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Bored of the rings, a parody of J. R. R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings by Henry N. Beard and Douglas C. Kenney of The Harvard Lampoon - старонка 3


It was, nevertheless, a splendid party, decided Frito, as he dodged a flying hamhock. Great pits had been dug simply to accommodate the mountains of scorched flesh the guests threw down their well-muscled throats, and his Uncle

Dildo had devised an ingenious series of pipelines to gravity-flow the hundreds of gallons of heady ale into their limitless paunches. Moodily, Frito studied his fellow boggies as they noisily crammed their maws with potato greens and jammed stray bits of greasy flesh into their jackets and coin-purses "for later." Occasionally an overly zealous diner would fall unconscious to the ground, much to the amusement of his fellows, who would take the opportunity to pelt him with garbage. Garbage, that is, that they weren't stowing away "for later."

All around Frito was the sight and sound of gnashing boggie teeth, gasping boggie esophagi, and groaning, pulsating boggie bellies. The din of the gnawing and munching almost drowned out the national anthem of the Sty, which the hired orchestra was now more or less performing.

"We boggies are a hairy folk Who like to eat until we choke. Loving all like friend and brother, And hardly ever eat each other.

Ever hungry, ever thirsting, Never stop till belly's bursting. Chewing chop and pork and muttons, A merry race of boring gluttons.

Sing:Gobble, goggle, gobble, gobble,

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.

Boggies gather round the table, Eat as much as you are able. Gorge yourselves from moon till noon (Don't forget your plate and spoon).

Anything edible, we've got dibs on, And hope we all die with our bibs on. Ever gay, we'll never grow up, Come! And sing and play and throw up!

Sing:Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble,

Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble!"

Frito wandered past the rows of tables, hoping to find the squat, familiar figure of Spam. "Gobble, gobble, gobble . . . he murmured to himself, but the words seemed strange. Why did he feel so alone amidst the merrymakers, why had he always thought himself an intruder in his own village? Frito stared at the phalanxes of grinding molars and foot-long forked tongues that lolled from a hundred mouths, pink and wet in the afternoon sun.

At that moment there was a commotion at the head table, where Frito should have been sitting as a guest of honor. Uncle Dildo was standing on his bench and making motions for quiet, wishing to make his after-dinner speech. After a flurry of jeers and the knocking together of a few heads, every fuzzy, pointed ear and glass eye strained to catch what Dildo had to say.

_My fellow boggies_, he said, _my fellow Poops and Peristalts, Barrelgutts and Hangbellies, Needlepoints, Liverfiaps, and Nosethingers_. (Nose_fingers!_ corrected an irate drunk who, true to his family name, had it jammed into his nostril to the fourth joint.)

_I hope you have all stuffed yourselves until you are about to be sick_. This customary greeting was met with traditional volleys of farting and belching, signifying the guests' approval of the fare.

_I have lived in Boggietown, as you all know, most of my life, and I have developed opinions of you all, and before I leave you all for the last time, I want to let you all know what you have all meant to me_. The crowd

yelled approval, thinking that now was the time for Dildo to distribute the expected gifts among them. But what followed surprised even Frito, who looked at his uncle with shocked admiration. He had dropped his pants.

The riot that followed had best be left to the reader's imagination, lame though it may be. But Dildo, having prepared by prearranged signal to touch off the fireworks, diverted the rage of the townsboggies. Suddenly there came a deafening roar and a blinding light. Bellowing with fright, the vengeful boggies hit the dirt as the cataclysmic tumult thundered and flashed around them. The noise died down, and the braver members of the lynch mob looked up in the hot wind that followed at the little hill where Dildo's table had stood. It was not there any longer. Nor was Dildo.

"You should have seen their faces," laughed Dildo to Goodgulf and Frito. Safely hidden back in his hole, the old boggie rocked with gleeful triumph. "They ran like spooked bunnies!"

"Bunnies or boggies, I told you to be careful," said Goodgulf. "You may have hurt someone sorely."

"No, no," said Dildo, "all the shrapnel blew the other way. And it was a good way of getting a rise out of 'em before I left this burg for good." Dildo stood up and began making a final check of his trunks, each carefully addressed "Riv'n'dell, Estrogen." "Things are getting hot all over and it was a good way to start getting them off their obese duffs."

"Hot all over?" asked Frito.

"Aye," said Goodgulf. "Evil Ones are afoot in--"

"Not now," interrupted Dildo impatiently. "Just tell Frito what you told me."

"What your rude uncle means," began the Wizard, "is that there have been many signs I have seen that bode ill for all, in the Sty and elsewhere."

"Signs?" said Frito.

"Verily and forsooth," replied Goodgulf darkly. "In the past year strange and fearful wonders I have seen. Fields sown with barley reap crabgrass and fungus, and even small gardens reject their artichoke hearts. There has been a hot day in December and a blue moon. Calendars are made with a month of Sundays and a blue-ribbon Holstein bore alive two insurance salesmen. The earth splits and the entrails of a goat were found tied in square knots. The face of the sun blackens and the skies have rained down soggy potato chips."

"But what do all these things mean?" gasped Frito.

"Beats me," said Goodgulf with a shrug, "but I thought it made good copy. But there is more. My spies tell me of black musters gathering in the East, in the dead Lands of Fordor. Hordes of foul narcs and trolls have multiplied and every day red-eyed wraiths skulk even unto the borders of the Sty. Soon there will be much terror in the land from the black hand of Sorhed."

"Sorhed!" cried Frito. "But Sorhed is no more."

"Don't believe everything you hear from the heralds," said Dildo gravely. "It had been thought that Sorbed was forever destroyed at the Battle of Brylopad, but it appears this was just wishful thinking. Actually he and his Nine Nozdrul slipped out of the mopping-up cleverly disguised as a troupe of gypsy acrobatic dancers. Escaping through the Ngaio Marsh, they pushed their way into the suburbs of Fordor, where the property values dropped like a paralyzed falcon. From Fordor they have been renewing their strength ever since."

"His Dark Carbuncle of Doom has swollen and soon will come to a head, covering the face of Lower Middle Earth with his ill humors. If we are to survive, the boil must be soundly lanced before Sorhed begins his own loathsome squeeze play."

"But how can this be done?" said Frito.

"We must keep him from the one thing that can mean victory," said Goodgulf. "We must keep from him the Great Ring!"

"And what is this ring?" said Frito, eyeing the possible exits from the hole.

"Cease thy eyeing of possible exits and I will tell thee," Goodgulf reprimanded the frightened boggie. "Many ages ago, when boggies were yet wrestling with the chipmunks over hazel nuts, there were made Rings of Power in the Elven-Halls. Fashioned with a secret formula now known only to the makers of toothpastes, these fabulous Rings gave their wearers mickle powers. There were twenty in all: six for mastery of the lands, five for rule of the seas, three for dominion of the air, and two for the conquering of bad breath. With these Rings the people of past ages, both mortals and elves, lived in peace and grandeur."

"But that only makes sixteen," observed Frito. "What were the other four?"

"Recalled for factory defects," laughed Dildo. "They tended to short-circuit in the rain and fry one's finger off."

"Save the Great One," intoned Goodgulf, "for the Great Ring masters all the others, hence is now the most sought by Sorhed. Its powers and charms are shrouded in legend, and many works are said to be given to its wearer. It is said that, according to his powers, the wearer can perform impossible deeds, control all creatures to his bidding, vanquish invincible armies, converse with fish and fowl, bend steel in his bare hands, leap tall parapets at a single bound, win friends and influence people, fix parking tickets--"

"And get himself elected Queen of the May," finished Dildo. "Anything he pleases!"

"This Great Ring is much desired by all, then," said Frito.

"And they desire a curse!" cried Goodgulf, waving his wand with passion. "For as surely as the Ring gives power, just as surely it becomes the master! The wearer slowly changes, and never to the good. He grows mistrustful and jealous of his power as his heart hardens. He loves overmuch his strengths and develops stomach ulcers. He becomes logy and irritable, prone to neuritis, neuralgia, nagging backache, and frequent colds. Soon no one invites him to parties anymore."

"A most horrible treasure, this Great Ring," said Frito.

"And a horrible burden for he who bears it," said Goodgulf. "For some unlucky one must carry it from Sorbed's grasp into danger and certain doom. Someone must take the ring to the Zazu Pits of Fordor, under the evil nose of the wrathful Sorbed, yet appear so unsuited to his task that he will not be soon found out."

Frito shivered in sympathy for such an unfortunate. "Then the bearer should be a complete and utter dunce," he laughed nervously.

Goodgulf glanced at Dildo, who nodded and casually flipped a small, shining object into Frito's lap. It was a ring.

"Congratulations," said Dildo somberly. "You've just won the booby prize."

II

THREE'S COMPANY, FOUR'S A BORE

"If I were thee," said Goodgulf, "I would start on thy journey soon." Frito looked up absently from his rutabaga tea.

"For half a groat you _can_ be me, Goodgulf. I don't remember volunteering for this Ring business."

"This is not the time for idle banter," said the Wizard, pulling a rabbit from his battered hat. "Dildo left days ago and awaits you at Riv'n'dell, as will I. There the fate of the Ring will be decided by all the peoples of Lower Middle Earth."

Frito pretended to be engrossed in his cup as Spam entered from the dining room and began tidying up the hole, packing up the last of Dildo's

belongings for storage.

"Lo, Master Frito," he rasped, pulling a greasy forelock. "Just gettin' the rest o' the stuff together for your uncle what mysteriously disappeared wi'out a trace. Strange business that, eh?" Seeing that no explanation was forthcoming, the faithful servant shuffled off into Dildo's bedroom. Goodgulf, hastily retrieving his rabbit, who was being loudly sick on the carpet, resumed speaking.

"Are you sure he can be trusted?"

Frito smiled. "Of course. Spam's been a true friend of mine since we were weanlings at obedience school together."

"And he knows nothing of the Ring?" "Nothing," said Frito. "I am sure of it."

Goodgulf looked dubiously toward the closed door of the bedroom. "You still have it, don't you?"

Frito nodded and fished out the chain of paper clips that secured it to his tattersall bowling shirt.

"Then be careful with it," said Goodgulf, "for it has many strange powers."

"Like turning my pocket green?" asked the young boggie, turning the small circlet in his stubby fingers. Fearfully he stared at it, as he had so many times in the past few days. It was made of bright metal and was encrusted with strange devices and inscriptions. Around the inner surface was written something in a language unknown to Frito.

"I can't make out the words," said Frito.

"No, you cannot," said Goodgulf. "They are elvish, in the tongue of Fordor. A rough translation is:

"This Ring, no other, is made by the elves, Who'd pawn their own mother to grab it themselves. Ruler of creeper, mortal, and scallop, This is a sleeper that packs quite a wallop. The Power almighty rests in this Lone Ring. The Power, alrighty, for doing your Own Thing. If broken or busted, it cannot be remade If found, send to Sorhed (the postage is prepaid)."

"Shakestoor, it isn't," said Frito, hurriedly putting the Ring back in his shirt pocket.

"But a dire warning nonetheless," said Goodgulf. "Even now Sorhed's tools are abroad sniffing for this ring, and the time grows short before they smell it here. It is the time to set off for Riv'n'dell." The old magician stood, walked to the bedroom door, and opened it with a jerk. With a heavy crash, Spam fell forward ear first, his pockets full of Dildo's best mithril-plate tablespoons. "And this will be your faithful companion." As Goodgulf passed into the bedroom, Spam grinned sheepishly at Frito with a lop-eared stupidity Frito had learned to love, futilely trying to hide the spoons in his pockets.

Ignoring Spam, Frito called fearfully after the Wizard.

"But--but--there are still many preparations I must make! My bags-" "Have no worry," said Goodgulf as he held out two valises. "I took the precaution of packing them for you."

The night was as clear as an elfstone, sparkling with starpoints, as Frito gathered his party in the pasture outside the town. In addition to Spam, were the twin brothers Moxie and Pepsi Dingleberry, both of whom were noisome and easily expendable. They were frisking happily in the meadow. Frito called them to attention, wondering vaguely why Goodgulf had saddled him with two tail-wagging idiots that no one in the town could trust with a burnt-out match.

"Let's go, let's go!" cried Moxie.

"Yes, _let's_," added Pepsi, who promptly took one step, fell directly on his flat head, and managed to bloody his nose.

"Icky!" laughed Moxie.

"_Double_ icky!" wailed Pepsi.

Frito rolled his eyes heavenward. It was going to be a long epic. Gaining their wandering attention, Frito inspected his companions and their kits. As he had feared, his orders had been forgotten and everyone had brought the potato salad. Everyone except Spam, who had stuffed his knapsack with sleazy novels and Dildo's tablespoons.

At last they set off, following Goodgulf's instructions, along the yellow-brick Intershire Turnpath toward Whee, the longest leg of their journey to Riv'n'dell. The Wizard had told them to travel at night unseen along the side of the Path, to keep their ear to the ground, their eyes peeled and their noses clean, the last directive weighing rather heavily on Pepsi, under the circumstances.

For a while they walked along in silence, each lost in what passed in boggies for thought. But Frito was especially troubled as he considered the long travels ahead of him. Though his companions frisked gaily along, playfully kicking and tripping each other, his heart was heavy with dread. Remembering happier times, he hummed and then sang an ancient dwarf-song he had learned from the knee of his Uncle Dildo, a song whose maker had lived before the dawn of Lower Middle Earth. It began:

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, It's off to work we go,

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-heigh, Heigh-ho, heigh-ho . . .

"Good! Good!" yipped Moxie.

"Yes, good! Especially the 'heigh-ho' part," added Pepsi.

"And what do you be callin' that?" asked Spam, who knew few songs. * [* Clean ones, at least.]

"I call it 'Heigh-ho,' " said Frito. But he was not cheered by it.

Soon it began to rain and they all caught colds.
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