Note: This story is the second in a series. While it’s not necessary to read the previous entry to enjoy this one, it is recommended. Click here to read the first story featuring Lognar.
There was a buzz. It was faint at first, just a tickle at my center, but soon it had blanketed my everything in its sublime hum. I wasn’t something that interacted with the universe any longer, I was the universe itself. As I let the smoke go in a steady, even plume, the couch began to fold itself around me. I raised the bong again, preparing to go deeper, when a voice cut my tranquility short.
“Whatever happened to puff, puff, pass?”
My heart pummeled against my ribcage like a madman trying to escape his padded cell. Whipping around, I scanned the rear of the den. When Lognar stepped from the shadows I nearly fainted with relief. “Christ,” I said. “Isn’t there some way you could make yourself known before you just—start talking? My parents just got this couch, I’m sure the last thing they want is to come home to piss-stained cushions.”
“Well excuse me,” said Lognar. “Would you prefer I wait until you say my name three times?” He flopped into the old recliner next to me and despite many protesting creaks, it held his behemoth build. The monster that had failed to scare me as a child had nearly reduced me to wetting myself half-a-dozen times over the past few months. I’d expected to get used to his sudden appearances by now, but the whole thing was still novel enough that it was jarring every time. “Now, would you quit goggling at me and pass that over here?” He stretched out a hand large enough to close around my skull, I put my bong and lighter in it.
“Don’t need that,” Lognar said, tossing the lighter aside. “Watch this.” He took a breath and began to chant something halfway between Latin and mouthwash-gargling, then a blue flame shot from the tip of one of his beer-can sized fingers like the light of a butane torch. He touched it to the bowl of half-spent green and it sparked up, filling the pipe with dense, sticky smoke. After waiting a moment the monster shook the flame from his finger, lifted the bowl from the chamber and pulled in the cloud with a single, enormous gulp. He held it for what seemed an impossibly long time, then exhaled with a cry of victory.
“That is how it’s done, kid!” Lognar shouted, falling back and letting the recliner cradle him.
“Wake up the whole neighborhood, why don’t you?” I scolded, glancing nervously to make sure that the windows I’d triple-checked before smoking were still closed tight.
“If you can only see me when you’re high, do you really think that they can hear me next door?”
Though it didn’t keep my eyes from occasionally revisiting the windows for the rest of the night, his logic was sound enough to keep the paranoia from the front of my mind.
“So the parents are out of town for the weekend, huh?” asked Lognar.
“So what’s on the agenda? We throwing a party? Inviting some girls over? I know a few succubi I could summon if you want things to get wild.”
“Actually,” I said, gesturing toward the TV on the far side of the room. “I was just going to order enough pizza to keep me alive until Sunday and watch a bunch of movies.” To my surprise, Lognar’s face didn’t droop in the same disappointed way all my human friends’ had when I’d told them the same thing. He seemed excited, in fact.
“Nice, movie weekend. What we watching?”
“I figured we’d start with The Lord of the Rings,” I said, flipping through my video library with the remote.
“Again?” Lognar sighed, his expression drooping. “I swear you rewatch that drivel every six months.”
“That’s because I do rewatch it every six months. And it’s not drivel, it’s widely regarded as the greatest fantasy epic of all time.”
“Of all time? Really? Are you sure it’s not just simplistic Campbellian plot structure dressed up with fancy words and racist overtones?”
“Racist overtones? Are you honestly telling me that you’re one of those overly-sensitive types who completely dismisses Tolkien because the dwarves ‘draw from Jewish stereotypes’ and the elves are ‘Aryan super-humans?’”
“What? No.” Lognar shook his head. “I’m talking about the real racism in those books.”
“Alright then, what is the real racism?”
“Oh I don’t know,” said Lognar. “How about how every orc, goblin, and troll in that entire series is a violence-obsessed psychopath that gets off on pillage and murder?”
“Yeah,” I said. “But they’re the bad guys, that’s just how it is.”
Lognar snorted abruptly. “’That’s just how it is?’ If I wrote a movie where monsters were the intelligent, stalwart heroes who overcame the slobbering, dimwitted humans that wanted nothing more than to feast on monster-flesh would you be saying the same thing?”
“But that’s not what the story’s about,” I argued. “The evil doesn’t matter. It’s about overcoming and persevering in the face of unyielding evil. It’s about resilience and sacrifice, whether you’re human, hobbit, elf or dwarf.”
Lognar laughed. “Do you have any idea how ignorant you sound right now? Of course you don’t think that the evil matters when it isn’t your people being portrayed as evil. It’s the same shit in all your human stuff: movies, video-games, epic-poetry, it doesn’t matter. There’s some monster who is bad just for the sake of being bad. There’s no motivation behind it, no thought put into it, you just need something to fight so you take us and turn us into mindless, evil, fantasy Nazis. How can you even argue that that’s not racist?”
“But come on, those monsters aren’t like you. They’re just made-up.”
“Lemme ask you a question kid,” Lognar said. “Are black and Hispanic people just made-up?”
“What? Of course not.”
“Then why do you think that orcs and trolls are? Did you think that this–” he gestured to him own pale-green body, “–was the only type of monster? I play poker with three orcs every other Thursday, my accountant is a cave-troll, hell, my sister’s a kraken for Snarglord’s sake!”
“How did that happen?” I asked.
“She’s adopted,” said Lognar, waving me off. “But even so, it’s not like disfigured, snaggle-toothed, and inexplicably slimy is the only model we come in. I mean, do I look the least bit slimy to you?”
“I suppose not,” I said, glancing at him again. His skin certainly didn’t have the same consistency of a human’s, but it wasn’t like he was coated in ooze or anything.
“Exactly, but you’d never be able to tell that if you just watched the garbage you humans churn out. Face it, Lord of the Rings is basically a fantasy adaptation of Birth of a Nation.”
I paused, taking some time to turn his arguments over in my head. “Wait a minute,” I said, finally finding a rebuttal. “How can Tolkien be racist if he didn’t even know you guys were real?”
Lognar gave me an unimpressed look. “You smoke a little weed and you can see me and you think that Tolkien didn’t know we were real? That guy was nuttier than an elephant’s shit.”
“Yes way,” said Lognar. “Did you really think that he made all that crap up? The guy was a better con-man than he ever was a writer.”
“Con-man? Now I think you’re getting a bit carried aw–”
Lognar raised a finger, shushing me. Then he reached into the pocket of his brown tarry-cloth shorts and pulled out a wallet that would have looked comically large in my hands, but was right at home in his. He flipped it open and showed me what looked like a driver’s license. On it was not only a notably younger Lognar sporting an embarrassing attempt at facial hair, but characters scrawled in the stylized elvish script I recognized from my copies of The Lord of the Rings.
“Look familiar?” Lognar asked when he saw the realization wash over me. “This lunatic didn’t make up any languages, he was nothing more than a translator, and a shitty one at that. It’s like if a native Chinese or Arabic speaker tried to recreate English without using a quarter of your alphabet. Tolkien’s ‘elvish’ is nothing more than a half-aborted attempt at capturing the subtlety and nuance of my people’s common tongue.”
“What an eye-opener,” I said, letting the couch soak me up like a sponge while my mind raced to absorb it all. “So if you guys don’t like Tolkien, what sort of human literature do you like?”
Lognar shrugged. “For me it’s science-fiction mostly, usually forces you lot to turn the mirror on yourselves rather than scapegoating us. But there’s some fantasy we like, Harry Potter, for one.”
“But aren’t there negative portrayals of monster-kind in that?”
“Some of them, sure,” said Lognar. “But there’s also Hagrid, the half-giant with a heart of gold, the largest financial institution in the wizarding-world is run entirely by goblins, and the centaurs dole out some much needed frontier justice to one of the most loathsome characters in all of human literature.” He sat forward, “You see, I don’t mind if you toss in an unruly troll here or a pack of bloodthirsty orcs there, because it’s not like I haven’t walked out of a bar in a shady part of town and seen the same sort of thing. Its only a problem when every monster is a homicidal maniac or starved for man-flesh. In Harry Potter we’re not the big-bad antagonists, we just inhabit the world. Some of us are good, some of us not so much.”
“Alright,” I said. “Harry Potter it is then.” I paged through the VOD menu and flipped on the first of the series. As the studio title-cards cycled across the screen I turned back toward the monster in my dad’s old chair. “Hey, Lognar?”
“What’s your sister like?”
“To be honest,” he sighed, “She’s kind of a bitch.”
“Well, would you ever introduce me? It’d be pretty wild to see an actual kraken.”
“I would,” he said. “But she might try to eviscerate you. She’s kind of old-fashioned, leans into the stereotypes, it’s embarrassing really.” He leaned forward, pulling another enormous hit from the bong.
“What about your poker game?” I asked.
Lognar exhaled, melting back into the recliner as the familiar John Williams score kicked in. “Kid, if you bring weed this good, you can come every week.”
Read more about Lognar in “Lognar and the Bad Word”