As I make my way down the hill and among the newly built streets and buildings, the tower grows larger and even more imposing. That brings back the trepidation along with a healthy dose of panic. I did not leave home on bad terms with anyone, even though as ancient and as powerful as we are, we can sometimes be childish and very petty. Trust me, no one can do childish better than I can, when the child in me wants to come out. Speaking of which, it has been a while since I sat and had someone feed me, and now I realize that I’m hungry, but even more so, I realize that my mind is racing, so I come to a sudden stop and close my eyes.
I just stand on the sidewalk, frozen like a statue for the time it takes me to purge all the thoughts and voices from my head. Usually, that does not take long, but there have been a few times where people thought I was an actual statue. When I open my eyes again, and realize that only a few seconds have passed, I let out a giddy laugh. I throw a fist-pump, but stop short because I don’t want to freeze in that pose for all-time like poor John Bender did in The Breakfast Club. What a terrible ending that was! I stop again and shake my head, trying to roll my thoughts back to before the spiral took over.
As I was saying, I did not leave home on bad terms with anyone. I left home on bad terms with no one, because when I left home, there was no one there. During the Time of Unrest—why yes, I did come up with that title myself, thank you!—Constantine’s betrayal toward us caused everyone to retreat from man. I realized that I eventually might end up being alone. Initially, I thought I would make the trip too, but I was still feeling a pull to stay, and it was too strong to resist.
Man’s love for The Pantheon might have waned, but their passion for wine remained strong. Even though my name did not cross their lips, it always stayed in their thoughts. So instead of leaving leaving, I just left. I put on my best sandals, took my thyrsos, and started walking. I made my way down the mountain, and once I reached the base, I closed my eyes, spun in a circle a bunch of times, stopped, and wobbled dizzily in a random direction. Over the years, I have done that many times, and I am happy to say that more times than not, I have remembered to open my eyes before I started walking again.
When I finally reach the entrance to the lobby, I notice the revolving door and stand there, giggling. I start bouncing lightly on my knees, keeping time with the revolving door like I am about to jump into a game of hopscotch. So what if no one was using the door, and it was sitting still? Preparation is everything! With a loud “WEEEE!!” I run into the revolving door partition Pushing myself the meter-and-a-half I need to get to the other side, hit a perfect dismount with a jump, and stick the landing like an Olympian. I mean…what did you think would happen? Did you expect me to go round and round and round a dozen times? I am not crazy, you know.
Once inside, I do a few three-sixties or five, taking it all in. The people, the atmosphere, the smells coming from the eateries, and the polish on the pristine furniture. The buzz of a modern business centre mixes with the old and familiar Doric columns accenting the mezzanine levels, the busts and statues in the alcoves, all the marble and gold, and the color schemes of reds and purples and blues. I think I even spot a statue of me in my youth form, something the world has not seen in millennia. When I know that I can somewhat walk again, I make my way to the reception desk, weaving my way through an invisible crowd like a land-lover out at sea.
I stop in front of a P.Y.T. named Anthi. I lean into my thyrsos to keep from swaying and give her a wide-eyed smile that makes her flinch a bit. “Hello there, Anthousa. I am looking to see if Daddio has any time for me. Who would that be? Oh, you know…The Big Z, the Z-man, the big man of the mountain, the eagle, the bull, Mr. Zappity-Zap, Zeus. Yes, yes, I know I should have led with Zeus, but I had to lead myself there first. Who am I? Tell him that Dionysos, the frenetic son has returned…” With that, I try to take a deep bow as is custom, smack my forehead to the edge of the desk, and find myself on my back on the floor. I quickly decide that it is a good time for a nap, so I close my eyes and do just that.
I am guessing my nap lasts a decent amount of time, because when I wake up, I find myself on one of the many couches in the lobby, and I feel rejuvenated. More so than I have been in a long time. When I look around, I notice a beautiful young woman sitting next to me on the couch, watching me intently. It has been ages since I have laid eyes upon that face, but of course, it has not changed at all. There is my reason for my feeling of rejuvenation. It is in this moment that I know. I know that I am home. Sitting up, I take my sister in my arms and, teary-eyed, call,. “Hebe!”
After a long rocking embrace, Hebe pulls back and squints at me. “Dion! Welcome back, brother. You look…old. So you finally heeded the call! Hermes sought you out in all the usual places, but apparently, you did not want to be found just yet.” With that, she flashes me one of her bright smiles and ruffles my hair. “It’s good to see you again. Please tell me you are here to stay and not just passing by?”
I lower my eyes and whisper a quick, “No, I am staying.” I do not know why I get so shy around Hebe. She is the only one that that has that effect on me. It might be because her drink is as potent as mine. Whatever it is, she enjoys it, and it makes her giggle, so I try not to let it bother me. “Is Daddio around? I figured he would want to see me and give me one of those rants of his before he decides to take me in.” She giggles at me—see what I mean?
She says, “Unfortunately, Zeus is unreachable at this time. When the call went out, however, you were not forgotten. There is a place for you here in the tower, and the access key is in my hand if you want it.”
Still looking down, I open my palm, and she presses a set of keys into it. “The pair of chunky square ones are for the main doors. The small round one is for elevator access to some of the private floors, but do not use that one unless you’re invited for a visit….for now.”
I finally look up and give her a smile and a questioning look. “Which room is mine?”
She giggles once again and winks at me. “All of them. The fifth floor is yours.”
“All of it?”
“Yes, all of it. It has a room already made up for you to settle in for now, but the rest will be yours to use as you see fit.” Hebe stands up, smooths her skirt, and leans down to kiss me on the forehead. “Welcome home, brother. Anything else you need, pick up a phone and ask the operator to connect you to me.” With that, she turns and makes her way toward the elevators.
“Floor five?!?!” I yell a bit louder than intended, and she raises her left hand to show me five fingers without looking back. “Floor five,” I say to myself and look down at the set of keys in my palm.
Putting most of my weight on my thyrsos, I finally make it off the plush couch. If the bed upstairs is not too comfortable, I might come back tonight and sleep on it again! I slowly make my way toward the elevators and stand there waiting for one to open while repeating to myself, “Floor number five. Floor number five. Floor number five.” It takes forever for the elevator to arrive because I am too busy concentrating to remember to hit the call button. Eventually the doors open, and I make my way in along with a dozen other people.
The person closest to the control panel asks which floor we all need, and I say, “Floor number five!” I look over before the doors start closing and notice that every time the person pushes the button for the appropriate floor, the button lights up with a faint ding, and that makes me laugh. Everyone gives me a sideways glance and inches away as I stand there, holding onto my thyrsos in the middle of the elevator.
I say, “Floor number five!” one more time, take a deep breath, and when the doors are fully closed, I start singing out loud. “A little bit of Monica in my life…A little bit of Erica by my side…A little bit of Rita is all I need…A little bit of Tina is what I see….A little bit of Sandra in the sun…” A mutter of groans erupt all around me as they inch away a bit more, and some lady from the corner behind me says, “Oh for fuck’s sake… I should have taken the stairs.”
Unfortunately, I am the first one to get out, and I think everyone says a quick prayer to whatever gods they follow when those doors open on the fifth floor. As I make my way to exit the elevator, I take a step forward, lose my, ahem balance, and lean into the elevator control panel, pushing every button I can. After half exiting, half getting shoved out onto my floor, I turn, take a bow to my previous elevator companions, and I try to count the one-fingered waves before the doors close. “It’s good to be home,” I say to myself and walk toward the first set of doors, keys in hand, and whistling the rest of “Mambo Number 5” to myself.