Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chapter Twenty One

It was a beautiful day.  The temperature was perfect, and the sky was sunny and clear.  Just like every other day in Los Angeles - that’s why Ares loved living in L.A.
And, since it was a beautiful day and there wasn’t anyone who needed immediate killing, Ares was in the garage tinkering with his 1965 Ford Falcon station wagon.  Today he was trying to track down an annoying rattle he heard coming from the right rear side of the car when he was accelerating hard, and when he went over speed bumps.
He assumed it was just a loose bolt somewhere, but which one?  He had the tailgate open and was laying on his stomach trying to tighten the bolts that hold the rear seat in place when he heard a voice behind him.
“Whatcha doing?” Eris said.
Ares sighed.  Of course she’d show up when he was working on his car.  If Eris knew anything, he suspected, it was how to show up at exactly the wrong time.
“Trying to fix a rattle.  What’s going on?” Ares said.  He kept working on the car.  He was having a tough time reaching one of the bolts.  Every time he thought he’d gotten the wrench on it, he’d try to tighten it and instead the wrench would slip free.  He wished he could kill that frickin’ bolt.
“Nothing much, just wanted to stop by and chat,” Eris said.  She wandered in to the garage, and Ares could hear her digging through the stuff on his shelves.
“What on Earth do you need this for?” Ares heard her say.  
He was still fighting with the same bolt, and said, rather sharply, “I have no idea, because I can’t see what it is.  It’s probably important though, so please put it back.”
Ares heard something hit the floor, and the sound of several little pieces skittering off to different corners of the garage to hide until he’d given up on finding them and bought replacements.
“Oops,” Eris said, and giggled.
Ares set down his wrench and climbed out of the back of the station wagon.
“OK, are you done breaking my stuff now?  I’d wager you’ve got something on your mind.  So spill it.”
Eris stopped looking cute, and her features turned hard.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know.”
“Don’t know what?  What could I have possibly done to you?”
“If you don’t know, then I’m not going to tell you.”
“Great! Then the conversation is over and I can get back to work on my car.  Nice talking to you,” Ares said.
“Oh, right, so you can go back to mooning over Death,” Eris said.  She grabbed something else off the shelf without looking at it and dropped it.  It landed with an expensive sounding CRUNCH.
“Jeez, I was saving that,” Ares said. “And what’s your problem with Death?  Yeah, I like her.  So what?  It’s not like you and I are an item.  It shouldn’t bother you in the least.”
“She doesn’t deserve you!  She’s not good enough.  And I have to watch you going on and on about her.  Do you know how much that hurts?”
Ares was a bit surprised by this.
“Wait, I hurt you by having feelings for Death?”
“Yes.  Duh. I want you to have feelings for me.”
“Sorry.  I don’t,” Ares said.  He knew he was now treading on extremely thin ice, and knew himself well enough to be aware he was much better on the battlefield than in an argument.  Words weren’t his friends.
Eris’s eyes began to tear up.  Ares realized the ice was even thinner than he’d thought.  There went the afternoon.
“You’re an asshole,” Eris said.  “Damn it, I’ve sat around, listening to you talk about cars and who you think deserves killing.  I’ve arranged some nice chaotic events for  you to go nuts and kill all kinds of people, and all I get in return is to watch you chasing after some skinny bitch in black leather.”
“Look, I thought we were just friends,” Ares said.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’d expect you to think, idiot,” Eris said. “Next you’re going to tell me that you just don’t see me that way.”
“Well, I don’t.  You’re an awesome friend, but I’m not looking for that kind of relationship.
“With me, you mean.  You don’t want that kind of relationship with me.  But you want to give Death another kind of bone every night.  Asshole.”
Ares tried to come up with something he could say to calm her down a bit.  Having an enraged chaos goddess hanging out in his garage made him a bit nervous.
“Look, why don’t we go inside and have some tea and calm things down a little bit,” Ares said.
“What?  Worried about your precious car?  Fuck, even your car is more important to you than me.”
“Hey, come on, you’re my friend,” Ares said.  The car was totally more important to him.
“Your friend? Yeah, about that, how come you’re out helping out Death and working against me?”
It took a second for Ares to process that craziness.
“Sorry, how was helping Death working against you?  What are you talking about?”
“Oh, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  You’re out there with those other two goons, trying to catch Thomas for Death.  And he’s mine.”
“You’re the one who’s been helping Thomas out?  What the hell is up with that?”
“Yeah it’s me.  Everything is always going so perfectly for Death.  When are things going to go perfectly for me? Huh? So I thought I’d throw a little bit of chaos her way and make things a little more interesting for everyone.”
“Wow, I can’t believe you,” Ares said.  “You know she’s going to be super pissed off when she figures out what’s going on.”
“Oh, are you going to go and tattle on me like a little schoolboy trying to get teacher to like him?”
“I don’t know why I shouldn’t tell her.  You know her work is massively important.  What point would anything have if not for Death?  There’d be no reason to even get off the couch.  Shoot, couches probably wouldn’t have even been invented, there’d just be a few people laying around in a swamp, too full of ennui to even screw and propagate their species,” Ares said.
“Yeah, well, she’s a bitch, and you’d better not tell her, because I can make things very uncomfortable for you,” Eris said.
“What, by coming in to my garage and breaking more stuff?  Harassing me when I’m trying to buy groceries?”
“Don’t fuck with me, Ares,” Eris said.
“I’m doing my best not to.  You’re being crazy, though, so I suspect asking you how your day is going would be fucking with you, according to you.”
“I don’t have to take this,” Eris said.
“You sure don’t,” Ares said.  “You could take a hike instead, and come back when you’re done being a psycho.  Could you find a way to meet your need for chaos without involving me for a while?  I bet there’s an elementary school nearby, why don’t you go give the kindergartners a conch shell and see if you can make them go Lord of the Flies on their teacher?”
Eris pulled something that turned out to be a four-barrel Holley carburetor off Ares shelf and threw it across the garage.
“Fuck you!” she yelled.
“Aw, come on.  Do you know how much those things cost?  It’s not like I’ve got a steady cash flow.”
“I wish you cared about me as much as you cared about that stupid thing,” Eris said, and sulked.
“Well, I wish you wouldn’t throw my shit around in my garage and break expensive stuff you didn’t pay for.  I’d be a lot more likely to have warm fuzzy feelings for someone who acted halfway reasonable.”
“Oh, like Death?  Because she’s so reasonable.  She won’t even let someone get away now and then without divine intervention.”
“OK, so now you’re mad at Death because she does her job?  I’ve never heard that one before.”
“Don’t tell me what to think!”
“I didn’t...”
“God this is pointless, I should leave,” Eris said.
Ares brightened a bit.  He might be able to get back to work after all.  Unfortunately for him, Eris noticed.
“You want me to leave.  You son of a bitch, you don’t care about anyone but yourself.  What about me, huh? I do everything I can for you, and this is how you treat me?”
Fuck, Ares thought. Is this ever going to be over?
“I don’t want you to leave,” Ares lied. “I just want you to calm down a bit so we can discuss this rationally.”
“I am calm, Ares.  I am perfectly calm.  You’re just a huge asshole.”
“You know, calling me names makes it hard for me to hear what you’re saying,” Ares said.
“Oh, where’d you pick up that little bit of manipulative bullshit.  If it’s hard for you to hear me, maybe I should just be louder.”
“Well, if that’s going to speed this up, go ahead and yell all you want! I’ve got better things to do that try to keep you calm.  Especially when you come over here all pissed off about a bunch of petty bull shit!”
“Petty bull shit?  My feelings are petty bull shit?  I’ll show you petty bull shit!”
Eris grabbed a wrench from Ares’s work bench and broke out the side window of the station wagon.  Ares threw his hands up in the air and let them drop again.
“Aw, for fuck’s sake,” Ares said. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“How’s that for petty bull shit, asshole?”
“It’s great.  Really, just great.  Would you get out of here now?  Come back when you’re done playing the psycho jealous girlfriend.  I’ve got to clean up a bunch of glass now.”
“I knew you cared about that car more than me,” Eris said.
“You’re god damned right.  Go!” Ares said.
“Some day you’re going to realize what you missed out on,” Eris said, and vanished.
“No doubt,” Ares said, surveying the damage to his garage.  Fixing the rattle was now at the bottom of his list of priorities.  He sighed and grabbed a broom to clean up all the glass.
Death.  Eris was the one behind the whole mess with Thomas.  Ares figured Death might want to know that, but he didn’t know how to get ahold of her.  He figured he’d better give Hep a call and see if he could pass on the message.  Cleaning up the garage would have to wait a bit.

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