by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith
Came to a pirate ship. Without using any weapons of any kind Hercules and Erginus defeated the pirates. We sailed on.
A giant squid attacked the ship. He did not know that amongst the men on board we have the fifty greatest heroes of Greece. The result: calamari with white sauce.
I fully expected danger and adventure when I took command of the Argo. I knew King Pelius might send a spy, a saboteur with us, someone to keep us from finding the Golden Fleece, someone to keep us from returning home. I’m still trying to figure out who is working against us on this voyage.
Today was very calm and we had to break out the oars. At first I let everyone sit where they wanted, but with all the smart guys on one side and all the jocks on the other side, all we could manage was a long curving path through the sea. Even with me leaning with all my weight on the tiller trying to keep us straight, it wasn’t working.
I dropped the tiller and stood up and looked at the group. Hercules and Eribotes and Iphitus were all on the port side, with skinny little Amphion and tiny Canthus barely making ripples with their oars dipped in at the starboard side. So I broke up the groups and distributed them differently and we were making good time when the resident pain, Agin-it son of Squabble started asking Hercules why it was that Hercules was made to contribute so much of the labors. He said to Hercules, “You row almost all the time, while others take breaks and hardly pull at all. Jason has you on one side, balancing five men.”
Hercules said he didn’t mind and it wasn’t hard for him and that he expected to have a fair share of the work and a good portion of the renown that came with a successful journey.
But that wasn’t good enough for the son of Squabble. “And how come Polyminus doesn’t have to row?” he asked indignantly.
The whole group put down their oars and looked back at the stern. I was standing at the tiller and next to me was a chair and sitting on the chair was the man in question.
I let the tiller go and stood by Polyminus. “You all know why we brought this man...” I said. “He’s wise because he’s been through a lot. He’ll make sure we don’t run into any one-eyed giants like the ones who tore off his arms. He says he can recognize them by their smell. He’s smart because he’s been to other lands. He sailed with Ahab before he got all distracted. He went through the strawberry investigation with Captain Queeg on that destroyer and sadly lost his legs at Amity beach when he swam past the pillars at the west of the sea. He saved a lot of money but lost it all when the Sailor’s Equity Bank went under. He dearly wishes his retirement funds hadn’t been in private hands.”
“Yeah, but why is he here?” Agin-it said.
“He’s here to bring us luck.” I said.
“But why can’t everyone contribute the same?” Agin-it said. “Why do I have to work harder than he does?”
I was about to point out that Agin-it didn’t seem to be sweating, but the man in the chair moved. About the only thing Polyminus had left was his pride, he fell from his chair and wiggled over to a rowing bench and straining he brought himself tall enough that he could grasp the oar in his teeth. “I’ll do what I can.” he said, with thirty foot of wood clenched in his teeth. I was proud of the men. They accepted Polyminus. They went back to rowing.
Last night we had a terrible storm. We lost some supplies and some of the men are missing. The worst part was the bickering that went on right at the height of the danger. I had already ordered Acastus and Zetes to cut the mainsail because the blocks and tackles were jammed and we couldn’t get the sail down. We had every pot and pan out and we were bailing when our little naysayer wanted to know why it was right to have us all bailing out the ship when Argus had the most to lose. Argus owned the ship. Argus built the ship. “I am bailing, it’s not like I’m sitting around,” Argus shouted while another vast wave crashed over everyone.
Even Polyminus was helping. Polyminus was propped up against the rail and dipping his face in the rising water. He would suck up a pint and then spray it over the side, turning his head and aiming with his puckered lips. I could see this by the lightening flashes.
The next time the lightening flashed about half the men had stopped bailing and they were standing around with their arms folded. I had to scream over the storm to make myself heard. “Look,” I said, “I don’t like bailing either. But the pump is missing. We threw back the tarp and all there was, was a note about pumps being government intrusion into a private enterprise. Something about deregulating the nautical services. But the thing you have to do now is look around. If the ship sinks, we sink too.”
A few of the men who couldn’t swim started tossing water over the side. But they weren’t happy.
Fought some skeletons. Caged some harpies. There was this giant man on the Isle of Bronze and we had to run around a bit before we prevailed. Also earlier we sailed past an island where sweet voices came drifting out, trying to lure us to our doom.
I had the men stuff wax in their ears and tie me to the mast. Once I was securely tied, Aclemenes offered to adjust my tunic but I told him I wasn’t that kind of sailor. We steered close to the island and I was expecting to see golden-haired mermaids wearing something from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, but instead I found a bunch of elderly beer-belly white guys saying they hoped I failed. The funny thing is, they were citizens from home.
We got the fleece. Had to kill a hydra to do it. I found out it was Acastus who was sent to sabotage the voyage. I had to sword him a little. In all the fighting, even though he held back and hid most of the time, Agin-it got himself injured.
I tried to put the Golden Fleece on him. Tried to explain how it worked on anyone, cured anyone, be they rich or poor, be they employed or not, the fleece would restore a person’s health.
He held up his hands and even though blood was trickling from the corner of his mouth, Agin-it said, “No. No thank you. It sounds like socialism to me.” And then he died. I found out later he was being paid by a pharmaceutical company.
Heading home. Got to see Hera one last time. I got to thank her for all her help. Tied her to the mast a little, because she said it would be alright. “Anyone ever tell you, you look just like Honor Blackman, the beautiful British actress?” I said.
“And all the girls probably say you have more hands than a Hydra has heads,” she said.
All the men were rowing, facing us, but wearing blindfolds, still with wax in their ears. The sea was calm. I could hear some seagulls and I could feel the forward surge each time the oars did their work. I pulled off our tunics.
“Hera, I consider you a goddess,” I said.
“That’s ’cause I am.”
We made love. With the oars keeping time. All the way to Thessaly.
Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith