“I thought the city was on lockdown,” he said. No “Hello,” or “Lyssa, it has been ages since I’ve seen you,” or any other typical greeting. Momus isn’t typical for a god; he never has been.
“Brother, how warm is your welcome. As if some ordinance by a mortal would keep me from a visit. Aren’t you going to invite me in?” I could hear the sound of a video game blaring behind him in his little apartment.
“Oh yeah, sure. Come in, just let me finish this boss battle and I’ll be right with you.” He turned back toward his sixty-inch TV screen and picked up the game controller. His neighbors must just love living next to a night-owl gamer.
“Don’t let me interrupt, I know you treasure your downtime.”
“Like I can’t do two things at once?” He bashed the buttons furiously while I scanned the room. My eyes landed on a quartet of black and white photos of Seattle, all off-kilter and slightly out of focus.
“Still taking photos I see.” His artistic talent hadn’t improved since our last meeting some thirty years ago when I had set him up to intern with Warhol. That favor had lasted all of one week before Andy booted him out of the studio.
“What brings you to Seattle, Lyssa? I thought you were hob-nobbing with the golden people on Olympus now. Must be slumming it, huh, to visit old Momus.” His thumbs twitched rapid fire on the controller plastic, forearms resting on faded skinny jeans.
“Hardly slumming, Momo. But I am working now—at the Olympians’ request—and it just so happens that I could use a God with your talents for a few special commissions.” I sat down on the stool near his kitchen counter, sliding the empty Pagliacci’s pizza box away from me. By the smell of the room, he still enjoyed anchovies.
“What can the God of Satire and Mockery do for you? That hardly fits your brand now, does it? The subtlety of satire isn’t something that the raging maniacs who flock to your banner would understand.” Something exploded on the screen and he tossed the control lightly onto the bean bag, next to his microfiber sofa. Apparently, he had won.
“R+M is working on a political campaign and we need someone skilled at creating some mocking, but hilarious, memes to seed into the opponent’s social media. Who better than you? We’d pay, of course.” Momo grabbed the half-eaten slice of pizza resting on his coffee table and took a small bite, wrinkling his nose in response. Cold anchovies didn’t suit him.
“Do I look like I’m hurting for cash? I do alright. I don’t want to be on someone’s schedule. “Be funny, Momo, be mainstream, Momo.” Not my scene, sister dear. Sorry.” He took a slurp of something radioactive-green from a large plastic cup. His hospitality hadn’t aged any better than his hairline.
“Momo, give it some thought, alright? I’m sure the pay at the local art house movie theater is lucrative and all, but with the humans hiding in their homes, this will give you some diversion. You’d be perfect for the job.”
I stood up to head for the door, wondering why I had bothered to come in person. Same old Momo; a god complex even bigger than the actual god he was. I should have listened to Gorgy and scrapped the whole idea entirely. I had trolls I could pay for this work.
“No, no. I’ll think about it. I will. It’s been a while since I did spec work. You remember, when I did some for those comedians back in the ’80s? As soon as they took off, it was ‘Momo, who?’ so I gave up ghostwriting for hacks. But for you, Lyssa, I’ll think about it. I promise. Email me the details. And the payment info.” His faded t-shirt had a greasy smudge of anchovy; it almost distracted me from the image of a salt shaker brandishing a sword. Deadly weapon, indeed. How had we come from the same mother?
“Thanks, Momo. I’ll let you get back to it. Good seeing you.”
He rose from the couch, lips waiving fishlike as the words tumbled out. “So hey, since you are here, why don’t we go get a drink or something? Oh wait, bars are closed, right. But I probably have some tequila. We could drink shots and catch up. You can tell me all about the beautiful people and their soap opera lives. Who is banging who, that kind of thing. Stick around, huh?” His voice almost sounded desperate. Was he really that lonely that he wanted to hang out with someone who was damn near estranged?
“Momo, well, I suppose I could stay for a little while but then I must get back. Gorgyra is staying at my place, and I don’t trust her not to burn the place down. You remember her, don’t you? She’s a terrible cook, worse than me if that is possible.” I laughed but Momo didn’t join in.
His eyes darkened, albeit briefly, and I barely caught the flash of hate I saw there. I knew the two had never been friendly, per se, but nothing that would account for that reaction.
“I didn’t know you had a houseguest. Since when do you hang out with Gorgyra? I thought you guys had a falling out ages ago.” He must have forgotten about the tequila because he flopped back down on his sofa and reached for the neon soda.
“We’ve renewed our…friendship recently, for lack of a better term. Why do you care, Momo? What’s she done to you?” I leaned a shoulder against his generic beige wall, cursing myself that I hadn’t left earlier when I had the chance.
“Oh, she was always bad-mouthing me, back when I was dating Lachesis. You remember, when we dated? It was getting serious, like really serious, but that nymph was always hanging around, getting in the way. I’ve never liked that ditz. I’d hate for her to cause you any trouble. Eros knows, with your history in love, you don’t need another strike against you. Just looking out for my sister.” He tried to smile but something else crept on his face, almost a grimace. There was much more to this story than Momo was telling me.
“Well, brother, I’m going to go now but you call me about the job, alright? And for what it is worth, I hope you take the offer. I’d like to see things go well for you for a change. We could both do with some better luck. Neither of us was blessed with that at birth, were we?” Without waiting for another protest, I waved and headed out into the narrow hallway, closing the door firmly behind me.
Gorgyra and I would definitely be having a chat as soon as I made it back to Olympus. I heard the sound of explosions through the door as I walked toward the elevator, along with “bitch” said loudly enough to carry over the ruckus. Was that meant for me or Gorgyra? Maybe both of us.
“Good to see you too, brother,” I muttered, shaking my head.