Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: The Mischievous Trickster
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
It seemed like nearly every day, before Herc had finished a mouthful of breakfast, someone was knocking on his door. This was very good news for The Hercules Detective Agency. Business was booming. But things were rather falling apart around his home. Herc was not that handy with tools. Things were beginning to need repair. For one thing, his chimney was smoking, badly. It was starting to get cold.
"It's time to hire some help," Herc thought to himself. Herc headed into town to hire a workman.
In the window of the barbershop, a sign had appeared. It was not there yesterday. The sign said: "No job too big or too small. Leave your problem with the barber, and your location of course, and I'll see you soon."
Herc's mouth fell open. Competition? Was someone actually setting up a rival business? Herc pushed open the door of the barber shop and went in. "Does anyone know anything about this sign in the window?" Herc asked.
"I have no idea where that came from. I'll take it down," the barber promised.
"No, leave it. I want to meet this problem solver."
"That would be me," said a voice from the doorway. "I can fix anything," the voice bragged. A head peered around the barber shop doorway. It was joined by the rest of a rather small man. He carried a large bag of tools slung over one shoulder.
"My chimney is smoking," Herc told him. "Is that something you can fix?"
"Piece of cake. Nothing to it. I'll fix it right now. Let's go."
Hercules was delighted to have found a workman so easily. They walked to Herc's hut in companionable silence.
The workman showed Herc several things that needed fixing. "Your bed has a broken leg," the workman pointed out. "That's going to give out on you one night. The fence in the courtyard has a hole in it, which is destroying your privacy. The rope for your well bucket is fraying and about to break. The front door squeaks. And the reason your chimney is smoking is because you have a bird's nest in it," he said peering up the chimney stack. "Would you like me to fix things now, or come back tomorrow?"
"Now, definitely now," Herc said, delighted. "Provided it's not too expensive."
"You are the famous Hercules, are you not?"
Herc nodded, rather pleased to be recognized by this stranger.
"The fee, well, how about if you owe me one big favor?"
"Deal," Herc agreed quickly, before the workman could ask for more.
"All right then. Go away. Let me work. Go on, scoot," the little man said. "Come back when the sun is overhead. I'll have everything fixed by then."
What a refreshing change, Hercules thought. A workman who actually worked! Feeling pleased with himself, Hercules went for a walk down by the river. It was an especially beautiful Greek day.
If Hercules had turned around, he would have seen a big, silly grin on the workman's face. Unbeknownst to Hercules, he had not hired a workman. He had hired his good friend, Dionysus, in disguise. Dionysus was a shape shifter. He could shift his shape into any living thing. Hercules had told him how busy he had been, and how glad he was that he was busy. He also told him that he wished he had time for a break and a really good laugh. Dionysus was about to grant his wish, Dionysus style.
While Hercules was gone, Dionysus made one bed leg two inches shorter than the rest. He knew very well that every time Hercules got into bed, the bed would rock and thump against the floor. Bump bump, bump all night.
Dionysus shortened the well rope by tying it in knots so that it was just long enough to get the bottom of the bucket wet, but would not bring up any water.
Dionysus fixed the fence in the courtyard by pushing it over on its side.
Dionysus fixed the squeaky door by making the squeak have different tones that together played a piece of a song each time the door was opened. He had just finished up when Herc returned.
"I fixed your squeaky door," Dionysus grinned mischievously. He swung the door open and closed a few times. "I fixed everything. Don't forget. You owe me one big favor!" the workman laughed and disappeared.
Only gods could come and go that rapidly. Herc's face tightened with suspicion.
"Hey Herc," the Minotaur said, rounding the corner of Herc's hut. "Did you know? Your fence is down. He looks like somebody pushed it over."
Hercules lit a small fire in his fireplace to see if it had been fixed. Smoke billowed out. "My fireplace still smokes. My door plays squeaky music. My fence is knocked over. I don't know what he did to my well, but I'm hoping nothing. I am going to track that little guy down and put a hurtin' on him!"
Hercules wasted no time. He ran into town. The sign in the barber's window was gone.
"Has anyone seen that workman I hired?"
Everyone shook their head no.
As he left the shop, a head peeked around the corner. It was Dionysus, in his favorite shape of a rich man dripping in jewels.
"You said you needed a good laugh!" shouted Dionysus. He turned himself quickly into the workman and then back to himself.
Hercules glared at his friend. "Why would you do such a ridiculous thing?"
"You took a break, didn't you? And you'll laugh. Not right away, perhaps, but you will." Dionysus grinned and disappeared.
Hercules could only shake his head. He appreciated that his friend cared about him, but honestly! What Dionysus thought was funny and what Hercules thought was funny were two entirely different things.
By the time Hercules got home, the Minotaur had nearly finished fixing his fence. "Good timing. Hold up this section while I drop this into place. There. And there was nothing wrong with the well. He just tied the well rope in knots, that's all. What else did you need?"
"My door," Hercules said glumly."It plays squeaky music, irritatingly squeaky music. And my fireplace, no doubt, still smokes. Unless he's done something worse to it."
"Hercules, I don't think this workman wanted to hurt you, just trick you, and perhaps make you laugh. It's reckless playfulness, that's all. Everything can be fixed rather easily."
"Dionysus," Hercules said, even more glumly than before. "It was Dionysus. I told him I wished I could take a break and have a good laugh and this was his solution."
The Minotaur tried very hard not to laugh himself. "As Aesop is so fond of saying, be careful what you wish for."
Hercules glowered at him.
This time the Minotaur did laugh. "Herc, seriously, I think our best bet is to replace the door. It wasn't very sturdy anyway. It's blown open more than once. Actually, Dionysus knew that because it's blown open when he's been here."
"Don't bother to make excuses for him. I am going to pay him back as soon as I think of something rotten enough."
The Minotaur ignored his friend's mood. "Let's chop down a short tree, slice off the top, cut it half, and trim it here and there to make it fit." And that's exactly what they did.
"If you don't want this musical door, could I take it?" the Minotaur asked. "I bet my music teacher in Oropus would love to have it."
"Done. Take it. It's yours. Thanks for your help. I should have known something was up. It was just too cheap!" Hercules gave a massive sigh. "I'm going to get him back," Hercules promised himself out loud.
The Minotaur giggled, an actual giggle.
Hercules first glared at his friend, then suddenly threw back his head and laughed his infectious belly laugh. It felt good to laugh. "He's insane, you know that, right? He's crazy."
"Everyone knows that, Herc. I've been thinking about the fireplace. That job takes both of us. We should have done it days ago. If we drop pieces of wood down the chimney, we can probably knock loose whatever is blocking it. Your fire is almost out anyway. It could use some more wood. If it's a bird's nest, be ready to grab the occupant if it's occupied."
"Will do," agreed Hercules.
The Minotaur climbed on the roof. As big as he was, he still weighted less than the mighty Hercules. Hercules handed up a couple pieces of wood, then went inside to watch the fire, ready to grab the nest, if there was a nest and if it was occupied. Plus, he wanted to make sure sparks from the falling pieces of wood did not spark a fire anywhere except in his fireplace. It only took only a couple pieces dropped down the chimney to jar the bird's nest loose. Fortunately, no bird lived in it.
"I think that's everything," Hercules told his friend, as the fire in his fireplace crackled comfortably. "Thanks again for the help."
The Minotaur waved away his thanks, shouldered the musical door, and head for the woods and the nearby polis of Oropus.
Hercules' good mood lasted until morning. By the time Hercules woke up, he found himself stiff from being jerked awake all night - bang, bang, bang, yet another thing he must fix, the short leg on his bed.
Hercules grumbled as he propped a piece of wood from his woodpile under his bed leg to keep it steady. Then he opened a case file. He had decided to hire himself. He named this case The Case of the Mischievous Trickster. He listed all the things Dionysus had done to him. He had not yet thought of a way to get even, but he would. Hercules left the case file laying in plain sight so that he would not forget.