Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Desire-Part X-Loki and Pandora

Loki, emerald-colored skin as vibrant as ever, galloped up to the steps of The Hall of Earthly Gifts on his eight-legged horse.

Bacchus shuddered. “I will never get used to the look of that thing.”

“Home, Sleipnir,” Loki addressed the horse. The ungainly beast galloped off without objections.

The trickster god turned to his fallen peer. “Bacchie, baby, good to see you. You look skinny.”

“Why, Loki? Does that make you green with envy?”

“Oh I’ve never heard that one before.”

“I hear it’s not easy being green.”

“Did you have Vig invite me here just to make juvenile jokes at my expense?”

“No, but it’s a nice little perk of the situation.”

“You want me to help you or not, it makes no difference to me.”

“All right, my apologies. So how exactly do you plan to pull this off?”

“Don’t you worry. You do you’re Q and A thing with the Spinster Pandora and I’ll do my thing.”

The two headed up the stairs of the hall.

“Why doesn’t that make me feel any better?” Bacchus said.

Loki slipped around the back of the hall as Bacchus swung the brass knocker.

The enormous door opened, dwarfing the diminutive goddess who stood in its shadow. “Oh

Bacchus, sweetheart, you’re back?” She engulfed him in a hug.

“Well, not exactly, but I could use your help.”

She ushered him inside the entry salon and pushed the door closed behind them. “Anything for you. What can I help you with?”

“Well, I have some questions…About um, you know. The box.”

Questioning drew together her delicate features. “The box?”

“The box.”

“Oh oh oh, the box. Right.”

She led him straight to the vessel. For all its gilding and ornate carving, it didn’t seem an impressive or imposing object. The newly acquired phrase ‘bigger than a breadbox’ popped into Bacchus’ head, though if the thing were actually bigger than a breadbox, it wasn’t by much.

“Voila” She presented it to him with a flourish of her hands.

For all of Bacchus’ inspection of the thing, he couldn’t find a handle or lip of a lid, no hinges or fissure in the construction indicating that it was anything but a solid object.

“And this is the very box that was opened? You know doom on mankind—screaming, pain, suffering…” his voice trailed off.

“Yes. The very one.”

“How exactly does it open?”

Pandora fished a key from her pocket and walked over to the box.

“Whoa, should you open that?” Bacchus asked.

“Oh yes, it’s perfectly harmless now.”

“Won’t hope escape?’


“You know, the evils escape out of the box, but the lid is closed before hope can escape therefore mankind always has hope.”

“Hope isn’t a specter. It can’t escape, silly boy. Hope is what the box is made of.”

The goddess proceeded to release some hidden lock. A keypad of sorts popped up with ancient Greek symbols in bas-relief. Her fingers skipped over the symbols touching them in a specific sequence. An ethereal voice emanated from the box and asked Pandora, “What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?”

“Man,” Pandora replied.

The box rearranged itself into a golden lotus, its petals splayed out around a gaping, hollow center.

“That looks an awful lot like a—” Bacchus murmured.

Pandora nodded and suppressed a giggle. “It does, doesn’t it?”

“Pardon me for asking this, Madame Pandora, but how in Hades did you open this box by accident all those eons ago? It seems well designed against an unintentional breech.”

“What? I opened the box? Oh no, I knew better than to open this box.”

“Really? It’s the only version of the story I’ve ever heard.”

“Well you are very young as gods go. No, it wasn’t I who opened the box. It was Lucifer. And he didn’t open it by accident.” Pandora paused to sniff the air. “Do you smell blueberry muffins?”

Bacchus took a half-hearted whiff. “Um, no. I’m afraid I don’t.”

“I love blueberry muffins. I have some over in the Culinary Gifts wing. Would you like me to fetch you some with a little tea?”

“No, thank you.”

“How silly of me, you don’t even drink tea, do you? Would you like some of your own gift to the world? What wine would one serve with a blueberry muffin?”

“Riesling, but thank you, Madame. I’m fine. So, you were saying…?”

“What was I saying? Oh yes, blueberry muffins. Did I tell you about the streusel?”

“Yes, you did, sounds like wonderful stuff.” Bacchus fibbed to move the conversation along.

“Now, why did Lucifer open the box?”

“He was angry.”

“Why was he angry?”

“Some adolescent temper tantrum. The Father had thrown over Lucifer’s mother, Gabriella, for a human woman—Ellie or Ava or Eve, something like that.”

“And how did you get the blame for it?”

“Well, I am the keeper of all earthly gifts, am I not? And hope is an amazing essence. It was The Mother’s greatest gift to the mortals. Nothing evil can breech it so The Sorrows were fixed tight until Luci showed up…Honestly I had no idea he meant to do anything wrong. He was such a beautiful young man, all dimples and blond curls. He asked me to sneak an apple for him…I shouldn’t have left him alone here, but how could I have known?” The crinkled edges of her eyes caught the tears that threatened to spill over.

Bacchus cupped the aging divinity’s face in his hands. A pang of guilt stabbed at him, but he reminded himself the box he intended to steal would be put to good use, not evil. “No no, my sweet lady, you did nothing wrong. Lucifer tricked you, he used you.”

“The Council didn’t quite see it that way. I spent two centuries in Purgatory before they let me return to my post here.”

“Of the few weaknesses The Father has, his son is his greatest. He couldn’t very well let his own son take the fall for unleashing The Sorrows.”

“I suppose you’re right. But Lucifer wound up falling into Darkness anyway.”

“Yes, that he did.” The fallen god reached in his pocket and pulled out a cotton handkerchief. With the gentlest of touches, he dabbed away the goddess’ tears. “No more thoughts of unpleasant things now. Hey, why don’t you tell me a little more about streusel?”

She clapped her hands together. “Oh my, there’s just so much to tell I hardly know where to start.”

“Could you explain to me the difference between ‘streusel’ and ‘strudel’?”

“My dear boy, they are vastly different things. Streusel is the crumbly topping one would put on a cake or pie or muffin. Strudel is a type of pastry filled with fruit. Or cheese. Or nutmeats. You can, of course, put streusel on a strudel, that’s extra lovely.“You know who loves a good strudel? Charon. Especially apple. He drops in from time to time for some between ferry runs. Oh how I love a man in black.”

to be continued...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Desire-Part IX-Vignesha's Crib

Bacchus felt the vibrations of the music before he actually heard it. The raucous strains shook the heavens around him. Swathes of jewel-studded toile hung from every turret, every column, every balustrade of Vig’s not-so-humble abode. Scantily clad apsaras materialized around him as he walked up the sapphire path to the main entryway.

“Ladies,” he said and nodded at them. Their reply—only a tinkling of giggles. Tempted to give himself over to the charms of their coconut-scented skin, Bacchus managed to wade through the sea of beauties.

Servants appeared to attend to Bacchus: one to open the massive white marble doors, one to take his cloak, and one to offer him any number of divine concoctions. He chose a flute of vibrant lavender syrup. An apsara, who was nude save for the gold leaf covering her body, intertwined her arm with his and escorted him through the opulent receiving hall to the lush oasis out back.
Liquid-silver waves lapped at the shore of a ruby sand beach. Golden palm trees reached up into the endless blue velvet sky. Countless merrymakers frolicked in the surf and danced around almost every square inch of open space. Bacchus took a moment to adjust to the grandeur of it all. His human senses could barely handle the splendor surrounding him.

Parting the crowd of bodies, his lovely guide led him into a private tent, set apart from the raging party. Vignesha lay in all his glory on a brocade hammock, receiving a saffron oil rub down from the most beautiful of celestial nymphs.

Vig’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of approaching feet. “Bro, you made it up here. How awesome.”

“Thanks. I see you’re still living large.”

“You know it. Pull up a chair. I’ll order up some more drinks, get some more nymphs in here.”

“You’re too gracious, old friend, but I was hoping I could speak to you alone.”

Jumping up from the table, Vig didn’t bother to cover his bare body, but instead walked the shapely women to the tent opening. After kissing each of their hands, he said, “Don’t go too far now.” They disappeared in twittering laughter.

“It’s just not the same without you here.” Vig put his arm around Bacchus’ shoulder, enormous phallus flopping from right to left. “Oops, just grazed you with my naked bits, didn’t I?”

Bacchus chuckled. “Think nothing of it.”

They settled into a pile of large of satin pillows.

“So, what’s up?” Vig asked.

After taking a long sip from his drink, Bacchus launched into the events that had transpired earlier.

“Antithesia is trying to help you? Dude, you are so screwed. Aw, righteous, that rhymed,” Vig said.

“I know. But I’m desperate. The fact that I’m even considering advice from that fork-tongued battle-axe should tell you that much,” Bacchus replied.

“I hear ya. Well, it’s like this. Everybody on Earth’s got their own Pandora’s box, Sorrows box, whatever you call it, man, they are forbidden to leave the palace.”

“What does the box do?”

“Captures Sorrows. But if you really want to know the whole scoop on the boxes, you have to talk to Pandora. She’s got loads of box knowledge.”

“Do you think she’ll make an exception and give me Arianna’s?”

“Nah, bro. She can’t, and don’t put her in that position because she’d get herself in trouble trying to help. She’s sweet like that.”

“So I’m screwed.”

“Well, there’s one god who might be able to help you cuz he don’t give a flip what trouble he gets in.”

“Oh no, you’re not talking about…”

“Loki. Yeah, he’d probably steal it for you, but you gotta keep your eyes peeled while you’re there. Who knows what other crap he’ll try to stir up.”

“I don’t know that I can in my current condition.”

“Well, you dudes get caught, don’t leave Madame Pandora out to dry. You feeling me?”

“You have my word.”

“Cool. I’ll send Loki your way. The Mother and The Father be with you, bro.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Desire-Part VIII-Pandora's Box

The fallen god’s mind raced as he trotted down the steps of the Pantheon. So many plans to make, so much to do before he returned to his earthly lair. A hiss of breath drew his attention. Upon viewing the serpentine lady in the shadows, a sneer darkened Bacchus’ face.

“And what may I do for you, Antithesia?”

“Is that how you greet an old acquaintance who’s trying to help you?”

Bacchus let out a yelp of mocking laughter. “That’ll be the day.”

“I know we’ve had our differences, but well, surely we can bury the hatchet for a moment. I have some information that may be of help to you in your endeavor.”

“Oh really? And just why would you be interested in helping me? It’s my understanding that you were instrumental in getting me tossed.”

“What? No, I wasn’t a part of this. It is true that I’ve not been your biggest advocate, but if The Council can defrock you then, who’s to say which one of us could be next, savez-vous?”

“I see you’ve taken a self-serving stance on all this then.”

“Well if it serves you and serves me at the same time then that’s a win-win situation.”

“I suppose it is.”

“You, my silly little boy, are charged with the task of becoming this woman’s savior—freeing her from her worldly suffering, correct?”

“In a nutshell.”

“What The Council failed to tell you is that there’s a shortcut you can use to help her achieve enlightenment.”

Bacchus held up an impatient hand. “Not interested.”

“How do you know you’re not interested if you won’t let me explain?”

“I know the general consensus around here is that I’m not very bright, but even I know enough to be wary of this wooden horse.”

“So be it.” The snake-like goddess rattled her tail. “Go about it the old-fashioned way. But did you know The Council also failed to tell you that humans are pathetically slow creatures when it comes to change. Saving her soul could take a lifetime, three lifetimes, a hundred lifetimes. It would be a pity if you perished before you could move the wretched woman into the light.”

Antithesia turned to retreat, but not with haste, more with an arrogant slither. Clearly she knew her new and strange bedfellow would call her back to him. And Bacchus knew it too. Were he in his immortal form, he’d have all the time in the world to help his lovely Arianna, but as a human his time was limited. A mere blink of a cosmic eye. And Bacchus had little experience with hands-on ministrations. He’d need all the help he could get, even from the most unlikely of sources.

“Wait, Antithesia, please.”

“Yes, Bacchus, dear? What can I do for you?”

“Tell me about the shortcut.”

“What shortcut?”

“Tell me about the shortcut. Please.”

“How can I resist someone who isn’t too proud to beg? The key to wrapping up all of this quickly is your little friend’s Sorrows box.”

“Sorrows box?” he’d replied.

“Please tell me you do know what that is.”

Bacchus cleared his throat, hoping to cover his ignorance. “Of course. Should’ve thought of it myself.”

“Well, sounds like you don’t need my help, then. Good luck.” She patted his chest. “You’re going to need it, queenie.”The look on the goddess’ face as she disappeared into a cloud of sparkling black rain disturbed Bacchus. Something told him he would need more than luck, but for now, he’d settle for a little more info about the Sorrows box. Time to pay a visit to Vignesha.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Desire-Part VII-The Council

Pan sat with Bacchus outside the Pantheon Hall. His cloven hooves couldn’t reach the floor and clattered against the sides of the granite bench.

“Please stop that,” Bacchus said between bouts of gnawing on his fingernails.

“Of course, Sire.”

An angelic page poked her head out the gilded doors of the Pantheon. “The Council is ready for you, Bacchus.”

Pan hopped down to accompany his master inside, but the page held up a hand.

“Just Bacchus, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, well, as the humans say, Sire, I hope you break a leg.”

“We shall see.”

Bacchus had been summoned to the Pantheon Hall only a handful of times in his reign as a god.
Usually it involved some sort of Bacchanal run amuck, and he’d never been formally censured. To be on trial, fighting for his place back among his peers left his mouth dry and his hands damp.
A gulp from his wineskin settled his nerves. He executed an unsteady bow in front of The Father and The Mother.

“Very clever using prayer to communicate your desire to meet,” The Father said.

“Thank you, My Lord. I thought so too.”

“Arrogance before The Council will not be tolerated,” Antithesia snapped.

“Easy, Anti, Bacchus means no harm,” The Father replied. “We’re here today to entertain an
appeal to the decision that Bacchus no longer belongs to the world of the divine for the greater good of our children. Who’s speaking the arguments against the proposal?”

Carpenter spoke up after brushing his wild hair from his face, “I am. No hard feelings, Brother Bacchus.”

The fallen god shrugged. Carpenter in the past had supported Bacchus. Antithesia must have appealed to the emaciated divinity’s infatuation with abstinence and asceticism, but at least Bacchus could trust Carpenter to play fair.

“Our greatest concern is for the purity of our children’s souls. Intoxication all too often leads to the debauchery and decadence that lines the path to Darkness. Overindulgence leads to fornication and fouls the vessels from which new life should spring. Rampant fornication leads to disease and death, two of the most powerful Sorrows. I’m sorry my loyal friend, but I feel in every fiber of my being that our children are better off without your influence.”

Bacchus considered Carpenter’s words.

“All valid points, my friend. I’m sure I need not remind you that my gift of wine once helped protect them from disease and death by purifying the water essential to their survival.” Bacchus made a veiled reference to his role in one of Carpenter’s greatest displays of power. “And having lived among them, you and I know better than any here how Darkness can consume them, but they are also capable of such joy and my gifts are part of that joy. They celebrate happy occasions with champagne. And did you know they even have children who are called ‘wine babies’?”

“Wine babies?” The Mother asked.

“Children who are conceived by chance after a night of revelry.”

“How charming.” The Mother reached out an ebony hand to caress Bacchus’ cheek. Warmth and delight spread through him and tears sprang into his eyes. So long had he labored against the icy chill in his heart. He now knew that Hades was not a fiery pit, but a cold, desolate state of mind that overtook the soul when it was distanced from the love of The Father and The Mother.

Emboldened the fallen god went on, “And I’m not asking for a blanket invitation back into the fold. But at least give me a chance to prove myself. Let me show my worth to The Council. If I can help just one soul overcome The Sorrows, then may I be reinstated?”

Bodhi’s face lit up with a wider than usual grin. “I think that is a fair proposal.”

“Well said.” Carpenter nodded.

“Let’s put this to a vote, “ said The Father. “All in favor?”

A chorus of ‘yeas’ rippled over the majority of Council members.

“All those opposed?” asked The Mother.

A smattering of ‘nays’ popped up within the ranks of The Council.

“So shall it be,” The Father and The Mother said in unison. “The will of the Council has spoken.”

“Who chooses the soul in question?” hissed Antithesia.

“Well, I already have someone in mind,” Bacchus replied.The Council looked into the Oracle and saw Bacchus’ dark beauty, still deep in slumber.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Desire - The Finite Playlist

Music always helps me get in the mood to write. Working on Desire has been no exception so I thought I'd share my Desire playlist with y'all today!

You're a God - Vertical Horizon

Kryptonite - 3 Doors Down

In Da Club - 50 Cent

Gold Digger - Kanye West

Whatcha Want - Beastie Boyz

Sun - Concrete Blonde

A Lo Cubano - Orishas

Because I Got High - Afroman

The Reason - Hoobastank

You Know I'm No Good - Amy Winehouse

Take a Chance on Me - ABBA

Rockstar - Nickelback

Insane in the Brain - Cyprus Hill

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town - Pearl Jam

Hey There Delilah - Plain White Ts

It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World - James Brown

Building a Mystery - Sarah McLachlan

Mysterious Ways - U2

No More I Love Yous - Annie Lennox

Me - Tamia

Glory Box - Portishead

Lola - Kinks

Party Up - DMX

Just Like Heaven - The Cure

Forever Young - Alphaville

God - Tori Amos

Respect - Aretha Franklin

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John

All I Need - Maroon 5

My Sweet Lord - George Harrison

Across the Universe - The Beatles

Get Down Tonight - KC & The Sunshine Band

Without Me - Eminem

Whew! I think that about does it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Desire-Part VI-A Chance for Redemption

At Pan’s arrival the next morning, Bacchus met him at the door and danced a jig.

“Drunk already, Sire?” Pan asked.

“I am, but not in the usual way. I’m drunk with joy.”

“Did Vig get you stoned?”

“No no no, I have a plan. No, not a plan. The plan. We’re going home, Panny boy.”

“Really, Sire? How can that be?”

Bacchus sat the goat-man on the black leather sofa and recounted the conversation with Vig and the conclusions he’d drawn since.

“I’m essential to the Joyful Participation in the Sorrows of the world. It’s not my gifts that are the problem. It’s the irresponsible, undisciplined use of them be that’s the problem. So all I have to do is prove that to the Council and we’re back in the god business, baby.”

“And what about Miss Arianna. Have you thought of what will happen to her while you’re regaining your glory?”

“Ahhh, and that’s the best part. The plan includes saving her. Now really, is this not one of my finest ideas ever.”

“Seems you’ve thought of everything, Sire.”

“Oh yes, I have.”

“So how are you going to reach The Council to tell them your ideas?”

A perplexed look crossed Bacchus’ face. “Strike that I haven’t thought of everything. Oh Titan’s dung, must you rain on my parade, old friend?”

“My apologies, Sire.”

The fallen god thought and thought. After fixing himself a Bloody Mary, an idea sprang to mind.

“I’ve got it. All I’ve got to do is invoke the spirit of The Father.”

“And how will you do that? You’re no longer connected to The Cosmic Consciousness and I don’t have access at that level.”

“I know, Pan, but I can still contact them the old fashioned way.” He dropped to his knees, pulling the satyr with him.

A look of respect that hadn’t graced the satyr’s face since they’d fallen from the palace now lit up his goat-like features. “Brilliant, Sire.”

“Shhh, close your eyes, clasp your hands together and bow your head. We have to do this right if we want The Father himself to receive it. Okay, how does it go…?"

“Our Father—” Pan reminded Bacchus.

“Right, right, right. Okay here we go. Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name….”For the first time in his age-long life, the defrocked god lifted his voice in prayer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Finally Romance the Way It Should Be...

One Touch, One Glance: A Sweet Romance Anthology
Available today from Freya's Bower

Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned romance? Remember reading about a man’s clothed physique, or how a fellow admired a woman in a pretty red dress? How about stories where couples fall in love with just one glance or that first gentle touch? Then open this anthology and enjoy 18 beautiful stories of love lost, love found, intrigue, heartache healed, the miracles of life, passionate admissions, and tearjerkers that make one sigh with longing. From best friends who find romance to time travel to a bit of Christmas magic, step into the realm of hearts on fire and love everlasting.

Authors: Gwen Hayes, M.E. Ellis, Maryann Miller, Adelle Laudan, K. Starling, Trinity Blacio, Debbie Gould, Ava James, Faith Bicknell-Brown, Savannah Chase, Lisa Alexander Griffin, Kensana Darnell, Brieanna Robertson, Nicolette Zamora, Kathleen MacIver, Missy Lyons, and Jambrea Jo Jones

Anthology includes...
Forever Guy by Jambrea Jo Jones
Sheriff Samantha Reynolds has a lot on her plate and mind, ensuring that the town of Port is free from crime. So, after being covered in mud after being knocked down by a pig (LOL), she is shocked to find that her brother’s best friend, Jack, has arrived back in town. She’s had a crush on him for years. Has she got a chance with him now he’s back, or will she have to forever hold her feelings inside?
An enjoyable tale in many respects, especially the pig image.

Whispers in the Wind by Kensana Darnell
Ali is excited that her new horse is arriving. While out in the stables, Ali meets Mitch, a guy who is helping out for a while. They strike up a friendship, but Ali soon has to attend university, and Mitch seems reluctant to take their friendship further. What has happened to him in the past to make him act the way he does? And can Ali show him that she isn’t like other girls?

He's on the menu by Savannah Chase
All Jessie wanted to do was get home safe and sound from a shift at the diner, not crash her car into a tour bus that belongs to a mega star. Ian’s traveled the world and met lots of women but non like the one who’s crashed into his life. She’s different and unforgettable and now he’s ready to show her he’s perfect for her and just the thing she needs on her menu.

Buy it now

Friday, December 5, 2008

Desire-Part V-Joyful Participation in the Sorrows of the World

A rolling cloud of violet smoke announced the arrival of his eagerly awaited visitor. Bacchus closed the door to the guest bedroom more out of protective reflex than concern about disturbing Arianna’s slumber. Pan had scrounged up a draught from Morpheus to help the poor woman rest and nothing could rouse her until the satyr administered the antidote.

Coughing his way through the purple haze, the fallen god extended his hand. “Vighnesha, hey, thanks for showing up.”

“Oh, no sweat. It’s totally cool. When Pan popped in at Amarapura I was all like ‘dude, where you been, man?’ But you know, at first I didn’t even know if he was really there. I’d gotten this righteous bud from the Disciples. Man, last time I got some shit from them, I woke up a century later with this elephant head on. I still haven’t lived that down. So yeah, I was totally freaked by the goat-man.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Nah, it’s all good. So, Bacchus, dude, how have you been? It’s been ages.”

“Well, aside from being stripped of my status as a god, I’m peachy.”

“Really, man? That’s totally harsh. Why’d they kick you out?”

“Something about me causing more suffering than I alleviate.”

“That’s totally bogus. How’d they figure that?”

“I’m not sure. Actually that’s why I called you; I need a favor. You’re one of the only beings I know, aside from Bodhi himself, who has mastered Bodhi’s philosophies. I need you to explain something to me.”

“Ah yeah, Bodhi’s got mad meaning-of-life skills. Go ahead, shoot.”

“What in Hades is he talking about he when he advocates ‘joyful participation in the sorrows of the world?’”

“Okay, bro, it’s like this: You only gotta know three things in life—Life’s a bitch and then you die. The reason life’s a bitch is because you want more than you got. But if you want life not to suck you have to stop wanting anything.”

“The root of all suffering is desire,” Bacchus murmured.

“Right on.”

“But how can all desire be bad? There’s nothing more uplifting than falling in love and joining bodies with someone else.”

“True, but think about it, you ever been with a chick you really, really dug?”

“Oh yeah. Aphrodite can do this thing where she puts an ankle behind her ear and—”

“Right? I know the thing your talking about and somehow she flips over and can still grab your junk. Woo, good times.” Vig paused to tuck a lock of hair behind his ear. “Anyway, so what happened when Aphrodite was gone?”

“Bastet came by for a visit.”

“Okay, bad example. How about this—Have you ever lost something important to you?”

“Uh—hello.” Bacchus waved a hand. “One cast out god over here.”

“Sorry, man, I forgot. But cool, that’s the perfect example. How do you feel about all that?”

“I’m pretty miserable.”

“There you go. You get what I’m saying, bro? The desire to be a god again is bringing you down. If you accept your new lot in life and go with the flow, you wouldn’t feel so fucked up.”

“So wanting anything is bad?”

“Not bad. No. Bodhi’s not making it some good or bad kinda deal. He’s saying be happy with what you got.”

“And how does all this relate to ‘joyful participation?’”

“This is the best part. It’s so friggin’ elegant it makes me want to cry. Okay, it’s about enjoying something cool while it’s there to be enjoyed. Then letting it go when it’s time for the experience to end.”

“You mean like Aphrodite and Bastet? I enjoyed Aphrodite, but when it was time for her to go, I didn’t beg her to stay or mope because she left. I turned around and enjoyed Bastet.”
“Right on. The journey is the destination. Be here now.”

“I think I understand. It’s not intoxication and ecstasy that’s feeding The Sorrows. It’s the desire for intoxication and ecstasy. More than that it’s weakness in the face of that desire.”

“You got it, my man. So whoever put the finger on you did the world wrong. And you gotta get The Council to see that.”

“And I have to do it before my followers lose faith or die out. Can you imagine a world devoid of strawberry margaritas?”

“I shudder to think of an existence without umbrella drinks, bro. Anything I can do to help?”

“You’ve done more than enough on that front. I may need some backup for some nasty business brewing down here, but I’ll send Pan for you if things go bad.”

“I’m totally there. Whenever and where ever. And I’ll give Heracles, CĂșchulainn, and Gilgamesh the heads up, too. Those dudes are itching to throw down.”

“Thanks, Vig.”

Vig scratched the round blue belly under his golden vest. “Hey, I hate to ask, but I got fierce munchies. You got anything to eat around here.”

“I don’t,” Bacchus replied. “But let me introduce you to an exquisite service the humans invented. It’s called ‘pizza delivery.’ You’ll love it.”

“Sweet, bring it on, bro. And don’t forget the extra cheese.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Desire-Part IV-Arianna

“This is remarkable,” Bacchus said around a mouthful of food. “What do you call it again?”

Arroz con pollo,” Arianna replied.

“Well, I would’ve thought it was something much more complicated than chicken and rice.”

“Thank you, Mr. Gustafson.”

“You’re welcome. And please, just call me Bach.”

“Bach? Did your mother like classical music?”

“Not in the sense that you mean ‘classical.’” Bacchus smiled to himself.

“Excuse me for saying this, but you don’t look like a Bach.”

“I don’t? What do I look like to you?”

“Christian, maybe.”

“I’m thinking not.”


“Definitely not.”


“I’m afraid I’ve never been anyone’s savior.”

“You were mine tonight.” Her dark eyes, fringed with ebony lashes caught Bacchus’ pale blue gaze.

“Well, there’s a first for everything, right?” Still adjusting to human emotions, Bacchus picked up his goblet of wine and washed down the lump forming in his throat. Savior? If he ever got back into the Palace of Light, the Council would have a long hard laugh about that one. Bacchus—the playboy of deities—affable slacker and divine gigolo, yes. Savior, heavens no.

“I’m flattered that you think of me that way,” he said.

She leaned in and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. “Should I make a plate for Pan? He was nice enough to take me to the market earlier.”

“Yes, do make Panny a plate. He’d like that. I’m told my culinary talents leave something to be desired.”

“Well, you had nothing at all here to cook. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go tomorrow morning and stock up.”

“So kind of you to offer. I’ll send Pan with you to make sure no one bothers you.” Bacchus fished four hundred dollars from his wallet. “Will that cover it?”

“Uh, yeah. More than cover it. Unless you want me to pick up a months worth of caviar and filet mignon while I’m out.”

“Whatever you think is best.”

“And that was a waste of sarcasm.”


“Oh nothing.” Arianna shook her head. Once she’d stowed the leftovers in the refrigerator, she set to work on the dishes.

Bacchus watched her move around the kitchen. Something about her presence in his home made everything feel lighter. Had he grown so accustomed to the dark that it no longer plagued him? And just what about Arianna made his skin feel warm from the inside out?

“May I ask you a personal question?” Bacchus hoisted himself onto the kitchen counter.

“I suppose I owe you that much.”

“How did you wind up in the clutches of someone like Dezi?”

The very mention of the man’s name seemed to deflate the young woman. “I’m sure you wouldn’t agree with my choices, but I have my reasons.”

“I’d like to hear them, if I may. But if you’d rather not talk about it, that’s all right, too.”

“Well, basically to wipe out my father’s gambling debt, I became a prostitute with only one client—Dezi.”

“I’m so sorry. Your father put this choice to you?”

“Oh no. No. He was rarely sober enough to walk, much less to make an arrangement like this. Dezi and his crew have been fixtures at Eliseo since I started working there a few years ago. His boss, Sr. Santos, used to own the place, but I guess you know that.”

“Indeed I do. And Sr. Santos needs to learn never to draw to an inside straight.”

“Is that how you took over the club? In a poker game?”

“It is.”

Arianna rolled her eyes. “Figures. Anyway, Dezi started hitting on me the moment I showed up for an interview and once I started working there, he turned up the pressure, but I held my own. And then my father hit a bad losing streak. He liked to bet college football and the season didn’t go at all as he predicted. So when Papa couldn’t pay, Dezi came to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“And what does your father think of your situation?”

“He doesn’t think anything about it. Papa passed away last year.”

“I’m sorry to hear your father is gone, but doesn’t that release you from his debt?”

“No. Not in Dezi’s mind. He’s made it very clear that if I ever break things off with him, he’ll reinstate my father’s debt and hold me accountable for it.”

“Can your mother help you with the money?”

“Mama died when I was twelve. Ovarian cancer.”

The fallen god’s heart broke for this young woman. She’d barely had a chance to live or experience any joy in her life. How she found the strength to weather so many trials in one short lifetime, Bacchus didn’t know.

“You know, I have a good deal of money myself. I’m happy to pay off your father’s debt, if it means that you’ll be free of this evil man.”

She wiped her soapy hands on a towel and turned to face him. Her full lips pursed, struggling against the tears that gathered at the corners of her eyes. “Thank you, but I don’t believe it’s about the money. It never was. And he’ll never let me go.”

Hopping to his feet he crossed the narrow kitchen and folded the petite woman in his arms. The floral scent of her shampoo reminded him of his own childhood, countless millennia ago. The Nymphs who cared for him bathed in lavender and rose water. His earliest memories flowed along on rivers of perfumed hair cascading around his cheeks just before he faded off to sleep. Bacchus planted a kiss on her forehead.

“I promise, if it’s the last thing I do on Earth, I’ll put this right for you,” he murmured.

“I don’t know why, but I believe you.”

“Good. Now, no more tears. I’ll finish up the dishes.” As if he had any idea how to wash dishes.

“You go relax in a hot bubble bath.”

“You sure?”

“I insist.”

Arianna shuffled off to the guest suite and Bacchus watched her with an unwavering stare. The depth of longing he felt for this mortal woman unnerved the former god. Other than Pan, he’d felt very little connection to another being.

The old goat had been like a father to him since Bacchus’s own father, Zeus, had been far too busy with his own divine politics to spend much time with his bastard son. Not to mention that Zeus’ wife had killed Bacchus’ mother and tried to kill him so as a baby, Bacchus had been placed with the Nymphs to grow up in their protective care.

The picturesque valleys and grottoes he’d grown up in provided an idyllic backdrop for most of his youth. Various Nymphae had taken turns caring for little Bacchus, nurturing him each day with flower petals and morning dew, then reading him Homer’s Odyssey at bedtime. The character of Penelope, waiting faithfully for the return of her true love, had captured the young god’s heart. Romantic tales and pixyish nannies had shaped his picture of ideal femininity. Until now, Bacchus had never met anyone who embodied the spirit of Penelope. Could a licentious, irresponsible, and irrelevant divinity be allowed a chance at pure love? He could but hope.