The Iron Writer
2015 Spring Equinox Open
The Jack Kerouac Bracket
A Moon Rock
Dani J. Caile
Zeus, her father, was at his easel trying to capture the right shade of cloud passing by his window in the Heavenly Deities Nursing Home. His was a large room, comparative with his once-held status as ruler of all Greek Gods and raper of any woman he took a fancy to, including her mother, Leto. She tip-toed over and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Oh, hell, Artemis! You startled me! You could’ve given me a heart attack. If I had a heart, that is.” Zeus put his paint brush down and hugged his daughter. “What brings you here to my humble abode in this retched place?”
“Can’t a daughter visit her father when she wishes?” She sat on the edge of his bed, testing its softness, and then jumped up and down on it to test the springs.
“I guess you can.” Zeus went back to his painting. “Mmm, I’m still not quite happy with the depth of my stratocumulus…”
“Painting again, father?” She patted the small package in her pocket making sure it was still there after jumping.
“Oh, you know. Being kicked off Mount Olympus doesn’t really make your immortality. When you’ve been a god, and a top god at that, where do you go? After a millennia of depression I’ve tried everything. Music, sculpture, painting, dancing, even tiddlywinks, but it seems I’m just an old dilettante, dabbling in a million things but getting nowhere, that initial interest dies…” Zeus put his brush down once more and turned to his daughter. “Hang on. I don’t understand. Why aren’t you shouting your head off at me, or pleading me to help you in some way? Where’s the ‘deus ex machina’, Artemis?”
She giggled and ran over to him, placing the small wrapped package into his hands.
“Happy Birthday, father,” she smiled, as his face beamed in happiness, brightening the room.
“You remembered?” He sat there for a moment in surprise and joy, the light around him
dimming only when his smiled had left. “I didn’t. No one else did, either.”
“But I did. I got you this.”
Zeus struggled with the wrapping until it fell to the floor in pieces.
“It’s a rock.”
“Does it…does it symbolise anything? Am I a ‘rock’ in your life?”
She shook her head.
“It’s a special rock, father. It comes from the Moon.”
“Oh, thank you.” He threw it up a few times feeling its weight, then placed it on his easel. “I’ll put it with the other three thousand or so I got from Selene and Hecate earlier.”
“Well, to tell the truth, all the shops were closed and seeing as I was passing by the place…”
“Ah, the truth comes out…”
“But I remembered, father. At the last moment, yes, but I remembered!”
“Thank you. So, it’s my birthday! I think I’ll open up Youtube and watch something sleazy…jello wrestling, yes! It reminds me of the good old days, you know, with all those goddesses and mortal women…”
“Aw Moooom!” Fay wailed. “Do I HAVE to?”
“Sweetheart,” Jane smiled sweetly, her lips tight against her teeth. “The Greek display at our local museum will be wonderful.”
Fay screwed up her face and rolled her eyes.
“Bet Jason’s Mom would let him go to the jello-wrestling comp at school instead of dragging him around looking at a lot of stupid statues,” she muttered.
“I heard that, young lady!” Jane frowned at her pre-pubescent daughter. “You have no appreciation of art and culture.”
“Yeah, well…” she almost spat the next words at her mother. ” You trying to be a dilettaunt?”
“The word is ‘dilettante’, Fay. Do you know what it means?”
“A stupid relative?” Fay cringed as she made the comment. Her mother’s face had gone a funny shade of purple, and she thought she’d probably pushed her mother far enough.
They entered the Museum with Jane pulling Fay along behind her. Fay’s feet were like lead, and her whole attitude reeked of defiance.
Two statues flanked the entrance. Jane stopped, took a deep breath and gestured towards the figure on her left. Then she said quietly, if not altogether calmly – “This is Artemis – Greek goddess of the moon, wild animals and hunting.”
Jane turned to other side. “And this is her twin brother, Apollo.”
Fay nodded , put her hands behind her back and stared at the ceiling.
For 15 excruciating minutes Jane desperately tried to interest an obviously bored and uncooperative daughter.
It didn’t work.
Just as Jane was about to give up, Fay’s face suddenly brightened.
A young lad passed across the archway of the next exhibition over. Fay knew who it was – Jason – only the coolest guy in her class. Pity he didn’t know she existed! She slipped away from her mother and careened towards the next room.
Jane dashed after her, but Fay skidded to a halt and stared at the middle of the room. There, in a glass cage, with Jason peering at it, sat a rock.
She sidled over and read the plaque over Jason’s shoulder.
“Found in Central Australia, this rock has eminent scientists puzzled. It seems to be either a part of a large comet or part of the moon.”
Jason turned to her.
“Hey, exciting, isn’t it?” he said to Fay. “I wonder if it’s the one that killed all the dinosaurs?’
He looked over her head at her mother.
“Hi, Mrs. Hudson. Can I take Fay around and show her the dinosaurs?”
Jane nodded her assent, surrendering to a more powerful influence than herself.
This museum visit was going to be OK after all.
Can’t Trust Anyone Now-a-Days
“I’m entrusting this to you, Phoebe, because you’re a true dilettante, and what you don’t know will keep you safe.”
Artemis placed a rock on the table in front of both of them.
Phoebe, who didn’t realize she was just insulted, picked up the rock and turned it over in her hands.
“Beautiful,” she said. “From the Archaean era, for sure. Where did you get this specimen?”
Artemis laughed. “Not even close, my dear. It’s a moon rock. It was entrusted to me by my father, Zeus, eons ago, long before mortals like you could fathom the implications of knowledge of the true cosmos.”
Phoebe put it down and crossed her arms. “Fine. You got me. I’m wrong. What do you want me to do with it?”
“I’m moving on,” said Artemis. “I thought I could live among the mortals. I believed I’d adapt as every generation evolved. But it’s too much.”
Artemis eyes were hollow as she looked past Phoebe. She continued:
“I thought I could keep my fighting skills honed. But alas, this took me to participate in the lowest of lows. Something called ‘jello wrestling.’ It was a most degrading event…”
She shook her head, unwilling to finish.
“So what am I doing with this?” Phoebe broke the silence.
“Take it to… whoever you think you know who would like it. I know you don’t really have any clout at the University, but I don’t doubt that you know some people there.”
* * * *
Artemis is running. She runs through the hills, after her prey, a large buck.
She is happy. The night air is smoggy, but warm. The forest brushes against her skin. She is enjoying life on Earth for the first time in decades.
The buck jumps a fence. She jumps it too. The buck makes it to the other side of the highway. But Artemis stops in the middle of the road. The automobile lights are still dazzling as they get closer and closer.
The buck is long gone and long forgotten while Artemis lies on the pavement.
The mortals are shouting around her. It’s an incomprehensible jumble of sounds. Artemis blocks it out and issues a final prayer to her father:
“Zeus, please commit me to the heavens. Orion is waiting for me…”
* * * *
Phoebe is standing in the lobby of the University’s Science Hall awaiting her appointment with the heads of the Astronomy and Geology departments. There is a TV on tuned to a major news network.
“Scientists are baffled by the appearance of not just one, but nine new stars…” reports the news anchor.
Phoebe stops listening and checks her watch. This appointment can’t end soon enough, she thinks to herself. She adjusts the bag she’s holding. And this damn thing is heavy.
She checks her watch one last time and wonders if there’s any way Artemis would know if she put the bag, rock and all, in the garbage can she’s eyeing.
Two of a Kind
“Why do you drag me to these things?” complained Brooke.
Maggie grinned, and pulled Brooke toward the doors, “Come on, Sis. This’ll be fun.” Pushing through the doors of “The Moon Rock Cafe,” their senses were flooded with the sound of Charlie Parker’s jazz sax, and the white noise that comes with crowds of people.
Brooke and Maggie pushed their way to the bar past Einstein, Peter Pan and Amelia Earhart. Dressed as Artemis and Aphrodite, the two twin sisters, blended right in. Maggie ordered a couple of beers.
“Oh look, Jello wrestling. Let’s go watch.”
Brooke was thoroughly revolted.
“Why do you do this? You know I hate these places with all the carousing, and carnal … I’m chaste, Maggie, and I can’t stand crowded smoky bars and grimy slobbering men and -”
“Drink your beer, Brooke, and shut up. You need to get laid, that’s what you need.” With that, Maggie turned to Indiana Jones next to them, and threw her arms around him. “Hey, handsome, you got a friend for my sister?”
The Mummy next to him turned toward Brooke. “I’m interested. You looking for some company tonight, sweetheart?”
Brooke rolled her eyes and pushed him away. “No, I’m not!”
Maggie grabbed Brooke by the shoulders. “What’s wrong with you, Maggie? Why are you so closed? Why do you isolate yourself, and push people away; especially men?”
Brooke glanced around at all the people who were starting to pay attention, and cringed in embarrassment. “Not now, Maggie. Don’t do this to me.”
“No, Brooke. I’m fed up with you and your, ‘I’m a virgin, don’t soil my white garments,’ stuck-up frigid, purity dogma!”
Brooke exploded, “Look who’s pointing fingers! You with your skimpy little low-cut dress, and that greasy, nasty make-up. You’re a slut, Maggie. How can you let men touch you and fondle you? They just use you, Maggie. You mean nothing to them!”
“Listen, Brooke, just because you and I were conceived by the rape of our mother doesn’t mean sex is a bad thing.”
“Yes it does, Brooke. It’s a horrible, horrible thing!”
Pushing her way through the crowd in tears, Brooke ran from the building.
A few minutes later, a fireman came outside and approached her.
“Hey …. that was pretty embarrassing in there, but I thought maybe … Well, I’m not really much for the bar scene myself; more of a dilettante than a professional partier. My friends drag me here, but I don’t care for it. I …. I, too am the product of a rape. That’s all. I suppose you want to be left alone. That’s all I wanted to say.
Brooke turned around and stared at the man as he turned to leave.
“Yeah …. That was pretty embarrassing.”
He paused, “Would you care to talk about it?”
Brooke was silent as she took a step outside herself for an objective inward look.
“ …….. Yeah ….. I would.”