once that day she had had the screaming hrakas.
Sam failed to convince her to have a second burger in lieu of the
vegetables that she had followed up her previous three burgers with. At
nightfall they set out.
Suddenly they stopped and shrank. It was foggy. Out of the air came
two distant voices.
"You are not killing that fine man, hear? Such a handsome, fine,
strong, noble, handsome man! I saw him in the trailer. I think it was
"But I did kill him!"
"He was not last seen dead!"
"But my plotline demands that he be dead! It's my story after all!"
"And this is my skillet!" <clong>
"Ow! You silly old crone..." <boing BOINK>
"Say it! Say he'll return to the story!" <clang>
"Okay, okay, hon..."
"Letting that fine man die and the miserable creature that stabbed
The two voices trailed off. Frodo shivered. "What was that? I feel
a strange and uncanny foreboding." The other two shrugged. Then the
trio continued onwards through the marshes.
"Aaah!!" Frodo's panicky shriek rang through the night. The other
two turned like tops to face him. "There is a dead man! A dead man in
the water! With weeds in his hair!" He was staring into a wide pool
with several marshlights shining near the bank where he was standing.
"That's strange," replied Spiegel, approaching him with apprehension.
Sam cast a look at the dimly lit figure. "It's the corpse of a man
alright. C'mon. He's nothing to do with us. Why haven't the
alligators got him?"
"It looks like..." Frodo muttered to himself, unable to extricate
himself from the sight. He bent down closer to the corpse.
With a splash a strong arm shot out of the water. Before anyone
could react, Frodo was grabbed by the tunic, dragged into the water, and
a shadow rose up out of it and pinned the wildly thrashing hobbit to the
muddy bottom. A mad fierce gleam was in his eyes. The marshlights
shone like Griswold Christmas lights. It was the man in the water, and
he was alive!
"Boromir! Boromir!" cried Sam. "You're alive! But I saw
him kill you!"
Boromir did not reply, until Sam reached out from the bank and
grabbed him by the shoulder. Then he pushed Sam back with one hand,
still holding Frodo down with the other.
"Yes!" he cried. "That he tried! First he will take the Ring to the
enemy who would devour us all, land and slaves being his promised
wages, and then he tries to kill me! And then the others lash me to a
raft and send me down the Rauros falls!"
Frodo's struggling grew weaker. A burst of bubbles came from his
mouth. Then Boromir drew his sword and pierced the drowning hobbit
through the chest, to the hilt.
At dawn they stood on the bank of the little lake in the middle of
the marshes, not watching the feast of the alligators. On the ground
lay pieces of wet confetti. "Lies," said Boromir, no longer, as he
cast down the last bits of paper. They looked like chads. "Lies of
Tyrannosauron and of El Rond. And this," he fingered the Ring, "goes
straight into the fire. To Mount Viagra! It is an instrument of
oppression. Are you with me, Sam, revolutionary Sam?" Pointing at the
red froth of the alligators: "Is something like this not what you
dreamed of all the time? I noticed the razor blade in his eggs!"
"You...you're the son of the Steward," said Sam. "Yes, I can't say
that I disapprove. Except for the signs at the tourist trails about not
feeding the litigators. But you?"
Boromir sighed. "I was always secretly uneasy about the
corporate-feudal oppression that my family inflicts on the people. Then
that little brat put his sword in me. I had drawn sword against him a
few moments before, I must admit..."
"Oh did you? Well, that opened my stomach. But what really opened
my eyes was what happened after. Bleeding like a pig I fought against
orcs, and they could not stand against me. They clove my horn, but they
couldn't touch me! The survivours ran off, and I believe Lego-lass and
Giggly had their share of them. If orcs it was: there was a strange
metallic gleam on them that was not armour. They didn't bleed much when
I made great gashes in them with my sword, and what little blood came
was black. Orc blood is as red as ours... but I fell exhausted with the
wound that Frodo had given me. And then... and then..." Greater rage
gleamed in his eyes. "Aragon pretended that I was dead. He questioned
me, and when Giggly and Lego-lass came, he lied and said that I was
dead. The other two believed him, even though I spoke and protested!
They knocked me cold, and when I woke up I was tied to a raft and
drifting off the Rauros.
"How I survived I cannot explain. The fall into the churning bowl
broke the raft into nearly sawdust, and I was free. I was unable to
swim, but grabbed a larger piece of wood and drifted down the river,
until I was washed up on the east bank. That Aragon is so wimpy at the
sight of blood that he had closed my stomach-wound crudely with some
rings from the chain-mail of an orc (or whatever it was), and that saved
my life then. Otherwise my intestines would be trailing the length of
the river by now ---
"I lay on the riverbank. Happily the sword-thrust had gone in at the
diaphragm, and missed the gullet and lungs and heart and intestines and
that. That Frodo was tall for a hobbit, and I had been bending forward.
It was the dirt on the blade that nearly finished me off, not so much
the wound itself. An old woman found me and carried me into a hut. She
saved my life. She didn't speak. She kept a large and battered skillet
in her hand most of the time... Then when I woke up and knew that I was
going to live, the hut, the bed and the woman were gone. I lay on
fronds near the river. I was dizzy with fever, even when I became
stronger, and I staggered blindly for days, until I stumbled into that
pool there. I nearly drowned. I put my head on a submerged tussock so
that my nose just stuck out of the water.
"Then I look up, and guess who is looking down at me! And the rest
you saw with your own eyes. Who is she?"
"This," said Sam indignantly, "is Spiegel, nicknamed Gulible. She
was convinced by Bilbo Baggins when she was little that she was fat
and ugly. She's been an anorexic ever since." Spiegel looked at
Boromir with shy yet gleaming eyes. "And that Frodo didn't help much
either!" Boromir looked at her with sudden sympathy.
"Ugly? You're not ugly!"
"Yess..." There was a hesitant note in the thin girl's voice.
"Come on, girl. I'm partial to men myself, and shall not deny it;
but I know when a woman is pretty and when she is ugly. And you are
The light dimmed in Spiegel's green eyes, but was not altogether
"Frodo was gay himself," said Sam, grabbing Frodo's camera and
tearing out the film. There was no need for it anymore.
"Was he now?" replied Boromir. "Well, an asshole is an asshole, no
matter his taste in holes!"
Two days later they emerged from the marshes. They were out of
hamburgers, for Boromir was a large man, recovering from a wound and an
illness, and Spiegel was eating much too, ballooning out towards a
normal size. This was land that was largely controlled by Sauron (whom
they wanted to avoid), but Gondor's agents walked among the
Mordorian neon glitz, disguised as tourists. They were now the enemies
of the eldest son of the Steward, and would remain so even if Aragon
toppled Boromir's father from power. Accordingly Sam and Boromir didn't
dare show themselves, but sent Spiegel to do some shopping. By
nightfall they had a cold meal in a little dell. The ground was covered
in more than a foot of garbage thrown by careless tourists. After the
meal they started walking towards the Gates of Mordor, brightly lit by
megawatts of neonlights.
Spiegel walked between the two men, the tall Boromir and the
her-sized Sam. She was happy. For the first time since she was ten she
smiled and was happy. Sam thought her dazzling. She told them:
"Between you you have cured me of my anorexia."
"Glad to hear it, dear."
"Only one thing mars my happiness. Well, two things. One of you is
gay, and the other has a fiancée. I can't have neither of you." She
Boromir sighed. "Well, it can't be helped. But you are a pretty
girl. You should have your pick of men, once we are in decent lands."
"I have never been to decent lands," she replied.
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