Lesser Greek Gods

A Muse Meant for Critters

Duel on White Hall Street

Eris Ascending

Haven't I Seen You Before?

Murphy's Star

 

 

 

 

Straight Line

 

“Damn, I love this.”  The voice carried a bit causing heads to turn to regard the man who could be happy standing in line to get to a urinal. Actually, he was standing in one of three lines entering this facility in this stadium. Three lines going in at a snail’s pace though the line the speaker occupied did seem to be moving quicker than the other two. Halftime, the home team losing, as usual, down by ten against the best defense in the league. Add to that, the exciting new running back, number two pick in this year’s draft, had just gone down with what appeared to be a season-ending Achilles rupture. You could see in the minds of the folk in the lines the astonishment that someone could be happy at a moment like this.

The speaker’s companion, a large, swarthy, Mediterranean type, grinned. “Me, too!” he said, “but, obviously for different reasons.”

“You are a son-of-a-bitch; you know that; don’t you?”

“Hey, no talking about the parents, Gramme. We agreed to that.”

“Yeah, okay, I’ll leave the Nymph out of this but, Sten, you’re taking way too much pleasure in this.”

Sten laughed. “It’s what I do, you know. Might as well enjoy it. And, for that matter, you’re not a Tartarus of a lot better.”

Sten’s companion laughed. “Yeah, I know. But, when you’re the god of lines, what else can you do? You’ve got to your satisfaction where you can.”

“I hear you, friend; I hear you. The god of bodily functions knows what it’s like.”

“So, here we stand, you pumping fluid into bladders and me not moving lines. If these folk understood what we are up to, I think they might try to kill us.”

“Can’t say as I’d blame them. Futile effort, of course. gods can’t die.”

A new grin suddenly appeared on the one called Gramme’s face. “I’m a terrible person, I know, but let’s switch lines.”

“You mean just get out of this line and go to the back of one of the other two?”

“Yeah, let’s do it.” Without waiting for a response, Gramme moved from just outside the door to the men’s room to the rear of the longest line. Stenocoros followed. Immediately, their new line began to move while the companion lines ground to a halt.

“How do you do that?” Stenocoros asked his friend.

“How do you pump fluid into their bladder? Don’t ask rhetorical questions.”

“It ain’t easy; that’s for certain. More than six billion people in the world, now. Bodily functions all over the place. Not easy to stay on top of it all.”

“Don’t start, Sten. There was a time when I only had to worry about the entrance to the Olympic games, the annual drama competition and, now and then, the volunteers for jury duty. Now, there are highways around the globe, sports stadiums and theaters everywhere. Great Zeus, there is even an Internet with lines of bits and bytes everywhere. What used to be a pretty cushy assignment has become downright distracting.”

“Okay, okay, we can’t get into this whose godlihood is worse. I get it.”

Observing the two were now again approaching the rest room entrance, Gramme asked: “You want to switch lines?”

“Works for me.”

Grown men watched with astonishment as the two moved from just outside the entrance to the end of the third line, which now began to move after an eternity of not moving at all. When the two finally arrived back at the door, those same grown men seemed about to cry and one man in the line next to them asked them, as their line entered the loo, “how’d you know?” The gods just laughed and shrugged their shoulders.

Exiting the loo, Sten started a new discussion: "Gramme, I’ve always been curious about something.”

With a quick glance to confirm that true interest played on Sten’s face, Gramme asked what Sten wanted to know.

“Well, you know way back when, were you involved with Pythagoras and that crew?

”Yeah, I was. Lines you know.”

“I suspected you might have been. What’d you do?”

“Well, Hermes and those damned winged feet of his got there first to provide the definition even though he got it wrong. I just helped out with the parallel thing.”

“Parallel thing?”

“Yeah, you know, parallel lines never meet. That’s a basic part of what I do. Take for example, a modern freeway. Two lines of traffic moving parallel, they never meet.”

“Of course, they do. Eventually, some car crosses over.”

“Not if I’m involved, they don’t. There’s never enough room for lane changing and one lane is always moving faster than the others, so, they never meet.”

“Yeah, well, the net result is a massive traffic accident when those lines meet.”

“No, they don’t. You’ve got me confused.”

“How so?”

“You’ve got me confused with the other guy, the one who arranges massive pile ups.”

“Who’s that?”

“Ares, the god of war.”

Sten burst out laughing. “Yeah, right; makes perfect sense.”

Joining in the laughter, Gramme added: “Like all of us, the modern world gave him the opportunity to branch out.”

As the two gods joined the lines to the refreshment stands, Sten asked: “Something you said I don’t understand.”

“What’s that?”

“You said Hermes screwed up the definition of a straight line.”

“Yeah, but Gertrude Stein was wrong as well.”

“You're being obtuse.”

“Of course, I am. An obtuse is a set of lines after all, one of my favorites.”

Sten delivered an elbow to Gramme’s side. “You going to answer my question or not?”

Grimacing at the pain of Sten’s elbow, Gramme asked: “What question?”

When Sten threatened a second elbow, Gramme danced out of range. “Okay, okay. It’s pretty simple if you think about it. How did Pythagoras define a line?”

After just a second’s thought, Sten replied: “The shortest distance between two points.”

“But, that’s a particular kind of line,” Gramme said.

“Yeah, a straight line.”

“And Gertie observed that there’s no such things as a straight line in nature.”

“And Gertie was wrong because there are crystals in nature and crystals are nothing but straight lines.”

“But, Gertie was also right and being also right she made Hermes also wrong.”

Consternation set in for Sten. He said nothing for a moment but then conceded he had no idea what Gramme was talking about.

“Consider our fellow standers-in-line.”

Sten looked around, found nothing in particular to observe. “Okay, I am considering our fellow standers-in-line. What should I see?”

“You should see a mixture of heterosexuals and homosexuals.”

Consternation failed to depart. “Okay, I see a mixture of hetero and homosexuals, so what?”

With exaggerated smugness, Gramme answered: “Proof positive there is no such thing as a straight line.”

 

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