Saruman's Laundry - a set of four double drabbles in which Saruman must face the consequences of poor laundering and the significance of color.
Gandalf stood beneath the
mighty tower of Orthanc, looking up.
Saruman had summoned him and he wondered greatly that he was left waiting below after riding so hard to arrive quickly.
Also, the tower seemed festooned with small fluttering rags of some kind, way at the top. Were they a signal of some kind?
Saruman growled at his lackeys when they told him Gandalf had arrived. "I'm not ready! Thanks to your inept laundering..."
"But yer great n' mighty wizardness, we didn't know..."
"Even the dullest laundress knows you don't wash brights with whites! It was bad enough when you washed the red cloak with the robes and I was the Pink Wizard. And now, now you've gone and washed them with all of the colored pennants!"
"We bleached 'em, sir... hung 'em to dry... put 'em in the sun...," they bowed and scraped.
"Yes you did! And they better be white by now! I have company coming."
"We seen 'em sir, he's down below and sir... "
"Yes, and there he stays until I am the White Wizard again."
"If you don' mind us
sayin' so, sir, he won't mind yer bein' a bit colorful.
All grey himself, probably never washed 'r nothin'! Maybe you could be the Wizard of Many Colours...or som'thin..."
"I have come for your aid, Saruman the...er...uh..." Gandalf faltered upon getting his first good look at his host in the dim chamber.
"The what?" asked Saruman, daring him with a steely glare.
"No, not white...something a bit more, um..."
"I saidwhat, not white!"
"No, no. Of course not. I concur, definitely not white. More of a..." Gandalf considered him, seeing that his robes which had once been white were not so but were all colours so that his eye was bewildered.
"I am Saruman of Many Colours!"
"I liked white better. You didn't do this on purpose, did you?"
"Aaaargh!" Saruman, humiliated and furious, came at him but found to his great dismay that when he lifted his arms his sleeves stayed just as they had been before, hanging in neat folds... He waved them up and down to no avail, they stuck out like great pointy wedges.
In frustration, he flailed at his fellow wizard with the stiff fibers, attempting to stab him with the pointy flaps.
"Too much starch," Gandalf observed, neatly ducking. "I've had issues with it myself." He whipped off his pointy hat which remained stiff and pointy and came at Saruman hat-tip first. "En garde!"
"You ever were one to fight only when it was to your advantage," snarled Saruman. "You know I haven't a pointy hat!" He experimentally whirled around, his stiffened sleeves whipping like a food-processor on 'chop.'
Gandalf ducked again and hopped forward as his fellow wizard lost momentum, poinking him in the derriere with the tip of the hat in question.
"Yoi!" Saruman complained, a shower of starch-flakes poufing off his robes as he attempted to whack his sleeves backwards.
"Gluph!" Gandalf responded, getting a starchy slab in his face. He staggered back as a random clothespin belatedly spun off of Saruman's recently laundered attire adding insult to injury by bouncing off his nose.
Inspired, Saruman grabbed a basket of wooden clothespins and began flinging them at his adversary. Gandalf stumbled over them, trying to get close enough to utilize his hat again, failing miserably as Saruman added a length of clothesline to the mix and whipped it around Gandalf's feet.
Gandalf's hat spun away and impaled itself in the wooden door as Saruman began spinning him around like a yo-yo.
"Er..." a lackey mumbled from the doorway, eying the still-quivering hat near the knob. "Is this not a good time?"
"Wauggha wauggha wauggha!" Gandalf politely replied as he repeatedly whipped past the lackey, his beard trailing like a comet.
"I'll...show...you... (puff puff) who...rules...the... (puff puff) laundry..." Saruman gasped through the cloud of starch flakes his activity had stirred up. "You...better..."
That was as far as he got before the much-abused clothesline in his hands suddenly snapped sending his fellow Maia soaring upward with the graceful trajectory of a Pong game being played at high speed by chipmunks.
The lackey's jaw dropped as he watched the Grey wizard richocet upward into one of the ventilation slots.
"Where'd he go?" Saruman mumbled through his tangled hair and beard.
"He's on the r-r-roof!" the lackey stuttered.
"What?!" He struggled to his feet and ran to the nearest hidden stairwell.
Up above, Gandalf looked around in surprise. He was abruptly in daylight. Clothing flapped all about him, hung from lines strung between the tower horns. A large tub of bleach stood to one side. He nudged it to block the doorway.
By the time Saruman managed to break through, the work was done.
"Behold! Now I am the White Wizard!" Gandalf cried, resplendent in his shiny (if somewhat damp) robes.