Here’s another selection from my Mysfits collection. If you like this one, you’ll most likely enjoy all the others, too! You can get a copy–right here–from Amazon. I’m pleased to reprint “Gods.”
Avery sat at his kitchen table, trying to ignore the Closet God pacing in front of the oven. He could see him clearly only in mid-turn which made the performance even more distracting.
“You’re not listening,” the Closet God said. “You know I hate that.”
Avery blinked. “Sorry. What were you saying?”
“Never mind. My shift’s up in a couple minutes, and the busybody will be back. She means well, but don’t close your mind to other viewpoints—like mine.”
“Uh, sure.” Avery glanced up at the Calorie Goddess taped to the wall next to the cookie jar. He could never keep their shifts straight. They’d all gotten along fine in the beginning, before Avery brought the cat home. How was he supposed to know they’d get upset about it? They were gods, after all, they could have warned him.
“Well, what?” Avery asked.
The two-dimensional god tapped his two-dimensional toe. “You tuned me out—again. Good luck finding clean shirts this week.”
“Give me a break, will ya?” Avery rubbed his temples. “I’m going to bed.”
“I won’t keep you,” the Closet God said. “Just promise you won’t agree to anything she suggests until you run it past me. Okay?”
“Good. Drat—time’s up. Gotta go.” The Closet God waddled out of the kitchen. Avery watched him round the corner to the bedroom.
“Is he finally gone?” the Safety Goddess asked as she slipped out from behind the refrigerator and pulled dust bunnies from the Scotch tape at her shoulders. “I thought the old blowhard would never leave.”
Avery rested his elbows on the table and cradled his face in his palms. “Don’t start, please?”
“If you ask me, I think he’s still upset there’s no yard to putter around in. Most of his tools wouldn’t even fit in that closet. If you really cared, you wouldn’t have moved into an apartment.”
The Safety Goddess extracted a wad of tissue from a pocket of her ancient, flowered housecoat, and blew her nose in it. “So, what’s your problem?”
“You’re my problem!”
“All of you! I can’t get any work done; I can’t get any rest; I can’t entertain; I can’t even have a pet.”
“Ridiculous,” she said. “Get a fish.”
“I hate fish, that’s why I got a cat.”
“I didn’t have a problem with the cat. You’ll have to take that up with the Closet God.”
“But you were the one who said I had to lock it up at night. I didn’t know cats gave him the hives. He kept trying to bury it with my clothes. No wonder it ran away.”
The Safety Goddess crossed her arms and sighed. “Must we go through this again? You’ll make yourself sick dwelling on it.”
“I’m not dwelling on it. I’m mad about it!”
“Call it what you will.”
“Jail! That’s what I call it. I’m the prisoner—you’re the guards. You even work in shifts!”
“That’s only temporary,” said the Safety Goddess, “until you-know-who comes to his senses. Shouldn’t affect you at all.”
“No effect? Then how come the Phone God cuts my calls short and never takes messages? Why does the Television Goddess have to approve my choices? Who put the Fashion God in charge of my wardrobe?” He stared at her. “Don’t you see? I have no life. I can’t even leave the apartment for fear the Furnishing God will replace everything I own!”
The Safety Goddess put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “I can’t believe you’d say that after everything we’ve done for you.”
Avery snorted. “Name one thing you’ve done that I should be grateful for.”
“Oh, that’s easy—your car.”
“It hasn’t worked since I parked it!”
“Well, there you are, compliments of the Machine God. He saved your life. If you can’t drive, chances are you won’t be in any car wrecks.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Avery said.
The Safety Goddess frowned. “A little gratitude wouldn’t hurt, y’know.”
“I should be grateful you’ve made me a prisoner?”
“Now, that’s ridiculous,” she said. “We’re the ones who’re stuck here. You can leave whenever you like.”
“A rare exception.” The Safety Goddess shook her head slightly as she re‑rolled a curler and secured it directly above her forehead. “The elevator was scheduled to break down. If we had let you out, you might have been injured.”
“I could have taken the stairs.”
“Down, maybe. But would you have climbed up six flights when you returned? I don’t think so.”
“I can take care of myself!”
“Of course you can—if you’re willing to put up with mismatched socks, sorry nutrition, and a bedroom that’s only fit for pigs. I don’t know what they taught you in that college fraternity, but they certainly didn’t prepare you for the real world. You think you can manage on your own? Ha! If it weren’t for the Calorie Goddess, you’d be too big to squeeze through the door.”
Avery slammed his fist on the table. “I’ve had it!” He stomped to the bedroom and stopped in front of the closet. Gripping the handles of the double doors, he took a deep breath, then opened them. The Closet God sat on the hanger bar directly in front of him.
“What’s this, a surprise visit?” asked the diminutive deity.
Avery ignored him and reached for his suitcase on the top shelf. Pulling it free, he set off a small avalanche of empty boxes, seldom-used camping gear, and a few men’s magazines.
“Nice move,” said the Closet God as he surveyed the mess. He pointed at the magazines. “Don’t let her see those.”
Avery glared at him but said nothing. Instead, he opened his suitcase on the bed and began to fill it with clothing, books and memorabilia, everything but the photos. Those he’d leave right where they were—over the washing machine, on the toolbox, in the cupboard—wherever his mother had put them. He threw anything else that mattered to him into the suitcase; there would be no return visit.
“Where ya headed?” asked the Closet God, still perched on the clothes bar. “Y’know, you’d get more in there if you folded it neatly. Want some help?”
Avery jammed the suitcase shut with his knee and struggled to force the latch closed. The Safety Goddess watched from the doorway. “This isn’t really a good day to travel,” she said.
He responded with “Sure it is,” as the latch finally clicked. “I’m outta here!” He wrestled the suitcase to the floor, extended the pull-out handle and tilted it forward on built-in wheels. “Don’t wait up.”
“When will you be back?” the Closet God asked.
Avery ignored him. He turned the knob, but the door wouldn’t open.
“Well?” The Safety Goddess’s voice harbored a note of irritation.
“I dunno,” Avery said. “Maybe never.”
The door swung open. “It’s your choice,” the Safety Goddess said. “Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
Avery nodded and dragged his suitcase into the hall. The two gods leaned against opposite sides of the doorway watching him. One of the suitcase wheels had a bad bearing which caused it to squeal and pull to the side.
“I can fix that,” the Closet God said.
Avery let the suitcase veer into the wall. He pulled it along, ignoring the mark it scribed in the plaster as he hurried to reach the elevator.
“He’s always in such a rush,” the Safety Goddess said.
Avery flopped backward on the bed, his arms outspread. The last few days had been exhilarating, but demanding; he’d almost forgotten what life on his own was like. Though his escape suffered a rocky start, including a dispute with an over‑charging cabby who didn’t speak English, a lost bus ticket, and a decision to walk under a bridge loaded with pigeons, it had ended well.
Best of all, thanks to the intervention of an old fraternity brother, he’d even landed a job with the National Weather Service.
He smiled as he recalled how the gods had opposed his joining that fraternity. Sure, it cost a lot, but the contacts were worth it. Without them, he’d never have landed his new job.
Mail and supplies were dropped by parachute every other week into the string of Antarctic weather stations to which Avery had been assigned. He’d spent six weeks in training at the main base before boarding the cargo plane which took him to his outpost.
“Boy am I glad to see you,” said the bearded and bundled meteorologist Avery was replacing. “Six months out here is about all a man can stand.”
“I don’t know,” Avery said. “I’ve been looking forward to the peace and quiet.”
“You’ll get plenty of that.” The man extended a mittened hand. “Good luck,” he said, then climbed into the belly of the transport and closed the door.
Avery watched as the ski-equipped craft raced over the ice and became airborne. He turned and entered the building which would be his home for the next six months. After passing through a weather lock, he stamped the snow from his boots and hung his parka on a peg near the door.
The one-room building had a few creature comforts including a well-stocked bookshelf, a video collection, and most important of all, indoor plumbing. It also had a number of photographs taped to the walls. Avery swallowed hard as he gazed at the familiar faces.
“Surprise!” said a voice behind him. “You know, maybe we were wrong about your fraternity. If it weren’t for them, we’d never have found you.”