(This short story features Dalisay’s mother, Echidna, who appeared in Tadhana)
She was the mother of monsters, and many considered her to be one. Serpent from the waist down, Echidna slithered instead of walked. But she held her head high, and her torso too, as she processed along the river Styxx. Ahead she saw her son, Cerberus, pacing inside a gazebo.
His three heads turned in her direction and fixed her with her husband’s reptilian eyes. It was alarming seeing snake eyes on a dog’s furry head, let alone on three of them, but she’d grown used to the sight. His scaled tail wagged at her approach and then his whole body juddered. The three-headed dog melted into a gray mist which churned until a young man stumbled out, coughing.
He waved away the vapors from his transformation as she coiled her snaky half around a boulder. She planted the part of here where snake and woman met–aka her rump–and regarded her son with a raised brow. Modesty finally made him cover the bits of his anatomy a mother shouldn’t see once her son was out of diapers.
He cleared his throat. “Yes well, thank you for meeting me.”
She waited, arms crossing under her covered bosom. He’d invited her here for a reason. One she wouldn’t like if his delivery was any clue. Her towheaded darling was loyal to a fault, which meant her husband was meddling again. Typhon needed to find a hobby and stop nosing around their children’s affairs.
“Out with it, what’s he got you mixed up in now?” She’d have words with her hubby about this later.
Cerberus stared at her for a full minute in slack-jawed surprise, and his hands quit their speedo impersonation. She covered her eyes; she didn’t need to see her son in all his manly glory nor have said image burned into her retinas. Thank all that was holy he’d been cut from the same god-mold as her husband. If she erased sonny boy’s head and pasted on her husband’s like so–yes, much better. Her shoulders sagged in relief. If she had to have a naked man parading his dangly bits around her mind, he’d better be the god she woke up to every morning.
“I’m not mixed up in anything.”
Of course, he was. He likely thought this was his idea. Typhon was a smooth operator.
“No really, I invited you here because I want you to break the news to dad.”
Wait a minute. Sonny boy had deviated from the script. Perhaps she was wrong about her husband engineering whatever Cerberus had decided. And he’d decided something. His body language screamed certitude once he’d recovered his composure.
“I got a job.” He drew himself up and pride puffed out his muscular chest.
“Honey, save the posturing for your friends and the preening for your female admirers. And cover your dangly bits, please. This is your mother you’re talking to.”
“Sorry,” his cheeks flushed in embarrassment as his hands resumed their underwear impersonation. “Aren’t you going ask about my job?” And now it was his turn to raise a brow.
“I’m not going to like it, am I?”
If he was telling her first, he wanted mommy to soften daddy up before he delivered the blow. Or, he was hoping mother dearest would play messenger to angry papa god and leave him off the hook for explanations. Which scenario was sonny boy angling for?
His shoulders drooped. “Probably not.”
“Then out with it. Don’t leave me on tenterhooks.”
“I got a job in Hell. I’ll be guarding the third circle where they put the really nasty souls.”
But did he have to look so pleased? She should have seen this coming. What job could a three-headed, snake-tailed god get? He could only take human form for a limited time.
to be continued…