A parody of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien mixed with 1960s America.
by Ivy Miller
Belba Buggins was not looking for an adventure. She was looking for a husband. Not that she needed a man, to be clear. It was just that without a husband, Belba couldn’t get a loan for a house. Nor could she get a credit card or take advantage of the tax benefits. Her secretary position could only get her so far, although her male co-worker (who did not do nearly as much work for their boss as she did—at least not during work hours) seemed to do pretty well for himself. Of course, that could be because he was paid twice as much as Belba was, but the point was, Belba needed a husband.
Upon attempting to buy a pipe for herself, Belba was told they were for men and so she got a cigarette holder instead, like movie stars had in the pictures. She was trying it out in her flower garden when a tall older woman in a drab grey dress and a hideous matching pointy hat came along. She carried with her a staff. Belba had never seen a woman with a staff before.
“How do you do?” Belba said in greeting.
“How do I do what?” the woman asked.
“I mean, how are you?” Belba explained.
“How am I what?” the woman asked.
“I mean, are you having a good day so far?” Belba said carefully.
“Well, why didn’t you say so?” the woman asked. “Yes, my day so far has been agreeable.”
Belba frowned. This woman, she thought, was decidedly disagreeable, but it would have been unladylike to say so. Perhaps the woman was on her period, although upon further study of the woman, Belba thought it was perhaps more likely the woman was going through menopause. Either way, Belba had no desire to speak with her and waited for the woman to be on her way. Instead of leaving, the woman took out a longer, shinier cigarette holder which held five cigarettes at a time and lit all five.
“Can I help you?” Belba asked.
“Very well,” the woman said. “You’re lucky I had that job opening.”
“Job opening?” Belba repeated.
“Yes. I’ve been looking for a thief and you’ve got the job.”
“A thief!” remarked Belba. “I already have a respectable job as a secretary, thank you very much!”
“Thief is the only respectable career for a lady,” the woman declared. “No other job will allow a woman to be respected, except perhaps for murderer. But that one can be messy.”
“Murderer!” Belba exclaimed. “Now see here, I will not have such horrible things said in my garden! Who do you think you are?”
“My dear Belba Buggins, do you not remember me?”
Belba blinked. Had she met this disagreeable woman before? She could not recall.
“You were a child, but surely you cannot have forgotten my fireworks at the Marabella Carnival?”
That certainly refreshed Belba’s memory. She couldn’t help but to gasp as she pointed at the woman before her.
“Hannalf the Horrible! Didn’t they burn you at the stake for witchcraft after that?”
“They did,” Hannalf admitted, looking none too pleased, “which is why I no longer make fireworks for hobbits.”
At this point it should be noted that Belba Buggins was a hobbit, and she took offence to this.
“Not all hobbits,” she said, “will burn a witch at the stake for producing fireworks.”
Hannalf the Horrible rolled her eyes.
“Well of course not. I never said they would. You’ll have to listen more carefully if you want to be our thief.”
“Our thief?” Belba repeated. “Who else will I be working for?”
At this point, Hannalf smiled because Belba had not refused the offer.
“I have hired you on behalf of thirteen dwarves whose husbands have been stolen by Maug, the dragon. You are to steal the husbands back.”
Belba did not like the sound of that. She couldn’t get herself a husband, much less steal thirteen husbands from a powerful dragon.
As if guessing what Belba was thinking, Hannalf said, “Buck up now! It will be an adventure!”
And as stated in the first sentence, Belba Buggins was not looking for an adventure. However, having stumbled across one, she thought perhaps it would be nice to have something that did not first require a husband.
Hannalf the Horrible introduced Belba to the thirteen dwarves on the morning they planned to leave. Thea was the leader of the bunch.
“She’s the queen of the dwarves,” Hannalf said. “She doesn’t even need a husband that badly. She just fell in love.”
The other twelve dwarves were called Nessa, Tessa, Kerry, Cherry, Jasmine, Yasmine, Lilly, Milly, Hilly, Ashley, Amelia, and Alyson and were each important in their own right. They were excited to go on the adventure and hoped to get their husbands back, too.
“My advisors said it would be too dangerous for thirteen women to cross the country to fight a dragon, but no one else volunteered,” Thea said. “They only agreed to it if I got a thief to do the actual thievery. That’s why you’re here.”
“But I’m a woman, too,” Belba said.
“It may be dangerous for thirteen women, but I’m sure fourteen will do the trick. We couldn’t have a man come along anyway. He’d just be taken by the dragon, too.”
Thea was saying all of this while the rest of the company were getting onto a bus Thea had rented for the trip. Finally it was Thea and Belba’s turn. There were two spots left right near the front when Belba followed Thea onto the bus.
“Where will Hannalf sit?” Belba asked.
“Hannalf isn’t riding with us,” said Tessa.
As soon as she said it, Hannalf rolled up outside Belba’s window on a shiny black motorcycle. Over her drab dress she wore a leather jacket with “Hannalf the Horrible” embroidered across the back, and attached to the top of her helmet was a tiny pointed grey hat, identical to her regular-sized one. Without even looking at the bus, Hannalf revved her bike and shot off down the highway.
“Won’t she get there before us?” Belba asked.
“Nah,” said Thea. “We’re only taking this bus as far as the airport. We’re flying on Eagle Airlines.”
The thirteen dwarves and Belba were going up the mountain at the top of which Maug resided with all the stolen husbands.
“My heels were not made for this!” Hilly complained. “They’re Prada!”
Behind her, Milly tripped and tore her stockings. “Maug will have hell to pay!” she growled.
Thea sighed. “Ladies, did I not say we would be hiking? Why didn’t you prepare yourselves better?”
Amelia was checking her lipstick in a compact. “That’s why I wore flats,” she said lifting her skirt to reveal her shoes so the rest of the company could see how prepared she was.
An hour and many blisters later, all fourteen of them arrived at Maug’s mansion. They stood at the gate, looking in.
“Now what?” Belba asked.
Thea looked at her. “Now you go and steal our husbands from that nasty lizard!”
Belba gulped. “Does she really look like a lizard? Perhaps she just needs a better moisturizing cream.”
“Go get our husbands!” Thea said. “We’ll be in those bushes if you need us.”
Before Belba could object, Thea and the rest of the dwarves ran and hid in the bushes Thea had pointed to. Belba took a deep breath. She wondered if the gate was locked, so she took hold and pulled. Nothing happened, so she let go and the gate swung inward a few inches. Embarrassment at trying to open the gate the wrong direction made Belba’s ears red. She went in and up to the front door. To her surprise, it was also unlocked when she tried it. In fact, she was so surprised that she didn’t even go in, and soon a dwarf man came by and spotted her standing there. He wore a bathrobe and had a cup of coffee in hand. Under his arm was the morning paper.
“Who are you?” he asked through his thick moustache and beard.
“I’m Belba,” said Belba. “Who are you?”
“I’m Prince Henrick of the dwarves.”
Hearing this, Belba became excited.
“Oh good! I’m here to save you from Maug and bring you back to Thea!”
Henrick looked down at her with a bushy eyebrow raised. Then he began to laugh, a deep belly laugh. His entire body shook with laughter and he didn’t stop for some time. When he finally did, he said, “No, thank you.”
Belba was taken off guard by this response. “But what about Thea? And your dwarf subjects?”
“I know, I know,” he said, waving his free hand. “But have you seen Maug?”
He gave a long whistle and a shrug as if to say, “What are you going to do?” With that, he went farther into the house. Some other dwarf men joined him and looked over at Belba, no doubt asking what she had said. They all laughed at his response as much as he had.
Belba couldn’t believe what she was seeing. But before she could decide what to do, there came the clip-clapping of high-heeled shoes upon the marble floor and none other than Maug herself came into view. She was tall and thin and wore a revealing dress as expensive as Belba’s entire house. She walked right up to Belba and looked down at her. Her blood-red lips curled into a smile.
“Hi! I’m Maug! Are you a friend of Henrick’s? Would you like to come in for tea?”
Belba gasped! Not only was Maug beautiful—she was nice! And worse, the hike had made Belba really thirsty and tea sounded lovely!
Belba glanced at the bush where her friend hid. She looked back at Maug.
“Yes, please,” she said, stepping across the threshold. “What’s your lipstick called?”