21. Rivendell Nine to Five: 1
At 10 this morning, Elrohir and I drove dad and Erestor to the airport. Much awkwardness ensued. Nobody really knew what to say. As we stood in the boarding pass queue, dad went over for the hundredth time how the thermostat worked. I didn't really pay attention. I figure that if it breaks, I'll ring somebody to fix it, and that's good enough. Erestor warned Elrohir for the hundredth time not to mess with the fridge settings, because the fridge is very temperamental. Elrohir promised that he wouldn't, but I knew that as soon as we got home he'd start poking around at it, because Elrohir is just like that.
Erestor went through security first, had his nail file confiscated, and disappeared down a corridor. Dad hugged Elrohir and me goodbye, reminded us that the car needs an oil change, and followed Erestor. There is a very real possibility that I will never see dad again, and my final mental image was about to be him bending down to hike up his socks. But then he remembered that he still had the car keys in his pocket, and came racing back out to toss them to me from across the security checkpoint. So now my final mental image of dad will be him with a panicked look on his face, tossing me the keys to the Mazda over a Plexiglas wall.
Just to be sure they hadn't forgotten anything, Elrohir and I waited around in the airport for an hour until the plane took off. He wanted to buy a plastic model airplane from one of the souvenir shops, but as I am now the responsible adult, it was my duty to stop him. I let him buy an airplane-shaped chocolate instead. Then we headed out to dad's car, which is now my car, and drove back to dad's house, which is now my house. Just because we could, we stopped and picked up pizza for dinner on the way home.
This is every Elf's dream come true. My parents and all parentalesque cohabiting adults have finally moved to Valinor. I am not sure what they plan to do in Valinor, but at least they're gone. Erestor once said something about working at a golf course. That sounds about right for them. Anything that involves bad fashion and discount golf should make them happy.
Elrohir and I spent the afternoon being lazy and enjoying our freedom. I didn't bother going in to work. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing at work most of the time, so chances are I didn't miss anything and nobody missed me. Instead of work, I sat on a raft that Elrohir made out of pool noodles and floated around the deep end with a glass of lemonade. Erestor never let us make pool noodle rafts, as he didn't approve of using string in conjunction with pool toys, and dad always forbade the use of glass dishes outdoors and especially forbade the drinking of beverages in the pool. But seeing as they were in a plane somewhere above the Shire, there was nobody to stop me. Elrohir put one of the vinyl deck chairs in the shallow end. When he sat down, he was at exactly the right height so that only his head was above water.
We were both too lazy to cook supper, so we had pita bread and ice cream bars. Dad and Erestor rang from the Grey Havens to let us know the flight went well. They'll ring again from Eldos tomorrow. After I assured dad that everything was fine around the house, he asked to speak to Elrohir. I told him Elrohir was in the bath. That was a lie, as Elrohir was actually just downstairs getting another box of ice cream bars from the deep freeze, but I didn't want to give dad the opportunity to find out about our pool foolery. Elrohir's big mouth could always cause dad to change his mind and hop on the first flight back home.
After dad disconnected, I came to settle down for the night in his room, which is now my room. It looks pretty empty. I suppose I never really noticed how big this room is, since it's always been filled with random things and out of date furniture. I may have to stay home from work tomorrow, too, just to get everything sorted out in here.
Rang Lindir at the office this morning to tell him I wasn't coming in. I gave a vague excuse, like I needed some time off to look after some things now that dad's gone. He said he understood completely, and told me not to bother coming in for the rest of the week. I was happy when he said that, but now that I think it over, he may have been insulting me. Did he mean he understood completely that I was just skiving off work for no good reason? And did he tell me not to bother coming in because he knows I'm useless? I would consider going in to work just to try to find out, but I don't think I'm that dedicated. I'd rather stay home and dink around with household organisation.
The first task was to move all of my stuff from my old room into my new room. My new room is much larger than my old room, so now I should be able to display my stuff in a less cluttered way. I'll need to get some new furniture first, though. Half of the stuff in here is hideous, and the rest dad wants me to ship to Tol Eressëa for him. I might take Elrohir to Ikea some day soon. I still have that gift certificate Arwen gave me. But for now, the charming décor of boxes full of stuff I'm not even sure is really mine will have to do.
The second task was to get rid of all of dad's remaining stuff. The back of his closet is full of boxes that he didn't have time to sort through before he left. He gave us instructions to give away anything we don't think he'll need, and to ship him the rest. I went through most of the boxes with Elrohir, and we're pretty sure he won't need any of it. We found a veritable goldmine of useless crap, and made up a song about it. It went something like:
On the twelfth day of moving, the closet gave to me:
Twelve ancient road maps,
Eleven dusty records,
Ten pairs of dress shoes,
Nine macramé books,
Eight expired passports
Seven bags of clothing
Six creepy spiders
FIIIIIIIIIIIVE O-OOOOOOLD LAAAAAAAMPS!!!
Four 8-track tapes
Three broken stools
Two half-knit sweaters
And a box full of bells shaped like Elves!
Apart from these treasures, we also found some things that were just plain bizarre, like a single water buffalo horn wrapped in twine, a framed caricature of Gil-galad boxing with an alligator, a four-foot-long stuffed and mounted fish, a mandolin missing half its strings, and the biggest bright orange sheepskin I've ever seen in my life. To me, this stuff just screams "garage sale". But when dad rang from Eldos (sounding very tired), he whined that many of those old things had sentimental value. He wants me to ship him the mandolin and the picture of Gil-galad. Also the box of bells shaped like Elves. That's Erestor's prized collection. I should have known.
But I think I'm going to sell the rest of the stuff. I'll get Elrohir to help me go through all the boxes in the basement tomorrow to find more for our sale.
The garage sale will be next weekend. We have far more stuff than anticipated. Elrohir and I spent all of yesterday and most of today going through the basement boxes, and we're still not done. But on the plus side, at least most of it is going in the "sell pile". Actually it's more of a "large sell area that takes up a good portion of the basement floor". I don't think it's going to fit into the garage. We might end up having a driveway sale instead.
Tomorrow I think we might have to go through the sell pile and sort it further into "sell" and "chuck". Because really, the more I think about it, nobody's going to want an 8-track player without a power cord, or a broken Fiommereth tree stand.
I went to work today. Nothing important had happened in my absence, so I had nothing to do. Now I know for sure I am the most incompetent leader in the history of Elvish leaders. I know people always accuse politicians of not knowing what they're doing, but I really don't know what I'm doing. I think it may have been a mistake for dad to appoint me as his successor.
This term so far has been a political gong show. The only thing I have accomplished as Beloved Leader of Rivendell is to pass a bylaw prohibiting the use of all gas-powered or electric lawn mowers, weed trimmers and other loud gardening gadgets between the hours of 10 pm and 9 am. It happened completely by accident one day in August when dad didn't bother coming to work and put me in charge. All I did was obliviously sign a bunch of papers, and the next thing I knew Lindir was congratulating me on finally standing up to inconsiderate lawn-care fanatics. I think he was the one who proposed the bylaw in the first place. One of the residents on his street is an insomniac who runs a landscaping business.
Since I didn't know what else to do today, I spent some time on the telephone with various other world leaders. That's what politicians do in movies. Though I suppose in movies they're discussing urgent national security threats or something. I was just having casual conversations with Aragorn, grandpa, and Thranduil. Aragorn told me that Arwen is trying to get pregnant and he is trying to not get Arwen pregnant, which was a bit too much information. Grandpa told me about all the new old timer clubs he might join now that grandma's moved to Tirion and he has free time to fill. Thranduil asked if I'd seen Legolas, who I guess is missing again.
The conversations took me up until lunch time. After lunch, I had to find something else to do, so I made various appointments to get things around the house ready for winter. The furnace and water heater inspector is coming on Thursday, the pool draining team on Saturday, and a landscaping consultant next Monday. I'm not really sure if I needed the landscaping consultant, but I was bored and the company had a catchy banner in the phone directory.
When I got home, Elrohir had made breakfast sausages and pancakes for supper. Then we went to go sit in the pool, even though it was ridiculously cold outside, just because we only have a few days of pool time left.
I think today just might have been the worst day ever.
It started at breakfast. Elrohir was sitting across the table from me, annoyed that I'd gotten him out of bed so early, even though I clearly explained that he had to be awake when the furnace inspector showed up. He made a big show of yawning loudly to prove how tired he was, then somehow managed to sprain his jaw yawning and sneezing at the same time. I had to take him to the emergency room and wait around until he was assessed by a doctor (who did nothing but tell him to take some Advil for the pain) then drive him home. I was three hours late for work. And when I got in, there was an irate message on my voice mail from the furnace inspector, complaining that there was nobody home when I had clearly promised him that somebody would be. Now I'm going to be on the furnace inspection blacklist, and will probably die of carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty furnace ducts!
I decided to take two bowls of soup from the office dinner buffet since I had missed breakfast due to Elrohir's stupid jaw. I'm not sure how, but this caused a problem with the computerised dinner card system. Apparently my dinner card only allows me one bowl of soup or vegetable tray per day, one sandwich or hot entrée, one salad, one bun, one beverage, and one dessert. Swapping my dessert option for a second soup bowl is not allowed. But I was also not allowed to put the soup back, because I had already salt and peppered it. The dumbfounded cafeteria cashier had no idea what to do. He had to call for the cafeteria manager. The manager clearly stated the rules, only one bowl of soup per employee per day, and returning food to the buffet once it has been placed on a tray is not allowed, but he did not say what I should do. By this time, everyone in the queue behind me was glaring and shuffling restlessly.
The manager made me stand to the side until a solution could be reached. None of the kitchen staff had any ideas. I loudly suggested that since I am the head of the entire government I should be allowed two bowls of soup without all this hassle, but as usual nobody listened to me. Nobody ever listens to me! I had to wait until Lindir came down for dinner. I gave him my second soup bowl, and went off to sit in a corner and angrily eat dinner by myself. It didn't work. Lindir came and sat down across from me and spent the next half hour discussing civil servant salary increase percentages over the past century.
Some time over the dinner hour my watch battery must have died, because I was twenty minutes late getting back to my office, and therefore twenty minutes late getting to my meeting. The meeting was to discuss employee dinner card policy. Everyone in the room took my tardiness as a sign of disinterest in the topic, which was anything but true. As a result, nobody paid attention to my passionate plea that dinner cards come pre-loaded for a certain cash value, not item quantity, so that employees could choose to have two bowls of soup and no dessert if that's what they want. I could have cried when the vote passed to make no changes to the dinner card workings.
I left work right after the meeting was over. I couldn't handle it any more. Also, I needed to stop by the mall and get a new battery for my watch. I walked all the way into the department store jewellery counter, only to discover I'd left my watch in my coat pocket, which was in the car. I walked all the way back out to the car, only to discover that I'd locked the door and left the keys in the ignition. Almost cried again. At least I had my wallet in my trouser pocket. I walked back into the store and just bought a new watch. Then had to go to an ATM to withdraw $20, then had to go to a bank branch to get the $20 made into change for the bus. Took the bus to the tram station, and took the tram home. Only the tram stop nearest home was closed for construction, so I had to go all the way to the zoo and then walk all the way back, up the big hill. Meanwhile, I discovered that the strap on my new watch is faulty. And I can't return it because I cleverly left the bag with the receipt on the jewellery counter.
At this point I was just too tired and frazzled to go back to the mall and fetch the car. So I sent Elrohir in a cab with the spare keys. He just got back fifteen minutes ago. The car is covered in mud and has a rubber cactus on the radio antenna. I didn't ask.
I am seriously thinking of going to bed right now and not getting up for a week.
No yard sale today either. I'm not sure where it all comes from, but the basement is full of things. Rollerblades that used to belong to Arwen. Chess boards with no chess pieces. Records that run at 78 rpm. A shuffleboard table. Rolls of old shag carpet. Coffee mugs that say things like "Sportek Yoga Retreat 2762". And then all the photo albums. It feels wrong to just chuck out all those pictures, but what else am I supposed to do with them? There are almost two hundred photo albums in boxes down there. Most of them are from the Second and early Third Age, since mum and dad sort of stopped taking pictures sometime around Arwen's high school graduation (I think that's when their camera broke, and they never bothered to get another one).
Some of the photos are good for a laugh. There's an entire album full of the wild antics of Lindon. Six whole pages are devoted to one game of Twister. Then there's another album of mum and dad's wedding, and the clothes alone are enough to bring out a few snickers. I still can't believe dad got married in a chocolate brown corduroy suit, and mum in a shiny minidress. No wonder the marriage didn't last.
I think I may take the easy way out and just ship them all to dad. Then the burden of overwhelming photo storage will be on him.
I was really looking forward to a quick swim after toiling all day amid dusty boxes in the basement, but then I remembered that the pool workers were draining the water and winterising the system. So instead I got to sit on a deck chair with a beer and watch them. It wasn't quite as satisfying. The pool men treated me with surly contempt. I think it was because I didn't offer them a beer.
Yard sale has been postponed until next summer, due to a freak blizzard and a sudden abundance of snow. So I've given up on the cleaning and sorting for now. All the junk can sit as-is in piles in the basement until June. Nobody really uses the basement anyhow, except to store things that are soon forgotten and never used again.
With no sorting to do, I took Elrohir to Ikea to help me pick out new furniture. This was probably the dumbest mistake ever, because the snowed-in roads were packed with maniac drivers skidding all over the place. It took us almost an hour to get there, after three near misses and almost being run off the bridge by a swerving bus. We had to sit in the Ikea restaurant and have bad Ikea cappuccino to soothe our nerves. Actually, I had to sit in the Ikea restaurant. Elrohir thought the drive over was highly exciting, and couldn't wait to try our luck on the way home.
We walked through the whole store, and Elrohir wanted to buy almost everything we saw. Anything remotely impractical or bizarrely-shaped, he recommended. Yet he turned his nose up at my reasonably stylish selections. I'm sorry, but I just have no use for a plastic chair shaped like a bean or a spherical coffee table. I want a usual-type comfortable padded chair and a usual-type flat-topped coffee table. One that matches my no-nonsense bookcase, dresser, and end tables. Elrohir got angry and said that I never listen to what he says, and that I shouldn't have brought him along if he wasn't needed. I told him he was needed to help me carry the boxes out to the car, but I guess that wasn't what he had in mind.
As a compromise, and to get him to stop making a fuss in the middle of the lighting showroom, I promised he could redecorate the basement all by himself, no questions asked, once the junk was removed. That seemed to make him happy. But just to be sure, I bought him an ice cream cone on our way out.
Next time I'll know better, and buy pre-made furniture from a pre-made furniture store. It may be more expensive, but the absence of hassle is worth it. The Ikea pieces are still unassembled, still leaning accusingly against my wall. The vague instructional drawings are no help at all. The diagram shows there are supposed to be holes and pegs, but the pegs just plain don't fit where the holes are. And Elrohir is useless; he keeps putting the bookcase together with shelves upside-down. I was forced to post a notice on the cork board by the drink machine at work: "Will pay $50 to anyone who can successfully assemble Ikea products". I saw some of the interns eyeing it as I left, so with any luck one of them will be a carpentry whiz.
A girl named Taleryn is coming by tomorrow to assemble the Ikea furniture. I'm a bit worried about having a girl do it, but she was the only one who rang to offer her services. I hope she knows what she's doing and doesn't just want to try to scam an easy $50.
Taleryn called round at four, and by five-thirty I had three fully-assembled pieces of Ikea furniture. And she did it all without power tools. I was duly impressed. I gave her the $50 plus a generous tip. Elrohir invited her to stay for supper. I'm fairly sure this was because she's conventionally cute and wearing a tight shirt, and not, as he claimed, because he'd made too much weird crap for supper and knew I wasn't going to eat it all.
We sat down at the table and he gave us each a plate of some strange-looking brownish goo. I asked what it was. He said, "A delightful blend of potato and turkey, chopped, mashed, smothered in gravy, infused with stuffing, seasoned with salt and pepper, combined with our special top-secret cabbage salad, stirred until smooth, deep fried, drizzled with hot barbeque sauce, and served on a crisp leaf of lettuce for your satisfaction." I still didn't know what it was. And it tasted sort of like charcoal.
Taleryn is coming back tomorrow after work to play Nintendo with Elrohir. Apparently she's really good at City Connection. I wouldn't know. I wasn't allowed in the den with them after supper to witness the high scoring.
I hate my job. I hate work in general. I hate being a responsible adult!
Today at work Lindir almost choked to death on a blue whale. Now he's trying to get me to support his ridiculous wish to sue the candy company. I told him that was the dumbest thing I'd ever heard. I mean, I know I've heard far dumber things from Elrohir in the past, but saying "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard" has so much more power than saying, "That's approximately the fifty-sixth dumbest thing I've ever heard." So I exaggerated a bit. Now he's angry at me for disrespecting his dumb lawsuit desires. I'm sorry, but I can't help it. And quite frankly, I'd be embarrassed to get up in front of a judge and tell everyone how I almost died eating a blue whale. That's just silly. Everyone knows blue whales have to be eaten responsibly.
Tomorrow I'm going to the bank to see how much money I have and how long I can survive without a job if I quit this one. I'm sadly guessing not long enough for my liking.
Sweet Holy Varda. I never realised how much money government employees make.
I stopped by the bank after work, checked my account balance on the ATM, and almost fainted when I saw the balance. I thought it had to be some sort of crazy error. There was an extra fifty thousand dollars in there!
I rang dad straight away when I got home. I asked him how much money I made in my current job, and he said, "Somewhere in the range of $370 thousand." Hearing that made me drop the phone.
Alright. So, after some careful consideration, maybe I don't hate work so much after all. I mean, they pay me well enough for what I have to endure. For $370 thousand per year, I think I can force myself to put up with an awful lot.
I took Elrohir shopping to help me spend some of my ridiculous salary. I figure it'll be a lot easier to cope with the trials and tribulations of being a world leader if I have the biggest, best television money can buy to come home to and relax in front of after a hard day's work.
We drove up to a high-end electronics store and had the salesman give us his whole pitch and demo. We watched part of a racing movie on the Panasonic 42-inch and part of a cartoon on the Sony 50-inch before the salesman told us that if were REALLY serious about our television use, we'd have to check out the Toshiba 52-inch. He let us sit in the viewing room, and we watched a short documentary about tropical fish, with surround sound.
We ended up going for the 52-inch, wide-screen, flat-panel, wall-mountable, HDTV-ready 52-inch Toshiba plasma television with virtual surround sound, AND an actual surround sound 5-disc DVD home theatre system (with speaker stands), AND the component cables, AND an RCA switch box so Elrohir can hook up all his video game systems at once, AND a four-year extended warranty plan. The whole package cost nearly ten thousand dollars. But since it'll take me less than two weeks of sitting on my arse behind a desk to make that money back, I didn't really care.
I tried to put it all on my Visa, forgetting that my Visa only has a $3000 limit. Felt a bit like a dork when the charge was rejected. Had to use my bank card instead. I think the salesman lost a considerable amount of respect for me. First thing Monday before work, I'm stopping by the bank and applying for one of those platinum Visas like Glorfindel has. The kind with a $50.000 limit.
Spent the day with Elrohir and the new television. We had to take turns on it. First I watched the news, because it was my television, then Elrohir played Grand Theft Auto, then I watched an old movie on cable, then Elrohir beat Chrono Trigger again, then we watched horse jumping live from Gondor.
We both agreed that regular full-screen shows look terrible on a wide-screen television. So now we have to get digital cable, and those expensive wide-screen and HDTV channels, to maximise the viewing experience. I rang the company to order the best package they offer. A cable man is calling round on Friday to install everything.
Had a hard time getting out of bed this morning and going to work. It is the fault of the new television. It made me stay up until four-thirty watching game shows. You really get into the game shows when the surround sound makes you feel like part of the studio audience.
I went to the bank at lunch to see about a platinum Visa, and while I was there, I also asked about a car loan. With my newfound financial surplus, I don't much feel like driving dad's old Mazda any more. I need something fancier. Something more like a person who makes $370 thousand per year would drive. Something with heated leather seats and a sun roof. And a personalised license plate.
Elrohir and I went looking at cars. Once again, we let the salesman go wild with his pitch of what we should look for and what he thinks we need. According to him, we need a full-size sedan with heated leather seats and a sun roof, along with automatic everything and a computerised navigation system. After test driving it, I'm inclined to agree.
"It" is a big shiny white Ford 500. Elrohir wanted to get something foreign, or something like a movie star would drive, but I'm wise to him. If I get something that he likes, he'll borrow it, get iced tea stains on the upholstery, scratch up the paint, get a dent somewhere, wrap the bumper around a concrete pole, break the radio antenna, and cause the rear-view mirror to fall off. He has already done half these things to the Mazda, and dad's only been gone a month. The Ford 500, though, looks like a car grandpa would buy. So with any luck Elrohir will think it's uncool and refuse to drive it.
It costs almost fifty thousand dollars. I've never spent that much money on anything in my entire life. I almost chickened out and ran back to the safety of the Mazda, but the car salesman already had all the papers ready, and all I needed to do was sign my name and write the date where the little yellow sticky tab pointed...
I still have to go back tomorrow and work out the details, but within 24 hours I should have a new car. One that Glorfindel wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in.
After work I picked up Elrohir, drove to the car lot, and drove away with my new fancy grandpa-type sedan. Now Elrohir can bang up the Mazda all he wants, and cover it with dumb bumper stickers and tacky novelty license plates and frames. As long as he doesn't bang it into my new prized possession, I don't care.
But as I was driving home, I started to notice something peculiar. Everyone around me was driving very carefully. Normally on Memorial Drive, if the posted speed limit is 70, they all go 80 or more. But now it was the safe side of 70 all the way. Nobody cut me off. Nobody honked or gave me the finger. Nobody suddenly slammed on the brakes. All headlights and turning signals were in proper working order. I even saw a woman hastily fasten her seatbelt. I was beginning to think I was in a Twilight Zone episode or something, but then I pulled into the driveway behind Elrohir, and as he got out of the Mazda he said, "Man, I thought you were a ghost car following me!"
So my new car looks like a cop car. It's true. I sat in the Mazda and had a look. Sure enough, if I were driving in front of me, I'd think I was a ghost car, too.
Now I have to figure out if this is a good or a bad thing. I mean, it's nice that people suddenly become courteous drivers when I'm around, but on the other hand, I'll probably get annoyed next time I'm late for work and need to push the speed limit.
I rang dad tonight to tell him about the new car and television situation. He said it all sounded very nice, but didn't I think I should be a bit less frivolous about my financial situation? I said, "Dad, last week you told me I made $370 thousand a year. I can afford to be frivolous." He replied, "Yes, that's true, but you also need to remember that your income tax will be around 35%. Then there's municipal and property taxes, and bills for energy, electricity, water, insurance..."
It was about then that I started to get a horrible feeling in my stomach. I weakly asked, "How much is 35% of $370 thousand?" He hmmed to himself before replying, "Well, last year I think I paid just under $100 thousand in income tax. But then I had deductions for your and Elrohir's tuition, charitable donations, and RRSPs. Without those, it would have been closer to $130."
A HUNDRED AND THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS IN INCOME TAX?!!!
Is this government INSANE?! I mean, I know I AM the government, but still! That's ridiculous! And unnecessary! And unexpected! And above all, stupid! Why should I pay myself $370 thousand dollars if I just have to pay $130 thousand of that right back? Wouldn't it make sense to just pay myself less in the first place? I am going to have to see Lindir about this on Monday. He is the only person I know who understands how stuff like this works. Because I sure don't get it.
I went to Lindir's Balathin party last night, so I had a chance to talk to him about income tax while he was arranging pumpkin-shaped cheese cut-outs on a tray of melba rounds. He explained to me that income tax was first started in Hithlum by Fingon as a way to finance the Siege of Angband back in the First Age, and it was such a useful way for governments to collect funds that it's been around ever since. And while that was an interesting piece of trivia, it really didn't help with my dilemma. I had to ask him outright how I was expected to scratch up $130 thousand dollars in time for April.
Lindir assured me I wouldn't. Mainly because I would only have three months of my new salary on this tax year. But even next year, a portion of each pay cheque goes to taxes automatically, so the following April I might end up actually having to pay an additional $70 thousand or so. ONLY $70 thousand he said! Alright so that's better than $130, but really...
Still, the talk with Lindir helped me relax a little. And made me realise the great importance of accountants. Now I know why dad likes Erestor so much. I'm starting to miss him myself. At least he probably would have had a decent costume. Taking financial advice from Lindir, dressed as a lawn gnome, was a bit surreal.
The rest of the party was bland but bearable. Watching slightly tipsy co-workers bob for apples was interesting, but not in a makes-me-want-to-join-in kind of way. I mostly stood by the stereo speakers, where the spooky sound effects CD was too loud to permit idle conversation, and drank fruit punch spiked with vodka and gummi spiders. Only a few people talked to me all night. I'm not sure if it was because they were intimidated by my awesomeness and political power or because they didn't get my costume. I was dressed as the four basic food groups. Elrohir helped me make it out of an old duvet cover, construction paper, and clingfilm. I had wanted to be Fingolfin, but I couldn't find the Ringil I made in props class.
When I got home, just before midnight, Elrohir and Taleryn were heading out to a party of their own. Taleryn was wearing a Playboy Bunny costume. She didn't seem embarrassed that I, her boss, saw her in it (climbing into my former car, no less). Elrohir was wearing cowboy boots, ripped jeans, a shiny gold tank top, a knee-length leather jacket with a skull made out of masking tape on the back, a fedora, and an eye patch. I had to ask what he was supposed to be. "A zombie pirate," he answered. I said, "Oh, right," and pretended I knew what he was talking about. To tell the truth, he looked more like a novice trailer park vampire.
They didn't come home until twenty after four. I know this because I was watching Evil Dead 2 on the big plasma screen when they came in and told me to leave because Event Horizon was on channel 46 at four thirty and they wanted to watch it. I had to finish watching Evil Dead 2 on the 13-inch television-video combo in my bedroom. It seemed so small and inadequate in comparison.
Today at work there was a costume contest, pot luck snacks in the twelfth floor lunch room, and inter-office trick-or-treating. Of course I knew nothing about any of this, so I showed up in my regular dumb work suit with no snacks and no candy to give out to my co-workers. People should TELL me these things! I obviously missed an important memo, because even the new interns knew what was going on.
After having to turn two devastated city councillors and the Minister of Justice away from my office with no treats, I decided I'd better get with the program. I ran down to Super Drug Mart, where I bought a cheap Dwarf costume-in-a-bag (rubber helmet, plastic axe, nylon beard) and two boxes of orange-filled Oreos for the pot luck. They were out of boxed treats, but in that moment I was inspired. I ran all the way to Beer Land on Fourth Avenue and bought as many miniature bottles of Bailey's as the stock room could give me. The spotty desk clerk asked me if maybe a few big bottles wouldn't be a better value, but I explained that the little bottles were for trick-or-treaters. He gave me a frightened look. I almost added, "At the office," but thought better of it. Him thinking I'm giving alcohol to kids is a story to tell his friends, but him knowing I'm actually using it for party-like work purposes might be a story to tell one of those anti-government newspapers. People already think government workers waste enough time and money. I don't need word of this foolery getting out.
Anyway, work was better than usual by virtue of the fact that nobody was working and the whole building was in chaos. The civil servants' union leaders all got together to decorate the Receiver General's office with toilet roll while he was down trick-or-treating in the mail room. As a result, I was afraid to leave my own office, so I collected no candy. But it worked out well, because word of the miniature Bailey's bottles quickly spread, and by noon the line to my office door was backed up as far as the elevators. My supply was depleted within the hour. I made the last few people sing for their alcohol. One of the Junior Ministers knew all the words to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song; she was wearing a very well-made Shredder costume. I had to borrow Lindir's camera to take a picture, because I knew this was something Elrohir would appreciate.
At three I went down to the lobby for the costume contest (taking care to lock my office door: no toilet roll for me, thanks), wearing my crappy Dwarf outfit. Luckily, most other people were also wearing cheap drug store fare (Nazgûl, Orc, Hobbit, Lothlórien chamber maid, rubber Balrog mask), so I fit in fairly well. Shredder won third prize. One of the janitors, dressed as Duff Man, took second, and first prize went to a group of three secretaries dressed as anime schoolgirls. Personally, I liked Duff Man better, but the judges were all dirty old men who leered openly at the anime girls' prominent boobs, short skirts, and pink wigs.
And that was about all the workish fun and excitement I could handle for one day, so after the costume prizes were awarded I raced home as fast as I could (not that I could go very fast at all with everybody slowing down when they saw my cop-like grandpa sedan) to help Elrohir get the house decorated and the pumpkins carved in time for non-alcoholic trick-or-treaters tonight. Elrohir had stopped by the Safeway and picked up far more candy than we could possibly give out to a thousand or more kids, and two pumpkins. I didn't even try to interfere with his pumpkin artistry. I just hollowed the dumb things out for him. He's not very good at pumpkin hollowing. He always leaves the little stringy bits that catch on fire.
Now our front window has a Balrog pumpkin and a Sauron pumpkin. I hope they work to frighten some of the kids away. I don't really feel like answering the door much. And I'm enjoying the candy too much to want to give it away. I've already finished off seventeen miniature Kit Kats and two handfuls of foil-wrapped chocolate eyeballs.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.