Jim Knable’s Sons of Dionysus: a lusty novel of myth, mirth, and music.
A communal groan erupts when they all see me with my buzz cut.
What have you done?! screams Cassius, though he has done much the same, having had his own trademarked hair shaved recently.
Is it him? says Demetrius, a second year with a thick beard, who is known for dressing in women’s clothing.
It’s him, says Arthur, He’s back with us.
About time, says Moses. Pull up a chair.
Silence at the momentousness of this suggestion. He means: at the table.
Go on, he says, sit here with us. You know we want you. We’re ready for you when you’re ready for us. Try it.
I look at Arthur. I had not been expecting this. He looks at me. He has.
The other guests in their perimeter chairs are quiet, some probably jealous.
Delilah, you too, says Moses. And Charles.
A murmur passes amongst the tribe.
It’s the Turning Time, several say in whispers, goofy in their gravity.
Dearly assembled Sons of Dionysus, Moses began, The end of the year is upon us. Soon those who came to us in infancy will grow into boys. The boys will grow into men. The men will grow into gods. And those of us who are gods… will die. Such is the cycle of Dionysus. When I die, I will no longer be your leader. Those others amongst us who die with me and I will return to the world in a new infancy. I’m thinking about going into politics, so probably Law School or the Peace Corp. A new leader must rise to fill my place and keep the long tradition of the Immortals intact. Someone who is strong of heart, wild of mind, true of soul. Cassius, please stand.
Cassius stood and there were tears in his eyes.
Do you accept this responsibility? asked Moses, looking at Cassius firmly, locking eyes.
I do, said Cassius.
Moses smiled broadly and a great cheer erupted. The two went to each other and hugged. Cassius kissed Moses on the lips.
And now, let’s drink and sing, said Moses.
The two of them sat back down, but now Cassius sat beside Moses and Moses whispered into his ear throughout the rest of the evening. Who knew what secrets were being passed down?
I liked the view from the table. I looked over and saw Delilah, who knew she was here because she too was a god and would die with Moses next year. She had already accepted a job at an international banking company. Her plan was to make a lot of money and then open her own business, though she wasn’t certain what kind of business.
Charles, who still hovered somewhere between being a man or woman, though now his parts had been completely changed over (just waiting for all the hormones to line up), looked at me and smiled.
We’re in, he mouthed.
In, I nodded. I drank. I tried to sing. As it turns out, I couldn’t sing a note on pitch to save myself.
Just pretend, said Victor, that’s what about half of us are doing. There are enough strong singers here to carry the rest. And we’ll get a new batch next year.
And that was how, without any great fuss, against whatever better judgment I possessed, I joined this group of crude, despicable, lovable barbarians, and cemented my mythic place in the universe.
Thus concludes our serialization of Sons of Dionysus: Year One. Missed a chapter? Want to read it all again? Chapters 1-12 are archived here. Stay tuned in 2012 for news of the further adventures of the SODs.
Jim Knable is a Brooklyn-based writer of plays, songs, prose, and the occasional screenplay. His plays have been produced at MCC Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Soho Rep, NYC’s Summer Play Festival and other regional theaters, and have been published by Broadway Play Publishing, Dramatic Publishing, Samuel French, Smith & Kraus and Playscripts, Inc. He released his solo album Miles in 2000 and Redbeard (2006) and Golden Arrow (2009) with his band The Randy Bandits.
Beeb Salzer (illustration) is an artist, set designer, and essayist based in San Diego.