10.00 AM, Saturday Morning
"Hey Holy One, your halo is slipping," a voice came mockingly from the line in which the man stood. He turned, looking for its source and sighed.
Standing three places behind the man, blonde hair spiked upwards with wax that gleamed in tandem with his golden epaulets, the mocker gave the man a jaunty grin and waved a brief salute. Shaking his head, the man turned back to the counter.
"Strong black. Two sugars," he requested, then handed over the requisite silver and collected his foam cup. Stepping away from the counter, he wandered over to a small table by the huge glass window, adjusting his robe as he sat on the high stool. Sunlight curled around him gently, and he relaxed for a moment before the light was dimmed by an approaching shadow.
"Mind?" the mocking voice came again, and the man looked up and sighed, then gestured at the other seat.
"Very well, Gilgamesh. Whatever you wish."
Gilgamesh sat down, his cloak twirling and settling over the stool, gold armour clinking as he leaned forward, stirring cream into his macadamia latte. His eyes twinkled as he watched the other man steadily drink his coffee. Gilgamesh grinned, and dropped his spoon onto the tabletop with a metallic clink.
"Busy night, oh great one?" he asked, then sipped lightly at his concoction. "I thought it was rather tame myself."
"To the King of Heroes it might have been," the man replied, his voice acerbic. He lifted a napkin, dabbed at his chin and the edges of his close-cropped beard, the white linen becoming lightly soiled with black splotches. He folded the napkin down onto the table, then looked at Gilgamesh.
"Why are you here?"
Gilgamesh raised an eyebrow, his left nostril twitching slightly.
"Come now, Jesus," he said softly, with a gesture behind him at the cafe, "where else can I go?"
Jesus sat back on his stool and studied Gilgamesh intently. The gold leaf that caressed his armour was starting to peel; his cloak looked old, its black hue faded to grey in several visible patches. Even the gelled hair of which the King of Heroes was so proud seemed to be less vibrant than normal.
"No one cares about a King anymore," Gilgamesh muttered. "Or a Hero. Or a Heroic God-King. It's all rush, rush, busy, busy. No time to waste on the past, stop living in the present, think of the future. I'm an anachronism."
He looked up at Jesus, sitting there with his left hand lightly touching his Styrofoam cup. His hands, smooth as cream, emerging from a pale purple robe, his shoulder length hair sitting just so. Gilgamesh shook his head.
"You're out of touch too," he growled, and drained his cup. He put it down onto the table, keeping a firm grip on the foam then squeezed gently. His eyes bored into the table as his fingers flexed.
"Oh, I don't think so," Jesus replied, his voice taking on an ironic tone. "Attendance is good, satisfaction is high. The Kingdom of Heaven still has appeal."
"People are good liars," Gilgamesh replied. "One day they're praising and worshipping, reading your tales and evoking your exploits. The next day?" he grimaced, and with a quick motion crushed the Styrofoam cup into shriveled wreckage.
"Perhaps that's the benefit of being something of a... franchise? Yes, a franchise," Jesus mused, taking a final drink from his cup, before neatly placing it in a bin within easy arm's reach. "No matter the specific location or brand variations, it all ultimately comes back to the parent group."
Gilgamesh snorted. "Branding? Franchises? Have you listened to yourself lately?"
Jesus shrugged. "Changing times, changing faces."
"Is that why you're drinking black coffee now?"
"No," Jesus shook his head. "That's for the hangover. As you mentioned, Buddha's party last night was pretty big. I don't even want to know how he managed to hire out that mosque."
With a grunt Gilgamesh stood, then tossed the remains of his cup into the bin next to Jesus' stool, the Styrofoam pieces falling like cheap confetti. He looked over at Jesus, sitting with the corners of his mouth curved upwards like a cat's in a small, self-satisfied smile, his hands clasped on the table in front of him. Gilgamesh shook his head
"Change. Sure sounds like it."
Gilgamesh was a legendary (historical?) King of Sumeria who reigned circa 2600BC. He was believed to have been both man and god, the son of the King of Sumeria and the Goddess Ninsun. (Gilgamesh of Uruk, two thirds god one third man, greatest of super humans etc)
He is the subject of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which tells a tale in similar style to a Homeric poem, where Gilgamesh is assailed and suffers various tribulations caused by the Gods, visits the underworld, and attempts to discover the secret of immortality. At the end, Gilgamesh has the revelation that it is through man's works and civilization that he shall endure, not through magical power. He is a fairly 'typical' legendary hero who is accounted to be the strongest and greatest of heroes- hence the title 'King of Heroes' which I have assumed for him in this piece. Although that title is rather apocryphal, it does describe the attitude to Gilgamesh as the God King of mighty fame.
An online version of the Epic can be found here:
This work © 2006 Ben Thomas. All rights reserved.