Each month we feature the work of one of our writers. This month’s contribution is below. Archived pieces are here.
THE STORYTELLER AND HIS DOG
Homer sat shaded under the olive trees during the long dog days of summer. His mood was dark, you might almost say, wine dark. Like the sea that carried the men of Hellas to Troy. What a great line that was, he mused, absolute classic! Only a tosser like Hesiod could complain about it being overused. And what was that crap about the story being “nine and a half years too long”? That, from a man’s whose main contribution to epic poetry was some old tosh about a girl opening a box! Seriously?
But today Homer was struggling. He had often heard fellow storytellers talk about the Difficult Second Epic Syndrome but to be honest he had always thought it a bit of myth, until now. After his mega success with the Trojan thing the expectations for the sequel were high. So far it was going well; returning war hero, vengeful gods, one -eyed monster, sexy Sirens, “I mean”, he thought to himself, “What’s not to like?” But to be honest it did lack a real ball grabbing ending.
When he returned to his white walled farmhouse, his faithful hound Argos by his side, his wife looked up from her loom and noted her husband’s subdued manner. “Not going well dear?” she said. “It’s that ending isn’t it? For someone lacking any formal education his wife could be quite perceptive. Still, as Homer had often thought, a woman sitting weaving all day must think about issues other than just “How to Be Obedient”. He considered himself quite forward thinking on such matters.
“All your stories seem to about men fighting, it’s all sex and violence”, she continued, “How about a woman outwitting a group of men for a change? Make it more realistic.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that”, Homer replied. To be fair, he didn’t mind a bit of controversy. That thing between Achilles and Patroclus had caused quite a stir. It had gone down well in Athens but then it would. Elsewhere, not so much. But a simple woman outwitting men? Was the Ancient World ready for that?
At this point Homer’s dog got up from his place by the hearth and peed on his mistresses’ loom.
“Look at what that filthy old thing has done!” shrieked Homer’s wife, “I was making that tunic for Penelope. I can’t stand the woman, but she’s got an unmarried son who would be perfect for our Cassandra. All that wailing and doom -mongering she does has put off too many suitors already. Now, I’ll have to unpick the damn thing and start all over again.”
Homer felt as if a thunderbolt had struck him. He looked down at his dog and for the briefest of moments he thought he saw the image of the muse Calliope reflected in the hound’s eyes.
“Argos”, he said, “You’re a legend. At least you will be when I`ve finished this sodding Odyssey.”
This story was published in the Write Time Anthology One
Published in 2019 by Shoreham Press CIC
Write Time is dedicated to the older writer. www.writetime.org
© Bob Crockett