The Hercules Detective Agency The Case of the Reluctant Oracle
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Herc opened his door and yawned. It was early morning. The sun was just coming up.
His new case was rather unusual. Of all things, an oracle had suddenly stopped predicting prophesies. The townspeople had hired Herc to fix it. Herc knew his half brother, the god Apollo, was in charge of all the oracles. Herc had tried to catch Apollo at home. Only, Apollo was no where around. Herc also knew that Apollo brought up the sun every day, but here was the sun, and no Apollo. How could the sun come up without Apollo pulling it into place? He did see Apollo's twin sister, Artemis, out hunting. She gave him a wave but did not stop to talk.
Since Herc could not find Apollo, he was going to have to solve this case himself. Why was the oracle reluctant to tell people their futures? People needed their fortunes told. They counted on it. At least the town was nearby.
Herc headed for the oracle's temple/home. It was still morning when Hercules arrived at the town. Some of the villagers were milling about, staring at the temple doors.
"They're locked, Herc," they told him. "No one can get in."
"Stay here. Let me talk to her." Hercules wrenched open the temple doors and closed them behind him. Inside, he found a worried looking woman peeking out at him from behind some furniture. Her face was nearly covered with a wrap. What he could see of her face lit up when she saw him.
"Hercules!" she screamed. She leaped out from behind the furniture and ran across the room, catching Hercules in a very tight hug. "Apollo sent you!"
"No, the townspeople sent me. They're worried about you. Why do you need Apollo?"
"I need him to fix this." She unwrapped the scarf she had wound about her head and face. "I have a toothache. Worse than that. I have a swollen jaw." Without the scarf, her face looked remarkably lopsided and rather purple. It was not a good look for her.
"That must hurt," Herc winced. "This might sound rather obvious, but why have you not visited the dentist?" Hercules patted her arm in a comforting sort of way.
"If I'd gone to the dentist right away, it would have been fine. But I waited too long. Now look at me! People will say I should have known. They'll lose faith in me. They'll stop bringing me food and wine and I'll starve. I might even be asked to leave so a new oracle could take my place. The townspeople cannot know."
Herc laughed. "This is too easy. I'll just take you to a dentist in a town far away from here. What? You're shaking your head no."
"People will see me leave. They'll want to know where I'm going." The oracle gave a dismal sigh. She reached up and held her jaw. "It hurts to talk."
Herc broke out in a wide grin. "I'll get Dionysus. The townspeople will see us arrive. The townspeople will see us leave. Only, he'll be the one staying, and you'll be the one leaving, in disguise. It's an old trick, but it does seem to work. People see what they expect to see."
"Dionysus? The god of comedy, who thinks everything is a joke? That Dionysus? The man is a fool."
"Actually, he's not. He was even elected to the Council of 12. He's an Olympian these days."
"We are talking about Dionysus? God of wine, comedy, tragedy ... trouble?" The oracle sighed even more deeply than before. "Besides, you can't take me to a dentist. Not here, not anywhere. People know you. If you take me, somehow the word will get out and I'll be ruined."
"Good point. I'll take you to a friend of mine's village and he'll take you to his dentist. He's very nice. He's an artist."
"I can't think. I can't see the future. I'm in too much pain." The oracle clutched her jaw. "I'm going to have to trust you can do this. Can we hurry?"
"I'll get Dionysus," Herc promised. Very soon after, everything happened as Herc had foretold, almost.
Dionysus was happy to help. One door of the temple opened a crack as soon as they knocked. The door was quickly shut and locked behind them.
"I appreciate you helping me," she told the pair, holding her aching jaw. "I know you'll be bored, Dionysus, but this should not take long. There's lots of food and wine. Help yourself. If you want to take a bath, a warm spring fills the tub. Apollo set it up. All you do is say BATHE."
"That sounds wonderful," Dionysus smiled. "Best of all, now Herc owes me a favor. And so, my dear, do you. So go. Go before someone gets curious. A warm bath. What a delightful thought."
Dionysus waved them both away. He took a bath. He ate some food. He drank some wine. He found himself humming. He was having fun already. He propped open the temple doors. Dionysus shape-shifted into a lovely young woman who looked exactly like the oracle. That was his special skill. He could shape-shift into looking and acting like any living creature. Once the town noticed the temple doors were open, people rushed to enter. They quickly formed a line.
In his disguise of a lovely, young oracle, Dionysus accepted their offerings of delicious food and wine. It was so nice to be able to see their oracle again, their famous oracle who had captured the attention of the world with her clever and entertaining prophecies, all the people agreed. They did not mind standing in line at all. Besides, the line moved very quickly.
With each prophecy Dionysus first paused as if to consider, then inhaled dramatically.
To the Miller he said: "A flash flood is going to wash away your mill!"
To the Farmer: "Locusts, hoards of locusts"
To the New Husband: "Your beautiful wife is going to fall in love with Dionysus."
To the Winemaker: "All your wine is going to turn sour."
And so it went. Hearing their fortune, some faces filled with concern, some with depression, and some with fear.
While Dionysus was having a great time, trying very hard not to giggle, the oracle had visited a far away dentist in the village of the self-proclaimed world famous sculptor, Eupiddle.
"My niece," Eupiddle introduced the oracle. "She has a toothache."
"I can see that," laughed the dentist. "Go away, Eupiddle. You can pay me later."
Sometime later, the oracle gave Eupiddle a dazzling smile as she climbed aboard the cart. "Thank you so much for helping me. I will repay you with a prophesy," she told Eupiddle as the cart moved forward. "You will make a large bull's head out of wood. Many people will point at it with awe and be amazed at your talent. You will become even more famous than you are already. You must do this as soon as you return home." She sat back with a huge sigh of relief.
"A bull's head? Out of wood? I work with stone," spluttered the self-proclaimed world famous sculptor.
"This you must do," she resumed in a knowing way.
Herc rushed out of Eupiddle's courtyard as they returned. "You look better."
"I feel better! The dentist told me not to talk too much for a day or two."
And that was all the conversation Herc and the oracle had on the way back to the temple.
The first thing Herc noticed were the temple doors. The doors were wide open, yet no one was waiting to enter.
The first thing the oracle noticed was all the people milling about, crying and arguing and looking unhappy.
"I told you," the oracle growled. "He's nothing but trouble."
Herc and the oracle raced up the temple stairs and slammed the temple doors shut behind them.
"Dionysus, what did you do?" the oracle demanded to know.
Dionysus nearly fell over laughing. He told her every prophesy he had made.
One look at the oracle's face and Herc knew he should not find humor in the situation. But he could not help himself.
"Dionysus," the oracle said, in a sweet, nearly syrupy tone. "I wish to thank you for helping me with a prophesy. You will soon have a son."
Dionysus grinned with delight. "A son! Herc, a son!"
"He will cry every night," the oracle continued. "Your life will be a misery for months on end as his teeth grow in. Good-bye Dionysus. I will never forget how you helped me."
The oracle turned her back on both her helpers. She opened the doors of her temple and stood on the top step. She looked down at the crowd. She raised her voice so that everyone could hear her, although it hurt her to do so. Her jaw was still very sore. "I have good news," she announced loudly. "I could see that your futures were a problem for many. It was too painful for me to talk to you. Then Hercules came. He brought someone to take my place while I was away. Thanks to Hercules, I talked to someone who helped me. Here is what I know. You, farmer, when are the locusts coming? You are a farmer. You know when and will prepare. Miller, it floods every spring. Prepare for a large flood and your mill will be safe. You, newlywed couple. Stay away from Dionysus. You, winemaker, doesn't some wine always go sour? Prepare ahead. People, a little planning will prevent these disasters. Now, go and prepare. I need rest from my journey. But soon the doors will be open and all will be as it was before."
A cheer went up from the crowd. They were glad they had gone to Hercules for help.
As both Dionysus and Hercules joined the oracle on the steps of the temple, she turned to Hercules. "As for you, I will also pay you with a prophecy. You will train and sponsor a team in the Olympics. You will need a brightly colored sail. You will need a giant bull's head. You will need a map of Olympia. All these things you will need to complete your mission."
Herc spluttered. "I can't enter the Olympics. I am half god. What team? What is all this?" The oracle told Herc, "This is your prophecy. Now go and make it happen."
A very confused Hercules headed away from the oracle's temple/house. He took a beaming Dionysus with him. "A son, Herc!"
"The Olympics!" Herc mumbled, getting rather excited at the thought.
As Herc walked away, the oracle shook her head. "He will get it wrong. They always do."
Herc named this case 'The Case of the Reluctant Oracle" and filed it away with the other case files from the Hercules Detective Agency. He wondered. The Olympics! Could it be true? It must be true, he told himself. Everyone knows that oracles cannot lie. The Olympics! Oh my!