Sunday, October 14, 2012

Conversation With the Minotaur, Part Two


                       

You’ve spent much of your life alone, almost like you’ve been in solitary confinement, has this been difficult for you?

At first it was extremely hard. I was only twelve when I was first shut away in the Labyrinth. I may have appeared to be a fearsome monster to others, but I was just a scared kid, left alone with absolutely nothing. I thought I’d be dead before the week was out. My god, was I wrong.
Before I go any further discussing my life after the Labyrinth, I need to give you a little background. I was, technically, royalty, the son of Pasiphae, who was married to Minos, king of Crete, although I’m sure that Minos was not my real father. Pasiphae, my wonderful mother, did her best to protect me. What that means is she kept me from being thrown into the sea while taking it upon herself  to educate me. In the beginning my life was confined to the palace, specifically, Pasiphae’s opulent quarters, which were like a prison for me. I didn’t venture outside her three rooms for the first ten years of my life.
But, you can’t keep a good bull down and shortly after my tenth birthday I was allowed to “play” with the other children in the palace. I’m not sure play is the right word, because no matter what I did or how I did it, I just didn’t fit in; those other children weren’t very friendly.
The first time I went into the courtyard the other boys squatted down and started to make mooing noises. At first I thought it was a game, but then they started to laugh and point and I just wanted to run away. I did my best not to cry, but I couldn’t bring myself to face them again and all I could do that first day was sit in the far corner by myself. In retrospect it was a glimpse into my future. Every once in a while one of those boys would run by, snort and paw the ground or put their fingers on either side of their head pretending to have horns. I thought that morning would never end.
Thankfully, it started to rain and the torture was cut short. My mother knew I was upset and I tried to tell her, but she started on about how wonderful it was that I could be like all the other children and how I was destined to be follow Minos and be the next King. I was next in line for the job of King, being the eldest living son of Minos’ many offspring. (There had been another older son, but he died shortly after birth). The fact that I wasn’t really his son shouldn’t have mattered. He never really acknowledged my illegitimacy. Anyway, I stiffened my upper lip and prepared for the next day with my “siblings”.
The following day was more of the same, only worse. There was more mooing and pawing and an occasional stone thrown my way. I went to “my” corner and sat by myself. Days, weeks and months went by without a change. I wore the grass down in my little corner while the boys and girls continued their bullying. I suppose this was my first taste of solitude, as well as giving me what I consider an accurate picture of humanity. Then things changed. Demetrius, the ring leader of my tormenters came up to me and offered to shake my hand. He apologised for their “immature” behavior and said that I could play with them the next day. I was filled with hope.
The following day things did seem to be better. None of the boys seemed to pay much attention to me at first. But, then they let me play in some of their games: the stone throw and the javelin. Even though I was only ten, I was pretty strong and I could throw both the javelin and the stone farther than any of them. But, those juvenile delinquents had more in mind than mere sport.
After the javelins and stones are tossed, it becomes the responsibility of the each participant to retrieve the apparatus for the next contestant. After I’d made my throws I dutifully went to gather up the three javelins and three sixteen pound stones. As I started back I looked up just in time to see javelins and stones flying through the air and headed straight for me. Of course, there wasn’t much I could do. I dropped my gear and prepared for what I thought was to be my end. I was frozen in place as stone and spear rained down around me, forming an almost perfect circle, but missing me completely. Needless to say I was more than a bit perturbed and I charged at the other boys, but mostly aimed for Demetrius.
He started to run as fast as he could, but I quickly caught up to him. He reached the wall at the end of the courtyard where he was trapped. I put my head down and gored him with my horn, right through his left thigh. Blood squirted out everywhere as he crumpled to the ground. My anger melted as I forgot his bullying, bent down and pressed my hand against the gaping wound, stemming the flow of blood and probably saving his leg. He eventually recovered, even though he had to walk with a cane for the rest of his life. I, however, earned a new, and as far as I’m concerned, undeserved, title: “Fearsome Beast.”
That was the end of my playing with other kids, I was kept isolated in the palace, more or less in prison and two years later I was shut away in “The Labyrinth”, a place I returned to, physically and mentally, over and over as my long life went on.
“The Labyrinth”; it was my true home off and on for the next several thousand years. When I was first locked away I did nothing for the longest time, just sat and sat, wallowing in a sea of self pity. I ate very little, drank only a little bit more, didn’t talk, didn’t howl at the moon or any other such nonsense. Mostly, I sat. An occasional tear welled up and ran down my cheek, but I still just sat. I think I was a bit of a disappointment to Minos who was using me for his political gains. He created the most dreadful lies about me: I was vicious and vindictive, devouring innocent children for my own perverse pleasures. He called me  fearsome beast, using that poor boy’s playground injury to his utmost advantage. That, along with some fabricated “eyewitness” accounts of my brutality was all it took. A legend was born.
The fierce, vicious Minotaur, half man, half bull, one hundred per cent monstrous. In the beginning I was completely unaware of how I was being used. I was little more than a child and ignorant of the world and politics. Apparently there was a parade of “victims” that testified about how I’d attacked them, cutting off arms and legs and heads, consuming them to satisfy my voracious appetite for raw meat. Why, I would have been afraid of me, too, if any of it was the slightest bit true.
All the time these lies were being spread I was isolated in the Labyrinth. I planted a garden and began tending vineyards and olive trees in the heart of the Labyrinth, alone, depressed, at times almost suicidal.
Over the years I grew accustomed to solitude, but to a prepubescent half man half bull beast it was the worst form of torture. Only one thing kept me going. I believed that somewhere in this world there was something or someone that was truly good. Someone who wouldn’t care if I was a bull or a man or made of green cheese. I knew I wouldn’t spend my entire life locked away. I would find a way to make my escape and then I would find it or him or her. If you hear the story I have to tell or read my book, you will learn that, after thousands of years, I did find what I was looking for.

"Minotaur Revisited" e-book is now available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online.