|Death's Sticky Feet
In Muse-Speak, Time Unknown
Death had sticky feet. Had to. It made sense of nonsense, and flasher-like, exposed mortality's illogic. Why else did Death strike in fistfuls? See, one shiny day, a thousand ages ago, Hades' black-winged bitch landed on our fine green earth, crabbed grey head swivelling in wonder, wowed to be up here, free from fiery lakes and snake-haired punishers. Then tragedy coughed a reminder into Death's missing ear that he's got to leave this blue-skied, purple-flowered earth, go deep south back to eternal blackness. Pissed, Death clacked his tomby teeth, then clenched his desiccated fingers. That's when he felt the spear.
After that, it was all bad timing. Blind to our scrawny visitor, a prime slice of late teenaged hunkdom, eyes colored like up there, hair colored like down here, this huge smile taking up half his perfect face, walked right up him. Nobody important, not Hesiod or Aristotle either, just some guy, the first poor bastard to lose life's virginity. Death took one look through his grimy eye sockets and thought, ‘No fucking fair,' then launched that silver-tipped spear. It entered with a crunch right below one breeze-stiff nipple, and the pretty boy gasped, mouth oh'ing, the same look and sound he made when his best friend sucked him off under the bridge last month. Then down he went, right before those bony feet, crumpled from the shock of penetration.
Had to be a spear that did him, nice and phallic. Very suitable for Death the rapist, who had all this fresh new hate for these beautiful things who lived in the light. So much for the placebo-lies about his impartiality told in later ages, the calm, solemn-faced guy whose meatless face stared gloomily from church walls and Iron Maiden albums. All crap. From the start, Death was a prick, and when he shoved it into you, a little blood, a little sting, and bang--down went the corpse formerly known as your wife, your mother, your best friend.
Death, grinning at his own irrefutable strength, bent and wrapped an arm tight around his conquest, whispering, "You're mine, you slut, you're mine," through those dull teeth. Only when he tried to fly off, Death's cracked soles stuck to the ground. A little cosmic irony, a little smack in the face from the Fates. Yeah, Death got his comeuppance, his comedownance, a twitchy little reminder that even monsters weren't omnipotent.
But the Fates were no champions of humanity. Not these three, with their busy scissors, the great circumcisers of life. No, this was a vengeance thing, pure and simple. See, they'd all three danced naked with Mr. Reaper, stroked his bony thighs and rode his spear to ecstasy. But behind their backs, Death said the Erinyes gave the best blow jobs. Our girls didn't like that, thought their lips were superfine, and sped Zeusward to prove it. The thirtieth orgasm convinced the supreme mastergod that our little cock-sucking soul spinners had a true gift, and while they slurped back his divine gism, Zeus granted them a reward. They used their frequent-sucker points for some payback.
Next thing you know, Death's off zinging to earth for his first round of ‘shoot the happy mortal,' and it all went according to plan...Until he tried to leave, the chilling body clutched to his chest, and nothing happened. One screech later, he started stomping and pawing the ground like the bull who knocked up sad, horny Pasiphae, waving his spear for leverage. Well, he should've been more careful. Seems Death had annoyed metal-forging Hephaestus, too, and all of that spear-waving had a bad effect: the silver tip broke off, flipped upward and burst another dumb bastard's heart. A third spearhead grew back, and it happened again. A panicked look on a young wife's face, a gasp that might've been an orgasm but wasn't, and down she went. Death was really pissed now, and the next spearhead flew far, striking that old widow as she gathered irises in her garden. Her turn to flop onto the soft black earth, the irises wreathing her. Finally, a dozen dead mortals later, his wings fluttering like an epileptic bird's, weird death-sweat trickling down that pale skinny body, our imperial poobah of nevermore got free.
That became the pattern through the ages. A landing, a death, a stuck foot or two, a death...
Maybe I'm misleading you, though. This story's about Death, sure, but it's also about love, a twisted sort of love between a god and a king. Let's talk about the king first.
Oh, he was a looker, a male Galatea, with bronze-colored everything and a mouth like a plum, begging for a bite, a thumb, a big hard god-cock. But toss a handful of stones back then, and pretty boys burst from the earth, a dozen for a dinar. Just ask Deucalion. So that wasn't Iphicles' special appeal. Nope, seems the Fates tossed this plum-mouthed king a little extra something, compensation for the screwy details of his birth, with a brother born of Zeus' hyperactive loins. I mean, ouch, right? Even the Fates stopped flirting with the Muses long enough to help Iphicles out, because no one should have a hero for a brother. And what did they give him, besides those candied looks? Kind of ironic, actually: after a chin-tapping session, they gift-wrapped some tragedy and booted it into little Iphicles' crib.
Huh? Hey, never underestimate the power of misfortune. Sure, it scares some people, who think it's catching, like the plague, and they run, tail-feathers on fire. To others, though, the sufferer's got a sexy edge, and watching him, you speculate that life's taught him a little humanity, a little compassion, and that maybe, just maybe, this life-broken guy can love you when no one else can.
That was the draw for the Olympian scapegoat, the runt of Zeus' litter, the bane of mortals everywhere, the impossibly beautiful, impossibly strong, impossibly lonely god of war. That's right: Ares. For most of his eternal life, Ares ached in his black-leathered heart, and took it out on the battlefield, showering in guts and hatred. He and Death worked hand in hand, a symbiotic nightmare of pain and violence, and would've stayed that way until one day Ares went to torture his brother Hercules. You know the type: do-gooder, do-better than everyone else. A chick-magnet with a heart of gold, divine-Daddy's darling, an uber-hero with extra big muscles and morality enough for two. Ares hated him, and got a perverse satisfaction from injecting some jealous darkness into his brother glowing life.
About to burst onto the scene and kick a little heroic ass, Ares bounced off the ether and hung in between layers of space, stunned somewhere deep and bloody. ‘Cos Herc wasn't alone, and for once, he wasn't happy. Invisible, choking on mouthfuls of silent excuses, Ares watched. Oh, not his ox-dumb brother. No, the other one, the bronze one with the scowl, who clenched his fist every time Herc launched his advice, which crashed through the room, landing hard in Iphicles' gut, and Ares learned, through Herc's sermonizing, the history of the other guy's life: biased mom, Herc-impersonation, dead wife, pity-crown, coup. When Iphicles hit the wall, cracking Jason's face with his fist, and stalked out, Ares followed him, straight into his bedroom.
The seduction didn't take long. How could it? Iphicles got one look at Ares' face and was ball-squeezed by lust, but also by the knowledge that this guy, god, Olympian, whatever, was his real brother, lover, soulmate, whatever. By the time Ares had bent him over the table, cock pressing into Iphicles' firm juicy ass, the two were eternal. Poet-fodder.
Wait! Don't go. That's not the end. You haven't forgotten about Death, have you, our skin-challenged soul-stealer? The thing is, he's not the villain in this piece, not really, or a hero, either, but more like a spear-wielding, sticky-footed catalyst. If you're looking to sprinkle blame, do it on Ares, who loved Iphicles down to his shiny black boots, who couldn't stay away from him, who took him every night with the candles burning bright, from the front, so he could see that perfect, tragic face loving him back--only our heart-winched war god couldn't admit it.
Trapped in cliches about strength and manhood, and worse, scared shitless of his own vulnerability, of his toffee center, Ares refused to admit his terribly true love, and spouted a river of lies that drowned Iphicles' faith in his own loveability. And let's face it, our pretty king didn't start with much. Poor Iphicles, self-esteem lower than the inner ring of Tartarus, thinking he was only a notch in Ares' tally of ‘Bad Things To Do To Herc,' got a boner for Death, and started doing crazy things, like not wearing armor into battle.
Ares, mouth wired shut by fear, said nothing, just fucked Iphicles harder
every time, leaving purple-blue handprints all over his lover's body, reassuring
himself that Iphicles was real, was there with him forever, even if he
had to take him from behind now, to avoid that drowning face.
With a clang and a whoosh, Death hit the bloody earth on a pine cone crusted hill between Corinth and Megara, and tossed his spear, silver under the sun.
Iphicles, charging into a knot of soldiers, got hit in the neck, and dropped to his knees, blood spurting between his fingers. His cheek touched a red-stained pine cone just as Ares appeared, not invisible this time, but there, more there than he'd ever been. Only Iphicles didn't know, couldn't know anything ever again, sleeping the dark sleep alone.
Death didn't give a shit about any of this. He had a mission now, a duty to the top guy down below, and reached under Iphicles' fallen form, bringing the limp body tight against his breastbone. Time to go, so he gave a giant flap of his leathery wings and--
Was dragged down by one reality-struck god of war, who, as it turns out, wasn't quite all villain after all. Even this guy, he of the suppressed emotions, couldn't deny what he felt when Iphicles bought it on the hill, and no way was he letting some scarecrow with wings take his lover away. So Ares grabbed a knobby shoulder with one hand and landed a punch on a bony jaw with the other.
Death's head jerked back and his teeth chittered, but he didn't let go (they don't call it the death-grip for nothing). Not every day such a fine morsel came into his hands, and he was hungry. "Go," he whispered inside Ares' head, and wriggled his ass like a cat preparing to pounce, Iphicles heavy against him. "He's mine, mine, mine."
Ares hit him again, and shards of grey bone stabbed the ground. At Death's squawk, soldiers laid aside shields emblazoned with Athena's owl, and shoved back their visors for a better look, then formed a circle around the small group.
"Get him, Ares," someone hissed.
When Death spun around, ready to strike, a ring of pissed off mortal faces stared back, and Ares punched him a third time, on the sharp curve of his hip. Bones rattled, and the men clanked their spear in approval.
"Kick his ass," another one said.
Death was not amused, and gave another voiceless shriek, bones rattling like a baby's toy. His eyes, if he'd had them, would've burst like old stars, from sheer fury. Can you imagine what went through his mind? There he was, minding his own business, carrying out his sacred mission for the dark guy downstairs, and along comes his friend--hey, they partied together, war and death, one lobbing, the other catching--to steal his sweet ecstasy. Who wouldn't be furious? Even the world around him could feel it: the green leaves of an oak blackened, flowers gasped and withered, while a sparrow flopped to the ground, tiny drops of black blood spilling from its beak. But a tango with war couldn't match the delight of slipping through blue ether with a cooling corpse, and Death just wanted to split, so he hugged Iphicles to him and crouched, ready to fly, sticky feet and war gods notwithstanding.
Last chance. Ares knew it and charged, head bullish and low, and did the crowd-pleasing thing: he knocked that scrawny fly boy on his bony ass, which hit the pine cones with an embarrassing phlaaaat. As Death tumbled, he dropped Iphicles, and Ares dolphin-dove to catch him. That's when Death, flailing in the earth, whacked him with the spear, right on the chest, and the head broke off, shooting deep, west of his heart.
Ichor flew like red ribbons into the air, where it dissolved, melted on the wind's tongue. Hugging Iphicles' life-betrayed form with one arm, Ares dug inside his own chest, feeling through muscle and tissue for that silver triangle, and found it, drawing it out. Only as he did, the diseased edge scraped against the thick fruity pulp of his heart and cut him. Ares, being Ares, didn't react, although it had to sting, just dropped the ichor-lined head to his feet, stomped it deep under the earth, then zipped through space with his dead lover, while disappointed Death flapped back home.
At least the warriors were happy, and switched allegiances, building
a temple to Ares later that year.
Back on Olympus, the gods were gathered, having sensed that one of their own was hurt. Oh, they didn't care about Ares, and this isn't a story about families and acceptance. No, Zeus' pretty progeny dropped by Mom and Pop's cloudy palace just to check that the Twilight hadn't happened while they were buffing their nails.
Ignoring them, his heart sorer than ever, Ares lay Iphicles at his father's feet. "Heal him."
Zeus, cranky because Hera had spoiled another of his extramarital frolics, wiped some dusty bits of Semele from his robes and said, "It's either you or him."
Aphrodite, who found a little piece of compassion under her jealousy, maybe at seeing her kids' father covered in his own blood, stepped forward, frothy in pink. "You know what that means, don't you? You'll feel that pain forever. Iphicles is going to die sooner or later. Just let him go, and I'll make you forget him." As incentive, she breathed deeply, and her breasts nearly burst their lacy restraint.
She didn't exist. "Heal him," Ares said, and breathed deeply, too, because one long breath hurt less than two shallow ones, and he was nothing if not practical, even now.
With a shrug and a casual wave, Zeus did, and Iphicles quickened with a moan. No one clapped or even blinked, and maybe that's why the Twilight finally came for them.
"What's going on?" Iphicles asked, his brain still foggy with death.
"Life," Ares told him, and took him away.
It was no explanation, but Iphicles didn't seem to mind, not then, or
later, on his back in Ares' great bed, Ares' cock filling him, Ares' hand
on his cheek.
Iphicles never did remember what happened, and Ares never told him.
Not about how he'd fought death for him, how he'd been wounded, how it
hurt to breathe and always would. Sure, Iphicles asked about
the zigged scar over Ares' heart, but Ares couldn't tell him, even when
Iphicles touched him there, or licked him, and it hurt like death.
It was a show, not tell, kind of thing, understood only by war gods and
A moral's too telling, but makes such a nice ending, and these two deserve it, don't they, that final bit of closure? How about this?
Death has sticky feet, but love, even in a black-leather disguise, can kick its ass.
Not poetry, either, but...