For Yasuko Taoka
“Look, the kid’s fast, no one’s arguing that,” says Phylacus the King, and he just nods, he hopes sagely. “Super fast. Faster than the wind!” More nodding. “He can run on the heads of wheat without bending a stalk, and over asphodel, that unlovely plant of the dead, without crushing it.” Where’s he going with this? “Destined for great things, everyone sees it, no one’s that fast without some cackling god somewhere, begging your pardon.”
“Hey, you don’t gotta apologize to me,” Melampus says. “It don’t make no nevermind to me. You might oughta apologize to them, I mean, whatever, but whatever your kid’s problem is, it’s not gonna get worse by being polite.”
“Right, right,” the king says, maybe annoyed, maybe just rattled. “Very wise, I’m sure. But listen, okay, here’s the issue: the boy’s limp as a noodle. Can’t get it up, no way no how.”
“Gross,” says Melampus, “don’t say that about your son, that’s too much.”
“Hey, he’s nervous, who’s he going to talk to, his mother? And, hey, can you help us or not?”
There’s a threat there, you don’t have to be a prophet to see it, but the worm he tucked in his hair warns him about it anyway. Melampus tries to keep his eyes from rolling.
“Okay, here’s what you’re gonna do, you just listen—”
The worm is goddamn hilarious is what it is, it’s all he can do to keep from cracking up when he finds out what the problem is. Typical Freudian nonsense; bloody knives and pear trees. He gets it sorted for them and walks away a herd of cattle richer. The worm gets fat and dies. Everyone wins!