By Connor Thiessen
Chester was an odd fellow. From his clumsiness, to his fascination with artisanal sauces, to his obsession over the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Chester often found himself on the fringes of his social circles. That’s not to say that Chester’s friends didn’t like him, in fact he had proven himself a reliable and empathetic individual. It was simply that they had trouble finding activities that would include his interests with theirs. That is, until Chester’s 21st birthday.
Chester’s friends wanted to do something big for his birthday. Brian had suggested that they take him on a trip. They had, at many times, heard Chester remark about his desire to visit the locations of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. After agreeing that this would be a fun, thoughtful way to celebrate Chester’s birthday, his friends went about planning what would go down as one of the strangest, most disastrous birthday parties of the 21st century.
The day came for Chester’s friends to present the gift, and unwittingly set the chain of catastrophic events in motion. Chelsea, Chester’s girlfriend of two years, handed him a small gift bag. “This is from all of us,” she said.
Chester eagerly pulled out the decorative tissue paper, lifted from out of the bag a small bottle. His face lit up with glee as he recognized the label. “Gosh, guys! This is some of the most expensive Worcestershire sauce in the tristate area! Thank you so much!”
Brian piped up with a giddy smile. “There’s more.”
Chester’s eyes widened as he proceeded to ruffle through the bag, pull out a small envelope handsomely signed with his name, and rip it open. As he did so, a strange article fell out of the greeting card. Chester picked it up, and turned it over.
Larry, who had until now remained silent, could no longer contain his excitement, and blurted out, “We’re taking you to New Zealand!”
The expression on Chester’s face was one of unmistakable dread. He had been to New Zealand before, and he knew that returning to that wondrous country could only spell disaster. But his friends had paid for this trip. He could not simply refuse their generosity. They flew out the next morning.
To give them credit where it’s due, Chester’s friends had spared no expense. They had somehow arranged lodgings in the same iconic hobbit hole that housed Bilbo and Frodo in the motion picture adaptations. They’d scheduled an extensive tour of the finest sauce brewery in the local area, and the final night would be spent under the stars. In theory, everything was perfect. But that last night, Chester knew, would be their undoing.
“Help me move this couch outside, Chester!” Larry called, as the friends attempted to move much of the living room furniture out to the makeshift campsite.
“I’m not sure that’s a great idea,” Chester whimpered, traumatic memories of previous Middle-Earth-themed excursions flooding back. Everything was coming together exactly as he feared it would.
Larry, the blind fool that he was, simply replied, “Nah man, it’ll be super comfy when we’re all sitting around the campfire.” And the rest of the company carried on with the preparations, with Chester in the middle of it all, looking as terrified as Samwise Gamgee in the presence of a Ringwraith. It was as if the universe was actively working to recreate every awful incident he’d had the misfortune to experience in the land north of the Land Down Under. As though in a dream, Chester found himself sitting on the couch in front of a roaring fire, dripping his new sample from the sauce brewery onto a roasted steak. Everything was so perfect, and yet at the same time, Chester knew that it would all go awry in just a matter of minutes. The suspense was excruciating.
Then it happened. Chelsea called from the other end of the couch, “Hey sweetie, pass me that stuff you got from the brewery.” This request was so innocent, so wholesome, that even Chester thought nothing of it. He carelessly tossed the catalytic projectile to the love of his life, and the events following were but a nightmarish blur.
Chelsea’s reflexes and hand-eye coordination failed her, and the bottle awkwardly bounced off her delicate hands, and spilt onto the cushion between them. They both got up and, before Chester could acquire any control of the situation, Chelsea had flung the cushion a little too close to the fire. The inferno spread shockingly quickly over the stain, and within a matter of minutes, the couch was engulfed in flames. Everyone got up and tried to fan away the destruction, but to no avail. The damage had been done.
Chester stood stunned among the chaos. This was all too familiar, reminiscent of past vacations to Hobbiton which had somehow ended similarly. But in the company of friends, everything seemed to have ended all the more severely. And that, dear reader, is the story of Chester’s worst Worcestershire-sauce-caused chesterfield field fire in the Shire.