By J. Speer
(I like to write mythology-type stories. Here is another one I wrote about Hades during the holidays. Often times, he is depicted as a terrible villain. It’s kinda comical and kinda sad at times …just looking at things from his perspective. Enjoy!)
“We’ve got to talk about the holiday this year.” Zeus looked around the table at Mt. Olympus at the other occupants.
“I’m thinking Swiss Alps this year….chalets, snow skiing, a
glass of wine by the warm fire,” said Athena with a smile looking around at the
others. They all smiled and laughed.
“Oh no, Athena, I know how you snow ski!” said Hera amused.
They were sharing a bottle of meade and exchanging
pleasantries. Another great day at Mt.
Zeus cleared his throat, “Ah well, while that does sound
really great….I’m thinking we should spend the holiday with family…..all the
family.” Zeus looked at them
meaningfully until it sinks in what he’s saying.
“Oh no,” said Aphrodite, “I think I know what that
means….you can’t be serious? We haven’t
seen him in a while. I know I shouldn’t
say this,” she looks around at the others for agreement. “I think we all feel the same way,
Aries cleared his throat.
“Zeus, you can’t be serious?”
“I am. Look, he’s
family whether you like him or not.”
Zeus sighed, “I’d rather go to the Alps too but it has been a
while. We really should go see
“I don’t want to go there for the holidays.” Said Athena directly.
“Me either,” said Aphrodite.
“He can’t come here!
He’s always busy down there.
We’ve got to go to him.”
Hera and Zeus sat across from each other at the table. He looked for encouragement about what he was
going to say. She looked sad and then
just nodded and looked down. They had a
discussion ahead of this moment.
“Look, it’s just one day.
We make a trip down into the underworld and share the holiday with
him. He’s my brother. He’s your family. One day.
We’ll all bring food from here so we don’t have to….don’t have to….”
“Just say it, Zeus.
So we don’t have to eat the disgusting underworld food that he brought
to the holiday parties in the past? He
should know by now, no one wants to eat that stuff. I don’t know why he keeps trying to offer
it.” Athena scoffed.
“Look, when’s the last time anybody called him or talked
with him down there? He’s gotta be
getting lonely I bet and – come on, we’ve all heard the rumors.”
“She’s a trollop.” Said Athena.
Aries nodded. “She
got drunk at the last holiday party and came on to me too.” They all look at Aries incredulously. “It’s true.”
“To his credit guys,”
Aphrodite said softly, “Hades loves her despite everything.”
“The Lord of darkness???
Haha, please, Aphrodite, don’t be naïve.
He doesn’t have feelings.” said
But Zeus contemplated this….he thought Athena might be wrong
about this one for all her amazing brains and intelligence. Zeus thought about his brother Hades for a
moment. He’d heard about Persephone too
with this new guy Adonis. Poor Hades, he
thought to himself and shook his head.
He looked Hera firmly in the eye.
She nodded again.
“We’re going to the underworld for the holiday whether you
like it or not. He’s family.”
4 weeks later, Hades sat in his car outside the Air BnB in
the underworld that his family rented for the holidays. He vaped his last few puffs. Zeus warned him no smoking or vaping allowed
at the Air BnB so he just sat there in the car for a moment and finished. He looked in the rearview mirror at his
disheveled black hair and tried to smooth it down some, to make his appearance
more appealing. He grimaced a bit at the
reflection. A few weeks ago, when Zeus
surprised him out of the blue calling and saying they were coming to the
underworld for the holiday, Hades went out and got a new haircut and even dyed
his hair a bit. To get the grey out, he
He drew again on his vape.
His car was parked by the curb outside the building. To his right he could see the stairwell
leading up above to a room that was well lit up with holiday lights and a tree
in the window. From below he could hear
the sound of holiday music.
He took the day off work.
He never took off work. He hadn’t
taken a vacation day in years. But his
family was coming to visit so he took the day off, told his minions to cover
down, and he’d be back in a day. When
they asked where he was going, he said, “Just mind your own business.”
He asked Persephone if she wanted to go. She said she had plans, wanted to go see her
mother Demeter again. Something about a
Hades finished his vape and stowed it away in the glove
compartment. He looked around the street
carefully. He might be the lord of the
underworld but he still didn’t trust these hoodlums around here, even in this
part of town. He reached for the cologne
bottle in the glove compartment. He knew
he smelled like smoke and ash all the time but he did the best he could to
spray on a few squirts of cologne, the kind of stuff he bought at the local
hellmart with Persephone. He even bought
this stupid sweater. He saw it on the
rack and something came over him, and he bought it.
He looked down at it in disgust. Ridiculous, he said to himself but he wore it
anyway. A bright, garish red. Not his typical black and with black
trenchcoat. It had a Santa rocking a
guitar with his reindeer band and it said, Tis the Season to be Naughty. And he bought it. It even lit up with holiday lights. Geesh.
He had taken off the day and spent that morning even making
some food to take to the party. It
wasn’t like him to show up to a party empty handed even though he knew they
didn’t really eat the stuff he brought.
But it wasn’t like him to quit trying at something either. So
this time, he and Persephone had bought box food at hellmart. Something easy, she said. So, he got the Jell-o box and that morning,
he carefully read the directions and made Jell-o Jigglers for the kids. Kids like Jell-o Jigglers he told himself and
he had picked up the red cherry flavored ones.
He even put them on a special holiday tray and carefully and
methodically cut out the jigglers into different types of holiday shapes, trees
and stars and stuff. He wrapped up the
tray and it was sitting in the passenger seat of his car outside the building
while he sat there. He exhaled a deep
breath. Then, he opened the car door,
and got out. He opened the backseat door
to see the laundry basket full of holiday gifts.
Last Black Friday, after Zeus had said they were coming, he
had gone out and bought each one of them their own special gift. He’d worked pretty hard on it this year,
knowing that they’d probably rather be somewhere else for the holidays than the
underworld. He wanted to make them
happy. Then he brought the gifts home with some new
gift wrap he bought and bows and cards.
He wrapped each one individually as best he could but he was not the
best gift wrapper. He should have left
this part to one of his many assistants, he thought or Persephone but he did it
himself, placing a nice bow and card with each one.
Hades grabbed the laundry basket out of the backseat and
went around and got the Jell-O Jigglers tray and placed it in the laundry
basket on top carefully so as not to spill it.
Then he locked the car and took the laundry basket of gifts up the
flight of stairs. When he got to the
door to the air bnb, he set the laundry basket down. He smoothed his hair again and looked at the
door. He looked down at his dumb holiday
sweater and pushed the button in the sleeve that activated the lights in
it. It glowed red, yellow and green and
he felt thoroughly ridiculous for a moment but he raised his hand to knock on
the door anyway. He cleared his throat
and paused….thought to himself What am I
doing here? He lowered his hand and
then raised it again to knock firmly on the door.
The door swung wide open to show a gregarious looking Zeus
holding a wine glass of what looked like to Hades as meade from Mt.
Olympus. Behind grinning Zeus, Hades
could see into the festive looking room with young kids running around inside
and Hera standing just behind Zeus. She
smiled too at Hades and Hades tried his best to give a sincere smile back.
“Well look who’s here everybody! It’s Hades!
Welcome brother, come in, come in!”
“It’s so good to see you Hades,” said Hera softly
Hades smiled as warmly as he could back. “ Yes, yes, good to see you too!”
Zeus looked down at the blinking lights on the bright red
sweater and laughed, “Ho, well well!
This is a pleasant surprise.
Hades you’ve outdone yourself. I
love the new look. I get tired of seeing
you in that black trenchcoat.”
Hades smiled and shrugged.
He thought to himself, but it’s my
favorite trenchcoat. Once you wear a color so long, it becomes
you. But he just said, “I saw the
sweater with Persephone at hellmart.
Couldn’t resist, you know?”
They smiled into each other’s eyes and then there was a
silence, neither one knowing what to say next.
“Well, come in Hades.
Don’t stand there in the hallway!”
Hades turned and picked up the laundry basket and walked
inside. He turned to Hera.
“Here, I know you said you were preparing the food but I
brought a little something for the kids to enjoy.” Hades handed Hera the tray and noticed how
Hera’s smile broke just a little when she looked down and then she looked
straight up at him and smiled more.
“Thank you, Hades.
I’ll take that for you and set it with the other foods at the buffet
She took the Jell-o Jigglers tray from him and headed off to
the table near the kitchen and full of heaping plates of Mt. Olympus food.
Zeus interrupted Hades to ask, “Is the weather here in the
underworld always this warm even on the holidays?”
“Yes, always.” Hades
politely replied to Zeus. His eyes were
on Zeus but he noticed in the background that Hera had placed his Jell-o
Jigglers not on the table with the other foods but on a nearby counter. He looked down for a second and then put a
smile back on his face.
Zeus patted him on the back and said, “Hey, what would you
like to drink? Come to the kitchen with
me and let’s talk about that hellraisers football team.” Zeus meant the local football league team for
the underworld. Hades was delighted to
talk about football and followed Zeus into the kitchen where they had a lengthy
discussion on the team, their prospects, and recent games. They talked about the division, the playoffs,
and whether the hellraisers would make it into the Super Bowl.
“So, how about that drink, Hades?” said Zeus.
“Should I pour you a tall glass of meade from Mt. Olympus?”
Hades looked at the meade that Zeus loved so much. “Ah, naw, Zeus…you know I gotta work tomorrow. I….better not.”
“Now, come on Hades,” said Zeus encouragingly. “Live a little, you old man.”
“I may be just a little older than you.” Said Hades grinning. “but not by much, Zeus.”
Alright, you got me there.” Zeus
smiled at him for a moment. “Man, it’s
been a while. I’ve missed ya.”
Hades felt happy to be there at that moment. The goofy sweater and the new hair dye and
all that stuff seemed actually worth the effort. “Yeah, I missed you too.” Hades thought to himself, maybe I should have
called more, made more of an effort. But
then Hades, thought about how he hadn’t heard from them in years and the phone
works two ways. I’m always working he thought to himself. Never
enough time. He thought about that
glass of meade that Zeus offered and how work was gonna be hell tomorrow but
even worse with a hangover. But, maybe Zeus was right….live a little.
“Alright, I’ll have that glass of meade I suppose. Don’t make it too tall though.” He smirked.
Zeus poured him a big glass of meade, much bigger than Hades
would have liked but Hades politely accepted it. They stood there then, for a moment and an
awkward silence sort of settled between them.
Zeus was trying to come up with things to discuss and Hades was trying
to swallow the meade down without grimacing.
After a few seconds, Zeus said, “Hey, well the others are here too and
they’d love to see you. I think they are
in the living room area.” And with that,
Zeus escorted him out the kitchen and into the large living room area where
kids were playing and Aphrodite was helping one of her daughters from the
sofa. Aphrodite smiled sweetly at Hades
from the sofa, “Hello,” she said and waved.
Athena was lounging in the side chair, a large glass of meade in her
hand and was looking purposefully at the holiday tree. She didn’t bother to look in Hades’ direction
when Aphrodite called him over.
From behind, Hades felt a slight slap on the back and
instantly stiffened, instinctively cautious from years of living in the
underworld. When he saw Aries’ masculine
physique off to his left though, all dressed up too in holiday garb, Hades
“Hello Hades! Long
time no see, pal! Where have you been
hiding at lately?” Aries smiled widely
and tried to fist bump Hades who awkwardly tried to fist bump back. Hades smiled and said, “Aries!” From over in the chair, Hades noticed Athena
scoff at them and then seem to roll her eyes and keep sipping her meade. Hades looked down a little.
Athena then looked directly at Hades and pointedly said in a
high tone, “Hades, where’s Persephone?”
There was a silence then.
Athena looking directly at Hades with wine glass in hand awaiting an
answer. Hades knew how Athena was and
she was needling him. The others in the
room besides the kids just sorta looked away.
“She’s at a gift exchange at Demeter’s house. She apologized that she could not make it.”
“Gift exchange, hmmmm…”
said Athena. “Ok.” It was clear from her voice she didn’t seem
to believe him.
Athena looked away again out the window but murmured
something under her breath about the alps.
“Today would be a good day to go skiing.”
Hades didn’t really understand her comment. The others did though. Zeus glared at Athena but she preferred to
look out the window. Hades added, “Yes,
skiing is fun. I used to ski.”
Aries replied, “You did?”
You, Hades? Ha, well I would pay
to see that!”
Zeus interrupted, “Actually Hades was quite good at skiing
from what I recall. Triple diamonds,
Hades smiled, “Yes, that I was …a long, long time ago.”
“You were quite the daredevil back then, Hades. “ laughed Zeus.
Hades smiled and there was another pause in the
conversation. Hera came up to Hades then
and touched a lock of his hair. “Hades,
have you colored your hair? I don’t
remember it being this dark.” She
said. “I like it.” She added, almost as an afterthought.
Hades felt a little awkward and fumbled for the right words
to say, “Yeah….I uh…..I guess I just wanted to get rid of the grey a bit.”
At that point, Athena looked back from the window and said
saucily in Hades’ direction, “Trust me, Hades, you could never get rid of your
…grey.” She put extra emphasis on the
Another awkward silence and suddenly Hades had the real
strong intuitive feeling that the others were ill at ease here and that Athena,
in particular, did not want to be here.
He began to feel pretty bad. That
explained a lot. Why they rented the air
bnb rather than stay with him, why they declined his offers to help prepare and
plan or to provide meals or to give a tour of the underworld or to stay a few
more days. He suddenly felt like he
wanted to go back home.
Aries then said, “My, it’s quite hot down here for this
season. How about this weather?”
Aphrodite went over to the laundry basket by the tree and
picked up the presents from Hades and examined one, “Hades, I bet you wrapped
these yourself didn’t you? I’m glad
we’re here Hades.” She called out to the
nearby kids, “We’ll be opening presents soon!”
Zeus said, “Ah, but not until after dinner. Hera, is everything ready?”
“Yes,” she said. “Sure is.”
Two of the children off to the side, both Athena’s, had
discovered the Jell-o Jigglers tray and began taking the wrapping off it and
reaching for the Jigglers. Athena,
startled, suddenly got up from her chair, spilling her drink and lunging
quickly towards the kids. “No!” she
mouthed to one child and shook her head.
Then she promptly looked up to
see if Hades had noticed, which he had but was not saying anything. The other boy made a barfing motion behind
her about the food. Hades grimaced but
didn’t say anything. Hera was also
embarrassed by the scene but took the plate and set it on the end of the
“Ok, everyone. Time
for dinner! Grab a plate. Children first.” She motioned to the others. The dinner food was excellent but very rich
for Hades’ taste as he was used to underworld food. Still all the same, he told the others they
were marvelous cooks. Everyone ate their
fill, went back for seconds or even thirds, and got dessert too. And, of course, the meade flowed. Hades even helped himself to a second glass
at the prompting of Zeus. Over the
course of the dinner, they talked about hobbies, music, art, etc. Hades was careful to avoid discussion on
politics. He tried to put the others at
ease and tried to be as engaging as possible but at times it was difficult,
particularly with Athena just begrudgingly providing responses and
halfheartedly listening. Hades, as the
dinner wore on, began to feel a little worn out by trying to maintain social
graces and pleasantries.
They opened gifts.
The kids went first. Everyone
said they loved the gifts Hades bought them but he kinda wondered. Still, he had tried his best. He even gave a personally framed old family
photograph to Zeus and Hera which got Zeus a little misty-eyed.
“Thank you” Zeus
Hades just smiled and nodded.
They went on to play family games that night with more meade
and more stories and jokes exchanged and pleasantries. They played dominoes and Hera won for she had
always been quite clever. At poker
though, it came down to Zeus, Aries, and Hades.
When Zeus lost, it was Hades who shortly after threw a good hand away
just to make sure Aries would win; just so he could make them feel good for
making the trip down to the underworld.
Aries proceeded to gloat a little over his big win.
“Ah, that was fun.”
Zeus said clapping Hades on the back.
At that point, Hades felt it best to probably end the night on a high
point and told the others it was probably time for him to return back home for
“It’s been a real pleasure everybody. Thank you
for coming down to see me. I’ve
got the demon dogs waiting at home for me tonight and I better get home to let
them out. I don’t want them to tear up
any furniture or make a mess.” He said
“Yes,” Zeus said. “Well thank you for having us here as your
guests in the underworld.”
Hera and Aphrodite and Aries agreed. Athena just shrugged and halfheartedly smiled
and said, “Thanks.”
Hades again noticed Zeus’s side glare at Athena.
Hades grabbed his laundry basket and gave out awkward hugs
and headed towards the door. He left the
untouched holiday plate of Jell-o Jigglers on the end of the buffet table.
“Good night everyone.”
He said. “I’ll be sure to give
Persephone your regards. Thank you and
happy holidays!” And out the door he
went. Zeus closed the door slowly behind
him and turned towards the room. The
others sorta looked at him.
“I think that went well.”
He said firmly.
Athena just scoffed.
“I would have rather been in the Alps.”
Zeus looked at her coldly.
“So much for family during the holidays, Athena. You acted badly tonight.”
The others were quiet.
“Oh come on?
Really? I acted badly to the lord
of darkness? We’re talking about Hades
here! He’s not exactly got the
reputation for being the nicest guy on the planet! And come on, he’s so damned depressing and
dark all the time. During dinner, all he
talked about was work or the underworld, work or the underworld, work or the
underworld. He’s so damn boring and so
miserable and so creepy. Why is he
She looked at the others.
“Admit it, I’m just saying what you all feel anyway but don’t have the
courage to say. He’s a dark, depressing
old guy. He doesn’t even seem to have
any feelings or emotions! I would have rather been anywhere else than
here in this forsaken place. The
underworld??! Really?? For the holidays??”
“He’s family.” Zeus
said quietly. “And he wasn’t always this
way. He’s changed a lot since moving
down here….and since Persephone too.”
“Persephone, yeah, and where was she tonight??? Huh? Not
with him! We’re stuck with him cause
he’s family but Persephone is off with Demeter or probably cavorting around
with that Adonis guy that people have been talking about.”
Zeus just looked at Athena.
“Are you finished?”
Athena looked a little contrite then. “Alright, yes. I’m just saying, uggh, I didn’t want to come
here but I’m here ok. I just wish he’d
actually stop being so awkward and gloomy all the time. I bet he never even laughs.”
As soon as the door to the air bnb closed, Hades started to
relax again and pushed the button on his holiday sweater lights to turn them
off. He couldn’t wait to get this thing
off him but he thought they might have sorta liked it. He tried at least to be pleasant and kind and
gracious. It wasn’t easy. He knew he had a reputation for being quite a
hot head with a fiery temper but he told himself he could be civilized and
socially courteous when needed. He had a
good night with them, even Athena, and it had been a long while since he’d done
anything other than work. The underworld can’t manage itself he
always told himself. They need me
here. I got a responsibility to do. And, he always did. He wouldn’t mind going to the Swiss Alps too
sometime. But no, this was his place and
this is where he would remain despite Persephone’s incessant nagging to move
away. Persephone he thought to himself.
He wished she was there with him tonight to make things run smoother,
less socially awkward. Persephone was
always so extroverted and fun loving.
That’s what he admired most about her.
He walked down the hallway and stairs and out to his
car. He put the laundry basket in the
back seat and opened the car, got inside and locked it back up promptly. No telling what could happen here out late at
night in the underworld. First thing he
reached for was the glove box to pull out his vape he’d been wanting to smoke
about two hours ago. He pushed the
concealed glock aside to get to his vape.
He puffed on his vape, started the car, took one last look at the lights
above in the building and wondered what the occupants were doing. Then, he drove home while smoking and
listening to some music. He shut off the
holiday music on the radio station and switched to an old tune. Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters started
playing. An old favorite.
He passed a black unmarked vehicle down a few blocks from
the air bnb. He slowed as he passed it
and then casually nodded to the occupants.
The driver barely nodded back.
Hades had put some of his private security team on the air bnb a few
days ago and he was glad to see them working tonight to keep his relatives safe
in this part of town. Zeus and the
others probably had no idea Hades had his guys looking out for them
Hades had two tall glasses of meade that night and he knew he
would regret it tomorrow at work but it was worth it. He thought about how Zeus smiled and he smiled
himself. But he was tired too. Social stuff exhausted him. He got back home, pulled into the garage, and
went into the house to be greeted by his hellhounds. They were happy to see him and he pet
them. The house was quiet. Persephone was gone, at her mother’s. It didn’t matter he told himself. Lately, she’d always been on the phone ignoring
him and texting friends or her mother or whomever from work and she’d been
working a lot of late-night hours at work. That damn Adonis guy. Whatever. He forgave Persephone. He always forgave her and he didn’t even know
why anymore. He was just tired. Really tired.
The silence was a welcome feeling to him. Peaceful.
He went to the bedroom and got a pair of black silk pajamas
to change into. He threw the ridiculous
holiday sweater in the trash.
Ridiculous. He then grabbed his vape
and cell phone. He and the hellhounds
stepped out onto the terrace. He sat at
the table under the underworld night sky and just relaxed for a moment. A long day but a good day. He hadn’t smiled that much in quite a while
and he felt less stressed than usual. He
scrolled through his phone looking at memes or videos and smiled quite a bit
while he vaped. And he thought about
everything that night. He thought about
the way Zeus smiled at him. Zeus had a
constant twinkle in his eye. Everybody
loved Zeus. He was such a likeable
fellow. It was hard not to love
him. Hades wished he could be more like
Zeus but that twinkle had disappeared from his eyes long long ago here in the
underworld. Hades smiled thinking of his
family and he thought even of that moment when Athena got all panicky and crazy
over her kids touching his Jell-0 Jigglers.
He thought about how that kid made a barfing motion behind her and how
Hera got embarrassed. And Hades suddenly
face palmed at that image. He nodded his
head slowly at his family members and something welled up inside him, an honest
to goodness, sincere, bellowing laughter.
And he laughed and laughed …like he hadn’t in a long time. And, then he felt a wetness on his hand, turned
it over and realized that it was a tear.
A single solitary tear and he blinked.