My scribe has been absent recently; far too often. It would seem that one of the many son’s of Apollo has caught his interest and left me feeling more than a little deserted.
Who, you ask?
Aristaeus, the rustic son of Apollon and the keeper of many of the outdoor earthly arts. Wanna grow a garden? Better give a nod to Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, but you really better be in good with Aristaeus. Cheesemaking, hunting, fishing, orchard-keeping, and my scribe’s new obsession, bee-keeping, all fall under the influence of Aristaeus.
I suppose he’s hard to resist, if you go in for that type. His father is Apollon, who first encountered his mother fighting a lion, and he has been a favorite amongst the Olympian crowd ever since he could walk. Apollo took Cyrene, his mother Libya and there she gave birth to Aristaeus in the city named after her.
Once grown he moved to Thebes where he studied under Chiron and learned the healing arts, but ever was he drawn to the outdoors. As I mentioned earlier, his artisan skills endeared him to the older gods, even moreso after he interceded on behalf of the people of Ceos. Zeus had grown angry of the inhabitants of the area and wrought a destructive drought on the area that Aristaeus was able to bring to an end by building a temple to the King of the Gods and appeasing his infamous temper.
Aristaeus continued to travel, visiting many island in the Mediterranean, and even ruling over Sardinia for a period of time. Everywhere he went, he freely gave away the knowledge of his skills in building, keeping, and protecting, apiaries, olive groves, vineyards, hunting, shepherding, and how to best utilize their resources to receive bountiful blessings from Demeter as organized agriculture continued to grow and flourish.
In the end he retired to Thessaly where he studied under Dionysos and shared the knowledge with the local inhabitants. Wine, mead, and later ale all flowed from Dionysos, but they did so best under the supervision of Aristaeus. He dedicated his life to traveling the Eastern and Central Mediterranean and sharing the same knowledge that is still in use today for maximizing bounties in these rustic arts. For that, and all his protections over crops, livestock, vineyards, apiaries, and plantations he is recognized as possibly the most benevolent and beneficient of all the Greek deities.
I suppose it’s expected my scribe, who excels at the rustic earthly arts, would find Aristaeus eventually. And I know what you’re thinking, but forget it I’m the God of Hate and Jealousy but I’m not envious. Well, hardly at all. Aristaeus is a nice enough fellow, and I can see why this mortal would be enthralled. He just needs to get back to writing my stories. After all that is why I took him under my wing, to write my stories.
Everyone pictures Zeus, or even Ares, as the deities with short tempers. But the truth is Hera could be just as impulsive as anyone. When his Aunt Demeter calls him in the middle of the night frantic, because Hera smited a mortal that displeased her, Dinlas knew better than to ask questions. Instead he high-tails it to the offices to find Demeter frantic, and Hera long gone. Leaving the others to clean up her mess.
Knowing her nephew was looking for new fugitives to track down, Demeter slips him information on an international fugitive with a large bounty on his head as her way of thanking him for helping to avert an incident with the dead body spread all over Hera’s office.
By Wayne Davids/originallyAugust 6, 2019
I left Aunt Demeter’s office, my head swimming. The girls stood beside me, still growling about being scolded by her. I scratched them both behind the ears and hushed them as I thought what in the world Hera was thinking when she smote a man in her office.
“Both of you stop being bitchy. We have a job to do.” They both yipped and half-ran to the elevator, then turned and looked back at me.
“I’m coming, I’m coming. Just settle down,”
We took the elevator up to Nana Hera’s office. The doors opened and Hermaphroditus stood staring at me. The girls growled low, then whined as I patted each on the side of the head.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I said. One of my siblings, another child of my mother, whom I despised.
He answered, grinning, “We. What the fuck are we doing here.”
“We, I am we. When my old self joined with Salmacis, I no longer thought of myself in the singular, but as they. We are Hera’s personal assistant now. It’s been a long time, Dinlas.”
“You, I mean they… well look, I’m here to get the body.”
“Right this way then.” They led me to Nana Hera’s office and the body lying on the floor. Well, the remains of the body.
Hermaphroditus stood quietly while I pulled out a cigarette, lit it, and inhaled deeply. “So kid, did Nana Hera hit this guy with fire or lightning?”
Hermaphroditus responded, “Lightning, I believe. Does it matter?”
I took another drag on the cigarette, “Not really, just curious.”
I finished my smoke, then set to the business at hand. First, I found his left hand in the room’s corner, practically under her desk. Then I rolled it along with the rest of the body, up in a small rug. Hermaphroditus stood watching impassively.
“Okay,” I said as I wiped sweat off my face, “I need to call Aunt Demeter real quick, then I’m gonna teleport out of here. You wouldn’t have any iced coffee, would you?”
“We do,” replied Hermaphroditus. “We will be glad to get you some while you make your call.”
I was already dialing the phone. “Thank you, Hermaphroditus.”
Wait, thank them? I sighed. I’m gonna screw this all up.
Aunt Demeter’s voice on the phone brought me out of my thoughts.
“Yeah. Have you got him? Is it done?” she blurted.
“We’re getting ready to teleport out of here now. Did you dig up anything on him?”
“Oh yeah,” Aunt Demeter replied. “He’s up to his neck in debt. He gambles in the mortal game of chance called Wall Street. Apparently, he owes a significant amount of money.”
“Good,” I say, “he sounds like someone who might be ready to end it all.”
“No, not suicide. I want it to be an accident,” was her curt reply before she hung up.
Hermaphroditus returned and stood patiently with my iced coffee until I finished my call. When I put the phone away, they handed it to me.
“Here you are, Dinlas. May we ask what we are to do with the dogs after you leave?”
Both girls growled and my sibling took a half-step back.
“Oh hush, both of you,” I reprimanded them, “both of you need to meet me back at the warehouse.” They stood looking at me like they wanted to go with me, not back to the warehouse.
“Go,” I said, “take a stroll and hunt something.”
When they heard hunt, Jealousy yipped excitedly, causing Hate to lick her on the side of her face. Both flickered for a moment and the wolves morphed into two Mediterranean beauties wearing little black dresses. Hate gave me a coy wave. Then they locked arms and disappeared out of the office.
Hermaphroditus chuckled, “My, that was something we haven’t seen before.”
I shook my head and looked at them. “Wolves, promise them a kill or two, and they are putty in your hands.” I drained my iced coffee, and Hermaphroditus immediately reached out and took the empty cup.
“Go,” they said, smiling. “We will take care of cleaning up here.”
Aunt Demeter gave me the car keys from Mr. Franklin’s car earlier, and the parking space number they assigned him. I grabbed him and teleported down into the bowels of the parking garage under the building where I then shoved him into the driver’s seat, went to the other side, and got in the passenger seat.
Once in the car, I slid to the center and started it. With my left hand and foot, I drove the car out of the garage. We headed east out of the city until we hit a set of train tracks that ran along the edge of Olympus National Park.
I parked the car near the tracks, then turned off the engine to wait.
I dozed lightly when I heard the train horn. I sat up and saw the train, still several hundred yards away and coming fast. I reached out and grabbed Mr. Franklin and the car door.
“Waiting… waiting… waiting…”
The train was right on top of us
Okay, Mr. Franklin, I thought as I looked over at him for the last time. I’m sorry to do this, but I’ll be more sorry if I screw this up for Aunt Demeter and Nana Hera.
With all my will, I teleport the car, Mr. Franklin, and myself the last few feet onto the tracks. To the train engineer, it would look like the car just lurched forward.
An instant later, I teleported out, about fifty yards away. The train slammed into, then flattened, the car. Wedging it under the nose where moments later it exploded in a spectacular fireball. There wouldn’t be enough left of Mr. Franklin to scoop up and put in a small bucket.
I teleported back to the building in front of Nana Hera’s office. Aunt Demeter and Hermaphroditus were overseeing the cleanup in the office.
“Crap, I forgot the rug in the car…”
“Is it done now?” asked Aunt Demeter.
“Yeah, he fell asleep at the wheel after all that working late to make extra money, and had an unfortunate accident.”
Aunt Demeter held up her hand. “We don’t need to hear anymore. We can read about it in the paper tomorrow.”
I nodded and said, “Well, I’m out.” I patted the manila envelope under my coat she gave me earlier and added. “Thanks for this as well. I will take care of this problem. I will eliminate Anthony Santiago and his network of traffickers.”
She looked serious. “Don’t you take over trafficking his women. I won’t stand for it, nor will your Aunt Athena, Nana Hera, Artemis, well the list goes on and on.”
I hugged her and whispered in her ear, “I promise, no trafficking or slavery.”
She hugged me back. “Good. For all our sakes, try to be good.”
I laughed. “I always try to be good, Aunt Dem. It’s just that sometimes it doesn’t work out.” With that, I popped out and teleported back to the warehouse.
The girls weren’t back yet. Still on the hunt. Good for them.
I put my clothes in the closet and fell into bed. After spending all night disposing of a dead body for Aunt Dem and Nana, I was beat.
Time for sleep. “Hypnos take me, Morpheus leave me be.”
Hekate is an ancient goddess with pre-Greek roots traced to Anatolia and Thrace. Earliest accounts portray her as a bewitching young woman. Fierce and powerful, she was sovereign over land and sea and sky. The poets made her the daughter of the Titans Perses, Titan of Destruction by Fire, and Asteria, Goddess of the…
Initially a two part short story it has been edited into one. Dinlas returns from being away several weeks and drags his feet going to see his Grandfather Zeus about the workers he spirited away from his grandfather’s grand project. He isn’t thrilled, because he knows he will be called on the carpet about it, but he also knows he must face the music for what he did.
By Wayne Davids/originally published on July 9 and July 11, 2019
The elevator finally appeared, I took it up to the administrative offices, and when the door opened again, I walked into a large foyer. Sitting at the desk in front of Zeus’ office, her face partially obscured by a large computer screen, is Aphrodite, my mother. She is no one I want to see. I move forward and she raises her head; it’s not Aphrodite. It’s just some blond-bombshell look alike.
“You Dinlas?” she asked as she ignored all the normal mortal customs of greeting.
“Yes. And you are?”
She smiled and ignored my question. “Zeus will see you in just a moment. He’s finishing with the appointment ahead of you now.”
I sat down, but almost immediately, an explosion rocked the large double doors leading into the inner office. A man, burly and hard, shot out, headed for the elevators. He rippled with muscles covered in tattoos. Scars chiseled his body like testaments to a life lived hard. Looking at his face bore those testaments to hard truths.
He’s crying like Aunt Demeter in late fall when Persephone returns to the Underworld.
“Your turn,” the blonde receptionist smirked.
I stood and headed for the still open door. I could see Zeus. A snarl graced his lips and a bright blue nimbus of light encircled his right hand. He saw me and smiled a crooked smile that screamed, I just figured out who I’m going to take my frustration out on.
I looked at the secretary as I went by her desk. She couldn’t wipe the laughter off her face at my predicament. “What’s so funny?” I asked as I paused.
She leaned forward, with her elbows on her desk, and rested her chin in her palms.
“I’ve had to listen to him rant about you for three weeks while you were off on some vacation. It got old real quick. I am so going to enjoy hearing this through the door.”
I looked back at the door as another low rumble of thunder emanated from the office.
“Ok,” I thought, “here we go.”
I swallowed hard, but just as I reached the door, Nana Hera swept out of a side office and grabbed me by the arm. She startled me, but I didn’t resist her effort.
“Dinlas, my darling. How are you?” She closed grandfather’s office door and redirected me to a smaller, but still beautiful room. From the CEO’s office, I heard a sharp crack, and then the long, low rumble of thunder that lasted almost a minute.
“Oh, honey,” Hera said over her shoulder to the secretary, “be a dear and get Zeus to sign all those permit applications I gave you earlier.”
The receptionist ceased all smirking. She sat upright and rigid, as if she thought it would better facilitate all the color draining from her face.
“You want me to go in there now?” she asked with a sidelong look at the closed door. Thunder rumbled again on the other side.
Hera smiled and said, “Yes, dear. It’s time for you to realize he has two sides. The one where he comes out here and flirts with you and then, well, this side.”
Hera closed her office door between us and the dumbfounded receptionist without waiting for an answer. She turned to me and looked me up and down.
“Dear, you look positively gaunt,” she commented after she finished examining me. “Do you want something to eat? I can get something brought up from the bistro downstairs.” I shook my head. Nana Hera is part mama bear, part wolverine. The side of her you see is really up to you.
“No, thank you, Nana,” I answered after giving her a hug. “I’m fine. Zeus called me in about the labor issues here at the Olympus.”
“Well, dear, it upset him when the workers all disappeared.”
“I didn’t realize those workers came from this project.”
Nana gave me a look, and said, “I don’t remotely believe you.”
I shrugged and responded with a weak protest. “How could I have possibly known?”
Nana sighed and pointed to a chair and said, “Dear, sit down.” I obliged, so she continued, “Everyone knows this is the biggest construction project in history since the Pyramids of Giza. I find it extremely difficult to believe that you had no idea where those workers came from. There is a shortage of skilled construction labor for five-hundred square miles. Where did you think those Italians came from, if not here?”
I looked down and when I looked up; I did my best attempt at puppy-dog eyes.
Nana sat down across from me.
“Do not,” she said, “lay those sad black eyes on me. It will not work this time. You knew better than to do this; you have enraged your grandfather.”
“I know. After I collared Eddie Pastorini, I got access to all his men. They said they needed money, and I needed work done at the warehouse.”
“You will return to Zeus all of his Italians. I will speak to him so he doesn’t smite you when you least expect it.”
“What will you tell him?”
“I don’t know yet. It doesn’t matter; he’ll know I’m covering for you.”
“Nana, just tell him the tru-” I started, but a knock at the door interrupted me.
The door opened, and Ares stuck his head in.
“Hey, Mom? I can’t find Dad’s secretary and I just wanted to ask you something,” he stopped when he saw me sitting there.
Nana clamped her hands down on her knees and interjected, “Well, isn’t this nice? Family reunion.”
“Nana, did you set this up?”
“She didn’t set anything up,” Ares said. “I didn’t even know you were here.”
I looked back and forth between the two. As I made eye contact with Nana, she reached out and patted my knee.
“No, I set nothing up. Dinlas is here because there has been a misunderstanding about the construction workers.”
“Misunderstanding?” Ares snorted, “Well, I guess, if you want to call it that.”
“Yes, we would like to call it that,” she replied.
Ares looked from Nana to me, then back, before he said, “I’ll take care of it, Mom. I’ll tell Dad I authorized the workers leaving to work on the warehouse and that I forgot to tell him.”
I cut in here. “Hold it. Not interested. I’ll take my chances with Grandfather.” I looked directly at Ares and added, “The last thing I’m interested in is being indebted to you. Why are you even offering? You don’t give a shit about me. What is this, some way to score points with Nana?”
Nana Hera cut me off immediately. “Stop it, Dinlas. Ares is offering to help. Put your pride away. Trust me, Zeus is irate. After the sabotage at the forge and the anonymous threatening messages, he is more than a little on edge. There are some people who are unhappy about our return. He thought this work stoppage was part of that.”
I sat silent, sullen, and pointedly avoided eye contact with either of them.
After a minute of silence, Ares rubbed his forehead with the palm of his hand and sighed. “Look, Dinlas, you aren’t in debt to me. This will not put you in debt to me. I’m just offering to help. I, uh, I’ve had many years to think about how I have acted in the past. I don’t think for a second this washes it or makes it even between us. I just am offering to help here. Take it or leave it.”
I continued to look away from both of them, but felt Nana squeeze my knee. The last thing I wanted was a favor from my father, but I also knew Zeus would gleefully take out his anger on Ares rather than me. I would be off the hook. “Fine, if that’s what you want to do.”
Ares glanced at Nana. He clearly didn’t appreciate my tone, but Nana shook her head, almost imperceptibly. He looked back at me and said, “Yeah, Dinlas. I’m doing this because it’s what I want to do.” He turned and left the room, slamming the door on his way out.
After a few seconds, Nana broke the tension, “Dinlas, are you sure you don’t want something to eat? I think I have some ambrosia cheesecake in the deity executive lounge.”
I smiled and said, “That sounds good, but maybe next time, Nana.” Each of us got up, and she opened the door for me to leave. We stepped out of the side office at the same time the blonde receptionist flung open the door to grandfather’s office, soaked to the skin and carrying a stack of wet papers. I could see inside as rain poured and another rumble of thunder pierced the entire floor of the building. Nana smiled as the blonde stormed past us and dropped the stack of wet permit applications on her desk with a splat and a spray. Her hair was hanging limp and everyone clearly saw her skimpy lace bra through a soaked and clingy blouse. She turned to us and blew a limp curl of hair out of her own face.
“Here are the signed permit applications,” she said to Hera. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I am taking the rest of the afternoon off. I will see you in the morning.” She picked up her handbag and without a backward glance, exited the suite amid a chorus of catcalls from the other employees admiring her now transparent blouse.
Nana said, “Well, I’m impressed. She may make it here after all.” Nana then turned to me and put her hand to the side of my face. “Dinlas, just let Ares help you. He knows you two will never be close. Just let him do this thing.” She kissed me on the cheek and smiled in her motherly sort of way.
I hugged her and nodded my head. “I’ll talk to you later,” I whispered. Then I turned to leave.
I paused for a moment because it was an enormous office. For an instant, I forgot which way to the elevator.