The God That Comes
Wine as therapy? You tell me.
Or maybe, don’t tell my therapist. I was sent off to a session of AA when I mentioned I’d had a glass of wine while in college. My family has a history, I guess you could say. Of taking too fondly to the drink.
There is a small chance I’m talking to a wall, though.
Dionysus has summoned me. Who’s that? He’s the Greek god of wine. And he’s here to hear my funny stories. Well, funny to me, maybe.
In yesterday’s bargain bin at Grocery Outlet (don’t go here for perishable items), I ran into a problem. It was the five dollar wine dilemma. The bin was empty.
There was no wine.
This is where Dionysus starts to laugh. Perhaps it’s my demeanor: I’m weary, flighty, witty. I just need a cigarette in my hand to wave around, for delirious, addicted effect.
At check out, I run into my old flame: Ryan. He has the last bottle of Olympus Wine, the best wine five dollars can buy.
This is where it gets tricky. I start to tear up, and Dionysus seems weary. Can I pull this off, my story? There’s wine on the line.
I need this to work.
Ryan has always stirred in me great emotions, most of which have led me to tearily begging for forgiveness, like I am now. Please give me the wine. Please.
Dionysus of course appreciates the wine fervor. But I can sense that this is turning dramatic; maybe this won’t be funny after all.
Then, Ryan says something. He says: This is for my girlfriend.
It hits me like a fifth glass of pinot noir.
Luckily, I have fast hands. And it was a screw top.
I take the top straight off with one hand, and in one motion, Olympus wine is spilling down my chin and into my mouth, where it belongs.
“You owe me five dollars.”
Well, I say, slurping the remains of fermented grape off my lips. You owe me the last five years of my life.
Dionysus is laughing now, and I can tell I’ll be spared.
Ah, he says. You know, he says. I’m the Greek god known to make mortals insane.
Well, I say.
You are also a Greek god of epiphany, and I’m having one on both of us.
“Ahhh, Dionysus, I am about ready to tell you something that will rattle your wine bottles. You were born of Zeus and Semele but the goddess, Hera, was jealous that Samele snagged your Dad so she ripped you to pieces. Your heart was then placed in Zeus” thigh where you once again became a child, Dionysus.
You were hidden by your aunt and raised as a girl to hide from Hera’s wrath and you embraced feminity, becoming a cross-dresser. Later, you rejected this identity and became bigender.
When you married Ariadne, you assumed a transfemine identity when you became the god of sex, wine and orgies. So you are not who you pretend to be, I am sorry to say!”
“Ha! Ha!” guffawed Dionysus. I have know this all long but since this is not accepted here, I dress like a man and people do not know the real Dionysus! I have to bind my breasts in order to hide these facts. Since you have made me laugh, I am transporting you to my world as a court jester but you won’t be able to participate in the festivities. Your only job is to make me laugh!
I then realized that Dionysus was having the last laugh!
“Ah, my master, Dionysus. I drink to your health, your wealth and your Godly stealth. You are highest among Gods, oh grape one!
God of wine; God of fruit and God of fruitfulness. God of fertility, though when feasting on the fruits of your grape, we find it hard to be fertile – hardly able to rise to the occasion. Unlike your esteemed thyrus, wound with ivy and dripping with honey, I – a mere mortal – am unable to drip my honey from my own thyrus, as my staff falls limp after several barrels of your sacred wine.
Though the maiden may be naked and wound around my thyrus – urging my staff to rise and send lightning through her body, in imitation of your father, the great Zeus, the power of your grape overcomes all my manly desires and though I dance and sing in ritual ecstasy and virtual insanity, I can raise nothing more than a smile – and my voice, as I sing your praises in drunken celebration.
Through the power of your wine, I lose my ability to make the maiden moan –and am reduced to making her whine.
That is my sacrifice to you, Dionysus…”
Dionysus, I invited you over today to clear a charge put upon me.
I know you are the Greek god of wine and the master of fertility.
Although, you know nothing about me or any of my silly ways.
It is pertinent that I entertain you, so that I may live for many days.
I am a creature of my belonging, a shoemaker by hand.
If that is not crazy enough, I will show you to make you understand.
I drink a glass of wine each day, and I’m sure you need one now.
Several glasses I will feed you before you have to sit down.
Once you sat down and remove your shoes to get very comfortable.
I will snip and remove your pinky toe, that will be inevitable.
You will be so drunk that I promise you will not feel a thing.
And to keep the room lively enough, I work and I sing.
As I am singing, I made some shoes, for a man that has four toes.
And as you come out of your drunken stupor, my hospitality shows.
I will walk you to the door, with your brand new shoes on.
You will chuckle, we will fist bump knuckles, and all my charges will be gone.
Laugh or Die.
(P.S. This is the promised sequel to Speak of The Devil’s Daughter)
‘Hey! I find your daughter and you put me in here?’ I shouted and rattled the bars of my cell. Nobody paid me any attention.
As you folks following my huge embarrassment of a life may have recalled, my day was hijacked a few days ago by an ice-cream stealing daughter of the Devil. And after she had left, her devilish father had appeared in all his bell-bottomed glory, giving me his name card and making me promise to call him as soon as I spotted the ice-cream thief again.
I mean, could you refuse Satan anything? He’d probably reduce me to a grease spot on the floor, only to have my mother spray Mold-Away on me.
And true to my words, once I spotted Satan’s daughter again, I had phoned the Bell-Bottomed One, whose number bore an uncanny resemblance to the Fibonacci Sequence and pi. (How’d you even get Wi-Fi in Hell?) It worked though, and in a few minutes a SWAT team (That stands for Satan’s Wicked And Tortured) arrived post-haste, only to arrest me and Satan’s daughter.
Five minutes later, I found myself in a prison in Hell. What can I say about Hell? It was hot. And depicted very gory scenes, which is probably why children don’t go to Hell. It’s probably NC-34 over there.
And since I hadn’t gotten a permit to leave Hell (which can be obtained in Heaven, I learned from the SWAT team), I was to be stuck there for a long, long time.
If only I hadn’t bought ice-cream a few days ago.
Luckily for me, a fat dude popped up next to the six SWAT members, who were guarding my cell. (Honestly, do I need that much guards? Am I such a threat?) The SWAT team shouted in alarm and raised their pitchforks, but Fat Dude snapped his fingers. As if on cue, all the guards went crazy. One grabbed the dude next to him and began to waltz with him. The third guard began to breakdance wildly in perfect synchronicity with the fourth guard, who was doing ballet. The fifth and six guards burst into tribal dance moves.
In all, it was pure chaos.
Fat Dude turned to me. He had curly black hair, small beady eyes and a potbelly the size of a watermelon. He was wearing a garish purple shirt and shorts, which was so short they were practically boxer shorts. Without a word, he tapped the lock and the door swung open.
‘It won’t be long before the guards revert back to normal,’ Fat Dude warned.
‘Father doesn’t like me doing permanent damage. I’ll have to write a report to the Board of Ethics.’
I was still confused. Who was this fat man, whose dad permitted him to run around causing jailbreaks and temporary madness? Before I could ask anything, Fat Dude snapped his fingers and the world spun.
I found myself in the ruins of an ancient Greek theatre with no memory of landing. The Theatre of Dionysus. I’d seen it in photographs. Fat Dude stood next to me, holding a goblet of wine.
‘Have some?’ he offered. Another goblet shimmered into existence in his other hand and filled itself with red wine.
‘I’m underage,’ I muttered. I had no desire to drink wine or beer after I hit the drinking age though. They taste horrible. I have no idea why grown-ups enjoy them so much.
He shrugged and the second goblet disappeared. ‘Well, don’t you have anything to say to me, boy?’
Firstly, I’m not a boy. I’m sixteen. Boys refer to males under the age of 12. Or that’s how I like to think.
I wondered if that was what he wanted me to say.
‘Um . . . thank you?’ I briefly asked myself if grovelling was needed. I restrained myself to.
‘Well, words aren’t enough. And my help comes with a price. Do you know who I am, boy?’ he questioned, already on his third glass of wine.
I racked my brain. Wine . . . madness . . .
What happened next, I owe it to Rick Riordan.
‘Dionysus! You’re Dionysus!’ I blurted. (Reading those Percy Jackson books really paid off.)
He smirked. ‘Finally, it comes to your small mortal mind. Yes, I am Dionysus, god of wine and madness, though I much prefer Lord Dionysus.’
And what happened next, I owe it to Steve Rogers.
‘There’s only one God, and I’m sure He doesn’t dress like that,’ I mumbled.
He raised an eyebrow. ‘Well, I’m not actually a god. That’s a misnomer. I belong to a race of superpowerful immortal beings who call themselves Olympians.’
So . . . a superpowerful fat dude who could make wine from air and drive people insane? Why not? My mind just expanded to fit all the weirdness in.
‘I recalled saying that my help comes with a price, yes?’
‘Um, yes.’ I didn’t like how he said price.
‘Well, you can make me laugh!’ he declared.
‘And . . . what if I can’t make you laugh?’ I ventured.
Dionysus’s bright smile lost some of its wattage. ‘Well, then I’ll have to kill you for disappointing me.’
‘I’ll do it!’ I said immediately.
‘Excellent! I’ll give you an hour to prepare. See you later!’
He vanished in thin air, leaving the smell of grapes.
While Dionysus did whatever Olympians did in their free time, I paced the ancient theatre, trying to think of something entertaining. Humor isn’t exactly my strong point.
That was when the second Olympian appeared. In fact, I had already gotten used to beings popping out of nowhere, so I was able to sufficiently control my heart rate. Lean, tall and muscled, he had tousled hair the color of rust, large blue eyes and wore a postman’s uniform, which accentuated his wiry frame. Tucked beneath an arm was a postman’s cap with two little dove wings. I also noticed his black boots had two wings each too. He held a parcel in his hands.
This was obvious. ‘Hermes,’ I tried to sound reverent.
He nodded. ‘Parcel for you,’ he said as he thrust the package into my hands. As I fumbled with it, he produced a signature pad. ‘Sign here, please.’
My mom had told me not to accept things from strangers, but I got the feeling that if superpowerful beings wanted to give me things, I had better accept.
After I picked up the pen (which had two metal snakes coiled around the pen’s barrel) and signed, Hermes disappeared in a flash of golden light.
I ripped open the parcel a little too hastily. In there was a carefully wrapped bottle of something and some small parts of equipment. The label on the bottle read N₂O.
Nitrous oxide. Laughing gas.
There was even a manual on how to assemble a portable laughing gas system.
I set to work.
An hour later, Dionysus arrived. ‘Well, hello there!’ he beamed at me.
Easy for him to smile. He wasn’t facing execution.
‘Ah . . . hi to you too.’ I connected the last two tubes. Hopefully I hadn’t misread the manual. If I had, things would go really wrong.
‘Well, I trust that you have something planned out?’ he enquired.
‘Well, yes, I do.’ Then I pulled the oldest trick since God created the universe. ‘Look over there!’
Despite being immortal, Dionysus apparently had little experience. He waddled around, doing a full 180-degree turn. I took that chance to lunge at him and strap the mask on, before hitting the release button. As the laughing gas entered his Olympian constitution, I began to tickle him in all the sensitive spots known to man. (My mother taught me all the best areas for tickles.)
Dionysus began to shudder at first. Then he began to giggle a little.
Then it blew into a belly laugh.
‘HAHAHAHA! Stop! Stop!’ he chortled. I relented as he stooped, catching his breath and pulling off the mask.
‘So, do I win?’ I offered.
‘Why, yes you do. The Olympians favor you, boy,’ he chuckled. He snapped his fingers and I was in my room, back at home. The only difference was a small card in my hand.
We’ll meet again. For there is a price for Olympian help.
Emblazoned on the card was a caduceus staff, the symbol of Hermes.
Dionysus and I Had Wine, It Was Divine
“And child, what do you have to offer me?” His voice was a chilling low that rattled her bones, almost blocking out the notice of his slurred words.
Setting her glass on the table, Katerina peered into the man’s pale, grey eyes, raising her brow in question. His eyes were glossy but there was an absence of tears, and the longer she took them in, the darker they grew. Small shadows danced in his eyes, flashing from men with regrets to women trying to get an edge.
“Words of advice,” She finally said, leaning back into the pure, white Windsor chair. “Something my father told me repeatedly.”
Irritation flashed in his eyes, the burgandy a threatening contrast against the pale grey. Quickly, he finished his blood-red wine, and set the golden goblet on the glass table, both rattling in protest.
“I asked you to make me laugh,” The man growled, leaning forward. “Not childish advice. Perhaps I should just kill you now.”
The words sent chills racing down her spine, but Katerina refused to acknowledge them. Instead, she locked her hands together and placed them on her knee, careful not to touch her emerald green dress.
“Sorry, what’s your name again?” She asked innocently, glancing at her nails for a second longer than necessary. “And what authority do you have over me?”
Silence sliced the room in two, allowing tension to bridge it back together. Immediately, Katerina ran the words through her mind again, quickly realizing she went too far.
But before she could say anything, the man choked out a laugh. It was bitter and low, sounding of an old man’s cursed laugh on his deathbed, that didn’t match the youthful facade he put on.
“No mortal with their life at risk has talked to me in such an ill manner,” He said, running a hand through his chestnut, curly hair.
“You never answered my questions.”
“Dionysus, but you know that,” He said the words slowly, drawing out each syllable. Then, he reached for his goblet, it instantly refilled before reaching his lips.
“Zeus is your father,” Katerina started, eyeing her own glass. She had only taken the smallest of sips. “But he is also the father of all chaos that’s ever roamed about Mother Gaea.”
Wine shot from his lips, but her words distracted Dionysus from caring. Instead, he laughed again, only this time it rumbled, the low pitch slowly becoming higher as it continued. Swiftly, he blinked the tears away, but not before Katerina noticed. Once he managed to compose himself, the Greek God of Wine took another sip from his goblet, and swallowed for dramatic effect.
“He is the creator of everything chaotic regarding the children and jealousy of his many lovers. You’re bold to make joke of my Father, but he is also where I find the most laughs.”
They shared a smirk, Dionysus’s with a mischievous glint in the grey of his eyes, Katerina’s with a calm wave coursing through her.
“It seems I’ve lived to laugh another day,” She remarked, reaching for her wine. “Perhaps it was the doing of wine to my youthful being.”
“I do not set age requirements to deluge in life’s gifts and my blessings.” And with that, Dionysus raised his hands to clap, but stopped and eyed Katerina one last time. “What was the advice you wished to give me earlier? Curiosity inclines me to ask.”
“Never pass up free advice.”
From where I sit, this house looks like all the others along the tree-lined suburban street. It is a cool, calm night. I know such nights can be dangerously deceptive.
I step out of my squad car. The peace of the night is broken by blaring music. The neighbors got that much right. I walk up to the front door. I pause a moment taking note of the unusual curlicue doorknocker.
As I raise my hand to the knocker, the door opens. A young fellow in a toga stumbles out and vomits on the lawn. Great, this is some sort of frat party. The last thing I want to deal with tonight is a bunch of drunken college kids.
I step through the wide open door into a crowded living room. To my surprise, a middle aged man is looks to be holding court upon an expensive leather sofa. His cheeks are red. His engorged midsection is straining to break free of the bed sheet turned toga wrapped around him. He even sports a vine of grape leaves like a crown across his brow. Wine bottles lay scattered about him. His stemmed glass is nearly empty. But fear not, a young woman, lounging at his side, carefully, cautiously refills it.
Not your typical frat party, after all.
“Excuse me, sir,” I address the room’s centerpiece.
“Good evening, officer,” he replies.
“Good morning would be more appropriate. Listen, we’ve had complaints from the neighbors about the noise.”
“Sorry, my good man. We shall turn it down forthwith.”
He waves a hand in the direction of a furry legged young man. Quite a good costume this one has. I wonder how he managed to squeeze his feet into those little hooves. What are those goat-legged guys called? I can’t remember. The music dies down to a low hum.
“It is not just the music,” I continue, “current Covid-19 regulations in this county prohibit gatherings of more than . . .”
My last few words are drowned out by a groan from the goat-legged man. I look over and watch him stumble to the floor.
“Is he all right?” I ask.
“Oh, Pan is fine.” the fellow opposite replies. “You can ignore him. I try to. What were you saying, before, about the regulations?”
“What I mean is,” I straighten my belt and put on my most commanding voice, “the party has to end.”
The man looks at me confused for an instant. Then, he burst into laughter. The sound echoes around the newly subdued house.
He tries to calm himself. Failing, he bursts out in laughter once again.
“Oh, ha ha, ha ha ha ha. That is a good one.” He finally manages a discernable sentence. “Pan, did you hear? The party end, that is a good one. For a second officer, I thought I might have to kill you. But my,” he begins to chuckle again, “what a good joke.”
“Kill me?” I blurt out. “Is that a threat sir?”
The fellow falls back into his uncontrollable revelry.
“I need to step outside for a moment,” I declare. I am going to need backup.
Don’t be fooled
“Will you make me laugh or face execution? the choice is yours my old friend.”
That was the first thing he said to me upon seeing his guards drag me across the floor with chains around my wrists, how merciful, to give a criminal a chance to evade penalty, I never took the god of wine and dine to be a sentimental type. Hmm, is he drunk, to ask for a laugh when he’s perfectly capable of making himself laugh.
I remember the last time we ate; He had skipped into the room like a toddler, with a broad grin and a glass full of solid grapes. “Can’t have a meal without a glass of wine” he said holding the glass up higher
I gave him a deadpan
Dionysus chuckled “lighten up, I’m not quite drunk yet; Nymph, take this away and bring us two glasses of wine”
“What is your choice?” Dionysus said, his face emotionless while he slammed his staff onto the floor with a thud.
“…I will make you laugh” I say a little uncertain, Dionysus knows that I am horribly unfunny
“Will you now?”
I didn’t speak and just focused on trying to think of something, anything... or maybe not ‘anything’. I raise my head and looked around, desperately looking for ideas; white ceiling, white walls, white curtains, even the sky is a dull white instead of its usual blue, it’s all very ironically hopeless. My gaze lands on Dionysus to see him wearing a white cloak, I stare at that cloak, white, no Dionysus prefers Red wine… That’s it!
Taking a deep breath, my face dripping with sweat, I open my mouth “Dionysus, which innocent soul vomited in your palace today to turn your red walls white or have you started to care more for white wine?”
Nothing, even the nymphs are unamused, well what now? Well I suppose I could stall for time. “Old Friend, why are you showing mercy to a ruthless criminal when you know death is what I deserve?”
It was then that Dionysus Laughed, a cold, humourless laugh that sounds more like sirens than celebratory music. Dionysus stood up from his throne and stared down at me with the most chilling gaze I had ever witnessed. “Mercy! You think I’m showing you mercy?... how naive, a lifetime in my cells will please me far more than a dead body, for your crimes, you deserve to face my wrath not once but for the rest of your immortal life, I will have my guards torture you in every way imaginable”
I stand defeated, I may have made him laugh but all the same, my ending is a well-deserved hell.
The Golden touch
How was I supposed to know the Greek Gods are real? I wasn’t exactly taught that in school, but nonetheless I get lost in the woods and wind up in a God’s vineyard. While I was marching through the vineyard trying to find my way to the nearest road, two women made of vines escort, or rather drag, me to the main villa. I’m thrown down onto marble tile in front of a lounge chair with a large man, a woman and man draped on top of him. His purple smoking jacket showing basically all of his chest and stomach, though his grandiose beard actually blocking some of his chest from view. He actually doesn’t look that far off from the depictions I’ve seen of him, so I know pretty much right away he’s Dionysus. Then I find out the second plot twist of today, trespassing is a sin punishable by death. It’s not like I meant to get lost and wind up in his vineyard. Dionysus speaks for the first time after his lackey tells me of my crimes.
“If you can make me laugh, I’ll forgive this indiscretion,” he sounds very drunk. Though from what I remember of my Classic’s class, he is the God of wine, so he probably always sounds that way.
I wrack my brain for something funny, I draw a blank.
“If you fail, you will be drowned in the ripest of grapes. My servants will smash you under their feet while they create my wine,” he says to add insult to injury.
I zoom back in time to my middle school years, when I learned quite a bit about the Greek Gods. I remember Dionysus is the God of wine, the vine, theatre, and religious madness. He likes orgies. He was an outsider on Mount Olympus, because his mother was mortal. Semele was his mother. I think about how he brought his mother back from Hades and gave King Midas the ability to turn anything he touched into Gold. A light bulb goes off in my head.
“May I ask you a couple questions, your Godliness?”
“You may,” Dionysus waved his hand at me in laziness.
“Is it true you brought your mother back from Hades?”
Dionysus looked at me sharply, “Yes, that’s true.”
“Is it true you gave Midas the golden touch?”
He was starting to become impatient, “Yes, true as well.”
He leaned forward and stared at me as I said the last line.
“Is it true you resurrected Midas just so that he could have a starring role in Goldfinger?”
Dionysus paused for a moment before letting out a roar of a laugh,
“That’s so bad it’s actually good. I did enjoy that movie.”
He leaned back into the waiting arms of his consorts.
“You have amused me, you may live. Leave now,” and with that the door to the front of the villa opened, I walked as fast as I could without running.
Your Guest Has Arrived
“I am Olaka the prince of Odongo”.
“I know you before you were born”, says Dionysus.
Behold! “I present to you the unending lists of gratitude bundled on my back as I was setting off to come and visit you”.
“Your benevolence to us has been great. Even those who were barren are now smiling because the nectar that dropped into their womb by your hands of fertility has made their life fruitful”.
More so, the oracles sent their regards too for the aromantic flame that oozes out from your pot of wine. Indeed they see visions more clearly once they have just sipped from your winepress.
“Day and night end in Dionysus," says the youths and the emperors. When they sit back and a glass of wine from your palace is served to them, they go back home and fertile the lands of every maiden that is of age to becoming a woman.
“My god, Dionysus, apart from that, I Olaka desire to dine and wine with you forever because you are the end of everything that is good”.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha! “You are a true son of your father the king of Odongo. Come and have more of my blessings my son”.
Afterwards, the god bid him farewell with a kiss of a smile, a blue apple and a jar of fresh tasty wine.