It was in the middle of the night that someone came knocking on Lorenzo’s door. Even before answering, he knew it was the gods. It was always the gods at this hour.
“Don’t answer it,” said Clifton.
“You know that doesn’t work. They’ll just keep knocking.” Lorenzo kissed Clifton on the cheek. “Go back to sleep. This won’t take long.”
Clifton pulled the covers over his head and grumbled.
Lorenzo put on his robe and shuffled to the front door. He gazed through the peephole at the three goddesses on his doorstep. He didn’t answer it. Not right away. The gods didn’t need to think he was at their beck and call. He made himself a cup of coffee. The goddesses kept knocking. In their impatience, they started to shake the house itself.
He opened the door. “What is it?”
Sometimes, there was a ceremony to these things. But not at four o’clock in the morning.
Freyja, goddess of sexuality and war and a bunch of other things, pushed her way into the house. The goddess, tall and blond, carryied a spear and shield. She also wore a horned helmet even though Vikings had never worn those, but it was expected in this day and age so it’d become part of her look, though it didn’t entirely fit with her white power suit.
Behind her, Oshun, the dark brown goddess of femininity and sensuality, wearing a colorful rainbow gown, stepped inside. She was the most regal of the deities and didn’t bother looking at Lorenzo as she passed him.
Hathor, patron of love, mining, music, and whatever the hell else she pleased, brought up the rear. Like all the goddesses, she was a few inches taller than Lorenzo. She was the most casually dressed, wearing a tank top and a pair of worn jeans. She still radiated beauty and power. The clothes didn’t make the goddess.
“Who is the most beautiful of us?” asked Freyja.
Lorenzo sat, sipped his coffee. “Why, hello, Lorenzo. How are you tonight? So sorry for waking you.”
Hathor pulled the iPod bud from her right ear. “Who did he choose? I didn’t catch that.”
“Our apologies,” said Oshun, “but this was a matter that needed to be settled immediately.”
It was always a very important matter. Even when it wasn’t. A fourth of his judgments were beauty contests. Not just among goddesses either. The gods were every bit as vain.
“You do know I’m gay, right?” he asked.
“We assumed that would make you more objective,” said Freyja.
“It’s a simple question,” said Oshun. “Which of us do you find more beautiful?”
They were all extraordinarily beautiful. It would’ve been easiest just to pick one at random and declare them the winner. But Lorenzo was trusted by the gods because he didn’t take these decisions lightly. Even stupid decisions like these.
“Choose wisely,” said Freyja.
She tightened the grip on her spear while Oshun, aloof, studied nothing in particular. Hathor put her bud back in and was nodding along with the music.
In their impatience, the goddesses resorted to bribery. It wasn’t against the rules, strictly speaking.
“Choose me and I will reward you with a partner that shall sate your most sensual desires,” said Oshun.
“I’m married,” he said.
“It can be just our little secret,” said Oshun.
“You heard the man,” said Freyja. “Not interested. Choose me and you can have this spear. It never misses its target and kills with every strike.”
They turned to Hathor, who removed her buds again. “Oh, I don’t know. I can give you some money. Is that okay?”
“How crass,” said Oshun.
“Like, a lot of money.”
The goddesses turned to Lorenzo, who studied each in turn. There was no way to pick among them. It didn’t help that they kept adjusting their appearance. Freyja changed her eyes from bright blue to emerald green. Oshun increased and decreased her bust. And Hathor couldn’t decide on a hair length. They tried reading his face, searching for the exact look that would please him.
“Freyja,” he said.
“Yes!” The goddess pounded her spear against her shield, and a thunderclap shook the neightborhood. “In your faces!”
She handed him the spear and marched out the front door, head held high.
“Eh, whatever,” said Hathor, exiting behind her.
Oshun bent over and touched mug. The coffee turned to clear water. She smiled ruefully. “I hope you can live with your decision, mortal.”
She disappeared in a rainbow flash.
Lorenzo closed the front door, tossed the spear into a closet full of useless divine bribes, and went back to bed. His attempts at spooning with Clifton were foiled by a sudden itchiness, a parting gift from Oshun. The grudges of the gods were just part of the job. They’d get over it.
After all, someone had to make the judgments.