The television host stood in the shadows of the wing shaking his arms, jiggling up and down and stretching his neck from side to side, like a boxer getting ready to enter the ring. His assistant with expert and deft hands attached the small microphone to the lapel of his jacket and clipped the not quite invisible transceiver into the back of his pants. Focused on the coming interview, he dimly heard her wishing him luck and speaking into her headpiece letting the crew know he was ready. Drake Dabbler entered the stage amid cheers and clapping.
‘Good evening everyone and welcome!’
The audience roared. Drake grinned and after several minutes raised his hands and the enthusiastic crowd quietened.
‘Wow, thank you. It is a pleasure having such a fantastic audience.’
The auditorium was packed as always and Drake was riding high, blood rushing like a fast flowing river and heart racing.
‘We have a very special guest for you today. She doesn’t grant many interviews; in fact, this is her first and only one! We will hear about her triumphs, the tragedies, the hardship of being married to a powerhouse and,’ Drake drops his voice to a whisper, ‘the retributions. This, my friends is one event you will never forget. You will tweet and let your Facebook pals know you were here on that day Drake Dabbler spoke with a queen and a goddess.
‘Please make welcome, Hera Queen of the Gods and Olympian Goddess!’
Hera entered stage left, dressed in a sage corporate business suit. She came to a stop a few feet from where Drake waited. A camera zoomed in and she smiled, face lighting up and eyes sparkling. Her long wavy russet hair cascaded over her shoulders like a waterfall. Her milky complexion and flawless skin were beautiful and exotic, something the women in the audience dreamed and wished they had. Ice blue eyes scanned the standing audience as they cheered, clapped and whistled. An eyebrow quirked, Hera appeared bemused as she stood there. It did not appear they would stop any time soon, so Drake leaned towards her.
‘Perhaps if we sit they will stop,’ he said.
She turned to him. Drake felt a chill go down his spine.
‘Of course.’ Her voice husky and her speech refined. She walked over to one of the arm chairs and sat. Drake took a deep breath and followed. After a few minutes the crowd began to settle.
‘Good evening, Queen Hera—Your Majesty—and welcome. Thank you for granting us your time and for coming to talk with me. But before we move on, how may I address you? I’m afraid this is new to me and I am not sure what the protocol is.’
‘Queen Hera is fine.’
‘Right, of course, thank you,’ Drake said. To cover his nerves, he sat back and crossed his legs. ‘May I say what an honour it is to have you on my show.’
Hera looked at him.
Drake felt butterflies threatening to erupt from his stomach, sweat forming under his armpits. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Come on Drake, you can do this, he told himself.
‘The audience, as I am, will be keen to learn more about you and of course your husband, King Zeus, but ah… what brings you here today? You’ve never been seen in public for over a millennia let alone granted interviews. What has changed?’ he asked.
Hera gazed at him with those ice blue eyes. Drake swallowed. Everyone in the studio waited, transfixed. Even the producer standing in the control room staring at the multitudes of monitors did not shout or scream at his operators as he usually did.
‘It is an opportunity to tell people how things are and perhaps to make a connection,’ she said and then turned to the audience. ‘After all, it has been a while since I or my fellow companions have visited.’
They responded by clapping and cheering, and most stood up from their seats. Several began chanting her name.
‘Why is that?’ Drake asked as the ground crew calmed the overzealous studio audience.
‘We don’t have a good track record at mixing and people got hurt. We felt it best to distance ourselves and remain out of sight.’
‘Would this past performance you speak of have anything to do with your husband?’
Hera cocked her head. ‘My husband is… complicated.’
‘We understand he has put you in more than a few difficult circumstances.’ Drake nodded.
‘Our relationship is somewhat tempestuous.’
The audience laughed.
‘The people here and the viewers at home are aware of your responses to your husband’s wayward behaviour. I would like to know and no doubt everyone here as well, is how do you explain what you have done?’
‘Ah, you see, this where the truth gets mixed with fantasy,’ Hera said. ‘The media, which you are part of, make a business out of creating villains. I’ve received my share of bad press over the years.’ She rolled her eyes and garnered more laughter. ‘And yes perhaps my actions may be considered extreme in a number of cases but, has anyone thought how it felt to be me? Do you know what it is like to come home, worrying about where your husband may be and who he is sleeping with?’
Drake sneaked a look at the audience. Many leaned forward and some even had tears in their eyes.
‘It was never my intention to create such an infamous legacy for myself. I love to nurture and help those who need it. Being married to a powerful individual like Zeus is not the romance people believe it to be, nor easy,’ Hera added.
‘Does he know you’re here?’
‘Of course,’ she said, laughing. ‘He misses nothing which goes on here. It is his job after all and ours.’
‘Can you tell us about what you do?
‘I don’t need to go over that old news surely,’ Hera said shaking her head. ‘Aren’t the thousands of years of record keeping enough? There are plenty of sources of information available, in your books and on the internet. I am sure your audience is intelligent and know what we do.’
Like puppies responding to their master, the crowd reacted with cheers.
‘I am sure they are,’ Drake said, ‘but I believe they would like to hear you talk about it anyway.’
He looked to the sea of faces and on cue, they responded with resounding clapping and chanting.
‘You see, they do want to know.’
‘Fine,’ she said and paused, as if to decide how much to disclose. The studio was quiet. Not even a slightest murmur heard. ‘We are minders. Everything is monitored, as is everyone. We watch you.’
Drake sat back as the audience drew in a collective breath.
‘Isn’t that an invasion of our privacy?’
Hera looked at him with a cool expression. ‘You do this every day in your interviews. What is the difference?’
In the control room the producer whooped, jumped up and down and clapped his hands.
‘What an interview! This is going to shoot through the ratings!’
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