The Hercules Detective Agency The Rhyming Poet
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
It was still dark outside when Hercules woke up. He stretched and yawned and made himself breakfast, just as the sun was rising. Apollo suddenly appeared on his doorstep.
"Herc! Are you in there?"
Since one of Apollo's jobs was to bring up the sun, Hercules knew he must have traveled directly from pulling up the sun, without wasting any time. Whatever he needed must be very important. Apollo was his little brother, his half-brother actually. They had the same father, the mighty Zeus, king of all the gods, but different mothers. Hercules had always liked Apollo. He was warm and generous, and very talented. He was the god of poetry and of music, and managed the magical oracles, and brought up the sun each day. Apollo was a busy god. Now and then he shape-shifted into a dolphin and did a little splashing and stretching in the sea. But mostly, Apollo had always spent his time being the best father and the best friend and the best god he could be.
"I need a favor," Apollo told him, when Hercules opened his door.
"Okay," said Hercules, watching his breakfast cool.
"Poseidon wants me to write a love poem that he can give to his wife as a present. It appears they had quite a fight." Apollo laughed. "Again."
"A love poem?" Hercules blinked.
"Why not? I am the god of poetry. Who could do it better?"
"She only inspires poets, epic poets. I am a poet, a rhyming poet. Only I need your help."
This was a very strange conversation to have first thing in the morning. It was a very strange conversation period. Hercules realized Apollo was still talking.
"So can you help me?" Apollo wanted to know.
"Something has to rhyme with Poseidon. I just can't think of anything."
Hercules could not think of anything either, but he really wanted to help his little brother. The way Apollo was looking up at him, as if Hercules could be counted upon to solve anything, touched his heart. "Perhaps the problem is not trying to find something to rhyme with Poseidon," Hercules said thoughtfully, "but rather something to rhyme with the Lord of the Sea. That's his name, too. And there you go. Sea, me, agree, bee, he, key, knee. Would that work?"
Apollo's face filled with light. "Of course! Thank you!" With a wave of his hand, Apollo disappeared.
'Sure," Hercules told no one. He sat down to enjoy his breakfast. There was a knock on his door. This time, it was Artemis, the Huntress, Apollo's twin sister. Hercules had always liked the goddess Artemis. Both the twins had treated him like an equal since their first meeting.
"Hey, Artemis! Want some breakfast?"
Artemis blurted, "I'm not one to ask for a favor, Hercules, but I need a favor. It's about Apollo."
Hercules grinned. "I know. He was just here. He's writing a poem for Poseidon, did you know? A love poem!" Hercules laughed.
Artemis followed Hercules inside. "Hercules, you have to listen to me. This is really important. Apollo wants to become a wandering poet." Artemis sunk into the chair by the early morning fire and dropped her head into her hands. "I don't know what's up with him. I think it's Calliope. You know how close they are." Artemis answered Hercules's puzzled look. "She is committed to inspiring epic poets who will tell the story of our history, our common history. It was Calliope who inspired Homer to create the Odyssey and the Iliad. I think Apollo is envious. He wants to be revered as she is by poets everywhere."
"He is the god of poetry," Hercules gently pointed out, not understanding the problem.
"Yes, but that does not make him a poet. He has this idea that Calliope can be the goddess of epic poetry and he can be the god of rhyming poetry. Apollo is my twin brother and I normally would support him in this, but he is creating a problem, not only for me but for everyone. He does nothing except write really bad, rhyming poems about nothing. He's been wandering across Greece, reading his poetry in the towns. The people laugh at him. They shout, "Where is the hero?" Artemis took a deep breath and dropped her voice to a whisper. "He doesn't do his chores anymore. He thinks they're boring. He doesn't think they're important."
Not important! Hercules shook his head in amazement. "Bringing up the sun every day is very important!"
"I know. I've been bringing up the sun for him for some time now. I have to bring up the moon, too. That's my job. I watch over the animals in the forest. I watch over the hunt. I've been checking the oracles for him to make sure they have what they need. I'm exhausted, Herc. I can't keep doing both our jobs. Besides, it's impossible to handle both the sun and the moon at the same time. Sooner or later, someone is going to notice that things are not appearing as they should."
"Have you talked to him about it?"
"The last time I tried to talk to him he told me he wanted to retire. What does that mean? Herc, I'm so worried about him."
Hercules frowned. "This is serious, Artemis. If Apollo won't listen, you have to talk about this with Zeus."
Artemis sat up, suddenly tense. "No, absolutely not, no. You know our father. Who knows what he might do. We have to solve this, you and me. There is no one else I can trust. We have to think of something. And soon."
The two half-siblings stared at each other.
"I don't know what to do, Herc," Artemis whispered.
"Artemis, I don't know either."
"But you're brilliant. You'll think of something. I know you will." Like her brother, Artemis looked up at Hercules as if Hercules could be counted upon to solve anything.
Hercules nodded. "Let me think about it. We can meet here so that Zeus will not accidentally overhear us, or Hera, or any of them."
Artemis did something then that she had never done before. She leaped up from the chair and wrapped as much as her arms could reach around Hercules' massive chest. "Thank you, Hercules. Thank you. I'll come by tomorrow, after I pull up the sun, and see what you've figured out."
"I don't know if I'll think of anything by then."
"You will," Artemis said, quite sure about it. Then she was gone.
Hercules sunk down into the chair Artemis had abandoned. He held his head in his hands, just as Artemis had done, for exactly the same reason. "This is not good," he said to himself.
Artemis was right. They could not talk to Zeus. But he could talk to the Minotaur.
"It's simple," the Minotaur snorted, when Hercules told him about it.
Hercules could think of several words to describe this mess, but simple was not one of them.
"You know how you were going to ask Calliope to turn your memoirs into an epic poem?"
Hercules nodded. He could not do anything else. He was holding his breath.
"Have Apollo do it instead. And have him make each case file a separate rhyming poem, an epic poem that tells a story of the Greek culture and of our ways. People will want to hear his poems because they will want to hear about your cases. That will make him happy, and make you even more famous than you are already. It might even make me famous. People may not believe they are true stories, but it doesn't matter. Besides that, it's great advertising for the Hercules Detective Agency."
"But how will that make Apollo do his chores?"
"That's the easiest part. He doesn't get to use your case files unless he does all his chores. Forever. That includes pulling up the sun each day. Make him a deal. You're good at that."
Hercules' jaw dropped. The Minotaur was right! It was simple.
The next day, when Artemis arrived bright and early, Hercules told her what the Minotaur had suggested. Artemis tore out of Herc's hut, ran around back, flew across the courtyard, and knocked on the Minotaur's door. When he answered, she surprised him with a really long hug. "I owe you, you beautiful monster."
The Minotaur turned bright red. "Yes, well ...."
Artemis turned to Hercules. "You'll tell Apollo right away? You'll make him a deal?"
"I will," Hercules promised. And he did.
Apollo, just as the Minotaur had predicted, was delighted. In exchange for doing his chores forever, including bringing up the sun each day, he took a short stack of case files away with him, eager to get rhyming. "Each poem will share a story of the ways of the Greek people and of our culture. A common history is nice. But a common culture is so much better! It's just what I needed. I'll bring these back and pick up more as soon as I get these done," Apollo promised, as if Hercules was in a hurry to hear his case files made into epic poems. "Calliope is going to be so jealous," he laughed. And disappeared.
And there it was. The real reason. A touch of jealousy.
Hercules had no plans to create a file for this case. There would be no charge to Artemis. This case was strictly between Artemis, the Minotaur, and himself. Besides, he knew Artemis would feel she owed them a favor, a big one. One day, he, or perhaps the Minotaur, might even claim it.