Brother, Can You Spare A Crime?

If I’m going to go home and mix it up with the fam, for good or for ill, I need a recharge. I need to be at my best. I need a good meal, and I always liked a little eggplant.

Having memories is fun. You can play with them and put them back on the shelf and I’ve never had so many to play with before…rather stuck with a case of what to do first? So here I sit, in one of my usual spots, still playing the part of the urchin. A part far more familiar to me than that of the deity in this moment, no matter what memories I’ve unearthed.

First of all, I bloody well know some of these memories are just plain false. For one, I’m fairly sure I never played mixed doubles tennis with Typhon against Zeus and Nike. I mean…probably not right? And some are definitely still missing. That’s okay…knowing who my parents are isn’t that big of a deal…The family tree is rather more like a wreath where I come from anyways. Zeus is in there somewhere, but then again, he always is. 

There’s an image, just out of reach: A tennis racket, no wait, it was a spear, bloody with golden ichor, the smell of sulfur, smoke, so much smoke, the heat was intense, molten lava…he was made of molten lava right? Typhon. My friend. Nike is…my sister? Foster sister? Something like that. She’s coming at me with a sword in hand, Maybe-Dad, Zeus, is there too and let me tell you, if he didn’t like me before, he looks really disgusted with me now…

“God bless,” a gentle woman’s voice broke my reverie as she dropped some coins into the hat I’ve been using to collect spare change. I shoot her a smile, a genuine one. I’m not big on religion, and no god has ever really blessed me with much, but kindness is a rarity and her heart is in the right place.

Where was I? Nike? No, I don’t need new shoes…what was I thinking? No. Don’t slide back down. Dammit! you know who you are, Eris.

What to do first? That’s good; make a plan. What do I want? I want to go home. I do. I can admit that now, I want to make amends, I want to see them again because no matter what, they’re my family.

“Hashtag get yourself together,” this self-amused hiss comes from a man beneath an eggplant beret, in those fancy “shabby on purpose” clothes, from those top-class designers who charged you a fortune just to end up looking homeless anyways. He holds up his phone taking a picture of me with an arrogant smirk before walking away. He has such a look of disgust on his face, no doubt wishing he could hover just above the concrete so he could avoid any contact with it whatsoever.

So this d-bag didn’t want to throw some pocket change my way, that’s one thing, but to be needlessly insulting on top of that? No, no…

I let myself slip into the aether ever so slightly as I stand, shifting from cold hard reality, to a gossamer echo before anyone can notice. Becoming immaterial has always been a talent of mine. Sinking into the aether like it’s an old friend, not that I have those. It’s the swirling vortex that all reality around us really is, no matter how the ‘normals’ try to pretend there is a rhyme and a reason to everything. Any that may have seen, would simply see some nobody blend into the crowd. But I’m not aimless, I have a very specific purpose, this guy is mine.

My first meal in years.

If I’m going to go home and mix it up with the fam, for good or for ill, I need a recharge. I need to be at my best. I need a good meal, and I always liked a little eggplant.

Let’s see, how should I dress for the occasion? All these years on the streets I’d been unknowingly using my gifts to get by, it’s nice to use them consciously once more. Like my trusty Cornfield (my beautiful little pocket of nonsense just outside silly little concepts like time and space), I can stop grabbing random clothes from its depths to complete some dumpster chic look, and just maybe get a little style back.

I was still rocking my non-binary form, for once being aware that I even have a choice in that matter, but I allow a little slice more of femininity to seep in. Black bomber jacket, aesthetically ripped black skinny jeans, black tank top with a white insignia that mixed the symbol for anarchy with the signs for male and female, fiery orange tiger stripe bandana around my neck and a chunky pair of black sunglasses to complete the look. Hair short and spiky, just tipping into faux-hawk territory.

I looked good.

Wardrobe decided, I let myself become substantial once more, flowing into step with the mortals around me without ruffling a single feather.

My guy was still just ahead, adorably ignorant of what awaits him. I want to see if I can still see the patterns of order as they play out, and more importantly if I can disrupt them. I look at him, letting my gaze unfocus, and as my vision blurs I see them; the patterns of how his life is supposed to go, laid out in front of him. This is going to be fun.

Eggplant makes a sharp left turn. Left shares a root with the word ‘sinister’, a part of my brain chooses to remind me at this moment. He enters the ‘Hole in the Wall’, a little pub just on the line between rival townships. I follow, the cloud of smoke and regret hitting me like my father’s backhand as I enter. I know that this will be better than I could ever have dreamed. This place is brimming with over-compensating, out of work layabouts, suffering from insecurity and toxic masculinity…ripe for a little discord, or you know, a lot.

I flit myself on the fringes at the back of the bar like a winged shadow, waiting to spot the shiniest pebble I could pluck up with my talons. I’ll know it when it happens, the right string to pull, the right moment to poke fate right in the eye. 

Then it happens, my moment. The one thing Eggplant seems to care about: his phone. That thing that is more important to him than the life all around him. The symbol of this artificial construct of society, this illusion that is holding the image of his life together. He puts it down. 

Once more, I let myself fade a bit into the rampaging nothingness behind reality. Not as much as before, just enough to be unnoticeable to the eyes of the normals while still remaining mostly solid. I giddily tiptoe up to the young man and just as he’s lost in his attempts to get the bartender’s attention, I gently slide his phone about an inch off and hit the home button before excitedly jumping back with a silent squeak.

“Hey!” Eggplant snaps, ready to go into battle before he even had an opponent; an admirable quality.

I watch the faces around him and I reach out and stoke the fires of their emotions. I take what’s already in them; the gentle spark of fear, anger, hatred, etc. and make it grow. Their eyes widening and the fight or flight being activated, like a flower opening…

“Go on…let go,” I say into the aether, letting my words evaporate and mist into the back of their minds. A funny little cloud billowing out from their subconscious, taking over their every thought.

“Who touched my phone?” my funny little Eggplant yells, gripping the device he claims to cherish so tight he may well snap it in half.

“Calm down, kid,” the bartender says, an older man seemingly tired. I’m not worried, he won’t be enough to stop this train. “You got your phone. No one took it.”

“You couldn’t possibly understand.” The same snarl of condescension he showed me before now wraps itself over his face once more. “I’m an influencer.”

“You’re a what?” The drunk mess of a woman on the stool to his right laughs. The needy man bent behind her, trying desperately to get her attention it seems, laughs in rhythm, more for her sake than anything else.

“Oh, you know,” Eggplant hisses.

Eggplant and I look in the woman’s general direction at the same moment.

“Was that an accusation?!” her boyfriend yelps, jumping to a conclusion with just a little help from moi.

“And if it was?” Eggplant rebuttals, oh so masterfully. He was definitely the right pick, he’s doing half the work for me with that phallic shaped attitude he’s carrying around like a sledgehammer.

And before I am even ready for it, the needy boyfriend is up and in Eggplant’s face. It’s amazing really and suddenly in succession, a man seemingly straight off the Brawny paper towel ad is in the middle of them trying to keep them apart, even as the man’s drunken Maenad-esque girlfriend urges him to take a swing at dear old Eggplant.

We’re so close, just one more push should really get things going…

I look back at where Brawny came from and see a group of guys, clearly a “pack”, all of them with full manly beards. I rotate to glare down at the drunken woman who is reflecting my own want for violence. I give her inebriation a slight nudge and almost as an ecstatic release she screams out. The BF looks back at her just as Brawny is putting a hand up to push him back, accidentally connecting with sweet boyfriend’s jaw.

His pride more bruised than his jaw, ‘boyfriend’ swings back around causing a dawning horror to bloom on Eggplant’s face as he realizes it’s too late to back out of this. He catches the tail end of a tackle that takes down him, Brawny, and half the glasses on the bar behind them, which is all Brawny’s “bros” need to get in on the action.

Someone’s screaming as the bartender calls the cops. Someone is laughing as well…I look at the drunk woman but then realize very quickly, it’s me. I’m laughing. I’m having more fun than I’ve had in an age.

A fist flies through me, sending a thrill throughout my spectral form. I laugh still, my phantom laughter filling the room as much as the sound of crashing and screaming. Who knows what they perceive it as…a strange itching in their fists, a buzzing in their ear…or just the voice in their heads telling them to let go. Get crazy.

At some point, a fire starts. It probably has something to do with the register being used as a crash pad for two other randos, who seemingly began to fight out of FOMO, if nothing else. The glow casting an almost painting-like quality on the glorious scene I had brought forth. I could see a tapestry of old made in the likeness of this.

Eggplant is on the ground, his phone smashed to bits. I walk over to him letting myself become part of reality again, letting a soupçon of my glory to seep through, even the hint of my shadowy wings. 

With a wicked smile, I lean down and whisper directly into the back of his brain, “Hashtag: Get yourself together.” I snicker as his face collapses into an existential angst that breathes fire in me, matching that of the very literal one behind what was left of the bar.

I step back, admiring the sight of debris, the scent of blood, and the sounds of screams.

“Isn’t this just like the old times Ares…” I turn and of course, he’s not there. Why would he be? What’s wrong with me? There’s no one holding my hand now.

And silence suddenly takes the place of the comforting cacophony around me, maybe just to me, but still. This once vibrant mob seems to be moving in slow motion as the deafening quiet of the fight seems to echo.

I might as well be all alone here.

I walk out of the “Hole in the Wall”, walking on a dusty dirt road as Troy burns behind me, resigned to my solitude.

I’m still full from the ruckus, but it doesn’t have the satisfaction I had hoped for. Bittersweet but it fulfilled its purpose, my belly warm with strife. I feel the prickling of chaos behind my fingertips again, ready to be unleashed on my whims. I am gonna be okay.

It is time to go home.

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