I was cleaning trash from the street as I waited for Jenna to come out. “Ew, is this a dead raccoon?” I whined as the smell hit me. Yep, that was a rotting carcass. I flicked a finger at the dead body, sending it across the street and into a trash can before I went back to sweeping the trash from the gutter into a dustpan.
There were those that believed simple cleaning was beneath a goddess. I said, nay. The symbolic relationship between the mortals and the gods provided a give and take. When you gave and did not take, the mortals cared for you more. You had more power available from the worshippers. At least, that had been my experience. Then again, I’d always had the first portion of every sacrifice.
Thanks to that, my view of the give and take might have been a little off. It didn’t matter to me, as it had always been this way for me. However, it mattered to the mortals. Their struggle had been a constant since they had evolved into their current species. They lived through so many apocalypses caused by natural events. There had been super volcanoes such as Toba some seventy thousand years ago. It had nearly wiped out modern man. Then there was the one in Europe twenty thousand years later that gave a one-two punch to the Neanderthals and Denisovans.
Their resilience astounded me, almost as much as their ability to be cruel to each other. The amazing discussion I’d had with Jenna’s father last night showed the depth of his love for his daughter. However, the pack of kids that came around the corner were about to demonstrate how deeply the species could hate. I could see their intent in their eyes. Jenna had just slipped out of her house, wearing lipstick and eye shadow. Her shirt had the image of some band across the front, her jeans were ripped, and she wore simple shoes.
“Oh, look, it’s the sissy,” spat the eldest teen. He had five days of growth across his chin and a backpack slung over one shoulder. The teens around him laughed. “Couldn’t cut it as a boy, so you’re gonna hide behind being a girl?”
“Lenard, please,” Jenna said. Her stance said she was about to break into a run.
“Or what? You’ll spray glitter in my face? Gonna run off to Daddy and cry?” Lenard taunted.
I started to cross the street when another boy came up behind Jenna. “Why does it matter? She’s done nothing to you,” the boy said.
“He’s pretending to be a girl,” spat Lenard.
“And that affects you how?” asked the new teen.
“He’s weird and different,” Lenard spat. “He should know that we won’t tolerate that around here.”
“So, your mama can’t handle someone else’s choices, and you want to make sure that everyone else knows it? Got it,” the teen boy said as he stepped between Jenna and the group. I paused as a police car and an expensive car passed by.
“Mama said how James’s new dress style is against—” Lenard started.
“Mama said?” the boy interrupted. “Can’t you think for yourself?”
“You heard me. What do you think? How is Jenna harming you?”
Lenard closed his mouth as his brows furrowed. “He isn’t? But he could harm my sister, and I gotta protect her.”
“Do you really think Jenna’s doing this for booty?” The boy laughed.
Lenard and the other kids laughed, shaking their heads. “No, he isn’t, but come on. You know this isn’t a real thing. Maybe James fell into one of those spots on the net, and they brainwashed him.”
“Oh, so trans folk just appeared out of nowhere?” the teen asked.
“Uh, yes?” one of the other boys said.
I took the chance to finish crossing the street. Nope. Since the dawn of time, it’s been part of the world.”
“And you are?” demanded Lenard.
“This is Hestia, you know, the women who saved the center?” Jenna said.
“Well, just because you have money, what do you know? It’s not like you actually care about us. No one who has money cares,” snapped a kid.
I raised my eyebrow. “Well, first, I read, and I learn. The moment you stop learning and improving yourself is the day you die. Being closed-minded is a sign that you’ve chosen to stop learning. Are you close-minded, or do you wish to learn? Because I care enough to learn, I care about those who live on the same planet I do.”
Lenard swallowed hard, not liking the comment. “I want to learn,” he said after a few moments.
“Then, learning, we shall do. Why don’t each of you write me a five-page essay about the history of the LGBTQ + community? Yes, even you, Jenna,” I said with a smile.
“I hate writing papers for school. Why the fu…fudge should I write one for you?” snapped one of the kids.
I gave him a sweet smile. “Then I shall be most disappointed in you.”
The teen wouldn’t meet my eyes and I could see him chewing on a snappy retort, but he thought better of it and asked, “When do you want it?”
“I’ll give you a month. Why don’t each of you take a different era to learn about? Then we’ll discuss each of your papers together,” I said warmly.
Lenard’s head snapped up. “Mama will have a fit,” he said, his voice quivering slightly.
“Then give me a call. I’ll have a little chat with her,” I said as I gave him a business card with my American phone number on it.
Lenard took the card, swallowing hard. “All right, we’ll do your stupid papers.” He clearly had recovered his bravado.
“Good, now I think you have a bus to catch,” I said before turning. My sundress spun around me, causing me to giggle as I started to skip across the road. “Dress go spinny,” I laughed. My mood lightened right up until I saw that money guy. I let out a slow breath and stepped behind him.
“Get those chains on the door,” a man snapped at the police that had accompanied him. He was dressed in high-end Armani. His shoes cost more than most people made in a month.
Oh, this guy was back. I thought I had taken care of this already. “Excuse me, what are you doing to my building?” I snapped to the officer.
“The buildings been condemned because of the fire,” said the rich man.
“Warren Davids, right? I thought I already bought this building,” I asked with my hands on my hips.
“Yes, I am Warren Davis, and this is my building,” Davids said, triumph in his eyes.
“Right, my paperwork says that the owners are selling the building to me, not you,” I said with narrowed eyes.
Davids laughed as he snapped his fingers. A man with a briefcase stepped up and handed me a stack of papers. Apparently, Davids had bought all the debts of the old owners. I flipped through the debt collection paperwork. He had called the debt due, and since they couldn’t pay the ten million, he declared them in default. The last paper was the stamp from the city condemning the building.
“As you can see, you were going to close on the fourth, but alas, I now own the block. This pile of trash will be pulled down, and I’ll make a building that billionaires will live in,” Davids said, a grin across his face.
“Wait, the debt is due on the second. It’s the first,” I said in a tone that suggested he clearly didn’t understand dates.
Davids rolled his eyes. “Where are they going to get that kind of money in less than forty-eight hours? You can’t close any sooner than the fourth, and well, I own the debt. As the owner, I’m not going to forgive it. Unless I have cash in my bank account at Coutts & Co by the time they close business tomorrow, this building is mine. It’s not like you have those kinds of assets,” he said as his eyes undressed me. “If you did, you wouldn’t hang out with the poor and wouldn’t dress like them. I know that you don’t have that kind of money. I ran that credit card you used at the hospital. You have like a limit of half a million,” he chuckled.
I pursed my lips. “Ten million, you say?”
“Yep, by five in London tomorrow. Come on, Jeeves, take me to real people, not these poor folk,” Davids said as he turned.
“It’s John,” the man with the briefcase said.
“Whatever, Jeeves. I have money. You work for me. I own you, and I will call you what I want,” Davids said. He gestured with both hands at the car door. “Do you expect me to touch this filthy door?”
“Of course not, sir,” John said as he stepped up and opened the door for Davids.
I watched the Bentley drive off, shaking my head. Poor guy had no idea what he was getting himself into. Three thousand years allowed me to collect a lot of money, not that I needed it. Maybe it’s time to get a few lawyers on my side.
- The Mysts of Time - November 25, 2022
- The Burbs - October 15, 2022
- The Search - September 9, 2022