Hercules Detective Agency Case Files are Copyrighted with the U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)

Hercules was on his way into town. He was hoping to be able to get in to see the newest play. It was the very first performance, but he had heard gossip at the barber shop that it was a comedy. He hoped so. Hercules loved to laugh. He hoped that there were seats left in the outdoor theatre by the time he had walked into town.

As Hercules was walking along he noticed a man standing in the middle of a field apparently speaking to no one.

Hercules was curious so he hopped the fence and approached the man.

"Excuse me sir," said Hercules. "What are you doing? Are you in trouble?"

"I am practicing my part in the play we are performing in town."

"Oh, you're one of the actors! Why are you practicing so far outside of town?"

"I tried to practice my part in town, but people thought I was talking to them instead of myself. My speech in the play is quite rude and insulting so I have made a few people mad at me. It's a comedy, you see, but some people don't know that. They have not yet seen the play."

"It's getting close to the time the play is going to start. Why don't you walk into town with me and you can practice your speeches on me instead of a field. I am a much better audience. Since I know you are acting I won't get mad."

"That is a wonderful idea," said the actor. "You're Hercules, aren't you?" the actor said, with a massive sigh. "I do hope you like the play. I wrote it because you are one of my greatest heroes. I would not want to disappoint you. I could hire you to love it, but that would be cheating."

"No need. I'm sure I'll love it," Hercules reassured him. "Besides, how would you ever pay me? Actors are notoriously broke."

That made the actor laugh. "So true, so true."

Hercules slowed his walk so the actor would not have to run to keep up with him. The actor practiced his lines all the way to town. Hercules was truly impressed by the ability of his companion.

Hercules was meeting his good friend Dionysus, the god of wine, at the theatre, to see this new play together. They had already agreed that whoever got there first would save a seat for the other. After hearing the actor, Hercules was quite sure that Dionysus would find the play most amusing.

Hercules got there first. He saved a seat for his good friend and waved goodbye to the actor, knowing he would see him again very soon in the play. Dionysus was late. He almost missed the opening.

"You're going to love this play!" Hercules told him when he plunked down beside him.

"I hope so. I could use a laugh," Dionysus told him with a tormented look on his face.

Hercules glanced at his friend. He was going to ask Dionysus why he was so in need of a laugh, but then, the play started.

As it turned out, Hercules was wrong. It started off well enough. At one point, at a particularly funny set of action, Hercules burst out laughing, as did Dionysus.

Hercules whispered to Dionysus, "That is exactly what happened."

Dionysus whispered back. "It didn't seem funny while it was happening, but it surely looks funny now."

But as the play continued, the more Dionysus grew upset. The play in question actually made fun of Hercules himself. Hercules thought the play was all in good fun, but Dionysus did not agree.

In a loud voice, Dionysus said, "Hercules, they're making fun of you. Don't you see? You are a half god, you deserve better. They should show you respect."

Dionysus was not alone in his disapproval. Angry mutterings could be heard coming from people all over the theatre.

Hercules tried to hush his friend, but Dionysus would not be hushed. "I am the god of theatre. I can make all kinds of bad things happen. I can make sets fall down. I can make actors trip and stumble over the smallest things. I can do many things to make this play a disaster and the actors will be chased out of town."

"But Dionysus," Hercules whispered. "This is a very good play. It is a comedy that teaches a great life lesson. And I don't mind that they make fun of me."

"But Hercules," Dionysus argued. "All of Greece will think you are a buffoon."

"You have seen the play, at least part of it. Do you think I am a buffoon?"

"Well, no, but I know you and I know what really happened in some of those stories. They make it look like you bumbled your way through those adventures."

"We'll talk about it after the play, okay?" Hercules offered, hoping to quiet his friend.

"I don't want to stay. This is ridiculous. This is a very bad play." Dionysus stood up to leave, but Hercules pulled him back down.

"Stay for me. I want to see the play. I think it's funny. I really do."

As the actors continued, Dionysus became more and more angry on behalf of his friend, Hercules. "This is not funny. This is not comedy. This is rude," Dionysus said more than once in a very carrying voice.

Others in the audience agreed with him. Several people shot the actors angry looks. Some people even began booing.

"Hush," Hercules kept telling Dionysus. Hercules raised his voice. "Hush," he said as loudly as he could, which was quite loudly, hoping the audience would calm down and listen to the play.

Things continued to decay. People had upgraded their expressions to full-fledged scowls. Their mutterings would soon drown out the actors. The actors looked as if they truly would prefer to make a run for it than finish the play.

Before things totally erupted, the play ended. Before the actors took their bows, the lead actor walked to the center of the stage. Many people booed him, but he was an awesome actor. He could make his voice carry over the boos to reach every corner of the theatre. "This play is dedicated to Hercules, one of Greece's greatest heroes. We thank the gods that Hercules is willing and able to help the Greek people in their time of need. And we thank the gods that Hercules has a sense of humor and has the ability to laugh, even at himself. We thank him for teaching us to do the same."

Just like that, the mood changed.

The actors bowed to thunderous praise, although it was unclear whether the audience was cheering the actors or the great Hercules himself. Hercules clapped louder than anyone. He nudged his friend. "Come on, Dionysus."

Reluctantly, Dionysus stood and clapped tentatively along with him. "Just so you know," Dionysus whispered. "I think they're going to have a terrible time with their sets the next time they perform this stupid play."

At that, Hercules laughed his belly chuckle laugh. You could not help but laugh along with him. Dionysus was not immune. He laughed nearly as loudly as his very good friend, Hercules. Definitely sets, Dionysus thought to himself. And instruments out of tune. Now that would be funny. I might even see this play again.

As they moved to leave the theatre, Hercules stopped his friend. "Why did you need a laugh? Can I help?"

"Not unless you have an extra set of teeth."

Hercules gave Dionysus a look of confusion.

"It's the baby. He's still teething. I was going to hide out for a week or two, but my wife has clearly told me that I need to do my share. So it's home for me." Dionysus flashed Hercules a bleak look. "I wouldn't give up my son for anything. But I'm beginning to wonder how important are teeth?"

"Essential. See?" Hercules made clicking sounds with his own teeth.

"Very funny," Dionysus glared at him.

When Hercules got home, he decided to call this a case, even though he had not been hired. After all, the actor would have hired him if he had any way to pay. Of course, Hercules would not have taken the case. The actor was right. It would have been cheating to be paid to like the play. The truth was that he liked it a great deal. He wished he could take Tor (the Minotaur) with him to see it. But he knew the townspeople would find Tor too alarming. Hercules named this case The Case of the Awesome Actor, and filed it away with other case files from The Hercules Detective Agency. Then he went around back and knocked on the Minotaur's door. He would share some of the jokes he had heard. They would both have a good laugh, while making dinner in their courtyard.