I called on Mr Dionysus but he was not at home. Both chained gates were locked, but one was open. It had been forced and it swung free, wearing its padlock in a concrete handcuff that had been torn from the wall. I didn’t call out for I could see that there hadn’t been anyone home since spring. I stepped inside and slipped on the dancefloor.
Mr Dionysus always danced out of doors. That was his natural environment. I smiled as I recalled the parties he had thrown. Wild did not come into it. They were out of doors and out of control. Wine gushed. Guests gorged. They danced ‘til dawn then danced some more, then slumped and snored, then woke to shake off the limbs they did not own. Bonds were broken, babes were risked. Cares were lost and no one cared to look for them. The moves made were chaos orchestrated.
All Mr Dionysus’ guests were young regardless of how old they were. He said that no matter how many years you may have accumulated, youth is only ever three cups away. Mr Dionysus’ finest vintage is the same age as it always was. It is the best purgative restorative and guaranteed to uncork the personal wellspring. All maturity was pared back to first cock and wild abandon.
His garden was his temple. At the far end was his disrobing pavilion and before that a knee-high stage. Every step was slippery when I made my catch-up call and I was glad of the steadying influence of my stick. I stood on that stage and said out loud that I was him. I knew he wouldn’t mind. He’d just be disappointed that I was sober.
I scanned the stepped amphitheatre created in his honour. It was deserted but ever-pregnant. All it needed was bums. It was ready, should they come. And should they come, they’d slip just like me and be made to sit and watch the debauchery that Dionysus liquified into art. Better still, they might join in.
Spindles of weeds marked the seams in the stone. It was winter and they were invitations to wait for longer days when they’d stiffen afresh and multiply. Mr Dionysus wouldn’t mind. He liked any sign of life. He’d just be sad that they lacked sentient company.
I didn’t like to see Mr Dionysus’ precinct so neglected. An empty stage is not empty at all, a worshipper once said, it is full of possibilities. Mr Dionysus was the mother and father of possibilities. Consequently, he was treated with suspicion. People are wary of possibilities because they are invisible.
I lamented, then left. There were animal prints in the mud beside the path. A nature trail.
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THE ATHEIST’S PRAYER BOOK A selection of short fiction in search of the super in the natural. It is a package of organic antidotes.
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MAKING MYRA What turned a trusted child-minder into the most recognisable icon of child murder? See: Making Making Myra.
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