Libra - The Scales
September 24th to October 23rd
Traditional traits: Diplomatic, romantic, charming, and idealistic…
On the other hand: Changeable, easily influenced, flirtatious, and self-indulgent…
Crystal blue skies and a bright golden sun welcomed a glorious spring morning. Rainbow rays floated through pristine stained glass windows, casting beautiful patterns on marble floors. Though still early in the day, the corridor was crowded with people going about their business.
Cupid didn’t have time for niceties, ignoring shouted “hellos” and “hey, what’s up?” His eyes were set determinedly on a doorway at the end of a long hall. Cupid, like everyone else, knew a summons into His presence equated haste. You didn’t dawdle.
Arriving at last, Cupid knocked three times in quick succession before opening the portal to enter the massive conference room. At once he noticed a group of people seated around the table, speaking in whispered tones. Cupid stopped in mid-flight, his wings slowing until he almost fell from the air. “I’m sorry,” Cupid stammered. “I didn’t realize you were already in session.”
“It’s all right Cupid. We’ve been waiting for you,” God assured him. “Come in and have a seat so we can begin.”
Cupid hung in the doorway a moment, amazed as always at the round table in the middle of the room. The massive table was made of solid gold with twelve thrones positioned equally around its perimeter. There were silver inlays depicting fairies, unicorns, and cherubs dancing along its edge and in the center, a full moon with beams of light reaching fingers of silver to touch on smiling faces.
Many years ago, when King Arthur first set into motion his idea of a governing council in Camelot, God sat up and took notice. What a wonderful idea for sharing the burden of leadership, God had thought. He ordered the massive table built, and set about appointing members to his very own round table council. When Arthur died, God made him a member of The Benevolent Order of Heavenly Souls. He joined a distinguished group of council members who were God’s advisors, and while it was an honor to serve, there was one drawback…you had to be dead.
Pulling himself together, Cupid slowly floated forward to join the others, trying to figure out what could be so damn important. He had so much work to do, with Valentine’s Day only a month and a half away. Cupid would love to tell the boss he didn’t have time for this, however, the last time he’d been so bold his wings were singed before he could escape the path of God’s wrath.
Deciding silence would be the best course of action, he took his seat between Jupiter and Zeus, and, along with the others, waited for God to tell them why he’d called this emergency meeting.
God relaxed deeper into his throne as he waited for Cupid to take his seat. He surveyed the group and was pleased to see all eleven members of the council in attendance. Getting them in one place at the same time always took a lot of effort. However, this issue needed to be dealt with. Once Cupid took his seat, God sat forward and picked up a little golden bell sitting in front of him. With a quick tinkle, he called the meeting to order and everyone fell silent, turning to look in his direction.
“I have called you here today to discuss the lack of true love in the world,” God stated, as a collective moan rang out from the crowd around the table. “I know you think we’ve covered this issue before, but I’m telling you, I want something besides flying arrows responsible for true love.”
Holding his hand up to forestall any comments, God continued, “I’ve been informed by Queen Guinevere,” he nodded slightly to the lady on his right, “that she heard they are singing a new song on earth. I’m not sure of the exact wording, but I believe they refer to Cupid as stupid, and beg him to stop shooting arrows at them.” God paused for a moment to let their whispers die down again.
Looking at Plato, he addressed his next comment to him, “Plato, you’re familiar with sonnets and such. Perhaps you’ve heard this new song.”
“My apologies, Sir; however, I must admit, since ‘Rap’ became the norm on earth I’ve turned off all receiving devices in my quarters. I just can’t stand mindless noise. I’ll state here and now however, I’m not surprised they think Cupid is stupid. I’ve been saying it for years!”
A loud roar of disapproval rose from the group as many voiced their objections to Plato’s statement.
“That will be enough!” God’s tone quickly silenced the group. “You will respect each other during this meeting, otherwise nothing will be accomplished.”
Looking across the table at the newest member of The Benevolent Order of Heavenly Souls, God spoke again, “George, you’re most familiar with these Americans. Can you give us any insight into what we might be doing wrong?”
George sat up straighter in his chair and cleared his throat. “Having followed the ways of my successors to the presidency for the last two hundred and six years, I can tell you several of them used astrologers. Mind you, I don’t hold with such nonsense, however, I believe one recent president consulted a personal astrologer for every decision he made.”
God noticed this statement brought a look of surprise to most of those seated around the table. “I take it from your expressions that this is news to most of you?
Raising his hand, Ra-Atum, Egyptian God of the Sun, waited for God to call on him.
“You have something to add, Ra?”
“Yes. I believe astrology has been around for many centuries. It’s a noble occupation and one I think we could use for our purposes.”
“Fiddle-faddle!” shouted Juno, Roman Queen of the Gods. “Have you watched the television commercials lately? There’s one woman claiming that if you call her, she can read your future over the phone, and all it will cost is three dollars and ninety-nine cents a minute. Fiddle-faddle, I say.”
Once again, God rang his golden bell to bring order back to the room. “I didn’t plan on a long-winded discussion. What I want is to give Cupid instructions for getting true love back on course before February fourteenth.”
God waited for everyone to settle down again before continuing. “I think George hit the nail on the head with the astrology angle. Therefore, here’s what we’re going to do. Cupid will assume human form and go to San Francisco. He’ll advertise himself as a singing astrologer, specializing in reading people’s astrological charts at parties,” God paused to make sure everyone was following along. “While he gets things set up, the council will pick a couple for Cupid to work with. If he’s successful, we’ll continue until we bring true love back to the world. I believe this will solve the problem of arrows once and for all.”
“This has to be the stupidest idea I’ve heard in centuries,” exclaimed Hera, Goddess of Marriage. “Do you plan to dress him in an ape suit too?”
Looking sternly at Hera, God stated, “Don’t be ridiculous madam, he’ll wear regular human clothes and blend in with the people of San Francisco nicely.”
“Oh dear, have you seen the people in San Francisco lately, Sir?” Queen Guinevere appeared shocked by this idea.
“Listen to me!” God’s voice exploded over the room. “We could spend the next six days talking about this, which I refuse to do. The last time I took six days to do anything it made the history books. I’m positive Cupid is smart enough to adapt to anything San Francisco can throw at him, so let’s just agree to try this and see what happens.
Cupid remained silent throughout the discussion taking place around him. Stupid Cupid! He’d heard the song and after listening to it twice, he’d made a special trip to earth to shoot several arrows into the backside of the singer.
He wasn’t happy with the decision of the council, however, he knew it would do no good to argue with the all-mighty dead ones. Once they made up their collective minds something was broken, it didn’t matter what you did to prove them wrong. At least with this plan he’d get to spend some time on earth in human form.
Yes, he thought to himself, time away from the day-to-day dealings of politics on Uranus. No more flying around naked, shooting arrows at thankless people. Best of all, he could enjoy the pleasures of a human body for as long as this experiment took. Cupid smiled. With a couple of minor adjustments, this might just be the best plan after all, he told himself.
Mary Smith spent forty-five minutes walking in circles, hungry, tired, and very thirsty. She couldn’t get over the feeling she was being stupid.
Just get your ass in the door and apologize, the nagging little voice in her head shouted. He’s a man, no big deal.
Be quiet, I’m the one who has to do this not you, you little shit. Yet each time she headed for the door, memories of the last time she’d gone into the deli returned to haunt her.
It had been a week ago today, and she hadn’t realized there was a new clerk working. True to her daily routine, Mary ordered her sandwich without really looking at the person behind the high counter. Everything went fine until she reached the register to pay for her food. Hearing his voice for the first time, she looked up and saw the most handsome man she’d ever seen smiling at her.
Frozen in place, unable to speak, unable to count out money, Mary found herself powerless to move. He’d told her the amount owed several times and then waved his hand in front of her face to see if she was awake. Still incapable of movement, Mary just stood there like an idiot, staring at him.
Finally, the woman behind Mary tapped her on the shoulder. “Dearie, either pay the man or kiss him. I don’t care which, but decide before I die of starvation.”
Now she’s a funny lady, Mare.
“Would you shut up?”
“Excuse me!” Both the man behind the counter and the woman behind Mary said in unison. Mary wanted to curl up and die. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud. Now see what you did? All Mary could hear in response from her little voice was laughter. Wanting nothing more than to sink into the floor, she handed Mr. Handsome a fist full of cash, grabbed her food, and ran from the store.
It had taken her a week to get up the courage to return to the deli to apologize. She’d made such a fool of herself and he was so damn good looking. Not normally shy, Mary couldn’t figure out why this man turned her brains to scrambled eggs.
Glancing at the deli one last time, Mary shook her head from side to side, lowered her eyes to the ground, and turned to walk out of the park.
You’re such a baby, the voice in her head taunted.
“Oh, shut up!”
Mary’s pace was steady as she walked to the gate, not looking at any of the people she passed. As she neared an exit, she felt rather than saw someone on the path ahead of her. In a split second, Mary realized they were on a collision course and stopped.
“Excuse me, miss.”
Glancing up, Mary realized it was the clerk from the deli. “Oh God, he’s talking to me.”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.”
Mary wanted to run. Why did she keep saying her thoughts out loud? She could feel the heat in her cheeks and knew her face was turning red.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes,” she stammered. “I’m just late returning to work.”
“I don’t bite.”
Wow, nice come back, Mare.
If you don’t stop, I’m going to hit something.
Okay. Mouth zipped.
Mary stared at the man standing in front of her, a questioning look on his face, and once again found herself dumbstruck by his good looks. Perhaps his eyeglasses were larger than they needed to be and the white medical tape holding them together in the middle was a little dirty.
She was almost certain pocket protectors were no longer in style, however his short cropped hair looked neat, his chin was nicely shaven, and his eyes were the perfect shade of brown. His green and blue short-sleeved, plaid shirt buttoned to the neck and a green bow tie sat neatly in place. The tails of his shirt were smartly tucked into the belted waistband of his slacks. His suspenders, the same color as his tie, were a little outdated, as were the brown penny loafers on his feet. Some might think him too short, perhaps a little pudgy, yet to Mary he looked like the perfect specimen of manhood.
He just stood there, watching her look him up and down. “I didn’t think you would bite, I stopped so I wouldn’t run into you,” Mary finally squeaked out.
“Perhaps if you looked in front of you instead of at the ground, you’d be less likely to run into people.”
Mary drew herself to her full five-foot-five-inch height. “And you, sir, could be less critical of people you don’t know. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work.”
Great Mare, make him think you’re a rude bitch.
Mary stood there trying to decide if she should leave or apologize…again. Before she could make a decision, he was talking to her again.
“Please wait, I’m sorry. It’s just I remember you from the other day in the store. I wanted to apologize for making you uncomfortable. I feel real bad about it and if you’ll let me, I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee or something to make it up to you.”
Mary was shocked. Why would he apologize? She’d made a fool of herself, not the other way around, “I’m late getting back to work, I can’t,” she said as she started to walk around him.
“Wait.” He touched her elbow. “At least tell me your name.”
“Hi Mary, I’m Eugene. It’s nice to meet you.” He offered her his hand.
Touching his hand for half a second, Mary responded. “It’s nice meeting you too.” Having gotten the words out, Mary quickly rushed forward to the gate. Exiting the park, she turned right and briskly walked back to the second-hand store where she worked.
So much for today’s horoscope.
I didn’t read it. Mary didn’t want to discuss her sign with the bitch in her head. She needed to get back to work.
Well, I did! You’re supposed to find romance and love.
It’s too late anyway. You’ve most likely scared him away.
He’s not my type.
Mary knew this wasn’t true. Eugene was her type. She could feel the heat just thinking about getting him alone in a dressing room and having her way with him.
Is anyone your type?
Will you just go away and let me handle our love life!
Sometimes Mary really wanted to strangle the little voice in her head with the sarcastic attitude.
* * * *
Eugene arrived at his apartment, tired and sore after working in the deli all day. His only desire—a hot shower and some food. Walking quickly into the bedroom, he stopped dead in his tracks when he came face to face with George Washington.
“Good God, man, you scared the shit out of me.”
“Watch your language, Cupid, He is probably listening to this conversation, and you know how He hates it when you use his name in that manner.”
“Okay, okay, I just wasn’t expecting anyone to find me so quickly.”
Eugene watched a look of wonder cross the president’s face.
“For crying out loud, what did you expect?” George demanded. “You leave Uranus without warning, take it upon yourself to toss out the plan of the council and get a job in a delicatessen slicing meat and making sandwiches. What the billy-blue-blazes did you expect?”
Eugene was always amazed at how quickly George adopted the various phrases used by other council members. Hoping to overcome his image as a stodgy old president, he really worked to include colorful metaphors in his speech. “I expected you all to give me a little bit of leeway in implementing your plan. Cripe sakes, George! I know these humans better than the council. Most of the dead ones haven’t interacted with humans in thousands of years. They can’t possibly know the best way to deal with them.”
“Darn it, Cupid, stop calling us dead ones. You know we are The Benevolent Order of Heavenly Souls.”
“Yeah, yeah, the damn name is too long and don’t get me started on the acronym. What the hell is a TBOHS? Dead ones is easier to remember and faster to say, so live with it!”
“Cupid, I didn’t come here to argue with you. I’m actually here to let you know the council isn’t upset with this change.”
“Lovely of them to be so understanding!” Eugene tried to sound bored.
“They want you to work with Mary Smith, find her a boyfriend. See if you can get them to fall in love without using arrows.”
“Mary Smith. Who the hell is Mary Smith? No wait, you mean the girl from the park today. Good Zeus, you want the impossible.”
“Good Zeus?” The look on George’s face was worth all this frustration.
“Hey, you’re the one who said not to use God’s name any more. I’m just trying to swear without offending you or the big cheese.”
“Cute. Real cute! Why does everything have to be a joke with you?”
“Okay, all kidding aside, how the hell do you expect me to find a man for Mary? Did you all take a good look at her? Besides, she talks to herself.”
“So much the better, Cupid, if you can work your magic on her, the rest of the population should be a piece of cake.”
“Sure, pineapple upside-down cake.”
“What do upside down pineapples have to do with cake? I don’t understand.”
Eugene had to work hard not to laugh at the stricken look on old George’s face.
“Oh, I don’t care and I know the rest of the council doesn’t either. Just make sure this works, whatever you call it,” George demanded.
Eugene smiled. “Gladly! Now if you don’t mind, I’d like a hot shower and some food. This human body does take some getting used to and it needs certain maintenance on a regular basis.” Eugene waited for George to fade out of the room before stripping out of his clothes and heading for the bathroom.
* * * *
“I say, that went pretty well.” God said as he gazed into the vision pool, observing the conversation between Cupid and George.
“I suppose, if you do not take all the swearing into account.” King Arthur responded.
“Good Zeus! Come on, Art. You have to admit he’s a lot of fun to watch.
“I am more concerned with George and his constant desire to find ways to curse without cursing.”
“He’s getting better at it, you know?”
“That is what I fear, Sir. By the time he adds all the slang everyone spouts to his vocabulary, we might be in trouble.”
“Don’t worry, Art, he’ll settle on a few choice words. I’m confident of it. Now let’s get back to the business at hand.”
“You mean keeping Cupid, or should I call him Eugene—good lord, what a choice of names and what is up with the body he chose?”
“Can you please finish a sentence before launching into complaints?”
“If you insist, Sir. I am not sure how we keep Eugene on track with this new twist. We have a woman, how does he plan to find a man, convince her to date this man, and finally fall in love?”
“Breathe, Art, I have complete faith Cupid will figure it out.”
God laughed as Arthur’s face screwed into a mass of confusion, “Sir? You know I do not breathe.”
It took several minutes before God regained his poise. “It’s a figure of speech, Art. I know you don’t actually need to breathe.”
“Anyway, as I said, Cupid will figure it out.”
“You are more confident than I, Sir. My experience with Cupid is that if you leave him to his own devices for too long, he will mess things up beyond repair.”
“I heard that.” Guinevere said as she joined them. “Give him a chance, my love, before you declare the experiment a failure.”
“I am just saying we need to keep close tabs on what is going on.” Arthur replied.
“And I’m saying you need to be a little less critical, my love. Do you remember what they said about you when you had the original round table built? They all believed you’d lost your mind.”
“Do not remind me, dear lady. I wanted to behead the lot of them. Ungrateful, arrogant knights, one and all.”
“Now, darling, don’t get upset, it was centuries ago, and your way has proven best after all.” Guinevere nodded to God for confirmation.
“That’s true, Art. If it hadn’t worked in Camelot, do you really believe I’d have implemented it here? After all, if an idea fails on Earth, then I know it’ll most likely fail here on Uranus.”
“Yes, we must try things there first. I just wish we could look into the future to see the results before we start playing with lives.”
“You know I don’t have a crystal ball, Art. Besides, what fun is there in knowing the ending? It’s a good thing they didn’t have movies in your day; I can just imagine the fast forward button working overtime.”
“This is exactly why we don’t have a VCR in our quarters, Sir,” Guinevere interjected.
“I knew it. You like things too neat and tidy, Art. It’s always been your downfall. Just for once, sit back and let nature take its course.”
Arthur didn’t look pleased with this statement, “You have seen the nature Cupid has taken. He looks like a complete…a…Guinevere, what is that word?”
“Yes. He looks like a complete nerd.”
“At least he won’t have women chasing him all over the planet like last time,” God responded.
“That is true,” Arthur admitted.
“Good, then it’s settled. We keep watch on his progress, however, for the most part we let our boy Eugene do his thing.” Waving his hand over the water, God dimmed the vision pool. He turned to walk out of the conference room, followed closely by Arthur and Guinevere.
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