A man floats in the deeps of Malta, returning to a place he has spent most of his life avoiding. The power of the ancient sea has long overshadowed his life and tonight marks a new turning point in its history. -SY
Thirty miles off the shore of Malta, his wife of forty years wept like an orphan. It was their first vacation in far too long and taken at her insistence. A return to the old country. Needless to say, it hadn’t gone well. Call it a clash of cultures, a patriotic scrimmage. These kinds of wars were fought on quiet fronts.
Back in the navy, he’d been little more than a handyman for the Marinai housing outside of Sigonella, a lowly liaison to the local contractors. Still, he’d been proud of his uniform, and she had too. It’s what caught her eye when he’d first sat at her table. Tonight, when he asked her to dance, she shyly agreed. This was a game they played, pretending the old days were new. When every kiss was the first, there would never be a last.
A dozen men in long beards and tourist prints took offense to his attire. When they tipped him overboard, they made sure he fell facing the night sky. They wanted pop-eyed fear, cries of desperation. He turned his face to the sea. He couldn’t bear to see her framed by such filth.
The waters slapped hard against him, wrapped tight, and pulled him down. He floated in darkness and thought only of her. Already the ship was distant, the slow roll of its wake finding the Mediterranean’s rhythm. They would reach the Syrian coast in two days. Maybe someone would stop them, but it wouldn’t be him. He would exhale. He would inhale. After a quick struggle, he would rest.
When a god shows up at your door, you can’t exactly turn him away. Phokus is recruited by none other than the big guy himself, and sent on a merry little chase. All in the name of a little warmth. SY
A knock at the door roused me from frigid dreams. This being Athens, it was likely a thief ready to slit my throat, so I was disinclined to answer. On the other hand, it could be a disguised god who’d reward my inhospitality by turning me into a chew bone for Cerberus. So, I roused myself out of bed and threw on a lion skin over the leopard and bear skins I already wore. I looked like a walking food chain, but cold beats style in my home.
I opened the door, and a blast of wind cold-cocked me. When my vision cleared, I saw a slouching, bearded old man. The rags he wore were so tattered I wouldn’t have used them to wipe my chariot, if I had a chariot.
“Can you spare some food for a stranger?” he asked, his voice a mix of sand and icicles. If this guy wasn’t Zeus, I was the Cock, the Dog, and the Fox.