The Thief's Tale
You want to sell it, you want to buy it, you want to find it, swap it, steal it, deal it or feel it? The place to go is the harbor fair in Corinth. It's all there. Four times a year. But it's the best in the spring, when the winter storms are over and Mediterranean shipping starts up again. That's when diplomats, mercenaries and traders descend on Greece like locusts on a ripe field of wheat.
That's when you get your peddlers selling spices and silks, they'll vow came from Chin. You get your horse traders down from Thrace to cheat you on a painted-up old nag. Your farmers to short weight you. Blacksmiths to over charge you. Women to give you the clap. Gods and kings and thieves to rob you.
And that's where I come inI'm a thief. I mean
What do you mean, you don't think a god would rob you? Ask my cousin. She's lost her virginity to Zeus twice at that fairat least she says his name is Zeus and he has a really big thunderboltand he didn't pay up the second time.
Anyway, as I was sayingI used to be a thief.
Here it was spring. The fair was on. And there I was, with the hangover from Hades, in an ale garden, miles from Corinth, in serious danger of finding myself pecuniarily embarrassed on account of the last mug I'd just sucked up in front of a tavern keeper with arms like logs and a face likewell it wasn't prettyand wondering how I was going to get myself out of this one. The publican looked like the kind of guy who keeps the bodies of deadbeats hanging on hooks in the cellar. And while a good thief is never without resources, frankly, I was starting to worry.
I was about to point and exclaim 'Look! Is that not the Winged Victory of Samothrace?' nail the Cyclops with my mug and high-tail it over the garden wall. (A one-eyed tavern keeper may not look like an art lover, but you never know.) When, down the road, came a drover with a bunch of piglets.
You know, the little brown hairy ones with the big ears.
And guess who's ambulating in the middle with the shoats frisking around him like he's their mommy? None other than that bashful answer to many a maiden's prayer (if their fathers only knew)our glorious King Iphicles' brother. That famous national hero, offender of the faith, all round do-gooder, demigod and general pain in the assmy old friend, Hercules.
About time too. Polyphemus was starting to hyperventilate. There is a god of thieves and I'll have to steal something for him one of these days.
I shouted, "Herc! Ol' buddy! Over here."
"Autolycus!" He made for the garden wall. "This is a surprise."
"Say, you never do know who you'll run into in these parts. Got time for a drink? Pull up a bench. Or are you in a hurry to be somewhere with your friends?" The little picnics had all followed him. You couldn't help but notice the drover's frustrated expressionHerc has that effect on people.
"No, I've got time." He turns to the piglets and says, "I'll stop by and see you later, guys. ByeNiobe. Bye, Pollux. Bye, Castor. Bye Aegisthus... Euridike, Clio, Moira... . Every patron staringhe's gotta get over the pig thing one of these days.
"Old friends?" I say as he throws one of those long legs over the wall.
"Met 'em on the road," he says
The publican, having pegged Herc as either solvent or good for it, is back with a foaming mug before he even sits down. "I believe, I'll have another, my good man," I inform him.
We exchange sneers.
"Let me," Herc says.
He's generous (very un-godlike) and who am I to deprive anyone of an opportunity to know me better. After all, it had been a while since we'd seen each other so we sat, drinking and making small talk, sizing each other up. I noticed the blond pest wasn't with him.
"Where's Curly? Suffering from a lapse of life?"
"I'm meeting Iolaus at the Virgin Goddess"
"Ah, Corinth," I say. "Special occasion?"
"It would be the occasion of the spring harbor fair, Autolycus. And I'm surprised you're not there."
"Oh, you know, the trouble I have with crowds."
"I knowall those peopleeasy to find your hand in the pocket of someone else's coat."
"As a matter of fact, I'm on my way to Corinth."
"Autoly" he starts.
I raise my hand and cut him off before he can get some wind behind it.
"Herc, before you wound me. Thanks to your influence, you see before you a changed man. I've seen the error of my thieving ways and I'm embarking on a new profession."
"And that would be?"
"I've begun a career as a dealer in raritiesobjects of art and virtue for the discriminating collector. In fact, I'm carrying out a commission for a wealthy patron in Corinth, even as we speak."
Herc really shouldn't squint that wayit makes his eyes go small and piggy.
"I'll walk with you," he says.
I beamed on the clever child and he squinted harder.
There was no reason for him to be suspiciousI mean, who better for a traveling companion? The highways and byways of Greece are dangerous for solitary pilgrims and the sight of Herc's mighty thews (and the muscles attached to them) would make any brigand think twice. Maybe even three times. He may be too big but, objectively speaking, Zeus's little boy isn't bad looking.
If you like the square-jawed manly type.
I don'tnormally. But it's funny how a guy can change. We're not two miles down the road and today, there's something bewitching about legs that go from here to there and back again by the scenic route. I can't take my eyes off the seat of his pants.
Oh, his shoulders and arms are well enough. And the bulge in his crotch has always suggested some impressive tackle. But, oh, those pants! My cock was conducting a paean to polished leatherlust takes me that way.
And that's when it occurred to me that I'd never seen him take them off.
He sees I'm looking and checks the back. "Something on my pants?"
"No. No. Swell pants. Who's your seamstress?"
What was Alcmene was thinking when she sewed those things? Two belts. All those knots. How does he... in an emergency I mean. And those things must be worse than a chastity belt. I can see her not trusting Zeus butsheesh!give a "normal" guy a break.
Speaking of normal, we'd consumed a goodly amount of ale before we hit the road and Herc didn't visit the necessary before we left. I did. And I'd paused to commune with nature twice since then.
The road took a turn along the river and I happened to say, "Just look at all that water." He looked. "Running... flowing... gushing... spouting... spurting... ."
"You're right, Autolycus, this would be a good place for a mill."
A mill! The guy's not even half human.
Finally, after another mile. He announces he's got to see a man about a horse and heads off into the bushes.
By then, I had to see the same animal, so I followed him.
There he was, behind a tree no less, pants around his ass, drowning the weeds. Nonchalantly unlacing my own drawers, I strolled up and joined him. Two guys together, out in the wilderness.
"Great day for a hike," I say, hose in hand. "Fresh air. Nature at it's finest."
"Yes it is." He keeps his eyes on all that natural nature. Not flattering. But it allowed me to sneak a peek.
Did you know they coined the term "Herculean" for it?
"Speaking of nature," I say, "how do you and Iolaus manage on those long wilderness trips?"
"You knownature. You guys give each other a hand?"
"Sure. Iolaus catches rabbits and I do the cooking."
"You do the cockI mean cooking?"
"Yes. My mother taught me."
It was clear this one was going to be a challengebut then I already knew that.
Casually, I mention how I'm looking forward to Dour Sally's place in Corinth where the girls have the sweetest, tightest, juiciest...and the roundest, softest, most delicate... but, you know, it's been so long since I've had 'any' that I might be a danger to the fair and tender ladies. After all, a man's got "needs" that only another man can understand... .
With a smug little smile on his puss, like demigod's don't have that problem, he says I should consider getting married.
I've been married and let me tell you...
It took him twice as long as me to tuck it in and, I swear, he blushed.
Oh, blow it out your ear.
See, with me, it's the challenge of the thing.
Back on the road. A few more miles. The sun is over the yard-arm, and I notice there's a dark wet stripe down the back of Herc's shirt.
"Tad warm for this time of year," I point out.
He stretches his arms, lets the muscles ripple, and says, "It's wonderful."
"That water looks refreshing."
Subtle being wasted, I catch his eye.
"How 'bout a swim?"
Talk about obtuse. The most handsome, daring, debonair and clever thief in the world is inviting him to go wading and he keeps walking. In fact he picks up the pace.
"Hey Herc, what's the hurry?" I had to trot to keep up. "Iolaus expecting you early?"
"Not until tomorrow, but I have a date tonight."
"Yeah? Dining on your brother?"
Herc's head whips around so fast he almost dislocated my neck.
Oh, oh! This is promisingan appointment at the palace? A rendezvous with royalty, perhaps?
"Eating with Iphicles?" I inquire.
"Autolycus, what's with all the questions?"
My, my. We are jumpy today. Maybe, those rumors about him and His Highness are true. The imperial halberd hasn't been in a hurry to get hitched again. Maybe, he's humping the hero. My scepter swelled at the thought.
"Herc, I've got only your best interests at heartbe sure and sit down wind."
"What are you talking about?"
"Only a real pal would tell youbut, you've got an air about you."
That took a minute. Then Herc sniffed his shirt, then his armpit.
"Since we're dining at the palace, let's say eau de porc."
"I guess I better take a bath," he says.
Isn't it sweet the way he blushes.
And isn't it fortunate there's a whole river for him to wash in.
I'm such a stinker.
Displaying the sensitivity I'm known for, I tell him to go right ahead while I take a nap under this tree, right here and I plop down so he can slip into the cattails. When I hear splashing, I roll over and crawl around the tree, slither down to the reeds, part them and peek.
Oh, mama! 'Hercules by Praxiteleswith bubbles.'
Salmoneus is always after him to enter nude wrestling contests.
Oh, to be the bar of soap traveling over that terrain. I'd linger in the alps forever. But I'm squirming in the mud and if there was ever a soap-on-a-rope kind of guy...then it occurs to me some dishonest person could easily snag those peddle pushers he's left neatly folded on a rock.
A hickory wand with a notch on the endthey're mine!
Then I'm away into the bushes, where I pause to scrutinize my prize. And let me tell you, those things are built to carry the load. Heavy, smooth, well-oiled sheepskin, redolent of sweat, mink oil, Old Trojan Body Splash and...well, he wears the same pair every day... just the funk and feel of that hide under my hands and I'm tenting my trews.
Oops! Baby blue (and he's got his shirt tied around his hips, for Hermessake!) catches me with the goods in hand. So to speak.
"What are you doing with my pants?"
If I have a personal failing (and I'm not admitting that I do) it's that I don't appreciate myself enough.
"Herc, I couldn't help myself. Can't you see I've been lusting after you all afternoonif I couldn't possess you, I had to touch some part of you."
"Lusting after me!" He looks around wildly. Maybe he expected his friends to pop out of the bushes shouting 'surprise!'? "You can't mean it!"
"Yes, you stunning hunk of demigodhood."
"Autolycus, we are 'not' having this conversation!"
"I love it when you're masterful!"
I take a step towards him and he backs up with that deer-caught-in-the-torchlight look. There's a rumble as of distant thunder. "What in Hades is wrong with you today?"
"I told you Herc, you changed my life."
"Autolycus, just toss me my pants, and we'll forget this ever happened."
"How can I forget, after what we've been to each other?"
Actually, I'm thinking this is pretty funny. He's got that shirt clutched over his privates like I'm about to rape him, but each of his teats is as tight as a bud. Might have been the cool air on his damp skin, but... say, all of a sudden, I realized was getting coldand dark. One of those sudden black squalls, the kind that make you think the gods just enjoy pissing on mankind, was boiling up.
I looked sadly at the leathers I was holding. "Here," I said as I handed them over. "Take them. But it would have been so beautiful."
"It would be nice to think so."
It really hurt to give them up, but raindrops were already spitting on us. It took some of the fun out of watching him skin into them while trying to hide his cock and looking around just in case some passing stranger might see it and have a religious experience.
Fortunately, the outskirts of Corinth and the Virgin Goddess Tavern were only another mile and Iolaus had booked a room. I've known Herc long enough to know that he's too good natured to hold a grudge and far too much of a gentleman not to mention my faux pas more that twenty or forty times. We checked in, grabbed a bottle and went upstairs to dry off. But, for some reason, as we climbed the stairs, he was seriously quiet. Conscience? Reconsidering my offer? As Pandora would say, where there's a bed, there's hope. Maybe he wasn't a hopeless case after all. The room was neat and cozy. With some people, ambiance is everything. Carefully, not to spook him, I shut the door behind us.
And with a sizzle and a crack of blue lightning, Ares, God of War was filling the space.
Maybe that was a bag of licorice is his hand, but all I saw was the sword on his thigh and when he said, "Mortal, if you want to live..." I beat the hare getting through the door. Having made the mistake, in the past, of getting in the middle of one of his quarrels with Hercules.
Before it slammed, I heard Herc say, "Ares! You can't just... ."
I only stopped at the bar to pick up another bottle, (You didn't think I didn't pick his pockets, did you?) Expecting a fiery explosion any minute, I noticed it was quiet... too quiet... and the building was still standing.
So I popped the cork, sat down and ordered dinner.
The jugged hedgehog is excellent at the Virgin Goddess and, as an added feature, it has a balcony on the second floor, convenient to the street. I've used it on other occasions and skinning up it was no problem, either.
Keeping my head down, I crawled under the window ledges until I came to the right room and peered over the sill.
There they were
Yes, Ares had Herc on the floor.
On his knees. Really giving it to him. Yelling, 'Whose baby are you? Tell me who gives you the bone.'
Herc saying, 'I'm your baby, Ares. You do, Ares. Only you.'
And that thick cock of Ares' was sliding in and out of Herc's bright red ass.
You could still see the palm prints where he'd spanked him.
But best of all, when I looked in that window, the pants were draped over a chair, so close I could touch them. All I had to do was reach in and grab them. Those fucking gods never even saw me.
Later that night, I kept my appointment with the chief eunuch of the harem of the Phrygian ambassador who was on his way to Athens. Just in time too; the horses were hitched and stamping; that train was ready to roll.
He handed me a bag of gold. I gave him the package and waited while he took it to the most lavishly decorated wagon. The canvas curtains were rolled down but I saw him slip it underneath to someone inside.
After enough time for someone to have checked out the goods, the eunuch came back, disapproval writ large on his face. "Thief, my mistress would speak with you."
"Ex-thief," I said. No reason for him to be like thatI had the nuts; all he had was job security.
As I approached, a corner of the curtain lifted and the sweet smell of jasmine poured out. Those Phrygian women are rumored to be the most beautiful in the world. But they're kept sequestered and one can only imagine sweet coffee eyes and lips like black cherries. Still, I saw the delicate hand that passed me a comb made of tortoise shell encrusted with rubies and I heard a bell-like voice say, "Thief, you have done well."
Now, she can call me anything she likes.
As the wagons began to roll, I could hear excited squeals of feminine laughter.
I guess Herc's mom made him another pair.