I was alone one night on the veranda. Alone with my one constant companion: Elven Ale. Too strong for most mortal types, but just strong enough for an old Ranger Detective who's seen too much and felt too little over the course of his weather-beaten life.
My name is Samsneed, and I'm a Ranger Detective. Rhymes with defective, just like that new crossbow I'd bought the day before for protection. You might remember me from a mysterious case from more than a year ago. I single handedly cracked the largest conspiracy to hit Middle Earth since the Case of Who Farted at the Feast of Elrond. Yep, that's right, through my cunning encyclopediatic knowledge and my mastery of the English language, I and I alone uncovered the true murderer, who had been responsible for killing all those SGCBL players and coaches! It was some crazy elf named Hobolas. Yep, a lone bowman, so to speak.
Soon thereafter I cashed the largest single check in the history of the world. It was uh, unrelated to the solution I'd contrived...er, uncovered from my previous case. Since then it's been palm beaches and five-star resorts for me! Until that night on the veranda.
I should've heard him before I saw him. Not because I have some super amazing senses or anything - hell, I was sloshed, who am I kidding - but that schmuck was jingling the largest bag of gold I've ever seen or heard.
"Hey," he said to me as I gazed undaunted into that wanton Shire skyline. I didn't hear him.
"Hey!" he said, more emphatically. I think I began to gently snore.
"HEY!!!" He yelled in my ear. I jumped up like a napping hobbit who just heard the bell for second breakfast.
"Wha?" I think I asked.
"Aren't you that guy? Samsneed, Ranger Detective?"
"Ugh, shomtimes ahm so durnk ah dunnoh who ah ahm!" Yep, you gotta love that Elven ale. Oh baby, where had it been all my life?
"Wow," he said to me. "You're really sloshed! Heck, I think I'm getting drunk off your breath!"
"Fugha buttit," I muttered, before drifting into the unconsciousness that beckoned me like a warm patch of sunshine on a cold breeze.
When I came to 12 hours later, he was still there, still with that honkingly huge bag of gold. My head felt like it had been fired out of a catapult. My tongue was swollen like a snitch's face after a beat down, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember where I was.
"It's about time you're awake!" he exclaimed. He was beginning to look relieved.
"Who are you, kid? And is that gigantic bag of gold for me?"
"It depends," he told me. "Are you Samsneed?" I shot him a suspicious look.
"I might be," I replied. "Who's asking?"
"The name's Grump," he told me. "Private Grump. I work in the Bree Cheese baseball organization."
"Bree Cheese, eh?" I said. "Sometimes I wish I could forget everything I ever learned about the Bree Cheese. Sort of the same way I wish I could forget her name. Or her scent. Or the way her soul escaped her body in one, final, shuddering sigh! Right in my arms!" I began to wretchedly sob. Gods, I hated being sober!
He patiently waited for me to finish my business. An hour later, after my first shot of The Good Stuff, we were back on topic.
"Sgt. Grump asked me to contact you," he told me. "He had me bring this huge whopping bag of gold. Things haven't been going well for the Cheese this year. Usually, they're the best team in the division. But not anymore. Now, they're not even leading the wild card standings, and the Sgt. is afraid that after years of empty threats, he's been cursed."
Cursed. So that's why Grump came calling. He's been cursed, and why not? No one loves that man, not even himself. I used to hear rumors of how, every morning, he'd stand in front of a mirror and taunt himself until he was reduced to tears. Only weak men cry, and Grump was the weakest of them all. Naturally, he wanted my help.
"Just how much gold is in that pile?" I asked the Private.
"Enough to make a rich man even richer," he said. He was talking my language, and every greedy bone in my body was listening.
"I need to think about it," I told the Private. "Give me a night."
"Time is running out," he replied. "The Sgt. is in the middle of a tight race. Every game, every loss, it... well... they've begun to speak of insanity!"
"I hear you like a priest hearing confession, kid. Don't you worry. I need one night to think about it. Hell, you can never use enough money, right?"
I reflected upon it for a moment. If I was going to make a gamble, now was the time! I stared him in the eye, the way a brave man might stare down his executioner. "I'll tell you what. Why don't you take that huge pile of gold and leave it in my room. I'll sleep on it. Then, come see me first thing tomorrow morning and I'll give you my decision."
"I don't know..." he said. He sounded tenative. He sounded weak. I knew that Sgt. Grump would never go for this maneuver, but the kid was just a private. Inexperienced. Full of trust and ignorance. I hardened my icy glare. He sighed.
"Well," he continued, "my boss really needs you. I'll carry it up. You can sleep on it."
Ooooh yeah! I tried hard to keep my glee out of my face. I calmly told him my room number, and while he hauled the big bag of booze-buying gold up to my room, I casually saunted over to the bar.
It was the middle of summer. A hot time in a hot land, and Grump needed my help. Who could've cursed him? Hell, who wouldn't have? And, whoever did it, do they have enough money to keep me quiet?
Well, there's only one way to find out. Samsneed is on the case.
Some guy once said "the truth is out there." Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I ask you this, if YOU were the truth, where would YOU be? Please contact me with information if you happen to know.