The door chimes jingled, announcing a visitor.
Paul, a dark-skinned man of perhaps forty years, did not look up from his canvas. He was painting the Acropolis, again. In the hundreds of times he had chosen this subject, it had never come out exactly the way he wanted it. Maybe it would help if he took off his sunglasses?
He put the brush down and ran his hand through his dark, thick, curly hair. A light wind caressed his tattooed body as he looked out from his balcony onto the city below him.
“For the gods’ sake Paul put some clothes on. It’s 2014, you’ll get the police called on you.” The woman’s voice was deep, almost husky. It almost didn’t make sense to come from her, a small, slender fair-skinned blonde with flashing blue eyes. Her short floral sundress swept to and fro with the breeze as she walked onto the balcony. She set her Gucci handbag down on the iron-wrought seat by the table.
“Artie, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Paul had pulled on a silk robe and picked up a full wine glass.
“How many times do I have to tell you, it’s Diana now,” the blonde said indignantly.
“Oh don’t pout sis. I don’t know why you had to adopt that Roman tart’s name. She was always bad news.”
“You mean she was bad news to you because you slept with her and she never let you forget that bastard. Don’t you remember? Dad was furious.” Diana looked serious. “Have you seen her since?”
“Yes. She even tried to kill me,” Paul said in a bored tone.
“That’s funny.” Strangely, Diana didn’t look amused.
“I assure you it wasn’t at the time. But you clearly didn’t come here to talk about my love life.” Paul had finished the wine and was pouring another glass.
Diana sighed. “The Erotes.”
“What about them?”
“They’re in trouble again.”
“Didn’t Eros get thrown in jail for putting too many underage mortals into ‘Gals Gone Wild’”? Paul snickered.
Diana raised her eyebrow. “There’s a catch this time. Eros and Anteros put the daughters of Sicilian mob bosses into a porn movie.”
“That’s not just illegal, it’s also very poor taste.” Paul sat and leaned back in the chair. “Regardless, what does this have to do with me?”
“The mortals know what they are, and they’re holding them hostage.”
“Sure they are,” Paul replied, unimpressed. “The mortals might even really believe they’re actually gods. Or what passes for gods these days. So what?”
Diana lowered her voice. “Eros is one of us. Anteros, I couldn’t care less, but Eros would. We need to save them.”
“Surely you jest,” Paul scoffed. “Do I look like Jason Bourne? I paid for the lawyers the last time those idiots screwed the pooch. It’s someone else’s turn to bail them out.” He stood up, drained the wine glass in one pull, and tossed it into a high arc. The glass shattered on the balcony rail. “Besides, it would be comical. When was the last time you or I handled a bow? Jennifer Lawrence is better than we are at archery these days.”
“You should listen to her,” came a voice, weakly.
Paul and Diana quickly looked at the balcony door. Someone in a grey coat was on the ground, crawling towards them. The figure looked up. It seemed that act took much of his remaining strength. It was an older man, with long wild white hair and dark blue eyes.
“Who are y… “ Diana’s eyes lit up. “Herm?” The siblings rushed towards the fallen man. There was blood trailed on the balcony, leading back into the house. Paul gently turned the man over. His stomach had been sliced open. Herm had his hands over his injury now.
“What happened,” Paul demanded. “Who did this?”
“Herm? Herm!” Diana was frantic.
“What the? Impossible, he can’t be killed.” Paul was looking intently at Herm’s limp body and now-vacant eyes. He closed his hands over the man’s chest and concentrated.
Seconds passed. Paul opened his eyes. “He’s gone. I don’t have enough influence left. Not to heal an injury this bad, caused by one of us.” He looked gravely at Diana.
“One of us,” she stammered, “you can’t mean…”
“Someone in the family is killing kin,” Paul replied gravely.
Diana rummaged through the pockets of Herm’s coat. “Wallet, keys, blackberry… what’s this?” She pulled out a folded sheet of paper. The back was streaked with blood. Unfolding it revealed…
“A map of Hellas,” observed Paul.
Diane pointed. “Look at these marks. Mount Athos. Olympus. Meteora. Rhodes.”
“And of course Athens.” He stood up. “I miss the days when I could just clap my hands and I could know anything I wanted.” He paused. “And have any woman spread her legs for me.”
“Herm was murdered and you’re cracking jokes?”
“Hey,” Paul replied, “someone went through all the trouble of writing a thousand-word story about Greek gods living among mortals in 2014 just to embed a map of his dream Greek Road Trip for The Daily Post. He wants readers to know that Hellas is a place of great history, and that he wants to see the realm that Apollo held in the palm of his handsome godly hands.” Paul struck a pose, his robe falling to the floor and exposing his golden-bronze muscled, tattooed form. He was still a handsome, handsome man-god. “I miss having wings, you know. Those made me really sexy.”
Diana’s jaw was on the floor, and there was no picking it up. “What the hell are you talking about?” Diana demanded, utterly perplexed.
Paul shrugged and put his robe back on. “I used to be the god of arts and knowledge. I still know some things that other beings can’t. Not even you my dear sister.” He chuckled. “Never mind. We are all just characters and have roles to play. Let’s have a look at that map.”