Tiresias

As published  by Ponder Review in December 2017

“Terry, can you come into my office?”

“Yessir, Sarge. What’s up?”

“Wait ‘til I close the door.”

“Sounds serious.”

“It is, Terry. The commander-in-chief insists I let you go.”

“That’s crazy, Sarge. Why?”

“He’s got a thing about transgenders in the military.”

“Good gods, why?”

“I think he’s been talking to alt-right people.”

“You mean Hera.”

“I didn’t say that. But she’s had it in for you for a long time.”

“About 25 centuries. Sarge, I admit I didn’t see this coming. But then, I never asked the birds about my own future.”

“He talked about this a while back, but I didn’t think he’d do it.”

“Does he have any idea what I do? You know, I’m good.”

“I know, Terry. Damned good.”

“I mean, when we need to anticipate what that crazy Persian imam will do, or that Russian neo-czar, or those Nile barbarians . . . .”

“Terry, I couldn’t agree more. Just when we need the best oracle on earth today . . . .”

“Never mind today. Best for centuries.”

“You’re right. Never one like you, thanks to the seven lives Zeus gave you. Problem is, the boss is afraid we’ll spend too much on sex-change operations.”

“That has nothing to do with me! I never saw a doctor when Hera changed me into a woman for seven years. Had kids. Then bam! I’m a man again. Remember T.S. Eliot? ‘I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs/ Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest.’ Foretelling all these years, and never been wrong.”

“I’m not sure the boss reads poetry. He thinks you’re a bad model.”

“Sarge, can’t somebody tell him what I do for the country?

“We tried. His top brass talked to him. I can stall for a week, but that’s it. I can get you good mustering-out pay, though.”

“That’s nice. Nothing worse than a blind old seer with empty pockets.”

“Terry, can you do me a favor?”

“Don’t know why – but sure. What do you need?”

“Maybe your birds could tell you what that crazy guy in Pyongyang really wants. If you could get us something, we might even persuade the commander-in-chief to reconsider.”

“All right, Sarge, I’ll try.”

“Hope it doesn’t come out too oracular.”

“You mean hard to understand. I can’t fix that, you know: I just say what comes to me. What the birds tell me. But I’ll try one more thing, too.”

“What’s that?”

“See if the birds will tell me how long he’ll last.”

 

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