The misadventures of John: god of humor (and other things too)

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I've had a fun little writing idea kicking around in my head for a little while now and I have finally decided to put it to paper. If you need any setting details, it's would be the present day, but the Ancient Greek gods are the ones who rule (yes, a lot like Percy Jackson, but most similarities end there.) Let's just say that the Parthenon is a few gods bigger than it was four thousand years ago.

Note: this may also make more sense the second read through.


The stout man who answered the door was none other than Dionysus himself. His identity was given away by his unbuttoned flannel shirt, showing off his hairy beer belly. I knew him quite well, but of course, he had no idea who I was. Then again, that was expected from any typical arrogant god. He sized me up with a raise of his eyebrow and was clearly disappointed. He regarded me from behind his ratty wad of dark facial hair, “Well?” He said gruffly.


I already had a long day. Why does it just have to get better and better? First, I’m cornered by a greedy pack of goblins, then I get stuck in line for four hours at the DMV, and now, I’m not allowed in Olympus. In truth, I was prepared for it. Every time I came here, I always got the same, almost challenging “well?” I would be lying if I said that it didn’t irritate me. “It's a deep subject,” I snapped back.


The god shook his head in disapproval. “That was a terrible joke, kid.” For a moment, he caught my cold eyes studying him and look of puzzlement went over his face, “Do I know you…?”


“No,” I replied quickly. Maybe a little too fast. “I have a business in Olympus... Whatever-your-name-is.”


That made Dionysus tick. Gods hate it when they are not recognized. They feel that being more or less all-powerful means that everyone should adore them and throw roses on their feet at the sight of them. He glared at me, a snarl forming on his lip, “For your information, Sunny, it's Lord Dionysus, god-”


“Of parties and wine. I know,” I said, cutting him off, “Take a joke, man. Look, I need to get through that door. I have business there.” I would rather not specify on what kind of business since telling border patrol that I'm engaging in a black market trade would be about as smart as turning myself in for my own bounty.


The god scoffed, “Sorry kid, but unless you have another god's permission… no can do.” His fake apology always set me off. And every time I also managed to keep my composure. Barely.


I pursed my lips in annoyance, “I am a god, so let me in.”


Dionysus roared with laughter, “And I'm Don Jeanes.” He put on his best impression, “I don't drink beer much. Scratch that. I drink all the time. Stay thirsty my friends.” He exhaled his last word with force, giving me a strong waft of a spectrum of hard drinks. I almost gagged. The acrid smell could put a bloodhound in the hospital.


“I'm serious, Donny. I'm not serious very often, but I am right now.”


“DON'T CALL ME DONNY!” The god screamed. Dionysus immediately realized how loud he just was and he looked over his shoulder to make sure no one was around. His cheeks went bright crimson. I'll take that as a good sign that someone was.


Dionysus glared down at me, “What are you the god of, anyway?” 


I paused, I didn't like telling anyone this bit of information, “...Humor.” I managed to say.


He held out his hand flat in front of his face as if it were a sheet of paper. He ran his finger down it pretending that he was reading off names, “Here, lemme check my list of gods,” he said mockingly, “oh look! You're not on it. Nowhere from A to Z. Aphrodite to Zeus. What a shame.”


I craned my neck to look at the invisible piece of paper represented by his hand. I reached over and pointed at the big knuckle on his ring finger, “Yes I am. See?”


Dionysus actually took the bait. He looked down at the spot on his hand as if there was a drop of wine on it that he had missed licking. I flicked my wrist upward, my fingertips grazing the tip of his nose. A chuckle escaped my lips. That was too easy.


This set Dionysus off even more, “If you pull one more fast one on me, I'll turn you into a giant grape before you can even say ‘oh grape.’ If I didn’t have a job to do, a dozen Oompa Loompas would already be rolling you down a hallway right now.”


I sighed. I didn't need to push him more than I already had. “Fine.”


“Now, what's your name, boy?” Dionysus asked. I would hardly count a couple of millennia-old as “boy.”


“John, the god of humor,” I replied with a tinge of sass in my voice. and other things. I thought.


Dionysus frowned, “Let's say that you are some minor god-”


“God.” I corrected. I hated when people called me that. “There is no such thing as a minor god. Either you're a god, or you're not.”


“Then what about demigods?”


“That's beside the point. Donn- Dionysus.”


The god’s gaze hardened, “I'm going to act like you didn't say that. I know for a fact that you can't be a god, and you don't have permission from one to get into Olympus. So get out of here before I smite you down where you stand!”


I didn't tell him, but I knew he was bluffing. Only Zeus could smite people. “You said that you know that I'm not a god,” I inquired, “but what evidence do you have against it?”


“For a start your name is John. What god would be named John? That sounds way to casual.”


An idea sprang into my mind. I was in a bit of a hurry. But what are ten minutes after four millennia? “It's a long story, but I got some time to tell you all about it... if you do too.” To sweeten the deal I swung my bottomless pack off of my shoulder, yanked open the top, and withdrew a yellow pitcher. There was a sticky note plastered to the side that read “hard ambrosia - homebrew.”


Dionysus's hostility stopped immediately. He eyed the jug greedily, silently debating with himself on whether or not it was a trap. I took a good whiff of the golden drink and sighed with satisfaction. Eventually, his gluttony got the better of him. “Oh... what the heck. We haven't had a security breach in over a millennium. What could possibly go wrong with a defenseless minor god? You talked me into, Johnny.”


I rolled my eyes, he had no idea how wrong he was. “If you call me Johnny, then I'm calling you Donny.”


The god grinned, showing off his rotten teeth. “Fair enough.”


Ten minutes later, we were sitting at a picnic table nestled under a banyan tree, drinking spiked ambrosia like we were best friends. Somehow, Dionysus was already intoxicated, but that may have been because he downed every cup I gave him in one gulp.


He hiccuped, “So, you're telling me the gods named you John as a joke?” his words were starting to slur together. He drained another glass and slammed it back on the table, signifying he was done and he wanted another cup. I stopped counting how many drinks he had at thirteen.


I took the pitcher and poured him another drink, “That's right, my friend. I've been joking ever since day one.”


For some reason, Dionysus found this hilarious. He clutched his stomach and wheezed with laughter. He sounds like a seal, I thought, mildly disturbed.


After downing yet another cup of the godly drink, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and belched loudly. “So, Johnny, you're the god of humor, right? Why don't you tell me a good one?”


This was the moment I had been waiting for. I gave him a half smile, “Are you sure? It's not the best.”


The god waved his hand dismissively, “Go for it. I'm all ears.”


I held up my pointer finger to ask for a moment of his patience, “Okay… this one is pretty bad. Like as bad as Trafficus, the god of traffic and stop lights… on a bad day.”


Dionysus sniggered, snot dribbling out of a nostril, “C'mon, tell me! Tell me!” He hiccuped again.


My fake half smile was replaced with a perfectly real malicious one. “No need, I just got you to laugh at my joke.”


Dionysus looked confused, “Right… but there has to be more to it than that?”


I shrugged, my teeth still shining, “There was. But you laughed.”


The god’s face was blank.


“You still don't get it to don't you? Let's just say that I found a loophole in the god system. Lemme explain. The ocean is Poseidon's domain just like how jokes are my domain. I make the rules of my domain. Since you are now fully immersed in my domain, you also fully follow my rules.”


It was around this moment when Dionysus became aware that I could command him to do anything now and qualify it as changing the rules. His confuddled grin faded away. Despite his drunkenness, he grew very solemn, “Are trying to take advantage of me, boy?”


I clasped my hands together in mock prayer, “Finally! A breakthrough!”


A flash of realization came upon him, “But… you… you can't!”


I leaned forward in my seat until I was a few inches away from his face until I could see every last gnat hopping around in his Duck Dynasty beard. “Why not?”


He seemed to be at a loss for words, “Because… I outrank you in godly strength!” He said triumphantly.


I sighed. Did this numbskull know anything? I pressed my thumb and forefinger over the bridge of my nose, “Donny, you know how whenever a mortal prays, worships, sacrifices, or blesses you, you gain a little extra power temporarily, hmm?”


Dionysus nodded dumbly. He still not fully aware. “And you remember how the gods named me John as a joke?” He nodded again.


My face lit up, “Great! Then I bet you also figured that was their biggest mistake.” I patted him on the shoulder.


The god's face contorted in a mix of confusion and curiosity. He didn't comment, so I continued, “John is a pretty common name among the human race these days. There isn't a second where some person from whatever religion isn't praying for a random John right now. You see where I'm going with this, right?”


No matter how many times I went over my master plan, the look of shock and horror on whichever god's face was always priceless. Dionysus was sinking down into his chair like the Titanic. He had around the same ratios as the vessel too. I let the tension rise for a moment more before I broke the deafening silence with a “BOO!” My hands soared into the air with finesse. Dionysus fell off his side of the bench, legs flying skyward comically


Now I was the one laughing. I pounded the table a few times for good measure. And this wasn't even the best part. “Don't you see, Donny? I'm only messing with you. I'm the god of humor, remember? You should have seen the look on your face!” I overflowed again with bursts of contagious giggles.


Dionysus was as pale as a ghost. He gave a half-hearted laugh. “Haha. Very funny, Johnny.” His composure had finally returned to him. Not an ounce of drunkenness was left in his system. Peeing his pants in terror may have helped with removing the homebrew.


I wiped a tear from my eye and took a deep breath to help settle myself down. Dionysus was now enraged at how easily he had been fooled. “You're going to pay for that, boy!” He turned a shade of red, which then turned to purple, then blue. If he keeps that up, he'll go thermonuclear. 


“Oh, but Donny, when I said that I was messing with you, I was referring to how I scared the living daylights out of you, not the part about how my power is stronger than yours ten to one easily.” 


Dionysus didn't hear my words in his fury, “I'm going to turn you into a grape so large, you'll make enough wine for the next eon!” 


I laughed despite the situation. Some things sound much better in the head before they become a verbal sentence. But I couldn't let Dionysus turn me into the world's largest grape. I had my own plans. 


This was the best part. I liked to call it my finishing touch. I closed my eyes and opened them a moment later. They had lost their ocean blue. All that was left in the socket was a glowing white with a tinge of gold. A low hum filled the air, like what a high voltage telephone wire sounds like when it rains. I was literally hovering a handbreadth off of my seat. I made sure that my voice was layered with octaves of basses and tenors. “You will forget that I ever existed. The last twenty minutes were eventless.”


A vein in Dionysus’s temple bulged, his pupils dilated, then he got up and staggered back to his post by the door like a zombie. My eyes returned to normal, the humming ceased, and I plopped back onto the bench. I picked up my pitcher of hard ambrosia from the picnic table, dropped it into my bottomless pack, and swung the bag over my shoulders. I wonder how long it will be until we meet again, Donny.


The light show I displayed wasn't exactly necessary. I didn't need to float in their air, nor did I need to alter my eyes or changed my voice. I could have forced him to my will simply with a mental command. It's something that I like to call “being a god”; we enjoy showing off every once in a while. It's in our nature.


I stepped onto the cobblestone path that wound its way up Mt. Olympus. I looked up at the clouds gathered around its peak and the structures that littered its face. “You have arrived at your destination,” I said to myself.


That's it for now. Please tell me what you think. What I can improve on, what you enjoyed, stuff like that. :)

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