The Demotion of Pluto

by Harriett Fjaagesund

“With me here outside the Heavenly Body Bathhouse is the ruler of the gods, Zeus. Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to speak to our listening audience, Zeus.”

“I’ve always got time for an attractive female.”

“I’m flattered. I have here a bulletin issued by the Olympian Ruling Council (ORC). It reads: Mortals on Earth demote planet Pluto. The International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) decision means Pluto will be referred to as a ‘dwarf planet’. According to my research, Pluto is the name the ancient Romans assigned to Hades, ruler of the underworld, and that Hades is your brother.”

“Correct on both counts, honey. And of course I’m Jupiter, the largest and most magnificent of the planets. What’s that delicious perfume you’re wearing?”

“I’m not wearing perfume. This is Penthea Anthor reporting live for Channel 13 news in New Olympia. Zeus, I understand that naming heavenly bodies after deities is common practice among humankind and that there is a certain amount of prestige in having a planet named after you.”

“That’s right, honey. I’d like to point out that Pluto is the coldest and most desolate of all the planets. It’s also quite small, all of which describes Hades perfectly.”

“Would you please elaborate on that statement for our listening audience, Zeus?”

“My brother is one cold bastard. He’s thoroughly disliked by everyone. You’d think the guy might crack a smile every now and then, maybe tell a joke, but not Hades. As for being small, Persephone, his wife, whom he tricked into marriage, has hinted many times that Hades is quite deficient in a certain physical area of his body. In a way I pity the poor schmuck. I’m extremely well endowed in that particular area. If you get my drift, honey. Some of us are getting together later for an orgy. How about I swing by with the chariot and pick you up?”

“Sorry, I’m busy. How will the demotion of Pluto affect the gods?”

“You gotta be kidding! It means nothing to us, honey. The only one affected by it is Hades. I’ll bet his overinflated opinion of himself is smarting right about-”

“Excuse me for interrupting, Zeus, but a dark chariot drawn by four coal-black horses is bearing down on us. It’s pulling up to the door of the bathhouse and a tall figure is emerging. It looks like... yes, it’s Hades, lord of the underworld! Excuse me, Hades. I’m Penthea Anthor with Channel 13 news. Could I ask you a few questions?”

“Good afternoon, Miss Anthor. Hello, Zeus. Still up to your old tricks, I see. Be careful, Miss Anthor. My brother is a letch and cannot be trusted with someone as attractive as yourself. His affairs over the centuries are so numerous that even I cannot remember them all.”

“You ought to try a little slap and tickle, brother dearest. Persephone might enjoy a threesome.”

“You are quite disgusting, Zeus.”

“Bite me.”

“If I might interrupt a moment. Hades, how do you feel about the planet Pluto being demoted?”

“Sadly, Miss Anthor, I cannot say that I am surprised. The amount of bad press I have received over the years is staggering. I blame Zeus for this, not humanity. My brother has always been insanely jealous of me.”

“Eat my shorts, you morbid son-of-a-bitch.”

“How dare you use such foul language in front of Miss Anthor!”

“Oh, you want to hear foul language, do you? Come on over to the temple, brother dearest, and you’ll hear some really filthy language from my wife. Day in and day out, century after century, it’s nag, nag, nag. All Hera talks about is how you kidnapped Persephone and how I didn’t do anything about it until after you’d had your disgusting way with her. I’d strangle the wench if she weren’t immortal!”

“Do not expect pity from me! And while we are on the subject of misdeeds, who gave Pandora that cursed box and forbade her to open it? Talk about waving the proverbial red flag in front of the proverbial bull! And when she opened the box and released evil upon the world and humankind stopped worshiping deities as a result, we immortals were forced to flee to this pathetic corner of the universe. Who was that, Zeus, who destroyed all that we held sacred in one fell swoop?”

“Listen, brimstone breath, it was a jar, not a box! And how was I to know the ninny would actually open the damn thing. It was supposed to be a joke.”

“That has always been your problem, Zeus. You see something you want and you take it with no thought for the consequences. Everyone else must then reap the chaff of your selfishness.”

“Shut up! I’ll knock your ugly block off with one blow, brother dearest.”

“You don’t scare me, Zeus!”

“Behind the bathhouse now, demon turd! I hope you like eating lightning bolts.”

“I am your worst nightmare!”

“Well, there you have it, folks. This is Penthea Anthor for Channel 13 news. I’ll catch up with Zeus and Hades after they’ve had their... er, family reunion behind the bathhouse. Until then, ciao!”

Copyright © 2006 by Harriett Fjaagesund

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