“Sire, wakey wakey,” a gruff voice intruded on Bacchus’ slumber.
“Mmmm, Angela,” he murmured and wrapped his arms around the person trying to rouse him. “Where have you been you naughty girl?”
A swift kick to the shin fully awakened him. With a howl of pain, Bacchus started upright.
“Hey, what do you mean waking me up like that?” the fallen god asked.
Pan struggled to his feet. “I do so apologize, Sire. But you know how hands-y you get when you’re half asleep.”
Bacchus took in his surroundings. The beach? How in the world had he wound up on the beach? The sun incensed the pounding in his head.
“Ugh, what time is it?” he asked.
“Three in the afternoon, Sire.”
“Already? Damn, I feel like I just fell asleep.”
“What time did you stagger home last night?”
“I don’t know, maybe ten this morning.”
Pan helped Bacchus stand and strained to brush sand from his master’s broad shoulders. “You need to start taking care of yourself, Sire. You’re not immortal anymore. You’re killing yourself.”
“I don’t care if I am. What have I got to live for?”
“Please, don’t talk that way. We’ll get you reinstated. I’ve been reading about Bodhi’s earthly philosophies. I think The Father gave you the clue you need to appeal the decision.”
“You’re a loyal friend. A fool, but a loyal friend.” Bacchus lit a cigarette and exhaled. “Fuck me, why do my feet feel like they’re on fire?”
“Ah, well, Sire, maybe next time you pass out on the beach you should do it under a tree large enough to shade your entire body.”
Bacchus looked down at his lobster-red feet in contrast to his pale legs and shook his head in disbelief. Though Pan had offered to carry his lordship, Bacchus endured the walk to his apartment, wincing with every step.
After a quick shower, Bacchus trotted to the kitchen, still naked and wet, opened a beer and washed down an assortment of over-the-counter medication, some to relieve the pain of his sunburned feet and some just because he liked the way they mixed with alcohol. The refrigerator held little of interest, but he rejoiced in finding a spongy apple and small piece of cheddar.
“You know—” Bacchus took a bite of the red delicious—“I think I’ve lost some weight since I haven’t had the palace food to gorge myself on.”
“Oh yes, Sire, you’re looking very svelte.”
“I might have company tonight, could you straighten up a bit?”
“Of course, Sire.”
Pan surveyed the state of the fetid apartment. Overflowing ashtrays, heaps of garbage, buzzing flies, and toppled liquor bottles had replaced the overflowing urns of flowers, heaps of delicate chocolates, winged dark faeries and scattered, silken floor pillows that once surrounded the fallen god. In a vain attempt to clean, Pan picked up a soggy dishtowel. The rag proved more putrid than the surfaces he wiped it over. With obvious disgust he abandoned his efforts. He stepped with care to avoid a discarded needle and a couple empty dime bags.
“I thought you were finished experimenting with junk, Sire,” Pan asked with caution.
“I am. That was from my friend last night. Amy…Anna…”
“Yes, that’s it. How did you know?”
“You called me that name this morning when you tried to spoon me, Sire.” Pan picked up the paraphernalia. “May I pitch this stuff?”
“Please. I’ve no need for it. Why would anyone want to use a drug that induces comatose sleep and makes the cock limp as an overcooked noodle? Morpheus was welcome to preside over that mess.”
True, Bacchus still dabbled with human pharmaceuticals, but he preferred the usual sacraments: women, wine, and song. And really he could do without the song if need be. During the first several months after his fall, he’d nearly murdered his mortal form with booze and an endless parade of strumpets. After his first case of the clap the fallen god reevaluated his lifestyle. Not that he’d slowed down much, but at least he’d taken the healer’s advice and started using a penis sheath. And Bacchus had stumbled into a source of income a few weeks ago; he’d won a nightclub in a high stakes poker game. The healthy endowment The Council had bestowed upon him as a sort of severance package wouldn’t last forever and with the former deity’s spending habits, he’d be lucky if it lasted a decade.
To his surprise, Bacchus found he enjoyed his newfound status as business owner. He’d made some rookie mistakes like placing his first order with the liquor supplier under the assumption that the club goers would drink at the same rate he did. But hey, now he had back stock that would last for a couple years so no biggie, right?
The employees were a source of endless fascination for him. All the lovely young women dressed in tight satin dresses, such giving souls they’d been. Even some of the young men who worked there were pretty enough to catch his eye. And how cool was it to work all night around libations? The ex-deity didn’t appreciate the human curse known as a ‘hangover,’ but he’d learned to live with it. And poor Pan. The old goat shouldered the near impossible task of ensuring Bacchus’ timely arrival at the club each evening.
“How was your night?” the fallen god asked.
“Fine, Sire. Thank you for asking.”
“I don’t know why you don’t just sleep here.”
Pan shook his head. “Thank you, Sire. Not to complain, but it’s hard for me to remain in full human form all night. I’m struggling enough with the long hours at the club. The last one of your female companions who saw me in my true body ran screaming. The swamp suits me just fine at night.”
“As you wish.” Bacchus skulked down the hallway of his beachfront condo. Catching a glimpse of his torso in the bathroom mirror, he paused. With a flex left and a flex right, he admired his sculpted abs. Though he’d been no fatty in the millennia he’d spent as a god, his human form held a certain lean firmness. He’d never known the body encompassed so many individual muscles. As a god he’d never gained, lost, or expelled anything for that matter. Urination and defecation had been adventures to master on their own. He flexed his obliques again and marveled at his resemblance to a marble statue.
“Vanity, thy name is Bacchus.” Pan appeared behind him and nudged him toward the bedroom.
“Please, Sire, you must get dressed.”
“Right, sorry. I got caught up in my reflection. Am I very handsome?”
A sincere expression crossed the satyr features. “You are as beautiful as I’ve ever known you to be, Sire, which means you’re stunning.”
“What would I do without you, old friend?”
“Show up late every day to the club. Now hurry, hurry.”
Bacchus donned a garment known as a t-shirt and a pair of jeans from some singularly talented tailor named Calvin. Though the clothing lacked the grace of a toga, he had to admit the vestments accentuated the positive. He checked out his buttocks in the mirror.
Satisfied with his appearance, he swept into the living room to find the place sparkling clean.
“Pan—” Bacchus said in a low voice.
“Before you fly off the handle, Sire—”
“Magic when visiting Earth is forbidden, Pan.”
“Now that’s not quite true. You were defrocked. No one said I couldn’t use my powers.”
“It’s in the Code of Ethics. ‘No Divine Being shall alter the natural course of events.’ You know as well as I do what that means.”
“Sire, how often is that rule actually enforced? Besides, one could argue that the putrefaction of a god’s domicile is not a natural course of events.”
Bacchus took his friend’s hand. “One day you’re going to have to accept that I am not a god anymore.”
“I’ll never accept that. They’ll have to render me inert first.”
“Thing is, Panny, if you don’t accept it, then I never will either.”
Without response, Pan assumed his squat, troll-like human form and walked with his master to the parking garage.