Based on a writing prompt I found here, I sit down and have a smoke, some elevenses, and a chat with Master Samwise Gamgee, of Lord of the Rings fame.
I am in no way a tall man (a sliver under 5’ 10”), but I must admit to feeling a bit cramped in what others in the neighbourhood would classify a quite cavernous dining area. We are alone now, his children outside playing in the hills that he so bravely, all of those years ago, journeyed to Mount Doom to ensure would still be there for generations of Hobbits to enjoy. His wife, the lovely Rosie, was out as well, knowing full well to leave her Sam alone when he started to talk about the events, Merry and Pippin, and Frodo, that damned Frodo. He pulls a big drag on his pipe, letting the Longbottom Leaf linger in his mouth before a cascade of smoke rolls away from him and rises to the ceiling only slightly taller than I am when standing. His mug of ale is half full.
“Would you care for some more?” He points to my mug, slightly less than half full. Before I can answer he is up again, grabbing a ewer from the counter and spilling its contents into my mug. He smiles as I thank him and sits down again.
“How much do your children know about what you’ve done?” I ask him. “And more importantly, did they hear it from you?”
“They know I went away on a grand adventure. They know I saw elves and dwarves and stood with men and wizards. I’ve spared them the stuff I think they might find terrifying. I am a father now, and as much as I love to cuddle my children, I don’t want to do so if they’re screaming that Shelob is after them.”
“Rosie said that was the case a couple nights ago.” I smiled.
“Damn Merry, that was.” Samwise laughed, big and hearty. “He’s a professional speaker now. Goes from town to town and kingdom to kingdom recanting his ‘version’ of what happened. I must hand it to him though, he can certainly command an audience.” He exhaled more smoke. “And he wasn’t even present when Shelob was there!”
“Do you see much of the old gang?”
“I run into Pip quite frequently, as he’s still around and prefers the quiet life now. It’s quite funny really as he was the curious one when we were younger. He actually dated an elf for a while, right after we returned. He threatened to write a book about it, but that never happened. At the time he probably moved on to something else to occupy his thoughts. Scatter-brained for sure. As for Merry, I see him often enough. He returns here from time to time, and always makes sure he fits in a visit with myself and Pip, normally together, and normally at the pub. Some things just make sense.”
His omission of Frodo is noticeable but not surprising. Frodo, as we know, sailed off with Gandalf and the elves, and although in the early years they would remain in contact, that contact has dwindled. You can see the pain of it on Sam’s face. His face wrinkles and his lips contort into a half frown, half snarl. But then something else enters his mind and the smile returns, so I think better not to press the subject again. For now.
“Okay, I know you’ve seen the films Peter Jackson made about you as I’ve heard you discuss them before, but are you happy with how they turned out? How you were portrayed? Is there anything you would have done differently?”
He takes a sip of ale before leaning on the table. “I really enjoyed them. I am not going to lie.” He smiles. “I thought the essence of our tale was captured well enough, and people seem to enjoy the films. That’s always a good thing isn’t it?”
“It certainly is. What about Sean Astin as you, were you happy?”
“I thought Sean was wonderful. He spent a week with me, adopting my mannerisms and cadence. He met Rosie and my children, and I met his children when the movie premiered. Lovely lovely fellow. Yes, I was very happy with Sean’s performance. I was proud of him. And yes, I have told him so many times.”
“Would you have changed anything?’
“I would have loved old Tom Bombadil to make an appearance but that’s just me. I loved old Tom. Were it not for him, things would have been entirely different I believe.” He sighed. “So many things could have been different.”
“Are you aware of the ‘Secret Diaries’ website where someone has provided a rather naughty list of diary entries for the Fellowship?”
He laughed again. “Ah yes, I am aware of that site. A little childish at times, but funny nonetheless. I’m not sure where people get the time to come up with this stuff. Obviously aren’t raising children.”
“It doesn’t bother you?” I enquire further.
“Bother me? Why would it bother me?” I took a deeper intake of smoke. “I know who I am, who my friends are, and how we all journeyed together to save the world, as it were. I admire the creativity of that site’s creator, but in no way does it bother me.”
“But it does convey some things about your relationship with Frodo …”
“There was no relationship in that sense.” His voiced peaked, his eyes trained heavy on me. “There is no relationship now. Frodo sailed off, content in the knowledge that he saved us all, that he cast the ring into Mount Doom. Let him live with his celebrity, however he chooses to. I know what happened, we all do. And I am content in that.”
“Are you?” I push one last time.
“You want me to say it, don’t you?”
“Say what, Samwise?”
“Frodo was a punk-assed bitch. ‘Woe is me, woe is me’. Always blaming the Ring for his shortcomings and indiscretions. And when he had the chance to cast the Ring away, does he? No, of course not. He didn’t have the fortitude. Aragorn would have done it. Gimli would have done it. Even Merry would have done it. But not Frodo. Not Frodo.”
“It’s easy to sit here and say you would have done it.”
“Of course I would have. He cast me away on the stairs didn’t he? Preferred to listen to that slimy treacherous Gollum. Saw some good in him. His good/bad radar was always skewed. It would have been so easy for me to leave him after Shelob got him. Many people have told me it is what he deserved. But did I? Of course I bloody didn’t. I wouldn’t be able to look at myself now if I had. Even if I had saved the world and ended up on all of the posters. To some people, that is everything.”
With that final comment he eased again, slumping into his chair across from me and chuckling. “I needed that vent I think. Been saving that one up for a long time. My apologies for raising my voice towards you, Geraint.”
“No need to apologise, Master Gamgee. I, like many, like Tolkien himself, believe that you are the true hero of Lord of the Rings. Frodo can suck it.”
“It’s funny you should say that,” he let out a wry smile and raised an eyebrow, “there was one time when I did catch Frodo and Gollum alone …”