Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And this is why I should not be allowed to play with the Classics

+So. Sometimes I write and do not blog. This is something I wrote about two and a half years ago and I've revisited it often. Warnings for strong language and implied naughtiness of various flavours.

+the wrath of achilles

Briseis looks so pretty on the cover of the crumpled magazine in the wastepaper bin, even with creases all over her, like old scars. She’s no Helen of Sparta but she has a glow all of her own. Agamemnon is ripped clean in two, with a beard and moustache of blue biro drawn on his face.

Achilles never knocks when he enters a room so Patroklos has learned not to knock either. Achilles is still asleep. If he was angry, rip-roaring force-of-nature furious, Patroklos would understand. Instead, he is childish and determined and on strike, a petulant protest at the world. He does not blame Briseis; the girl did not have a choice. Faced with blackmail and fear of exposure, Briseis swallowed her pride and has allowed herself to be seen on Agamemnon’s arm. If only she could have swallowed Achilles’ pride too.

It should not have surprised them that they were under surveillance, that the Atreides somehow knew about their arrangement (and they thought they were being so discreet). Patroklos misses those days, with Briseis and Achilles kissing on the living room couch; she would be wearing one of Achilles’ shirts and their legs would be entwined across the coffee table, between the overflowing ashtrays and empty whiskey bottles. There would be three pairs of jeans on the floor, tangled up like drunken dancers losing their balance, spinning out of control.

Every time Helen appeared on the television screen, with the sound turned down, Briseis would have to ask. “Do you think she’s pretty?”

“Mm, not as pretty as you,” Achilles would say, his lips pressed to her collarbone, devout and improbably innocent. “Really. Ask Patroklos,” he would add mischievously. “He dated her for a while.”

“Scurrilous lies,” Patroklos would say, wandering back in from the kitchen, eating corn flakes straight from the box. “I wasn’t rich enough to date her.” (And he wasn’t.)

Patroklos misses those easy days with an ache; they can never be comfortable again. Now the empty whiskey bottles surround Achilles’ bed, and the overflowing ashtrays, and the girls’ faces are never the same. There are people dying still and Odysseus’ protection racket can only go so far. Achilles will not lift a finger to help Agamamnon now and where would Patroklos be but in Achilles’ bedroom, opening the curtains wide, letting the sunlight splash onto Achilles’ bed? Between rise and shine, you lazy bastard and fuck off, you miserable wanker, Patroklos bullies Achilles into the shower and brushes his damp-darkened hair off his shoulder and presses his lips to Achilles’ skin. He knows he can’t make it better, not when he misses Briseis too, and he knows that their every movement is probably being watched, because Achilles is the unknown quantity.

Stubborn hero, Patroklos sighs. The bathroom tiles are smeared with condensation and handprints that will fade long before Achilles’ anger subsides. Stubborn, foolish hero.

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