Inkling Challenge: Take the Fellowship to Work/School

by Orangeblossom Took

A girl, a computer, and a kiss: The Fellowship in a Customer Service Center

It was pouring down rain again and, in my city sunk like a crescent-shaped bowl between river and lake, a young woman gingerly guides her car through the rain towards a large, low, office building. It is 8:30am. The water droplets come sheeting down from the sky, collect to swirl into the storm drains, and give a silver-gray cast to the light. The rain is so heavy that most objects are concealed or loom as gray silhouettes.

The woman, who is short and has medium brown hair and golden-brown eyes, comes to a stop at a red light and bangs her head against the steering wheel of her small red car.

"Why," she thinks, "didn't I call out? I am one of the few people foolish enough to rush out into this weather. The new accounts are no treat. I wish I could stay home and write inklings all day."

She doesn't notice that the light turned green and the city's streets are eerily deserted so there is no one to blare their horn at her for her inattention. She finally raises her head again when her Sting "Dream of the Blue Turtles" CD starts playing "Shadows in the Rain" and she sees an assortment of people getting drenched on the corner of Frenchmen and Esplanade.

They are a more motley crowd than one usually sees, even in this Crescent City of dreams. There is an old man in an eccentric gray hat, a tall man dressed in the finest renfaire court garb, a scruffy looking vagabond, four children, and a very short man with a beard. It takes a minute for it to sink in before her mouth drops in astonishment.

Her mind races and she thinks, "Oh my goodness! It is the Fellowship! The streets of this city aren't safe for them!" She slowly pulls beside the curb, opens her passenger door, and says, "Get in, get in!"

Boromir puts his hand on the hilt of his sword, pokes his head in the car, looks at her, turns back to the others, and says, "It is safe. It is a little maiden and she could almost be a halfling-maid."

Pippin is the first to hop in the car and he and Merry cram into the passenger seat together.

Pippin says, "I do believe you are right, Boromir. She does bear a fair resemblance to a Took-lass. Oh, I forget my manners, hello and thank you for getting us out of that weather. Peregrin Took at your service."

She grins and says, "You are welcome, Pippin. Actually, I am a Took. Orangeblossom Took, to be precise."

The rest of the Fellowship piles into the back seat, Frodo and Sam sitting on the other's laps.

Aragon says, "What strange place is this, lady, and where are you taking us? In all my wide travels, I never saw such a place."

Orangeblossom laughs and says, "This is the Crescent City, your majesty, and I am going to have to take you to work with me, I apologize and will make it up to you later."

The large group files through the large glass doors into the employee lounge. The break room has two microwaves, a water cooler, a fridge, and several round tables. Since she is early, Orangeblossom leads them through a narrow hall to the patio. There are several metal table-and-chair sets protected from sun and rain underneath a large awning.

She says, "This is where you guys can smoke. I don't smoke but I like the patio, anyway."

Gandalf and the hobbits get out their pipes and proceed to smoke when Evil Manager Lady (EML) comes out to the patio and says, "Are these the temps? I TOLD that company not to send any more rejects! Show them to the computers, Orangeblossom."

Orangeblossom holds her tongue and refrains from scowling at her boss. She takes the fellowship to a large room filled with rows of computers.

She says, "It looks like we'll all be stuck working. Hmmmm....all the hobbits except Sam can enter data entry cards. Sam, the landscaping is in bad shape and the rain is letting up. How would you like to pretty up the flower bed by the patio?"

Sam brightens at the thought of gardening. The other hobbits groan

Orangeblossom sighs and says, "I know, I know. You are getting off easy, though. Boromir, Aragon, Gimli, and Gandalf you must go on.... DUM, dum. DUM, dum...the PHONES!" With tears in her eyes she says, "My dear Legolas, I place the worst burden on you. You must keep EML occupied."

Orangeblossom shows the dwarf, humans, and wizard how to answer a call, pull up accounts, and such before showing the hobbits how to do data entry.

Sam, whistling, goes out to the patio. Legolas, with a wicked grin on his fair face, stalks off to the EML's office.

Angelwise Gamgee, a sweet girl several years younger than Orangeblossom and a true LOTR fan, sees what Orangeblossom is doing and gasps. She points to the disappearing hobbit and asks, "Is that.... SAM!?"

Orangeblossom laughs and says, "Yes it is. I think Legolas will take care of EML so go help Sam with the patio."

Angelwise, who is tall and blond, rushes after Sam.

The day is already half over and Orangeblossom joins Boromir, Aragon, Gandalf, and Gimli on the phones before things start to become chaotic.

**********Aragon on a call***********

Boromir-"Thank you for calling __________, my name is Aragon, Son of Arathon, Longshanks, Strider....(several minutes later), how may I help you?"

***********************************

Then -Doom! Doom! Drums in the Deep!- the server crashes. Boromir, in frustration, puts his sword through the computer screen. Electrical sparks and glass fly everywhere. Having similar problems, Gimli brings his axe down on his computer.

Gandalf, being harassed by a rude caller, utters something dire-sounding and magical and the phone explodes.

Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin have given up on the boring, repetitive chore of typing data into the computer and are making paper airplanes out of the data entry cards and having races on the wheeled chairs up and down the building. Frodo diligently types his cards.

Sooner than Orangeblossom thought possible, the clock strikes 5:30pm and she realizes that EML hasn't prowled the floor all day. She quickly collects the Fellowship members in the main room and then Sam and a starry-eyed Angelwise from the patio.

Legolas saunters toward them with ELM on his arm. When they meet with Orangeblossom's group, ELM whispers, "You get a raise."

Orangeblossom grabs Legolas and hustles the group out of the building before ELM can see the damage.

In some bewilderment she asks Legolas, "What did you do to her?"

Legolas gives her a brilliant elvin smile and says, "I sang to her, Lady Blossom. I simply sang to her."

Gimli claps the elf on the back and says, "Good job, my friend. We didn't see the wench all day. The lady tells me that is a good thing."

They stop at Canal Place to by clothes then, at Orangeblossom's modest loft, everyone showers and dresses in their new threads.

She says, "Guys, I think we deserve a party. Let's go to O'Flaherty's!"

The Fellowship fits in very well at O'Flaherty's Irish Pub. The rain has gone and the summer night, crowned by a heavy moon, is less sweltering than usual so they listen The Poor Clares from the courtyard. The pints are abundant and the rolicksome music invites dancing. Angelwise dances with Sam, Frodo, and Legolas and Orangeblossom dances with Pippin, Merry, Boromir, and Aragon.

When Betsy McGovern begins singing Carrickfergus in her haunting voice, Orangeblossom is dancing with Boromir.

Tears spring to her eyes and she says, "I wish you all could stay."

Boromir wipes a tear off her cheek and says, "This is a marvelous city. It is not as beautiful as Minas Tirith, but you have been a wonderful hostess, Lady Blossom."

As the clock strikes twelve, she gathers up the courage to kiss him but, at the twelfth strike, she finds herself kissing the damp night air. She and Angelwise are alone in an empty, moonlit courtyard and the Poor Clares are singing, "Raglan Road."