“You Non-Miraculous Son of a Bitch,” by Eirik Gumeny

Apr 20th, 2013 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Danny Ramirez was sitting on the toilet when he heard it. The constant, staccato thuds and the slight clatter of plates and glasses bunny-hopping across the kitchen counter.

Not again, he thought. Not another embarrassing phone call to the complex office. Not another disgusted plumber calling in for backup. Maria walking in at the exact worst moment. Danny could feel his face turning red at the mere thought. Only then did he realize he hadn’t flushed yet. There was no way the steady shaking could be the result of a pipe trying desperately not to explode. Danny relaxed considerably.

The commotion, however, did not. The man on the toilet shrugged it off, contenting himself with the assumption that it was a truck idling in the parking lot or a track loader inching across the building site behind it. It wasn’t until after Danny wiped his ass and exited the bathroom that he discovered there was a minotaur pacing back and forth in his living room.

“What in the …” Danny stared at the enormous beast, dumbfounded. The creature had to be at least eight feet tall, with the head of a bull and a body as thick and wide as a cartoon barbarian.

“Daniel Ramirez,” rumbled the minotaur, his deep baritone having much the same effect on the dishes as his pacing, “I am here to defeat you in armed combat and reclaim the honor of my family.”

“I don’t… What?” asked Danny, still dumbfounded, but now confused for good measure. He backed against the wall of the apartment’s small hallway, keeping as much distance as possible between himself and the hulking monster standing in front of his couch. The hulking monster in a very impressive suit.

“Your name is Daniel Ramirez, is it not?”

“Uh, yeah…”

“Then you are the last living descendent of Theseus, son of Aegeus, king of Athens, and I must destroy you as your ancestor destroyed mine.”

“Wait, hold on,” said Danny, coming to terms with the fact that he was talking to a mythical beast, if only because he now had to come to terms with the fact that the same mythical beast was trying to kill him. “I’m Mexican, not Greek.”

“Your grandparents and their parents before them lived their lifetimes in Mexico, yes, but their bloodline originates in Spain, and Greece ere that. Your forebears emigrated from Athens to Andalusia shortly after the false prophet was born in Zion and religious upheaval befell the Hellenic empire.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Yes, I believe that was the name of the prophet.”

“No, it ā€“ It’s an expression of disbelief,” explained Danny.

“You dare accuse me of willfully casting misinformation?” boomed the minotaur. A box of Lucky Charms tumbled from the top of the refrigerator.

“What? No. Calm down,” replied Danny, hands up placatingly, stepping from the hallway to the living room. “I don’t not believe you. I don’t think you would’ve… done whatever the hell magic you had to do to come here if it wasn’t true.”

“I traveled via airplane. Business-class,” grumbled the taurine creature. “I am of myth, not magic, you unlettered ass.”

“I didn’t know any of that. I’m sorry. And I’m sorry someone I’m apparently related to killed someone you’re related to.”

“You are voluntarily ignorant of your ancestry?” The minotaur snuffled then tilted his head. His enormous dark eyes took in the young man before him. Danny stood petrified. He felt naked, despite his worn cardigan and threadbare slippers.

“You are slow-minded, yes? Suffering from a disease of the brain.”

“No!” said Danny indignantly.

“But it is daylight and you do not appear to have taken a shower.”

“I didn’t know you were coming over.”

“It is three in the afternoon, by your Mountain time zone. Should you not have bathed yourself as part of a daily hygienic ritual? It was my understanding that Americans valued cleanliness among all else.”

“Showers just slow me down.”

“Where… are you going?” asked the minotaur, raising a gigantic, bushy eyebrow.

“Well, uh, here, I guess,” replied Danny slowly, looking vacantly at the rug. “I was going to work on some songs.” He nodded toward the unopened guitar case wedged behind the hideously green couch.

“Has ‘slow me down’ taken on some new idiomatic meaning?” asked the minotaur. “You do not appear to be in a rush to do… anything.”

“I get distracted.”

“Is that why you are not wearing pants?”

“No, that’s because you didn’t knock.”

“I did knock.” The minotaur pointed toward the doorway and, more specifically, the extended deadbolt and the splintery hole gouged into the doorframe.

“Huh.”

“Please, pick up your arms, Daniel Ramirez,” said the minotaur, standing to his full height. His sharpened horns scraped against the apartment ceiling. “I tire of this conversation and I am pressed to defeat you and devour your bones before seven o’clock Mountain time. I did not plan for this much exposition and idle causerie when I booked my return flight.”

“Look, this isn’t going to take very long, man. You’re, like, ten feet of nothing but muscle and ancestral rage. Do what you gotta do.”

Danny shrugged and stood limply before the minotaur.

“You… do not defend yourself?”

“Against you?”

“Please, Daniel Ramirez. Defend your honor and make mine worthwhile. Raise a fist, brandish a knife. I will wait for you to walk to the kitchen to retrieve one.”

Danny shook his head.

“At the very least threaten me with braggadocio.”

“I’ve never been in a fight in my life.”

“Is that… is that true?” replied the business-formal beast, deflating slightly. “You have never battled?”

“Never needed to,” explained the young man in his underwear.

“And you are positive that you are not skull-damaged.”

“I’m not,” snapped Danny. “Stop asking.”

“Then you are but a child,” mumbled the minotaur. “Slaughtering an unprepared innocent will lend no benefit to restoring the honor and glory of my family line.”

“If you say so. I’m kinda deferring to you when it comes to centuries-old blood feuds.”

“This won’t do. There must be a show of some skill, of some outmaneuvering and abasement.” The minotaur stared directly at Danny. “I must defeat you in an activity in which you excel. I must dishonor you and yours.”

“I spent most of the week cleaning shit off of my silverware. You might be a little late.”

“What are you renowned for, Daniel Ramirez?” The beast stood at his full height again, puffing his enormous chest out. “What deeds cause others to speak your name in awe and hushed tones?”

“I’m nationally ranked at Halo,” offered Danny.

“What is ‘Halo?’?”

“It’s an FPS.”

“I am unfamiliar with the term.”

“A video game, an artificial simulation of extraterrestrial warfare.”

“Show me this,” rumbled the minotaur.

***

The minotaur, Asterion, flailed his massive limbs in front of Danny’s television. The entire apartment convulsed each time his feet hit the floor. An entire bookcase had already toppled to the carpet.

The mythical beast did his best to match the movements of the digitized avatars on the television screen, but the motion-sensing software of the Kinect was unable to adequately capture his enormous bulk. It wasn’t long before the screen blinked “Try Again” and fake, taunting laughter spilled from nearby speakers.

“This is preposterous,” huffed Asterion, collapsing onto Danny’s couch. He breathed rapidly and deeply, his chest heaving beneath his loosened tie and opened collar. The minotaur’s jacket was folded neatly on the armrest beside him; his polished shoes were on the carpet, almost perfectly perpendicular to the couch.

“This Dance Central is worse than the Halo. Neither was manufactured with my form in mind, the very controls insult me! These games are ludicrously impossible!”

With a single hand, the minotaur picked up Danny’s coffee table from beside the sofa and tossed it across the living room, sending it crashing through the sliding glass doors and onto the balcony.

“What the hell, Asterion?!”

“I am sorry, Daniel, but I am frustrated. I feel I may have enjoyed the Halo were the technology more durable.” He nodded toward the controller in the corner, snapped in half like a cracker. “Moreover we still have no arena in which to best one another. Have you no chess? Do you play no sports?”

“I have Kinect Sports,” replied Daniel.

“No, enough of this Kinect,” said Asterion, waving his hand dismissively. “I must find a new way to decimate your manhood and restore the honor of my family.”

“Whatever you want, Asterion. As long as you’re past trying to kill me, I’m down for whatever.”

“I never said I was past trying to kill you,” growled the minotaur.

“Hey, how’s this for a thing,” replied Daniel quickly, “maybe… maybe friendship is just as good as retribution. Huh? Maybe we bring our bloodlines together… as a way of apologizing for and recognizing and lionizing past events that neither of us as individuals had anything to do with, but without spilling more blood and setting off another violent reunion generations from now.”

“Do you in actual fact have children? Offspring to avenge your death?”

“Well, no…”

“I thought not,” said Asterion, eyeing the young man judgmentally. “You still have not put on pants.”

“I’m just saying, isn’t there a way, other than battling to the death, to restore your honor? Can we have some kind of ceremonial union of the minotaurs and the Ramirezes?”

“Are you proposing we engage in sexual congress?”

“I wasn’t, no, but if that’s what it’s going to take for you to not kill me… sure.” Danny exhaled deeply. He stood up and turned, offering his hindquarters to Asterion. “Do what you gotta.”

“In honesty,” began the minotaur thoughtfully, “I am not certain that our attempted coupling would not damage you mortally. You are half my size. Assuming your proktos is proportionate to ā€“”

“OK, yeah, fine, you may have a point.” Danny waved his hands across his chest, signaling an end to this particular line of reasoning. “If you’re not going to actually do it, please don’t talk about it.”

Asterion sighed. “I applaud your efforts, Daniel, but I fear that if we are not able to come up with a satisfactory contest or ceremony in the next few moments I will be unable to continue suppressing my compulsion to avenge my progenitors in the most violent way possible.”

“OK, OK,” said Danny. He began pacing across the room, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck. “Hey, what’s your stance on marijuana?”

***

Danny Ramirez and the minotaur, Asterion, stood on the balcony, passing a joint back and forth. The coffee table had been returned to the living room, only slightly worse for wear, while the shattered glass had been kicked safely into a corner of the balcony.

The man and the beast leaned against the faux-adobe wall and stared west, over the exposed foundations and PVC pipes of the apartment complex expansion, past the dwindling houses littered along the sandy landscape, and into the orange- and yellow-streaked horizon.

“She walked in while I was knee-deep in my neighbor’s poop. The plumbers had left as soon as they fixed the pipe. They wanted nothing to do with the clean-up. There’s still a hole in the wall. Landlord had said he’d be up to help, but if he wasn’t a shitty landlord and a liar we wouldn’t have one sewage pipe for the entire building running through my kitchen.”

“That sounds mortifying.”

“I haven’t seen Maria since.”

“You have telephoned her, though, yes? You have explained the incident in detail?”

“I’ve left messages but she won’t call back.”

Asterion shook his horned head. “If she will not stand with you in crisis, in your flooding of feces, than you should not stand with her at all.”

“I don’t know,” said Danny. “I don’t know if I blame her.”

“Were this Maria here now, in your kitchen, covered in feces and bile and dishwater, would you go to her? If she called to you in that state of foulness?”

“I, uh, I don’t know…”

“Would you, Daniel?”

“I wouldn’t be happy about it.”

“But you would go to her. You would help Maria in her hour of need.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Asterion took a long hit, burning through half of what was left of the joint.

“Your relationship cannot be, Daniel,” explained Asterion, his baritone lessening slightly. “Partners are to stand together, at all times, regardless of the vileness of the situation. If one or the other does not, the union will end, poorly. One will always be a lamb and one will always be an idol.”

The minotaur exhaled.

“And an idol will always demand a sacrifice.”

“Dude,” said Danny, “we were just fucking.”

“She was,” said Asterion. “You were in love with her.”

“What? How would you…? I don’t…” Danny flustered.

“I have been with you for hours now, Daniel. You did not run when I threatened you, you took my friendship even after I threatened you again. You are lonely. You feel like you have nothing to look forward to,” said the minotaur. “And you still have not put on any pants.”

“I was warm.”

“Heed my advice, Daniel.”

“You’re taking things far more seriously than you should.”

“And you are not taking them seriously enough.” The minotaur handed Danny the roach, then slapped him on the back gently, although still enough to leave a bruise. “Get your life together, Daniel.”

“Can we talk about something else now?”

“I have some opinions on your wardrobe if you would like.”

“You into soccer? Can we talk about soccer?”

The minotaur laughed softly.

“You are done trying to kill me, right?”

“I am done trying to kill you,” answered the mythical beast. “There would be no honor in it.”

The sun crept out of view and the sky faded to a dark purple. Danny turned back to the apartment and found the digital clock on the cable box.

“Shit, you missed your flight.”

“That is all right,” said Asterion with a burly shrug. “I will reschedule for tomorrow morning. If I am not leaving a corpse behind, I have less reason to flee this country hastily.”

“You want to crash here?” asked Danny. “We can order a couple pizzas.”

***

Danny sat cross-legged on the couch with a guitar in his lap, scratching music onto a sheet of paper. There were a few other sheets scattered around him. Asterion sat on the floor to the left of him, leaning against the sofa and shoveling pizza slices into his mouth. His giant eyes were fixed on the television.

“You say this Breaking Bad was filmed here? It is a documentary? I would like to meet this Walter White.”

There was a short knock and the apartment door swung open easily, revealing a heavyset bald man wearing a sparsely filled tool belt around his waist. Danny’s landlord leaned in and looked around.

“Danny? You all ā€“” The landlord caught sight of the fallen bookcase and the shattered balcony door. “What the hell happened in here?!”

Only then did the bald man see the minotaur sitting near his feet.

“Ho-ly shit.”

“You are the landlord, yes?” asked Asterion. “You are not very good at your assigned tasks.” The taurine beast stood up. “We may need to speak about this.”

“D-Danny?” whimpered the fat man.

“Listen to the minotaur, Bernie.”

————

Defenestration-Eirik GumenyEirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series, as well as the flash fiction chapbook Boy Meets Girl (Kattywompus Press, 2013). He may or may not be allergic to eggs, which makes every breakfast an adventure. His website is www.egumeny.com.

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