Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, looked across the living room at his sulking best friend and adoptive brother. Enkidu was sitting on the couch, eyes on his phone, chin to his chest, palpably downcast. Still, his pecs, pelted and majestic, stretched the tank top he was wearing – his fantastically hirsute boulder shoulders on full display. Gilgamesh sighed, both at the shoulders and at the sincere concern he felt seeing Enkidu in such a funk.
“Hey,” said Gilgamesh.
The only part of Enkidu that moved in recognition of the greeting were his eyeballs. These rotated in their sockets until he could see Gilgamesh seated to his left. He said nothing, held the side-eye for two, three seconds and went back to looking at his phone.
“You wanna naked-wrestle?” Gilgamesh offered hopefully.
“Not in the mood.”
“What do you mean, ‘not in the mood’? You love to naked-wrestle.”
“Yeah, well. Not today.”
“Come on. You’re being an Enkidon’t. A good naked-wrestle will turn that pout inside out. I’ll spot you a half-nelson.”
“I said I’m not in the mood. And if I were, I wouldn’t need any charity from you. I wrestled the motherfucking Bull of Heaven to the ground by his horns.”
“Yep, you sure did, brother. That was something.” Silence descended. Gilgamesh allowed the TV noise to fill the space for a minute or two. Then, “Is this about the death sentence?”
“You think?” Enkidu said with venom in his voice. Finally, he put his phone down. Sitting up and turning to face Gilgamesh, he continued in a more measured tone, “I mean, it’s not fair. Enlil’s monster, Humbaba, had it coming. And The Bull of Heaven? Ishthar sent that to kill us! What were we supposed to do? Let it?”
“Well, when you threw the bull’s ass in Ishtar’s face, that may have crossed a line. She might be bat-shit crazy, but she is a god. And Anu’s daughter to boot. Our guy, Shamash, doesn’t have that kind of pull.”
“And why me? Why not both of us? Why not you?”
“We call each other brother, and my Mom did adopt you, but when it comes down to it, I’m the King and you’re the sidekick. My name’s on the story. It’s how it works. Doesn’t mean I’m not all torn up about you dying.”
“Yeah, I bet you won’t even rend your garments.”
“Are you kidding? I’m gonna rend all my goddamn garments. Every last one. I’m gonna be left with nothing but sack-cloth. And ashes? I’m going to dump so many fucking ashes on my head, I’m going to look like some kind of crazy mud-person.”
“You’re just saying that to cheer me up.”
“No, really. I’ve been putting on a brave face for you, but I’m very upset about this too. I don’t know how I’m going to live without you. Oh, and teeth gnashing. I’m gonna gnash my teeth too.”
“Hmm. I wish I could see that. You’ve got some impressive teeth. I bet Anu and Ishthar will be able to hear that, wherever they are. Hey, did you see her face when I threw the bull’s ass at her? Scared the shit out of her. Maybe worth it.”
“That was classic. Trust me, nobody’s going to forget that. They’re writing songs about it as we speak.” Gilgamesh paused, then continued, “There’s one more thing, too. I was waiting to surprise you. You know, closer to . . . you know, your deathbed. I’m having my craftsmen make a statue of you. It’s going to be amazing. While I’m wandering, grief-stricken around the countryside looking like some kind of beggar in my sack-cloth, with muddy-ash hair and chipped teeth, you’ll live on forever. Looking just as awesome as always. More even. More awesome.”
“Is it going to be life-size?”
“Oh, hell no. Larger than life – just like you, brother. It’s going to be twenty feet tall. Gold and lapis lazuli fucking all over it. It’s gonna be covered in that shit.”
“Make sure they do me without a shirt. And that they get the chest hair right. And the shoulder and arm hair. And the leg hair. And the biceps. And . . . ”
“It’s going to be perfect. I’ve got a dream-team of Urukian craftsmen working on it. They have pictures to work with. I’ve seen the sketches and schematics. It’s going to be the greatest statue ever erected in Uruk.”
“Ha! You said erected.” Enkidu stood up to his full towering height, stretching his tree-trunk arms upward, then outward. Flexed a bit for show. Then, in one deft move, whipped off his tank-top. “You wanna naked-wrestle? Let’s naked-wrestle.” Off came the gym shorts. “This could be the last time. Maybe I should spot YOU the half-nelson.”
“Come at me, bro.”
The two heroes naked-wrestled with such gusto and joy that all of Uruk was uplifted by their laughter and sweaty grunts. Anu and Ishthar, looking down from the firmament could not help but gnash their teeth.
© 2016 Whiskey Leavins