Blog #25: The Telemachy of Mishka

Blog #25: The Telemachy of Mishka

Last week I finished (the rough draft of) my second novel, ‘The Telemachy of Mishka’…  (Woo! Woo!)

 

And, so, in lieu of writing a new blog—an activity in which I have obviously, of late, been lacking anyway—here is an (‘other) excerpt [#16 was the first] for your perusal and (presumably) enjoyment…

 

(In other news… yes, I’m still waiting for the first novel to get finished at the publisher.  I’d expected it to be out perhaps as early as March—definitely by April… and instead now we’re in June, and still not done.  For the record, if anybody is in need of a digital/print on demand publisher?… I no longer all endorse or recommend Infinity Publishing!…  When and if ‘Natalya’s Tale’ is ready, I’ll let you know…)

 

* * *

 

I:  Odyssey

 

            “Sing for us, O Calliope—of youth waning into age, waxing unto wisdom!  Sing of vitality and melancholy, of desire and contentment!  Tell to us the tale of a king yet to be, from out the boy that was and the man that is!  Tell us the hardships of the half orphaned—the woe of one living in shadow!  O whimsical Muse, share thy blessed visions of a new generation of the continuing dream—for honor and nobility, for wisdom and strength and Arete!”

 

Beneath the sheltering shade of his favorite tree, Odysseus—mighty warrior, magnanimous king, hero of legend—pulled his gaze from the scintillating splendor of the sea to the ever more splendorous scintillation of the goddess appeared before him.  He took in the majesty of her bearing, the starkly stoic beauty of her warrior’s mien, he verily basked in the nigh electrical tingle of her sheer presence beside him, towering over him… and then, the moment of reverence and awe subsiding, he returned his gaze to the sea.

“Hello, goddess,” he said, his usual gruffness not at all covering the fact he was always glad for Athena’s visits.  Scratching absently at his gray and grizzled beard, he asked, “What are you going on about?  A little old for lullabies, aren’t I?”

Athena frowned, scrunchy-faced, staring down at the impudence of the man sitting—sitting!, not bowing or kneeling or begging even—before her.

Odysseus peeked up at her out of the corner of his eye, the slightest bit of smirk marring his curmudgeonly frown.  He patted the ground beside himself, subtle lilt of his head.

Abruptly overcome with a radiantly beaming smile, as if a little girl with her favorite uncle, the goddess quickly set aside her shield and spear and cozied up next to Ithaca’s king—shrinking from her usual nine foot height down to something more akin to a mortal woman—yet somehow doing so without losing an ounce of her stately grace.

“I’d for a moment thought, little brother, perhaps I’d lost my edge wi’ thee,” she said, giving him a friendly poke in the ribs.  Odysseus grunted in pain—for even a friendly poke by a deity held some force—but he was used to it.  “Thou dost seem so preoccupied with mine uncle’s watery realm… reliving thy endeavors and ordeals—or merely putting off today with dreamy distraction?  Penny for thy thoughts?”

Odysseus half scrambled to his feet, glancing nervously all about.  “Penny?!  What!?  I don’t—where—?”

Athena laughed, reaching out to place a placating hand on the startled king’s arm.  “Gently, little brother.  I meant not Penny, as in Penelope, thy queen,” the goddess clarified, as Odysseus relaxed and resumed his place sitting beside her.  “A penny is—or rather will be—a minor monetary unit that… is completely irrelevant.  What vexes the usually boisterous Odysseus into speculative silence and isolation this day?”

Again giving in to his frown, Odysseus scratched a bit more at his beard.  He knew many took this to be the affectation of a wise and thoughtful king—and Penelope, his wife, teased him, given his great hirsuteness, about having fleas.  In actuality, he just rather enjoyed having a beard.

“Why,” he asked, as if filled with an infinitely intrinsic preponderance of wonder, “do you always call me ‘little brother’?”

Athena smiled patiently, as she, too, gazed out over the sea.  She knew he was procrastinating—putting off answering her query—and Odysseus knew she knew… and, being a goddess, he surmised, she knew he knew she knew!  But at that point in his analysis of their interaction, he became befuddled and stopped thinking about it, letting it simply be the usual repartee of their idle flirtiness… (he’d often, over the years, wished she were, like her father, more pruriently demonstrative in her affections—but, of course, Athena being not only a goddess, but a virgin goddess, he didn’t push!).

“As am I the spawn of great Zeus,” Athena replied, “so, too, art thou, Odysseus, as thou dost know… if a few extra generations removed.”

“So then wouldn’t we be more like cousins?” suggested Odysseus.  “Or you could be my aunt!  (Or great, great, great, gr—

“It is a term of affection!” replied the goddess, turning to growl it directly into his face—and not seeming terribly affectionate for doing so.  “Although many mortals can rightly claim descent from the gods, only a very few have proven their worth.  Thou, O Odysseus—descended from both Zeus and Hermes, as well as being the greatest hero of thine age—art one such worthy mortal.”

Odysseus nodded his head, acknowledging her reasoning—which once more brought the smirky smile to Athena’s lips, at the brazenness of his easy acceptance of her praise.

“You’re assuming, of course,” he said, “I was not, as rumor has it, purchased by Laertes from Sisyphus?”

“Nay—I need not assume, for I know such to be falsehood,” said the goddess.  “Though e’en were such so, thou would yet be descended from a god, specifically Poseidon.  And such a happenstance would, methinks, make thine old acquaintance the cyclops Polyphemus thy cousin!”

HAA!” barked Odysseus, without amusement.  “Yes, well, then I suppose I prefer my true lineage.”

“Now, again, little brother,” the goddess said, “’tis what which so consumes thee an’ thy thoughts?  I have not the time to dally wi’ thee all the day.”

“Oh, no, surely, surely not,” agreed Odysseus.  “I’m sure you have much more important business—goddessly business—to attend to… such as…  Well, what would you be doing if not stopping by to inquire as to my mindful musings?”

Athena sighed, again suffering his obvious detractions.  “Oh, I don’t know.  What is today?  Thursday?  I have to feed mine owl.”

Odysseus held back a snicker of amusement—reminding himself again, virgin goddess: when she says she has to “feed her owl,” she doesn’t mean it dirty!

Athena scowled down at him, and Odysseus felt a momentary jolt of panic.  Did being the goddess of wisdom include having the power to read men’s minds?!

“Nay, it doth not,” said the goddess, turning away, her scowl softening.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Odysseus muttered, “Lucky for me.”

“Indeed!”

 

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—Mishka Zakharin  © 2015

 

 

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