Friday, September 3, 2010

Beware of Greeks Wearing Versace

Recap: Thoki & Lor have been journeying across the Mediterranean towards Egypt. Thoki's wants to learn more about the Source of Ultimate Chaos and use it to rule the world. Lor wants to learn "where the bread goes" when he makes toast. 

Young Thoki entered the dark cave. He’d never been here before, his mother had wished to spare him the pain until he’d been prepared. What pain? Thoki and his father had never been close. Even now as he descended into Loki’s prison, Thoki was urged on by curiosity not compassion. He would hold the bowl. He’d promised his mother that, and he would do his best to keep the poison from falling on his father’s face. Still if his hand should slip or during those moments when he had to empty the bowl, it’d be interesting to see his father writhe in pain.

His feet grew heavier as he approached the interior chamber and he hesitated. Odin had told him not to go, that it could lead to disaster, but he had to go, to see. Most of all, Thoki wanted to know that his father was finally in a place where he couldn’t hurt him anymore.

Thoki heard laboured breathing and rounded the last turn of the narrow passageway. There he was. Thoki remembered his father being handsome. Like all the Aesir, Loki had been the epitome of his sex and forever young. Now he looked gaunt and withered, his mouth still scarred from where leather thongs had once bound his mouth shut. His fiery red hair was streaked with grey and lines framed his boyish face. As always his eyes were black coals, twinkling with disarming energy. It was impossible to hate Loki, not when he went out of his way to make himself appealing. It was the trickster’s mark. It had never worked on Thoki, however, since Loki had never cared whether the boy’d liked him or not… until today.

            Loki lifted his heavy head, and smiled charmingly at his youngest son through his marred lips.
            “Hey, sport. How’s it going?”

*****

“You’ve got everything you need?”
“Yes, Thoki,” answered Lor.
“You’ll remember to eat three times a day?” Thoki asked the lumbering giant.
“Yes, Thoki.”
“And not just junkfood, okay?”
“Yes Thoki.”
“I’ve done your laundry for you. Your Thomas the Tank Engine shirt is on top. I know that’s you’re favorite.”
“Yes. Thank you, Thoki.”

Thoki shouldered his backpack, full of his few possessions and prepared to leave.
“Look, I’m really sorry about this. It’s nothing personal, you understand.”
“I understand.”
“It’s just I think we need to go our separate ways.”
“Yes, Thoki.” Lor only nodded with no expression on his hammy face.

It made Thoki’s stomach feel even more squeezed by guilt. He tried to swallow it and walk away.
“You know I’m not coming back, right,” he prompted.
“I know,” answered Lor.
Thoki grimaced and walked out the door to the youth hostile. Lor, seated on the flat bug-infested bed said nothing. There was no need. Thoki always came back.

Thoki felt like scum as he walked down the streets of Bastia. After a grueling month or two adrift at sea (he’d lost count of the days) he and Lor had run aground on the island of Corsica. It had come as a relief somewhat, since Jormungandr had been singing show-tunes at them the entire time. After a day the serpent had run out of songs and started repeating them. Thoki reflected that if he ever heard “One Day More,” one day more he’d have to suppress the urge to make a pipe bomb.

It was colder these days, and Thoki wrapped his zip hoodie tightly around himself as he walked without direction. He just had to get away. He had been getting closer to Lor, and that was dangerous, so he left. Oh, sure, he’d left about eight times already and always ran back when the loneliness became so depressing he’d thought he would die. But this time was different. He was leaving for good this time. Friends were a liability. They made you vulnerable–made you weak.

He found that his feet were taking him to very swanky part of town. The shop windows were full of handbags, and shoes, and silk shirts, and absolutely no price tags. Tanned women and men were strutting down the sidewalks in designer clothes and sunglasses. Thoki suddenly felt shabby and inadequate… and very pale. He wondered what he was doing here, why had he felt compelled to wander into this district? And then he saw the reason.

A bronze-skinned young man in a floral silk shirt and scarf was seated at a wrought iron café table. His dark brown hair was expertly styled, his white pants dazzlingly clean and immaculate. Thoki sniffed at the leather purse dangling on the back of the man’s chair. He’d heard of a “manbag,” but had never seen one before. Then again, he’d never seen a man in lilac silk before either.

The man had a carefully calculated air of casual elegance. He was sipping a cappuccino and admiring the beautiful women that clipped past (Thoki amended that–beautiful women and men that clipped past). While he leered, the man absently fingered the gorgeous silk scarf around his neck.

“Hermes?” inquired Thoki approaching him.
“Yes it is, but it’s pronounced, ER-MAY,” said the man, before looking up. (Thoki thought the word, ‘queer’ instead of ‘man.’ Vikings were not typically raised to be open-minded.)
“Oh you mean me,” said the man with a polite smile.
“Yeah, you’re the guy with the wings on his ankles. Hermes, right?” asked Thoki ducking under the café awning.
“I’m wearing Manolos today. Hello, Thoki, I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Me?” cried Thoki, taken aback. He didn’t think Hermes knew he existed. “What do you mean waiting.”
“We all have been,” said Hermes. “Take a seat, will you?”
“We?” Thoki eyed the seat warily, like it might have poison spikes on it, and eventually decided to sit. He tried not to think about how it might appear to other people to see two men, one in pink, seated at a café table.
“Antonio, please bring my friend a coffee and a selection of pastries,” said Hermes to one of the waiters.
“Yes, Signor Fattorino,” replied the waiter before scurrying off.
“Fattorino? Messanger boy?” translated Thoki, when Antonio had left. “Cute. Real cute.”
“Less is more,” replied Hermes with a shrug. “But let’s talk about you.”
Thoki tried not to look uncomfortable as the god’s dark eyes swept over him with unmasked interest. Hermes, another trickster, was turning on the charm. “The source of ultimate chaos, was it, Thoki?”

Thoki blanched whiter than his Nordic pallor. “How did you know that?”
“I know it. I know more than you think about it, perhaps. The Greek and Egyptian pantheon were united briefly, if you recall.”
“It was after my time,” said Thoki, who wasn’t sure.
“I even know the name of what you’re looking for,” continued Hermes.
“You do? What is it?” said Thoki leaning in.

For the first time since their meeting, Hermes looked uncomfortable. He shifted in his iron chair and glanced towards the street. “I don’t have permission to tell you, but… it’s not what you think it is. This Chaos you’re after, it’s nothing any of us can master or contain. You’re a fool to think you could harness it.”

Thoki bristled at this effeminate nancy-boy trying to tell him off. “Oh really?” he said with a sneer.
“It’s not going to bring him back,” said Hermes gently. “I know you’re doing this to please your father but–”
“EXCUSE ME?” cried Thoki sitting up, abruptly. “Where do you get off? I’m not doing JACK to please my dad. Not all of us are happy with our deadbeat fathers, Hermes. Here in the loosey-goosey Adriatic, you might enjoy being a little bastard, but in Norway, father-son relationships are a bit more complicated.”
“We’re in the Tyrrhenian Sea, dolt,” said Hermes acidly.
“Whatever. Just don’t mess with me, douche-bag. I have my own reasons for doing this.”
“Well, if I can’t convince you… maybe you’d be willing to come with me. I know someone who can tell you all about the Source of Ultimate Chaos.”
“No,” said Thoki.
"You don't trust me?"
"DUH."
“Well at least wait until after breakfast,” said Hermes indicating the plate of éclairs and the steaming hot coffee that had just arrived.

Thoki tried to ignore the heavenly scent that was wafting from the coffee and food. He hadn’t eaten a decent meal in over a year, and he hadn’t eaten solid food for about 2 months. His stubborn pride vanished utterly as he grabbed the cappuccino from its saucer and took a deep drink. It was bitter and very strong, but filled him with gorgeous warmth and caffeine. He then bit into the éclair, and saw stars. He never realized that food could taste like this.

Overcome with fatigue, remorse and emotion, Thoki burst into tears and cried face-down onto the table. Hermes almost regretted clubbing Thoki over the head with a blackjack.

***

Back at the hostel, Lor hadn’t moved. He was still waiting for Thoki.


Thoki and Hermes

17 comments:

Gracie said...

Marvelous! I think I've met Hermes...

Brilliant stuff, Monica. And poor Lor.

"...you might enjoy being a little bastard..." Cracked me up. But the tension is rising. Can't wait for the next one. Love it!

Tony Noland said...

Oh. My. God.

Hermes?

Nothing quite like a fashion joke to get the weekend off right.

daniellelapaglia said...

Another great episode. I love the conversations with Lor the most. Poor guy stuck at the hostile. Can't wait to see what Hermes does with Loki. :)

Marisa Birns said...

Oh, I love this story! Laughed at all the wonderful humor you interspersed throughout the piece. Er-May? Hahaha.

And your drawing is marvelous!

Monica Marier said...

I'm glad everyone's not to thrown by the darker aspects of Thoki. He really is a rotten bastard, and I thought it necessary to explain a little about that anger.

@Grace yeah. The bastard joke was low, but I went with it. Thought it was a funny double entendre.

@Dani Sorry if you couldn't read this one w. your daughter.

@Tony & @Marisa. This whole story came about because of the Hermés Scarves.

Eric J. Krause said...

Another excellent story! Love the humor in these, and glad to see they can get a bit dark, too. Looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Amalia T. said...

I really feel badly for Thoki. Poor guy is in over his head and can't realize it. I loved his line about how father-son relationships are different in Norway, though! ha! It is a fabulous day when pantheons come together for a little clubbing of one another in the head :)

Valerie said...

Ah, the thickening! I feel bad for Thoki but I feel worse for Lor, even if he isn't quite smart enough to know what's going on. Maybe BECAUSE of that.

Mari said...

Loved that you put a drawing along with the story!

This Er-May seems quite queer, doesn't he? Would you believe me if I told you that your queer Hermes looks just like *many* apparently-straight Italian men? Really. O.O

Monica Marier said...

@Valerie Yeah, I felt bad about Lor being left behing, but Thoki needed to see how much life sucks without the giant.

@Mari I'm glad you liked the picture. I had fun looking through vogue magazine for inspiration. I'm part Italian, I believe you and have seen first hand the behavior of the menfolk. But imagine what it would look like to a straight-laced viking! *L*

ganymeder said...

I *LOVE* that you made Hermes so foppish! And a man with that sort of fashion sense just has to be up to no good. All he needs is an ascot!

Noticed one small typo:
>Overcome with fatigue, and remorse and emotion. Thoki burst into tears...<

I think you meant to have a comma instead of a period after 'emotion.'

I am a big fan of this series. Keep 'em comin'! :D

Monica Marier said...

@Ganymeder Ooh thanks! fixed it. (gah! I hate formatting on this thing!)

theothersideofdeanna said...

Monica, you are the master of punmanship. This was so much fun, but my favorite sentence is one that "seems" simple: "The man had a carefully calculated air of casual elegance." That sounds so poetic I had to read it out loud three times.
Can't wait for the next installment!

Anthony Deaver said...

Excellent! Now I'm hooked and need to go read the others.

Maria A. Kelly said...

Ooooh, a cliffhanger! I just knew that Hermes was up to no good. You just can't trust those from different pantheons. I also love it that Lor has a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt. Brilliantly funny!

afullnessinbrevity said...

This is a whole stack of fun; a little darker and creating a curious interest in where this will go. I loved the opening lines about Lor and wondering where the bread goes.
Adam B @revhappiness

techtigger said...

love the pic! and great story, as always :) Now I can catch up on the latest one