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10 p.m. — The Bacchus Bar — Cincinnati, Ohio 

“Now, give me your other hand,” demanded the goddess.

“What?”

“Give me your paw, impudent varlet.” Her bracelets began to orbit. Artemis began the Olympian Twiddling of Thumbs, an ancient mating rite on the mythical  hill. Bernie babbled something and, by accident, gulped down half cup of forbidden ambrosia.

Bomba, the new God of Kittehs, broke the stalemate as he roared and rolled over below the restaurant’s faux fireplace. He began licking his paws and rumbling. Bernie could see that his ex-kitty’s teeth had become chromed daggers.

Good vibrations, Artemis thought as she sipped. Her drunken twiddling became more of a twaddle. How do I tell the poor sap Bernie that I have to kill him tonight? the goddess wondered.

Go ahead,” Bomba’s yellow eyes said to Bernie. “Pounce on her, can opener!”

Bernie broadcast back in anger: “If I pounced, you big allergen, your mistress would pound me into jelly!”

  Disappointed, Bomba shook his lion-sized head. “Wuss flavored jelly. She’s going to kill you anyways, so you might as well take the leap.” The cat felt embarrassed for the weakling. Sad.

“She wouldn’t kill me. She’s supposed to protect me. I should kick your mangey ass!” shouted Bernie’s eyes back at his ex-cat.

  “You and what army, asshat?” Bomba stared back.

“Isn’t he sweet?” Artemis said, breaking the tension between her two boys.

“Was I just talking to my gluttonous ex-cat?” asked Bernie.

“Is something wrong?” She held up her long slim index finger. “And, yes, I would pound you into jelly.” Artemis stood and turned. “Check out my new blouse.” Her jacket spread wide, revealing a silk ivory halter that flowed like cream over her breasts. “Is this girly enough?”

“Tally-ho!” She was the fox, but Bernie felt as if he were the hunted. Bernie felt, no, he knew that he was tonight’s big game. Uh oh, I’m fucked. Maybe dead, too. He poured from an unmarked green bottle on the table.

Yes, Bernie. Tonight’s your lucky night, wuss jelly, Bomba winked back while chewing on something leathery.

“That’s my old purse,” said Artemis. Now keep twiddling, baby. Yeah, that’s it. So good. Ooooh, right there.”

Maybe it was the god hooch taking over, but Bernie wanted to meet Artemis’ challenge head on. He was feeling great, and was no longer in the mood to play subordinate prey to the Olympian huntress. But before he could finish that foolish  thought, Artemis stood over Bernie to show him what a mistake a challenge would be. Instead, he was checking out her legs. She realized that the stupid human was too lust struck to give a shit.

I going to conquer me a piece of that, he was thinking. So, woozy fucktard that he was, Bernie stood up tall, with intent to commit serious fuckage upon her divine κάτω περιοχές. Artemis, sensing danger, stretched herself taller, noticing that the ambrosia that Bernie drank had had a strange effect on her man toy. He was four inches taller than when he’d walked into the Bacchus Bar. For the first time Bernie was now able to look directly into deep dark her eyes with his own. Artemis heart skipped a beat as she stepped backward. Bernie followed her every step toward the darkest corner of the room as if they were dancing a tango.

Even my mother Leto would agree that this man looks elegant despite his horrid sport jacket. Bernie with an arm beneath her waist leaned her back and brushed his lips along her graceful neck. Artemis “put the brakes” on Bernie by poking at his new dimple. “The dimple. When did you get the dimple??” she asked, catching her breath.

“Dimple?” he asked, touching it himself.  He sat down. “Can I borrow your hand mirror, darling? Well, god bless the queen. Look at that, will you. Wellllll, what do you know?” He straightened his collar and said, “Nice haircut, too. Did I always have jet-black hair?” Bernie lifted a full glass of ambrosia and toasted his beautiful friend. “‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the moon never looked on aught so grand.’ I believe that was a quote from one of your old admirers, dear. Anteater, or antipasta… Antipater, or some bloody nonsense.”

“Antipater. I killed him. He tried to steal my undies from the Laundromat dryer when we were in college together. I killed him with this.” Artemis put her hand upon her new purse whose handle was a diamond mini-crossbow. “My new purse. Do you like it? Bergdorfs.”

“Right. Smashing, dear. What happened to your cute hunting tunic? I hardly recognized you when I walked in.”

“Don’t worry. This outfit is designed for bagging big game. The element of surprise. My prey will never know what hit him. Now, where were we, dear.”

“Twiddling.” Delicious. Beautiful. he thought. 

Delicious? Beautiful? Hmmmmm, she thought back. She’d never considered the mortal’s compliments before and she’d never been called “delicious.” Pizza is delicious, ribs are…

“Listen, angel,” said Bernie.

“Shut up.”  Artemis pulled him up from his chair by the lapels. “Dance with me.”

As they swayed, Bomba looked at Bernie. “Hey, Bernie, Did you like the little Christmas gift I left you?”

“Oh, the headless dead five-foot tall, nearly-extinct humanoid from Eastern Europe?  Awwwww….Thank you, Bomba. Good kitty. That poor creature—that gift, that you left in the alley for me was an endangered Gibor! One of the last.”

The cat yawned and thought, “Bite me.”

Bernie sent his thoughts toward his cat: “Am I boring you, flea bag?” 

“Bomba’s yawn is his way of saying happy birthday, cupcake.” She toasted Bernie.

“I’m sorry, your lordship,” Bernie said with his emerging Cary Grantish pan-atlantic accent. “Today, my darlings, is not my birthday.”

“Are you going to argue with us? It’s too hot to argue.” A tiny space shuttle circled with the rotating rings on Artemis’ hat along with a few new items of space junk. “From now on,” said Artemis, “this day, December 27, will be your new birthday.”