Queer Eye for the Dead Guy
By Rhonda Eudaly
"Why? Why? Why me?"
Hades slapped his palm against his forehead in time to
the questions. "I became the god of the Underworld to
get away from those two! How could Zeus do this to me?
I haven't done anything to him... . lately."
"You know what this
place could use?" A highly chipper and bubbly voice
echoed through the reception area.
"Besides a good
scrubbing? Did you see that River?" A nearly identical
voice answered. Both voices giggled.
Hades vaulted off his
throne and frantically scanned the room for an escape
route. He had too many choices, too many doors. One
headed to Tartarus. One was the gateway to the Elysian
Fields -- which few people realized was actually a
small town in East Texas. The third door led back to
the Rivers and the Gates to Hades. The fourth led to
Hades's personal living quarters. Unfortunately, most
of the chambers in this part of the Underworld were
made of stone, so there was no telling exactly from
which route the voices came.
"Hades! There you are!"
He froze -- something
most thought impossible in the Underworld -- as the
two annoying, minor gods approached from the Rivers.
He turned and forced himself to smile through clenched
teeth at the immaculately coiffed and attired twins.
"Debris. Detritus. What can I do for you?"
"Do?" Debris cocked his
"For you?" Detritus
echoed. They looked at each other and laughed. "Oh, my
"It's not what you can
do for us, dear Hades." Debris made a grand sweeping
gesture. "But what we can do for you."
"Oh, yes, Hades, Zeus
sent us just in time. This place needs a complete
makeover. It's so... so. "
"Do you have to do
that?" Hades demanded, rubbing his temples.
"What?" the twins
"Do that weird twin
speak, finishing each other's sentences thing," Hades
said hotly. "It's giving me a headache."
"Your headache is
probably because the Feng Shui in this place is all
wrong!" Debris flung his arms out to include the whole
"Or it could be the
dust." Detritus flicked a linen handkerchief and
dabbed his nose. "It's a more common and insidious an
allergen than most people know."
"Give us a week," Debris
said. "You won't recognize the place, and you'll feel
better. We guarantee it."
"What are you going to
do?" Hades enunciated every word.
Detritus puffed out his
chest. "We'll do for you what we did for Olympus. For
Zeus. It'll be fabulous. You'll love it. Just think of
how much better this place will be with a few potted
Debris's eyes glittered. "Can't you see this place
with big, colorful throw pillows?"
"Pillows? Why do we need
pillows?" Hades's headache bloomed brighter, bordering
"And you know, a nice light wash on the walls
would really brighten up this dreary room." Debris
completely ignored Hades and his gestures grew more
flamboyant as his excitement rose.
Hades ducked more than
once to keep from getting socked in the jaw. If anyone
was going to be hit before all of this was over, it
wasn't going to be him. "Though something to throw
might not be so bad." No one heard him.
He finally cleared his
throat. "Excuse me, what about me? Don't I get a say
in this? It is my Underworld after all."
"Darling, why would you
want a say?" Detritus asked, without looking at him.
"You had your chance. Now it's our turn. Zeus decreed,
and we must obey."
"You have got to be
kidding me." Hades rubbed his temples a bit more.
There was a vein in his forehead starting to throb.
"I've got to do something about this headache."
"We'll be here." Debris
pulled out a tape measure. "There's a lot to
"That's what I'm afraid
of," Hades said as he fled to his quarters. He could
still hear them.
"You know what Iím
seeing here, Debris?"
"I think I know where
you're going, Detritus."
"Persephone!" Hades bellowed.
"Well, they did say you
wouldn't recognize the place," Persephone said
uncertainly a couple of days later.
"It hasn't been a week
yet." Hades raked aggravated fingers through his hair.
"What else could they do?"
"It's not that bad,
Hades, and I think the cushions on the thrones are
nice. I didn't like sitting on cold stone all the
time. It was hard on the posterior. And if you don't
stop pulling your hair, you're going to go bald."
"But this? This
isn't so bad?" Hades yanked his fingers out of his
hair and gestured at the River Styx. "Just look what
they did to Charon and Cerberus! At least they have
the decency to look embarrassed."
"Yes, Master," Charon
picked at the gold-trimmed sleeve of his new white
"Well, it's a bit
classier than that old black shroud," Persephone tried
to find the bright side to things. "Welcoming, even."
"Welcoming?" Hades voice
rose in volume and timbre at the thought. "We're not
supposed to be welcoming! No one's supposed to want to
come here -- not even the ones who make it to the
"Well, Charon does look
like a refugee from the Love Boat; maybe
that'll scare some souls off."
"There is that," Hades
grudgingly admitted. "But what about poor Cerberus?
Look at him."
The Hellhound guardian
hung all his heads in shame, his serpent tails tucked
between his legs.
"What's wrong with him?"
"He's been groomed!
They've put bows around his necks," Hades stormed
while pacing the banks of the Styx. "And what did they
do to his tails? Have they molted? How's he supposed
to turn back unwanted souls looking like that? Wait,
what are you doing?"
Persephone looked up
from scratching Cerberus' ears. The Hound had rolled
over on his belly with all his tongues hanging out in
pure doggie pleasure. "What? I'm sorry, honey, but I
couldn't resist. He's cute!"
"Oh, for Olympus' sake!"
Hades threw up his hands and stalked off. "I'm going
to have words with those neatniks. Where are they?"
"I think they were going
to tackle Tartarus today, dear."
"No! Not Tartarus!"
Hades took off through
the Underworld at a dead run.
"This has got to go,
don't you think, Detritus?"
Hades slid to a halt and
couldn't hide his complete horror as his jaw dropped
open. The brimstone smell was gone. So were the open
pits of lava. He couldn't hear one scream of
everlasting terror, not one whimper of unending
regret. "What's going on? Your changes to The Elysian
Fields were one thing. The Fields are supposed to be
nice. Souls are supposed to strive to go there, but
this is Tartarus. What have you done? Where's the
fire? Where are the tortured souls?"
"Oh, all that stuff had
to go," Detritus said with a flick of his wrist. "It
was all garbage, and trust me, we know our garbage.
Renew. Recycle. Reuse. Resale! We made a bundle in
that rummage sale over in the Elysian Fields. Those
good souls know a bargain when they see one."
"Though to some people,
we do unearth treasures," Debris added. "Did you know
you had a full collection of world dictators down
here? You could make a fortune on the collector's
circuit. On eBay alone."
"Oooh, eBay? Not eBay.
It's so passť." Detritus tapped his chin while he
thought. "I know! Craigslist! We could unload some of
the picked-over stuff that way."
"That's a fabulous idea!
Detritus, you're brilliant."
"Why thank you, Debris.
I thought so myself."
"Why can't you just
leave everything alone?" Hades finally lost his
"Where did we put those
Asian wall hangings?" Debris asked. "Those would so go
in this space. Those bloody battle scenes would be
perfect in here."
"Battle scenes, Debris?
I don't think so. Take a look around you! This
place doesn't want more blood and gore. It wants
contrasting themes. Flowers. Bunnies. Puppies!"
"You know, Detritus, you
may be right. Some nice fluffy kittens, maybe. What do
you think of chihuahuas?"
"No, not chihuahuas.
They can go feral, you know."
"That would be bad, but
I see flowers."
"What are you...?
How...? Chihuahuas? Bunnies? Flowers?" Hades couldn't
make the words come out. "This is Tartarus. It's not
supposed to be... Excuse me... I have to go... "
Hades didn't see
Persephone when he stormed into their quarters. She
looked up from the basket she was rummaging through
when he started banging around. "Problems, dear?"
"I need something for a
headache. Then I need to talk to Hermes. Zeus has to
take them back before someone dies."
"That's nice, dear. I
assume Hermes won't be staying for dinner," Persephone
said absently, bouncing a ball in her hand and heading
for the door.
"Not unless you want him
under foot for the rest of time." Hades finally
focused on the ball. "What're you doing?"
"Cerberus wants to
Persephone closed the
door behind her, cutting off Hades frustrated scream.
Hades slumped at the
table with his head in his hands.
"Dude! That must've been
some party. You should've invited me, man."
Hades dragged his head
toward the young voice, glaring at the messenger god.
Hermes took a step back
and lifted his hands in surrender. "Whoa, dude, sorry.
Guess it wasn't a party. Wassup?"
"I need you to get a
message to Zeus. I need him, now."
"No can do, Hades." He
looked around. "Something seems different. Have you
done something to the place?"
"Why can't you deliver
my message to Zeus?" Hades asked.
"He's gone to ground.
Mortal ground." The messenger god looked around
puzzledly. "Hera's in one of her Moods. Dude, what's
"Great. Just great. It's
going to mortal ground that puts Hera in those Moods.
Now what do I do?" The god of the Underworld slapped
his forehead repeatedly with the heel of his hand.
"Dude, why're you doing
"Because if I bang my
head against the wall, it would leave a bloody mess,
then I'd never get rid of them."
"Get rid of whom?"
"Debris and Detritus."
nodded knowingly. "Enough said. I wondered where they
went. I'll do what I can, man. But you know how Zeus
gets when Hera's in one of her moods."
"Why do you think I took
on the Underworld instead of staying on Olympus?"
Hades shuddered picturing Hera's tantrums.
"I hear you, man. I'll
see what I can do."
Hermes was on his way
out when he looked back. "By the way, who're the
serious babes I saw coming in? Usually I get a bunch
of grief from the Furies, but I didn't see them, just
some hot chicks... "
"No! Not a makeover on
the Furies! They didn't!" Hades took off at a dead
run. "That's the last straw! Find Zeus before I do
Hades paced on the edge
of the mortal realm the Gates when he saw Zeus coming.
"It's about time you showed up. Didn't Hermes tell you
it was urgent?"
Zeus shrugged. "I came
as soon as Hermes found me. And you know if he can
find me, Hera's not going to be too far behind. She's
still in the breaking-things mood, and that usually
means me. So let's make this quick, okay?"
"Hera's not the one you
need to be concerned about, it's me."
"What're you talking
about?" Zeus asked.
"Debris and Detritus.
You have to take them back. Now."
"Oh, come on, what's got
your chiton in a twist, Hades? They're good kids.
Besides, they're good at what they do, and they were
getting bored. They've done all they can with Olympus.
I had to do something before they started trashing
things just to have some garbage to deal with, though
with Hera, there's almost always something in pieces."
"So you sent them here?
Without warning and without asking? Gee, Zeus, I know
you're in charge and all, but wasn't that a bit harsh?
I haven't done anything to you... lately. Just wait
till you see what they're doing with the place. It's
not the same anymore." Hades dragged Zeus into the
Underworld with him.
Debris and Detritus were
oiling the hinges on the Gates of Hell when the two
major deities found them.
"No!" Hades rushed forward,
totally forgetting Zeus was with him. "You're going
too far this time! You can't oil those hinges!"
"Why not?" Debris and
Detritus asked together. Debris looked particularly
puzzled. "What's wrong with a gate that doesn't squeak
from all the rust and corrosion? A well-oiled gate is
a long-lasting gate. And who says the Afterlife has to
be an unpleasant experience?"
"I do!" Hades shouted.
"I say so! I have a particular ambience set up down
here, and you're ruining it!" He turned to Zeus and
gestured madly. "Back me up here, Zeus. You have to
take them back to Olympus with you. They're driving me
"Maybe they have a
point?" Zeus shuffled uncertainly. "I never really did
like the noise those gates made. It was an awful lot
like that fingernails-on-a-chalkboard sound."
"That was the point!"
Hades was losing ground. "You have to see what else
they've done. This is no longer the Underworld mortals
have come to know and fear."
Hades took Zeus on a
thorough tour of the "new and improved" Underworld.
The god of the Underworld felt his rage build to epic
proportions as he discovered further changes. Debris
and Detritus had been busy while his back was turned.
"You should do something
about your anger issues," Zeus said as they toured
Tartarus. "That vein in your forehead is about to
burst. And trust me, the results aren't always that
"But look at
this! There's no fire, no brimstone!"
"Well, wasnít that all
hot and stinky anyway?" Zeus looked at the twins.
"What did you do with the fire and brimstone?"
"We have all that routed
into the saunas now," Detritus said proudly. "All
those renewable, reusable resources were going to
waste. And if the immortals don't set the example... "
"Gah!" Hades couldn't
get any words out. "What's going on with the souls
doomed to Tartarus? You never told me what you did
with them. Where are they? It's too quiet in here."
"Oh, we've put them on a
rotating schedule. The noise was just awful, all that
weeping and gnashing of teeth. Just awful. Had to go,"
Detritus said. "So we've taken care of that. The souls
are either in the HDTV theater watching endless reruns
of Gilligan's Island or being the animatronic
children in the Small World ride at Disney
World. They were just cluttering up the place hanging
out here, anyway."
"There goes that vein
again. I hope you do better with whatever comes out
than I did. Athena's a real handful. And those weapons
and armor of hers really hurt." Zeus rubbed his own
forehead as he looked around some more. "I don't see
the problem here, Hades. It seems like they're doing a
great job getting this place clean and organized.
Olympus has been a paradise since they got done with
Hades felt his eyes go
so wide, he thought they'd pop right out of their
sockets. "You've got to be kidding. How many times do
I have to say it before it gets through to you people?
This is the Underworld! It's not supposed to be a
paradise. Why is this concept so hard for people to
comprehend? I thought it was pretty clear!"
Hades thought his head
was finally going to explode, until he realized Zeus
wasn't kidding. He grabbed Zeus' arm and dragged him
out of Tartarus. He didn't stop until they were in
Hades' receiving room where he had to blink in the
brightness of the lights.
"Why in the Underworld
is it so bright in here?" Hades demanded at the top of
"Oh, that would be the
lights reflecting off the Hell's Bells," Debris
Hades whirled, not
realizing the twins had followed them. "What did you
do? What. Did. You. Do?"
"We polished the Bells,
and it's about time, too. It doesn't look like they
had been cleaned since the beginning of time. Now,
they're shiny new."
Hades turned to Zeus,
eyes flashing with psychotic rage. "Get rid of them,
Zeus! I'm telling you, if you don't, I'm going to
commit deicide! Put them among the mortals if you have
to, but get them out of here!"
"Come on, Hades, I don't
see the problem here," Zeus said.
"I'm getting really
tired of repeating myself, Zeus! The Underworld is
supposed to ugly and dirty and nasty. We have an image
to maintain, and it's not this! The poster boys
for scrubbing bubbles don't have any place in my
realm! How are souls supposed to abandon hope if the
Gates have flowerbeds around them, and the Guardians
of the Underworld wear ribbons and bows?"
"Well, you don't have to
be so mean," Detritus said in a huff. "We were just
doing what we were born to do! Weren't we Zeus?"
Hades didn't wait for
Zeus to answer. "Get rid of them, Zeus, before I go
totally insane, and I don't think this world is
prepared for that!"
He saw the possibilities
whirl through Zeus' eyes and finally click. "That
would be worse than Hera on a bad day wouldn't it?"
"Think every bad monster
movie ever made from every culture gone crazy at the
same time, live and in person," Hades's calm, even
tone was scarier than his shouting. "Teenagers running
in high heels, the pointless screaming, going through
obvious doors with death behind them, stupidity
running rampant... "
Zeus waved him down. "I
get the picture, Hades. You've made your point." He
turned to the twin deities. "Pack up your squeegees,
boys, we're going back to Olympus."
"But we're not through
"Oh, yes, you are,"
Hades lunged for their necks. "One way or another,
you're out of here!"
Zeus grabbed Hades
before he could reach the two lesser gods. They looked
at him in uncomprehending horror. Then as they
realized their peril, they broke and ran.
Hades herded all three
unwanted guests out of the Underworld ten minutes
later. Just as soon as they were out of sight, he
sighed deeply in relief and turned back. He took great
pleasure in slamming the gates closed behind him. His
first step on the road to normalcy was to rip the
ribbons off Cerberus's multiple necks. The Hellhound
thumped his tails gratefully, leading Hades to scratch
behind one set of ears.
"I have to admit you do smell
better." Hades stopped and shook his head. "No! I'm
not going to find the good in this."
Hades let Persephone rub the
tension out of his shoulders and temples when he
finally went to bed that night. When he was just about
to drift off to sleep, he heard her say softly, "You
know, a housekeeper's not such a bad thing. Maybe we
can get them to come back once a week or so."
Hades sat bolt upright,