The young man presented well, Priastotle the Guide thought. Hair neatly brushed, dust free sandals, starched but not stiff toga and knees that suggested devotion but not deviancy. ‘Name?’
‘Tom? That’s a bit, you know, Northern.’
‘’It’s actually Thromboid of Assyria, but my dad has a lisp and he tends to put out the fire when he calls me for supper so mum told him…’
‘Yes, fine. Tom it is.’ Priastotle made a note ‘avoid office work’ and forced a smile. ‘Skills?’
‘Grade four Lyre. Under thirteen South East Mesopotamia sling shot champion twice and…’
‘How can you win it twice?’
‘I took part twice.’
Priastotle sighed, added ‘cretin, outdoors only’ and said, ‘Obviously but you were only thirteen once.’
Priastotle interlined ‘total’ before ‘cretin’ and said through gritted teeth, ‘How can you enter an age restricted competition twice if…’
‘Well, I could have been advanced for my age…’
He added ‘smart arse’.
‘… but it’s not age related. It’s just that I stood under the number 13 when I won.’
Priastotle was running out of room. He squeezed in ‘tendency to patronise’ alongside ‘lacks superstition – query faithless?’
Tom appeared to have finished.
‘That’s it? No academics? Physical attributes?’
‘I enjoy making twig dams. My twig dams are renowned.’
‘No, only joking. I like joking.’
‘Stand ups are a couple of millennia away, or so the Sooths advise me.’
‘Really, they’re that specific?’
‘It’s the Aegean octopuses..’
‘We’re Greeks, not bloody Italians…’
‘Sorry, it was thinking about all that future gazing. I just got ahead of myself.’
Priastotle turned the page and wrote, ‘cheesy puns, affinity with rivals, fantasist.’ to the list.
‘What else have they seen? The Sooths?’
‘Oh all sorts. Democracy, kale smoothies and rectal probes. It’s going to be a blast. But you’ve not said where your skills lie.’
‘In truth?’ Tom shuffled his feet. ‘I’m good with the family cattle. I can manage hard work. You know, a day’s toil doesn’t faze me.’
‘Really? You don’t mind a bit of a mess? I’ve a farm job, needs a day’s internship. You work with a National hero, go down in history and you can take home all you can carry.’
‘Yes, why not?’
‘Good lad.’ Priastotle scribbled on a sheet and tore it off. ‘Ask for a chap called Hercules. He’s a bit of a moody bugger right now since the Trials began but he’s okay for a god.’
‘Right. And where do I go?’
‘Oh yes. Augean. You know it? Can’t really miss it. Take the number 39 chariot at the stop on the Heraklion road, and hop off after the Athens turn. It’s second left. You’re looking for a stable block with a fair head of cattle and a smell strong enough to make a philosopher recant.’
‘Cool. If I do a good job, will there be a permanent place?’
‘Probably best you aim to get through the day and take it from there.’
‘Right. I’ll be going.
As Tom wandered off, Priastotle drew a line through all his notes under Tom’s name and replaced them with ‘gullible – potential for Senate’.
This was written in response to this month’s #blogbattle prompt here, using the word ‘Stable’.