Whiskey sez: It’s been, what, nine, ten months or so since I last posted a story. Usually when I have a long gap like that I spin you some yarn like the time I got kidnapped by the Trope Brothers, or when I spent a few months taking care of Elpis the Promise Chicken, or when I was kidnapped by aliens. I’m not going to do that this time. Truth is, it’s just been a crazy, busy time that has not allowed for storytelling. However, by way of recovery from said craziness, I took a little mental health trip to Europe where I spent some time bumming around Greece.
I met one old guy, his name was Milos. He said he was that one dude from For Your Eyes Only. I called bullshit and said that was Topol, you know, the Fiddler on the Roof guy. He said, yeah, that was the actor but he meant that he was the real-life inspiration for the character. Whatever, he could really tell a story. We met one morning at a cafe and got to talking. He spent hours regaling me with story after story from the lesser known depths of Greek mythology. My favorite of these was the story of the Guyclops. I don’t know if I can give it the same flair as Milos, but I’ll try my best to whiskey it up for y’all.
The Guyclops and the more well known Cyclops were brothers. Similar in many ways – like both were terrifying giants with only one eye. Except that the Guyclops’ eye wasn’t on his face. It was at the end of his big ole schlong. Now, I realize he’s a giant, so it would seem that referring to schlong size is a bit gratuitous. But even taking proportion into account, it was still notably prodigious. He lived on the island of, well, I forget the name. Not Lesbos, the other one.
Anyway, the Guyclops only had this one eye, placed, well, you know. So in order to see what was going on around him, he had to wave that thing around. Like a pool noodle. This condition afforded him some advantages. For example, he could peer around the corner at the entrance to his lair to check for any pesky heroes trying to sneak up and slay him. Which they were forever trying to do. It was a real nuisance for the Guyclops.
But the Guyclops was a kind of nuisance himself. The local villagers hated him. Sometimes when he was drunk he would stumble into town and cry on them. Which didn’t hurt or injure the villagers in any way, it was just really gross. But he engaged in more normal monster behavior as well. He demanded tribute from the various villages on the island and if one village’s offerings wasn’t up to snuff, he would pick up one or two of the helpless islanders, toss them about like rag-dolls and maybe rip their limbs off. You know, normal monster behavior.
He also tended to un-limb any heroes he caught sneaking up on him. Over the years he had amassed quite a collection of would-be hero skulls, rib cages, and pelvises. His favorites lined the walls of his lair, but he had such a surplus that he had added on an extra room where there were just boxes and boxes of spare hero skulls and bones and such. The Guyclops had made several resolutions to sort and organize his trophies. Maybe even take some to the dump, or ask around and see if his brother wanted some. But sadly, for the Guyclops, he never had the chance to follow through with his lair clean-up project.
One day a hero finally came who proved to be the Guyclops’ equal. He was a little known, up-and-coming hero called Testicles. I know, I know, but it’s not pronounced like that. I checked the spelling and pronunciation numerous times with different sources. The spelling is correct, but it’s pronounced in a way that rhymes with well-known British comedian John Cleese, so long as one pronounces his name in such a way that it rhymes with cheese. Yeah?
Testicles was clever and more than a little innovative when it came to heroing. He dressed up in a FedEx uniform and fashioned a mock bown-paper package. This was particularly groundbreaking since the entire package-delivery industry was, really, centuries away. Disguised this way, our hero was able to walk right up to the Guyclops’ lair. No mucking about trying to sneak up by one side or the other. When he was about twenty yards from the entrance he called out, “I have a package here for a Mr. Guy Clops. Guy Clops.”
Nothing. No rustling, grunting, or answer of any kind. He tried again. “Hello? Mr. Clops? I have a package for you sir.”
Then he saw it. The squinky eye. It was being poked around the entrance to the lair from one side. Although it was only the one eye, and lacked the emotive advantages of eyebrows, or other facial expressions, it clearly conveyed a sense of curiosity. Testicles held his ground. After a few beats, the enormity of the whole Guyclops stepped into the entryway.
For a split second the hero questioned his calling. Perhaps he should have gone in with his cousin on the spanakopita business. A life amongst flaky crusts and spinach may have been safe, maybe more lucrative. But the adulation ceiling in the pastry business was severely limited. How famous could good spanakopita make you? Best in the neighborhood or the whole town. But really, regional recognition was about all one could hope for. Testicles craved the kind of fame that could only be achieved through the hero business. And to make a name in the highly competitive, dog-eat-dog Hellenic hero world, well, one had to face, and slay, a monster or five.
At the age of twelve, Testicles had bravely dispatched an entire band of scavenging, rabid raccoon that had terrorized his neighborhood. As he stood triumphantly over the carcasses of the vanquished vermin, Mrs. Christakos, the old washerwoman on the corner, had tousled his hair and said, “Look at little Testicles, he is our very own Greek hero!”
In retrospect, this had clearly been an elder saying some shit to make a kid feel good. But Testicles took the words to heart. He began to fashion weapons out of driftwood, sticks, and the bones of dinner-goats. His modest family could never have payed for actual lessons, so he didn’t even ask. He became self-taught, drilled ceaselessly, slaying hay bale after sand bag. When the teacher at school told the tales of the classic heroes, Testicles listened carefully, often asking questions of a logistical or technical nature that were well beyond the teacher’s knowledge of heroing or monster-slaying. He studied every legend on his own. He memorized the names of every hero and every slain monster.
At fourteen he began sallying forth into the countryside to ask farmers and villagers if they had any monsters he could help them with. This door-to-door approach got him some pats on the head, an occasional chuckle, and more than once, a nice piece of baklava before being sent on his way. But still, he persisted and after about a year of this he stumbled upon a farmer sitting on a rock by the side of the road. The old man was downcast, chin to chest, elbows on knees.
“What’s wrong, good villager?” asked Testicles. He had learned this was a common, often well-received, hero-like salutation.
The farmer didn’t move, save flailing his arms a bit. “He’s come and rooted up my field. Again.” He flailed in the general direction of the field beyond the road and sure enough, it was a mess. “I yet have my field on the other side of the river. But he’ll come for that one soon enough.”
“Who? Who has done this?”
“The Boar,” the man picked up a dirt clod and hurled it to the ground.
“Ah! Your troubles are over good man. I am a hero. The Great Hero Testicles! And I will slay this boar for you.”
The man looked up for the first time, “Hero my ass. You’re only a boy.”
“Perhaps, and maybe I’m not ‘The Great’ yet,” Testicles made air-quotes. “But I assure you I am an up and coming hero. I can certainly take this boar.”
“Think so, do you? It’s not just any boar. He’s called Tibius:The Boar of Doom. His tusks are said to be divine, forged by the Gods themselves. Or at least one God who is good at forging and loves pigs.” The old man held his thumbs next to his mouth, like tusks. “They can pierce the thickest armor . . . or skull for that matter. And that’s not all, his hide is said to be covered in plates made of celestial stuff, as difficult to pierce as a Spartan phalanx. What I’m saying is you go up against him, and one of you ends up piercing the other . . . well . . . there’s only one way that’s going to go . . . ” the old man trailed off with a smirk.
“So this Tibius: The Boar of Doom isn’t a regular boar at all, but a monster who needs slaying?” Testicles’ eyes lit up with the opportunity to make his bones.
“A low level one, yeah.”
“Perfect! I will lie in wait beside your good field across the river. When this so-called Boar of Doom comes to pillage it, ha-ha!” The young hero drew his makeshift wooden sword and waved it about with a flourish.
The old man rolled his eyes. “Personally I think you should go home to your mother. Grow a few chest and shoulder hairs before you try this sort of thing. But if you’re determined to give this a try, well, leave me your mother’s name and address so I can at least send back what’s left of you. Oh, did I mention? He can shoot fire from his tail.”
Testicles was lucky. Lucky in that he was not killed in his very first encounter with Tibius: The Boar of Doom. His attempt at a head-on skirmish on that first night resulted in a couple of serous gashes to his right calf and left bicep. It was probably only his now very slightly fractured third rib on the left, which had done the job of protecting his internal organs from serious damage combined with his ability to scamper up a nearby tree that saved his life. And it was up in the branches of the tree watching Tibius: The Boar of Doom bang his head against the trunk like a stupid animal, that Testicles came to a key realization. The feared Tibius: The Boar of Doom was not a low-level monster at all, just a really big, really ill-tempered but totally run-of-the-mill boar.
The following night, the second encounter between Testicles and Tibius: The Boar of Doom, aka just a regular mean pig, was swift and decisive. A deep pit, with sharpened stakes at the bottom, covered in leaves, and baited with a few figs and apples did the trick. Sitting high in his tree at quite a safe distance, Testicles watched his nemesis fall to his impaling. The beast didn’t squeal much, but it’s death squeals grew louder and more terrifying with each telling of the tale. Testicles walked up to the old farmer’s door, decapitated boar-head in hand – never letting on that it was anything less than Tibius: The Boar of Doom. The fact that the young hero required a bit of patching up himself just added to the heroic qualities of the story.
And that was the start. Testicles’ name started popping up in songs and whatnot. He was already as famous as his town’s top spanakopita maker. He also learned a few things about heroing during his first legendary fight. First was that how things appear to be is more important than how they really are. Second, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of trickery.
And now, years later, here he was facing the Guyclops, his first Class-A monster.
At least most people assumed the Guyclops was a Class-A. However, he was actually only a Class-C. This was the result of one of the most contentious meetings ever of the Helenic Monster Classification Council, or the HMCC.
The board was narrowly and bitterly divided. On one side were those who argued that the Guyclops, like his brother was clearly a Class-A. Those in opposition argued that because in order to see anything, the Guyclops had to employ at least one of his hands making him less dangerous and therefore a Class-B. The pro-A supporters countered with the fact that the Guyclops’ fearsome and unsettling appearance more than made up for any shortcomings in regard to offensive combat capabilities. The rift was exacerbated by an ongoing dowry dispute between Stavros, a Class-B supporter, and Nicholas on the Class-A side. Something about not enough goats, or goats of inferior quality, or something. Anyways, at an impasse, not to mention each others’ throats, the council broke for lunch.
It was after lunch that what some regard as the greatest shenanigans ever pulled by this or any other monster classification body went down. Three members of the Class-A cabal decided to stop by the head to caucus over strategy. But having mistimed their little aside which consisted of both council and personal business, they failed by a margin of about three minutes to retake their seats before the one o’clock start of the afternoon session.
The Council Chair had once suffered the ignominious insult of having inferior goats foisted on him. So, though not exactly a rabid Class-B-er, he felt sympathetic towards their cause. He realized that without the three, there was still a quorum with a slim, but clear pro-B majority. Instead of waiting a few more minutes he gaveled the meeting to order. Before the three were even finished with their second shakes, a motion was made, seconded and voted on. To really rub salt in the procedural wound, the council had gone so far as to approve the Guyclops not even as a Class-B, but as a Class-C. The rest of the Class-A contingent were quite miffed at their urinating companions and threw figs and olives at them when they returned. They all gnashed their teeth and threatened to resign from such a sham of a council. But there was nothing they could do. The vote had proceeded, if not by the spirit, then by the letter of the agreed upon norms and by-laws that governed Council business.
For those who followed such things, this entire unfortunate occurrence simply cemented the growing belief that monster classification was just so much bureaucratic bullshit. Besides, they said cynically, no one really cares about such rankings other than Heroes and their sponsors. The villagers, farmers, humble artisans, and spanakopita makers paid little attention to official monster or hero rankings. For them, every monster that threatened them was a Class-A. Every Hero that managed to slay one was Great. For the villagers being tossed about and ripped apart by the Guyclops, he was a Class-Fuck-This-Thing-Won’t-Somebody-Just-Kill-It-Already.
Class-A, Class-C, whatever. The Guyclops was easily the biggest challenge Testicles had ever set himself. He certainly could die, but if not, this victory would catapult him into a level of fame that would cross the Aegean.
The Guyclops began to move forward from the lair entrance. His voice boomed, “Package? Who would send me a package?”
Testicles looked down at the address label, “It looks like a C. Clops. From Sicily?” He held the package up to his ear and shook it a bit. “Sounds like it might be bones of some kind. Hero bones, maybe?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake!” the monster bellowed. “I’ve got more than I need already. My brother can be a real pain in the ass.”
“I could be wrong, best to open it up and see.” Testicles approached, holding the package as far out front of himself as his arms would reach.
The monster snatched the package with his meaty right hand. And then it happened. Testicles had made sure to tape and tie the shit out of the package. He had tied it with what would later be incorrectly remembered as a Gordian Knot. After a few seconds of fruitless attempts to open the package, the Guyclops brought his left hand up to help tear at the wrapping. This meant that for a few seconds at least, all the giant could see was his own feet and a few feet of the ground in front of him. Perfect! He never saw Testicles draw his sword, a real one now, out from behind his cape.
Wait, it bears clearing up. Package delivery uniforms as we know them don’t include capes. But Testicles, a couple of thousand years before such uniforms came to be standardized, imagined that package delivery uniforms would most definitely include capes. Clearly. Why would they not? But they never caught on. A shame really.
The monster had dropped his guard, so to speak, and that was all the opportunity Testicles needed. He drew his sword and cut off the Guyclops’ head. Well, heads. Before the monster even knew he was in peril, it was all over. As it turned out, the Class-C designation arrived at by the HMCC through political and personal pettiness, was pretty spot-on, helping to bring about a belief in bureaucratic efficacy that took centuries for the western world to even begin to question.
Our Hero, bespattered in what he hoped was mostly monster blood, paraded both of this trophies through the villages of the island where gathered throngs threw flowers and offered him souvlaki. Then he tied them to the sails of his trireme for the trip home. When he arrived, he presented the prizes as gifts to his lovely wife, Angina. Her name is pronounced just the way you would imagine. She was so proud of her husband, now surely on the way up the ranks to Great Hero, that she mounted both of the trophies. Right in the living room where he could see.
And that’s pretty much the story of the Guyclops.
So I’m sure many of you are wondering, like I did, why you’ve never heard such a great story before. The way Milos tells it, there’s really two main reasons the story of the Guyclops didn’t catch on like some of the others. One, the main audiences for tales of heroes and monsters, the ones most attentive, tend to be children – not unlike Testicles the school boy. It’s problematic telling a story to kids when a monster’s weird schlong plays such a key role. Of course, it’s inappropriate, but more than that, the kids never stop laughing long enough to actually listen to the story.
The second reason lies with the fate of Testicles. The slaying of the Guyclops certainly was a career moment. Although the Class-C designation didn’t shoot him up the rankings quite as far as he had hoped, the slaying and the subsequent songs did start to catch the attention of sponsors. He was able to upgrade his weapons, armor and trireme. Also, much to Angina’s delight, he was able to build a hero-worthy villa out in the countryside.
Unfortunately this would prove to be the short-lived pinnacle of Testicles’ career. He was slain during his very next outing. Some say his victory over the Guyclops went to his head. That he became overconfident. It certainly seems that he seriously underestimated his opponent. And no one really wants to hear tales of a hero who was slain by the four foot three Minitaur.
© 2019 Whiskey Leavins