“What are you doing?” I said, grabbing Paulino by the wrist. “We’ve got things to do!”
I tugged on him, hoping to stand his round body up on its own two feet. But the best I could do was spin him like a saucer until I stumbled and flopped uncontrollably on top of him. Paulino let out the biggest gasp I had ever heard and continued sputtering as he rolled over just to get me off of him.
“Well, that was rude!” I shouted as I sat up and watched him stagger back toward the movie set, sporadically tripping over beached driftwood and collapsing to his knees.
“Geez! Who in their right mind would want to be in such a place as this?” he muttered while brushing debris from his body only to tumble a few steps later.
Although he was a funny sight to watch, the clumsiness was becoming painfully tedious. So, with my best interests in mind, I sprang to my feet and moved in for the assist. He honestly hadn’t gone far. I mean, how far could a mortal get crawling on their knees? Gently taking his hand in mine, I patted it for reassurance.
“Oh, no you don’t,” he said as he wickedly sent it away.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Madame, there’s something about you that I just don’t care for,” he explained. “So kindly keep your hands to yourself.” And with that, he was on the ground again.
I couldn’t resist laying nose to nose with him in the sand. Looking deeply into his eyes I asked, “Are you sure about that?”
An exasperated Paulino cried out, “Oohh. This sand is so hot and my head hurts. I cannot stand beaches and don’t owe you anything. I came out here after the director asked me to scout the area for tourists. I just happened to find you. And you weren’t supposed to be here. So, my job is to make sure you go back to wherever it is you came from!”
“No!” I said, stomping my foot. “There is no way I’m going to let you get away with that! You made a promise to show me the movie set.”
“I was just trying to shut you up,” he explained.
“I don’t think you know what you’re talking about! I’ve spent the last hour or so watching you spin in circles, fall to the ground all while chattering away to yourself. I barely said anything compared to the noise in your head.” I went on to ask him, “Do you even know who I am?”
“Of course I do. You’re Sally the siren.” He answered.
“Uh, no. Try Circe the sorceress.” I decided it was time to call in some help from my friends, the local flock of seagulls.
They came in from all directions, circling overhead at quite a height. Yet, with a little convincing, I was able to lure them into a low ceiling formation. Of course Paulino started flailing like a mad man, arms swinging in all directions just to shoo them away. Or maybe it was a balancing act to remain on his feet. Who knows what his intentions were because when the birds didn’t back off, he made this really strange move while shrieking no. As he flopped to the ground, his arms and legs went stiff, not unlike a fainting goat. The only difference between those goats and this guy was he was unconscious.
I was done with the shenanigans, but knew I had options. I could drag his ass all the way back to the set or…
Ooohh! I no sooner had that thought when I made myself laugh out loud as the funniest vision came to mind. I imagined dragging this reticent round man by the scruff of his neck as he tried to physically find his footing just so he could keep up with me. Yet the best he could muster was a nonsensical toehold that provided a dubious dip and drag kind of experience. I could see sand spewing in every direction as if he was a wheel, feverishly churning and throwing mud all around.
The idea of turning him into a goat was also tickling my brain. But, I happened to be on a mission and needed this well upholstered character to accompany me to the location.
With unmitigated disgust, I shook my head as my chin fell to my chest. “For the love of Mike, listen to me!” I shouted.
Huh? Where did that come from? I’ve never said anything like that before. I shrugged my shoulders and glanced down at Paulino. Look at him lying there! What the hell was up with this mortal? I couldn’t figure him out but needed to find a way to solve this problem now.
As I turned to get a feel for what was around me, I noticed a mountain range in the distance. Those must be the Cantabrian Mountains. A smile formed on my lips and I tipped back my head to concentrate. Within minutes, I was surrounded by a flock of agitated golden eagles. Their presence was both breathtaking and impatient. This species of eagle preferred to be as far away from people as possible. Hence, their life in the mountains. But I needed their assistance with getting this human relocated.
“Are you for real, Circe? Have you seen the size of this guy?”
“I know. But my preferred choice in birds isn’t anywhere near here.”
“Hmm. Good to know we came in second.”
“Look. I have no interest in bickering with you all. Help me out, and I’ll help you. All I’m asking is that each of you grab hold of something; his collar, belt buckle, rumpled coat. Whatever you can and I’ll not only make sure I assist with the levitation, I promise your food supply will remain abundant for the rest of the year. What do you say? Will you give me a hand?”
“Just don’t make it a habit, goddess.”
“You have my word.”
It was hard to believe that for as much time as Paulino and I had fumbled and tumbled around on the beach, although not in a fun way, the movie set was only a five minute walk from where he froze and fell. I was shocked, but the eagles let out a sigh of relief, knowing their load was about to be dropped off. Fortunately, I shielded us with an invisible cloak that kept us from being noticed.
As we neared the spot they were filming, I saw a boulder off to the side that was the size of a small building. It was the perfect place to tuck Paulino. With my assistance, the eagles slowly lowered his body onto the sand and quickly departed, managing to avoid any human attention.
I, on the other hand, was going bonkers with excitement! All I could think about was letting those people know who Circe really was. But I had to get it together before jumping out of my skin. I needed to be calm, cool, and intact.
So, I took a step back and gave myself a few minutes to watch what they were up to and get a feel for these people wishing they could be me and Odysseus. I peered around the monstrous rock and noticed several women sitting in front of a mirror. One person combed and styled their hair and another smeared something on their faces. They seemed to be having a good time chatting and doing whatever it is they were doing. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what they were wearing. I had never seen costumes like this before.
I’m familiar with the outfits mortals wear today and these items looked nothing like I had seen so far. Nor were they anything like the ones we wore when Oysseus found his way to my shores.
Taking a deep breath, I gave myself the thumbs up. I was ready to show up in a big way. This crew needed the one and only me. An expert in all things Odysseus!
“Aack!” I had fallen over my dear friend Paulino and was now lying crosswise and face down with a mouthful of sand. “Pft. Bleh, pft, pft. Ha ha, now that was clumsy but funny!” Crawling off of him, I brushed myself off while he felt nothing. He was still frozen in his world. “Poor guy. Well, I’m guessing he’ll come back to life in his own time.” At least I’ve heard a few mortals say something like this.
I gathered myself together and brushed off the bits of beach before earnestly heading over to assist those poorly dressed women with getting their look right.
As I arrived, I distinctly heard two simultaneous decrees. It began with a gentle reminder from one of the ladies getting her hair styled, “Dama, I don’t know who you think you are, but this movie set is off limits to everyone but those in the film” which was superseded by the statement, “For the love of Mike, listen to him.” Um, where did that come from?
In a split second, I pivoted to maneuver around several trunks and racks of clothing that were spread about. I stepped to the other side of some flimsy wall made of what looked like the material Brady called styrofoam.
This was a weird place. Nothing was real but I couldn’t be bothered with it at the moment. I knew there would be plenty of time later to deal with that shotty attire! Figuring out who was parroting, for the love of Mike, and why was a bigger priority.
Is it possible she heard me say it first and just liked the sound of it or was it my exasperation with Paulino that unknowingly tapped into her thoughts?
“Oh, for the love of Mike!” I exclaimed. Clearly that redirected all eyes on me.
“Hey! Who are you?” I heard an amplified voice ask from behind me.
“Si, si, ci.” Paulino tried to answer.
“It’s Circe, Paulino! Look at you! Nervous as ever! But who cares! I am so happy to see you up and among the living.”
I ran over and locked elbows with him. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend behind the speaker?”
“Um. Ah. This. Um.”
“Allow me. How do you do? I am Circe! Paulino and I met on the beach and were instant friends! He seems to have a hard time expressing his adoration for me, especially in front of other people. But you have to know, the moment he saw me he said, we need you. I was like, you need me for what? That’s when he told me about the movie you were making about Odysseus.”
“Actually, it’s a remake of the 1954 film called Ulysses!” shouted the rumpled man holding a strange cone in front of his face.
“Yikes!” I said, covering my ears. “Could you please put that amplifier thingy down. I’m standing right in front of you and can hear you just fine without it. I said I was Circe, not hard of hearing.”
“Yeah, sure. Habit.”
I could not resist telling this disheveled trumpeter. “Hey. Just in case you didn’t know, you have a little something stuck in your beard. And, Ulysses also went by the name Odysseus. I should know, we had a son together.”
“Whatever. Paulino!! Why is this chick on our set?”
“Sssorry Alessandro, I have know idea why she’s here. I tried to keep her away but she refused to listen and insisted she was the person to play Circe.”
“But we already have Circe.”
“Hello!” I interrupted. “No you don’t. Not if there is someone else pretending to be me.That’s why Paulino wanted me to come! I’ve watched plenty of movies portraying people who are still alive, and nothing compares to having the real thing. In this case, the real goddess. And trust me, there isn’t a mortal alive that can get close to being me! Even if they spent years studying me. It’s impossible!”
Just then the director shouted, “Take it from the top, Silvana!”
I flashed a glare in his direction that could have lit a match. “Who’s Silvana?”
“The actress playing Penelope.”
“You mean, Penelope, the wife of Odysseus?”
“Where? Where is she?”
That’s when I heard it again for what seemed like the third or fourth time. “For the love of Mike, listen to him.”
“Why does she keep saying that sentence over and over again?”
“Because you’re in the way and her delivery sucks.”
“Well, if you don’t mind me saying so, I’m here to help.”
“What? No! Paulino! Get her out of here! Keep going Silvana.”
That was the only cue Paulino needed. Taking me by the elbow, he stood taller in his shoes as he led me back toward the beach. He suddenly felt important, so I played along until we were far enough away for me to make my dramatic point.
I jerked my arm away and spun around, saying, “Alessandro, if you don’t like her delivery, maybe you should consider the fact that her surroundings suck!”
“Whoa! What? Cut!! What the hell do you mean this place sucks?”
Ha! I had him just where I wanted him, and equally tickled to show him what I meant. I marched over to one of the boulders sitting near Silvana and invited Alessandro to pay attention.“Check this out.” Bam! Styrofoam popped out as I kicked a hole in in the silly prop.
“Hey!” he shouted. “Have you lost your mind? I could have you arrested for vandalism.”
I toyed with him a little further and asked, “Are you threatening me, sir?”
I had never seen a mortal get so physically worked up over an observation! If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn his head was going to explode. Then again, I had heard of spontaneous combustion.
By now, his face had turned a beautiful shade of magenta as it twisted into a lovely spiral glazed with sweat which was oozing from every pore on his head. Complicating his situation was the unwanted asthma attack that incited more drama from him than the movie itself. He jumped from his chair and gasped, “I need my inhaler!”
That little bit of movement seemed to help because he managed to utter, “You were deliberately destructive to my set,” before taking his medication.
“No. I was trying to make a point.”
Alessandro staggered back to his director’s chair and asked, “What was your point?”
“Everything around here is fake! How can you expect your performers to get into something they can’t feel?”
“Look. I’ve asked you to get off this set several times now. So, I’ll say it nicely this time. Please go. Time is money and you’re wasting both.”
“I’m wasting time and money? You have a fake set and have asked one actress to repeat a scene how many times? If you asked for my opinion … “
“No! I’m done with your opinions. I want you gone.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you honestly knew who you were speaking to.”
“I’m not dense. You said your name is Circe.”
“Yes, the sorceress Circe.”
“Okay. My apologies to sorceress Circe. Now get away. Far, far away.”
“I have one last question before I go.”
“What is it?”
“Have you heard stories about the way I turn men into a swine?”