by Frederick J. Ross

June 8, 2012

I love thunder. The bar was almost empty, as usual in a big storm. I had unplugged the jukebox earlier so it wouldn't interfere with the sound of the rain. Now it was in full swing outside.

The rain pounded on the tin roof. The two rednecks at the end of the bar ignored it. The only other man in the place, a big fellow with a shaved head and a long white beard, smiled every time a particularly big flash came through the windows with a roar on its heels.

“You like lightning, too?” I asked him.

He shrugged. “I'm glad not to be dealing with it anymore, but I still get restless when a good storm brews up.”

“Did you work on one of those planes that dive into storms or something?”

He threw back his head and laughed. “Allow me to introduce myself,” he said, extending his hand. “The name's Zeus.”

I shook his hand. “So you're the Greek god of lightning?” If there was doubt in my voice, he seemed to ignore it.

“Was,” he corrected, picking up his beer. “It was Kris Kringle who gave me the idea.”

“As in, Santa Claus?”

“That's the one. One day he packed his bag, left Mrs. Kringle, and headed south. He spells his name with 'ch' now, and runs a surf shop in Mexico.” He chuckled, leaning his elbows on the bar. “And I said, if he can, why can't I? If parents—measly parents!—can pick up the slack from Santa Claus, then natural law can damn well cover for me.”

“So you told Hera you were leaving and walked out?”

He looked embarrassed. “Well, not as such. Actually I had Hermes drop a hint that I had taken up with some Nordic babe vacationing on Rhodes, and while she was off looking for me I snuck out. I shaved my head and ditched the robes, and was well away before anyone realized I was gone.”

“So they don't know where you are?”

“Well, Athena does. I wrote to let her know I was okay. She still sends me a Christmas card.” Into his drink he muttered, “I can't imagine why.”

“I remember that you two were close. It's only natural that she'd want to stay in touch.”

“Oh sure,” he said with a wave of his bottle. “But why Christmas? We're pagan gods.” He took a swig. “Besides, I told you: Santa runs a surf shop in Mexico.” He shrugged. “She always did have an odd sense of humor.”

“And now you sit in bars and listen to thunderstorms?”

“Oh no, I work construction up in Ontario. Most evenings I just watch wrestling on the TV. But as I said, I get restless when there's a good storm.” I pointed out that we were in Kansas. “Yeah, I've been following this one south.”

“That's a lot of driving.”

“Who said anything about driving? I was the god of thunder, girl. I may not have earth shattering bolts anymore, but I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve.” He subsided, and scratched his nose. Lightening flashed. A few seconds later, thunder rolled through the room. “Sounds like it's time to keep going. This one won't go much farther. I don't think it will even reach Texas.” He picked up his leather hat from the bar, and pulled the overcoat off the back of his chair. “How much for the beer?”

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