I Remember All My Life1

1 requires familiarity with the Lord of the Rings, the song Mandy, and optionally with Gandalf’s Secret.

Sparky’s a young girl. Fourteen. She’s dressed a bit old for her age. She’s in the wrong part of town, and that’s why there are seven guys looming all around her.

“Nice weather,” she says, backing up. Then she giggles, a bit nervously. The sky is tinted red and black. It’s raining. It’s the kind of rain that makes you think Manwe of the Eagles is tossing his cold grey soup out the window. It’s been this way for hours. She doesn’t know why.

“Yah, chickie. Real nice.” One of them smiles at her. He’s missing a tooth.

Sparky’s back hits a chain link fence. She startles.

“Look,” says one of them. He’s being reasonable. “Just strip down, and this won’t hurt at all.”

Sparky frowns a little. Then she smiles. She kicks him, a high side kick to the neck, and he drops. He’d scream, but it hurts too much. One of them grabs her foot. Two of them grab her arms. Her jacket crackles. The two on her arms spasm and fall back. Grabbing the fence for leverage, she manages a weak kick at the stomach of the guy holding her foot. The results aren’t entirely pleasing for anyone; he looks a little sick, but at the end of it, she’s dangling there with one ankle held in each of his hands.

“Turn the jacket off,” instructs another one. He’s got a gun. A moment later, the tip of a sword emerges from his chest. He goes limp. One of them lasts long enough to level a gun and ask their new assailant, “Who the hell are you?”

“No man can kill me,” comes the answer.

The gun fires. Twice. The sword comes down, and there is blood.

“Heh,” says Sparky. “Heh. Um, hi.”

“Are you all right?”

Sparky nods. The rain is blinding. All she can make out is the shadow of a man. His eyes burn.

“Good.” He turns. He walks away. A car door opens. A car door closes.

“Hey!” Sparky shouts. “Hey!”

She snatches up a gun from a puddle. She chases after him. The car starts. She catches a glimpse of a face in the window. It’s not a human face. Then the wheels scream, like some great beast crying in the night, and the car moves away.

“Oh, no, you don’t!”

Sparky fires. The bullet spangs into the car’s rear bumper. She fires again. It lands under the body. Squinting against the rain, she takes more careful aim at the back tire.

The car stops. Slowly, it backs up. She hears the other door open, and hurries around, and gets in.

“You can’t just do that and leave,” she says.

“Ah.”

“Thank you,” she says.

The creature nods.

“Where are we going?”

The creature hesitates a long moment, then shrugs. A bony finger taps the seat belt. Sparky buckles up. The car starts again. He drives. “Los Angeles,” says the Witch-King of Angmar. “We are going to Los Angeles.”

“That’s over a thousand miles away.”

“Yes,” agrees the first and greatest of the Nazgul. He turns on the radio. He drives.

The night goes into morning. It’s just another day. Sparky’s asleep in her seat. When the full sun shines on her face, she snaps awake.

“Hey,” she says. “Who are you?”

The Witch-King turns down the radio. It’s playing the top hits of the 70s. This was making it hard for him to hear Sparky, even with his supernaturally acute senses.

“I am the Lord of the Nazgul,” he says. “The Lord of Morgul. The Witch-King of Angmar.”

“I’ll call you Ange.”

“As you like,” he agrees.

“Why are you going to Los Angeles, huh?”

“I’m looking for someone I lost a long time ago,” he says. “I have heard a rumor that she is there.”

“Wow. How long you been lookin’?”

He looks over. His eyes meet hers. For a long moment, he sees nothing but memory. “You remind me of her.”

“Ooh?” She wriggles her toes.

“I never knew what to say to her, either.”

Sparky giggles. “We should fight crime. On the way.”

“Hm?”

“We should stop in a bunch of different towns,” she explains, “and clean up their troubles. They’d call us Sparky and Ange—mysterious strangers! I’ll be the brains and charm, and you can be the muscle.”

The Witch-King regards one skeletal finger.

“Metaphorically,” she clarifies. “Geez.”

The Witch-King smiles a little. “I never realized,” he says. “How happy she made me.”

Sparky tilts her head. “Tell me more!”

He gives her an amused look. “You’re awfully interested in the love life of an ancient corpse.”

Sparky blushes. “I like to know stuff,” she says.

The radio crackles and its volume jogs up. For a moment, he can’t respond: Barry Manilow is singing.

oh Mandy.
Well you came and you gave without takin’
But I sent you away, oh Mandy
Well, you kissed me and stopped me from shakin’
And I need you today, oh Mandy.

The radio crackles and turns itself down. The Witch-King of Angmar smiles wryly. “It was kind of like that.”

“Ooh.” Sparky beams. “Oh, hey, so how’d you lose her?”

“We stood on the edge between two ages of the world,” he says, softly. “And she wanted to remain a horror; and I, to find some better way. So I left. I walked up Cirith Ungol, and climbed the highest mountain of the Ephel Duath, and screamed the pain of ages into the wind above the world; and when I was done, I realized what I had lost. A vale of tears closed around my mind, and it seems to me I have spent all the years since climbing my way out of it.”

“. . . did you try just going back to her house?”

“She was not there.”

Sparky dons her best relentlessly practical look. “She might have been washing her hair.”

“It seems unlikely.”

“Did you check back the next day?”

“For seven years, I waited at her door.”

“And you’re sure you had the right address?”

The Witch-King of Angmar points his finger at her. It has a thin gold ring on it.

“What are you doing?”

“I am trying to use my magical ring to make you shut up.”

“Does that work?”

The Witch-King of Angmar sighs. “Evidently not.”

“It’s not really an age of magic rings any more.”

“No,” agrees the Witch-King. “Still, it is the ring’s corruption that makes me who I am; and it is natural to hope that one’s nature is a thing of power.”

“I’ve got a ring,” she says. “But you can’t see it.”

The Witch-King points his finger at her.

“Want to guess where?”

The Witch-King shakes his finger.

Sparky sighs. “It’s just a tattoo on my hip,” she says. “You don’t have to use magic.”

“Why are you in my car?”

“Oh,” she says. “Well, I always wanted to do cool stuff. So I decided to be a superhero. That’s why I went out to get into trouble and beat up some evil criminals. But something was missing. You! Now that we’ve met, we can kick some real evil butt.”

“Ah.” The Witch-King considers. “Are you rich?”

“Mom and Dad do okay,” she admits.

“Then you may pay for gas and food along the way,” he says, “and if you find yourself fighting crime, I shall assist you with my deathless sword; but only if it does not take us far out of our way.”

“We could be Sparky and Witch-ky.”

“No rhyming.”

“But—”

The Witch-King turns up the radio.

And nothing is rhymin’, oh Mandy.
Well you came and you gave without takin’
But I sent you away, oh Mandy
Well, you kissed me and stopped me from shakin’
And I need you today, oh Mandy.

The Witch-King turns it down. “Barry Manilow is wise,” he says. “Listen to Barry Manilow.”

Sparky sulks. She cannot find an immediate counter to this argument. She is forced to say, “Fine. Sparky and Ange. We can agree on Sparky and Ange, right?”

The Witch-King of Angmar frowns distantly. “It seems to me that I should have top billing.”

“Bah. You’re one step up from the magical talking mascot.”

“Who was it, yesterday, who was dangling upside down with a gun to her head?”

“Pfft. Yesterday.” Sparky waves dismissively. “Yesterday’s a dream.”

“. . . you took that from the song.”

Sparky sits back smugly. “And if I did?”

The Witch-King looks stonily forward at the morning. “Nothing.” A car zips past him in the right lane. The Witch-King honks, out of general aggravation. His car screams like a great bird, keening its rage into the wind.

“Wow,” Sparky says. “Cool horn.”

“Tradition.”

“You know,” she says, “that’s kind of worrisome.”

He shrugs.

“I don’t know,” she says, and shrugs too. “It’s just, you go around in cerements, and your car has a screaming-horn. And you said this woman was a ‘horror’. Did she really make you happy? Do you even want to be happy? Or is this whole journey thing, like, pain calling to pain?”

The Witch-King of Angmar, jaw clenched, finds himself accelerating. “You are an impertinent mortal.”

Sparky looks sideways at him. “It’s not just ’cause you’re hot,” she says. “You saved my life. And you’re my crimefighting partner. I’m worried. I don’t want you trapped in some kind of dysfunctional relationship.”

The Witch-King sighs. “It’s not like that,” he says. “We had something real. She . . . didn’t have to hang out with me. She couldn’t eat me. I don’t have any good meat.”

Quietly, he sings.

You came and you gave without takin’
But I sent you away, oh Shelob,
You kissed me and stopped me from shakin’
And I need you today, oh Shelob

“She kissed you and stopped you from shakin’?”

“Yah,” he says, lost in memory. “She used a paralytic venom.”

“Oh.”

He smiles.

“Wait,” Sparky says. “Just where did you two kiss?!

The last strains of Barry Manilow fill the car.

You kissed me and stopped me from shakin’
And I need you

2 thoughts on “I Remember All My Life1

  1. I don’t know if this is the best Hitherby ever, or if it’s just really tickling me in all the right places right now, but either way, it’s awesome.

    Is it just me, or is this dynamic very reminiscent of the relationship between the hero and Jenna?

    I love Jane.

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