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Draw Back Your Bow

Emily was overlooked by people. The clerk at the coffee shop, people on the street, guys she was trying to date. She was happy running her little sweet shop that her grandmother had left her but she was lonely, wanting only someone she too could leave the shop to.

Emily decided she was going to join a dating site but before she could, she got some romance help from the demigod of love himself. Now, that may sound like a great leg up, but not when the demigod of love has no idea what he’s doing.

Written by Rebecca Milton
Published by AmorBooks

Time was, the Gods ruled all mankind. They sat in thrones on Olympus and meted out punishments or rewards to the mortals below. Now and then, they’d come down and get involved.

Zeus was famous for changing his image and having his way with women. I have no idea how he knew that a girl would be into swan sex but he knew, it was one of his gifts. Apollo kept the sun shining and the people warm. Poseidon kept the oceans flowing, Vulcan the earth doing whatever the earth did. All the Gods had a purpose.

Myself, I was a demigod, my mom was Venus, god of love and my dad, some poor slob who got involved with a goddess, had a night of fun and then spent the rest of his miserable life trying to convince his friends that he had nailed a goddess. Me, my job, my gift was desire. Love. Physical attraction. I was Cupid, Eros, the marksman. My arrows and I having a ball sending people into fits of love, romance and, sometimes, heartache. I myself was a victim of my own arrow when, one day, after a night long debacle with Bacchus, I tripped, fell on an arrow and wound up being head over heels for this chick Psyche. That did not end well. Time, distance, a change in mythological status certainly does change a man.

A demigod.

Like all good things, the reign of the Gods came to an end. Technology and science explained thunder and lightning. The physicists explained the sun and the stars and so, gradually, no one thought of us any longer. We become unimportant, no longer feared and those who did worship us were mocked, locked up or went into politics. It was a good run while it lasted and then … it was over. You never plan for this kind of thing. I mean, immortal means you live forever, right?

So what does one plan for? None of us said anything like, “You know, when I am no longer a God I am going to …” We suddenly found ourselves unemployed and needing to find new lives. Some of us did fine. Hermes started a shipping business. Vulcan started a tire company. Apollo went into tanning booths and made a mint. Zeus went to Hollywood, of course.

And me, well, I hung up the arrows and went to work for a company called Right4U. Yup, you’ve probably heard of it, the online dating site. We’re unique in the way that we don’t just put profiles up and allow you folks to mill about and pick whomever you want. We have experts who look at profiles and information and they use that information to find the person who is exactly right for you.

We cost a little more but some say we’re worth it. We have an average success rate of 89%. That’s about 56% higher than any other dating site. We have a scientific method. An algorithm that our CEO paid a huge chunk of money to some brain trust at MIT to develop and then, she had the copyright on it and now we use it to match strangers and make romance happen. I log in at work everyday, look at the pictures, the profiles, the videos and, using this high tech algorithm, I make matches. Or, so I am supposed to.

So, where once I sat on Olympus at the feet of Zeus, talking to women like Athena about … all the things she used to talk about, I mean, she was smart and all but, boy, she never shut up. I used to fly around with Apollo in his golden chariot. I used to ride the waves on a dolphin with Poseidon. Now, I sit in a cubicle, seven rows from the coffee machine, in an office with florescent lighting, staring at a computer screen and bringing people together. Trying to. Making memories, forging relationships, creating families. Making people’s lives better. At least that what it says on our web page.

We are a modern matchmaking company catering to the upper crust, terminally busy. The ones who cannot spend the time it takes to meet someone, allow some chemistry to happen so they hire a company like us and look to guys like me, to find them the perfect mate. Sounds swell and with those numbers, how could you go wrong? The thing is, we don’t measure our success rate in the long term. We match a couple, call them and if they agree to a first date, which we pay for, (we have a deal going with and Italian restaurant, a Mexican place and a little sushi bistro), we mark it down as a match and … success. We keep our numbers up, we look good and we get clients flocking to us.

I wasn’t doing well. I was off my game. I made enough matches to keep my job but I wasn’t moving up. I wasn’t making anyone stand up and notice. The truth was, I didn’t take the change well. I figured people would always need me. Always want my help. I didn’t count on the internet. I didn’t foresee myself being replaced by an app. I didn’t … expect it would turn out this way.

On top of that, there were the physical changes. I mean, I was a cute, young, chubby kid and then I blossomed into a chiseled, hard body. I was always naked, flying … oh I miss the wings so much. I was sexy. Hot. Now, not so much. I blame food. Seriously, we ate ambrosia, which was good and, trust me, nothing like that slop the ladies serve up at Tupperware parties. Ambrosia was … well, it was the food of the Gods because, if mortals ate it, they would lose their minds, it was that good. That was all we ate.

Then, the change, the fall and I discovered …. chicken wings. Man, spicy wings and beer. Beer! That is the shit. And of course there’re pizza and Twinkies and …well, you get the picture. Ambrosia was delightful and completely calorie free. I was set. Now, I’m starting to settle. Everything is dropping to the middle and I have a paunch and my golden curls are … starting to disappear. The point is, I was in a slump. I needed a win. When the mortals needed help, they would pray to the Gods. When the Gods are no longer Gods, who do we pray to when we need help?

There isn’t an app for that.

Then, one day, it just, sorta, changed.

***

“Well, I am sorry, Katy, but perhaps it was you. Yes, that’s what I am saying, perhaps it was you because Darren… sorry, Devon, said that he had a wonderful time but he couldn’t figure out why you felt the need to be rude to him.”

This was Anthony Metes, he had the cubicle next to mine. I heard the call and stood up, looked over the wall and watched him. He caught my eye and smiled.

“Yes, that’s right, you were rude. Did you really give the guy a chance? I mean, you were saying that you were tired of dating, going to give up, all that women don’t need a penis stuff, maybe you carried that into the date.” He stood and started pacing about his cubicle. “I think so, Katy, I think that’s exactly what you did. No, no, I understand. It’s not easy, dear, it is not at all. But, here’s the thing, you need to trust me, okay. Trust me and, this is very important, when I set up the date, you have to commit to it one hundred percent. Can you do that for me, Katy? Good girl. Of course I care. We here at Right For You are committed to finding the perfect match to fit your perfect life. Okay. I will send you another match in a few days. Bye, Katy.” He ripped his headset off and tossed it on his desk and put his arms in the air like he just scored a touchdown. “Another satis-fucking-fied customer.” He danced in his cubicle.

“Tony, what the heck was that,” I asked, not sure that the phone call I just heard followed the guidelines of the company. “What was that all about?”

“That was about me saving the match,” he said, sitting down and looking very pleased with himself. “So, Katy didn’t like her date, didn’t think he was a match and she wanted her money back.”

“So, why not just connect her to billing and make that happen,” I asked, because, as I was constantly being told, I am naive and still believing in love.

“Eric,” he said shaking his head with disappointment, “if she gets her money back, it negates the match. If the match is negated, it effects my record. I cannot have my record tarnished.” He spun in his chair and, like a game show model, showed off the plaques on his wall. Seven consecutive Matchmaker of the year plaques. “I’m the champ, Eric, and the champ cannot lose.” He stared at his awards and whispered again and again that the champ cannot lose. “Hey, could you go for a cup of coffee,” he spun and asked me.

“Yes, I could go for a cup of coffee, Tony,” I replied, surprised that he was offering.

“Good, when you go, get me one too,” he said, pulling a five from his wallet and handing it to me. “You always fall for that, Cupovski, always,” he laughed and, silently, I agreed. I took the five and went out to get coffee. The office coffee was notoriously horrific and it just wasn’t worth suffering through.

After work I went to Dunkirk’s, a bar not far from the office. I went there because it was usually quiet and because Bacchus tended bar. He was, actually, half owner of the place. He had been full-owner but he lost half his interest in a dice game. He was a terrible gambler on the mountain and he still was. I walked in and there he was, the God of wine behind the bar, talking to customers and slinging drinks. His name tag read Buck. I slid onto my usual stool and waited for him to see me. I looked around the room and saw a few couples and a few single folks. Men mostly sitting at the bar. A few gaggles of women sitting at tables looking longingly at the men sitting at the bar, giving quick glances over their shoulders to the woman sitting at tables. Eventually, Bacchus saw me and gave me a wave. He came down the bar and shook my hand.

“How the hell are ya, Cupe,” he said and I told him I was okay. “Really, cause you look like Hades on a bad day.”

I had to agree because, frankly, I felt like that. He poured me a scotch and leaned on the bar.

“Glad you’re here buddy,” he said pointing to the clientele, “we can use you in here tonight.” I looked around the room again and did not feel inspired.

“I’m off the clock, Buck,” I told him and tossed back my scotch, tapped my glass on the bar and asked for another. He hesitated, looked me over and then slowly retrieved the bottle and poured me another. I thanked him and sipped the second one, not wanting to get completely blasted too quickly.

“What gives, Cupe,” he asked and leaned on the bar again. “Seriously pal, you got troubles?”

“Don’t you,” I asked and he shook his head.

“It’s different, sure, but in some ways, it’s still the same,” he told me. “Look, I still get to flow the spirits, hold parties, make merry but now I have a regular life too. I have a regular apartment. I have a regular group of friends I hang with. I bowl. Have you ever bowled? Man, we used to laugh at the mortals for all their feelings and troubles, all the petty things but really, Cupe, they have it goin’ on. No joke. I love feeling. I love waking up. I love eating stuff –”

“—that’s not ambrosia,” I said, finishing his sentence and he laughed. When he did so, everyone in the bar suddenly laughed as well.

That was one thing about Bacchus, his laugh, it was truly like an infection. It moved quickly and completely around the room. When he laughed, didn’t matter how crowded the room was, every single person in the joint laughed as well. I looked around at faces and most of them had a look of confusion, why had they laughed? What they had been talking about wasn’t funny and yet, they felt compelled to laugh. I could feel the tension in the room ease a bit and he smiled at his handy work.

“And I still got it, Cupe, I still got it,” he said with pride. He looked down the bar and saw two girls leave their table and step to the bar. “Duty calls you sexy little demigod you, be right back.”

He slid down the bar and attended to the girls. As soon as he approached them, they smiled and flirted. He did still have it and I envied him so much. I didn’t have it anymore. Where did it go? I finished my second scotch, the door opened and in walked Tony. He saw me, shouted my name and slapped me on the back.

“Cupovic, you crazy bastard,” he shouted, “I had no idea you were social.”

He sat next to me and the people who were with him, Marty from billing, Melissa, a matchmaker and Stan from tech support, joined the line at the bar. Tony waved toward Bacchus and yelled for service. Bacchus was still dealing with the ladies and he held up a finger suggesting he would be with them in a minute.

“Fuck that,” Tony said, “I don’t want to wait a minute, I want a drink.” Bacchus heard this and instantly he was there, in that flash, the way we could all still move if we wanted.

“I am so sorry, my thirsty friend,” he said to Tony, who was stunned by his sudden appearance before him, “allow me to apologize for hindering your cocktail consumption.” Tony had no idea how to respond. “What can I get for you, chum?”

“Vodka tonic for me, white wine for the lady, these two slobs will have a draft beer of whatever’s cheap.”

Tony ordered for his group. Bacchus looked at me and I nodded. He poured me another scotch and then, went about filling Tony’s order.

“So, Cupovic, you drop any cards on anyone,” he asked looking around the room, “I mean, that table right there, that’s a ripe little picnic basket.” He didn’t wait for my answer. He was up and moving toward the table of women. Bacchus came back with the drinks.

“What’s with that guy,” he asked me and I gave him the rundown. “So, what, he drumming up business right now,” he asked and I explained it.

“Tony’s top matchmaker of the year, he works it all the time,” I said, watching as the girls started to giggle and then, he slipped his hand into his jacket pocket and took out his card case. “He’s good, Buck, he’s … the master.” Tony stood up, smiled, the girls laughed and he came back to the bar.

“He’s the master,” Bacchus said, pointing directly at Tony as he sat down, “this mook?” Tony looked around at us, not sure if Bacchus was talking about him.

“Are you calling me a mook,” Tony asked.

“Only in the very best way,” Bacchus said and Tony didn’t reply. “My friend, Cup … uh … Eric tells me you’re the big cheese at the agency, is that right?”

“Matchmaker of the year five years running …” he leaned close and looked at Bacchus’s name tag, “Buck. Can’t beat those numbers.”

“Five years running, huh,” Bacchus said, “how’s my buddy Eric rank?” Tony burst out laughing and Bacchus stepped back. He was still protective of me, still saw me as the little winged boy naked to the world. “Your boy, Eric, plays by the rules too much.” Bacchus shot me a look.

“That true,” he asked me, ”because that doesn’t sound like you, Cupe.” I nodded and hung my head, sipped my drink.

“Really, doesn’t sound like him,” Tony said, getting quite animated, “do tell.” Bacchus smiled and leaned on the bar.

“This guy was a terror,” Bacchus said and regaled Tony and the others with stories of my childhood, my days with bow and arrow, my days of spreading love, making matches all over the world.

“When was this,” Tony asked and I shot Bacchus a look.

“This was back when the … uh … the whole dating site thing started. Eric here would jump from company to company, wreaking romantic havoc and then, he’d move on. He left no heart unturned.” Tony laughed and Bacchus smiled at me.

“Well, what the hell happened to you, Cupovic,” Tony said and I wondered myself. “He’s not like that anymore. Now he’s all, the rules say this and the program says this and our missions statement clearly says … he’s a company man now, Buck. He’s all too concerned about the … the … what is it you’re concerned about now, Cupovic?”

“People’s happiness,” I said and there was silence then Tony burst out laughing and threw his arms around me.

“Who’s the mook, Buck, who’s the fucking mook,” he howled, “people’s happiness. You kill me Cupovic, that’s why you’re in the cellar, that’s why you’re going to get canned.” I was shocked to hear this and Tony registered my shock. “Truth hurts, Cupovic, you gotta start producing, you gotta start racking up the matches or boss lady is going to bounce you.”

“Did she say that to you,” I asked, “did she come out and say that to you?”

“No, but we’ve all seen it before. Guy comes in, does well, then drops off and then … he’s gone.” I threw back my drink. “Don’t worry about it Cupovic,” Tony said, tossing an arm around my shoulder, “you just need to get your face out of the company rule book and take a page from ol’ Tony’s rule book.”

“That’s dishonest, Tony,” I said and hated the way it sounded, but I kept going, “I am not going to play with people’s lives like that. I mean, sure, you have the most … whatever … matches but I have a drawer full of pictures of couples, couples I put together, that are happily married. I have that.”

The scotch was getting to me and I could feel my anger rising as well as my voice. Tony looked at his friends and started laughing.

“Look at Cupovic,” he said to them, “relax buddy, just giving you some advice. Maybe you need this kind of passion back at the office.” I backed down and called for another drink. Bacchus gave me an eye and then poured it.

“I’m sure Cupe is just on a little bit of a slump,” he said, “I’ve known this guy a long time and I believe that his heart’s in the right place and he knows, better than anyone, how to put two people together.”

“Let’s hope so,” Tony said, “cause I’d sure hate to see him go.” Then he burst out laughing.

“You know, I have a special drink for the master of the match,” Bacchus said and disappeared down the bar. He was back in a flash with a shot glass. The glass was brown layered with blue and topped with white. He placed it down in front of Tony. “On me, master,” he said and Tony smiled.

“Well, look at that,” Tony said, admiring the shot, “what do you call this?”

“The champion,” Bacchus said and I shook my head.

“Perfect, Buck, that’s what they call me at work.’

“That’s what you call yourself,” I mumbled and Tony picked up the shot glass.

“To champions,” he toasted himself and tossed the drink back. “Wow, that’s …” and that was all he said. He smiled, started dancing about and then he dropped flat on the floor.

“Old school,” Bacchus said.

“Thank God,” Melissa said, and drank off her wine, “I thought I was going to have to listen to that jackass all night.”

She thanked Bacchus, said good-bye and left. The other two stayed long enough to finish their beers and then, they too left.

“Not a popular guy,” Bacchus said to me, looking at Tony’s supine body on the floor.

“I’m surprised,” I said, truly surprised, “I really thought everyone loved and admired Tony.”

“You are off your game, Cupe. I could tell when he walked in that he was a loud mouth asshat. What’s wrong with you, my friend?” I shook my head and drank my scotch.

“I don’t know, Bacchus, I really don’t,” I told him, “I think it’s time to …” He grabbed my hand, put his finger to his lips and shook his head.

“Never, Cupe, it’s never time for that. No matter what, we keep going, we keep doing. It’s never, ever time to give up.” I promised him I wouldn’t but it was half hearted and we both knew it. I left shortly after and rode the train back to my little apartment. I told myself that Bacchus was right, we couldn’t give up and tomorrow Apollo would ride again. Except … he wouldn’t.

***

“Decaf macchiato,” Emily said and the clerk didn’t hear her, she simply moved on to the next customer.

Emily shook her head and raised her hand, trying to get the clerk’s attention. The clerk didn’t notice her. No one noticed her. I did. I think I noticed her from three blocks away. I think I noticed her when I got off my train and walked up the stairs to the street. I had noticed her before I walked into the shop. She was there, she was present. She was special. I watched for a moment as the clerk ignored her again and again and then, I stepped to the counter.

“Decaf macchiato,” I said and paid for the drink.

The clerk snapped to it and turned to make my drink. Emily still stood her ground, trying to catch the clerk’s, any clerk’s attention. It wasn’t going well. The clerk came back, handed me the drink and I thanked her, turned to Emily and handed it to her.

“Decaf macchiato,” I said, handing her the cup and her eyes brimmed with tears, my heart broke. Actually no, that’s not true … my heart awoke. I turned to the clerk. “I’ll have an Americano with an extra shot, please.” She gave me an odd look but went to work getting my drink.

“Thank you,” Emily said in a tiny voice that was like a miniature choir of cherubs singing for the pleasure of the gods. I could say that with confidence because I had actually experienced that. Not miniature, of course, but a choir of cherubs.

“My pleasure,” I said and she stood, unmoving, not sure what to do. “Is there something wrong,” I asked, “is that not what you wanted?”

“No, I mean, yes, it is.”

“Then, what,” I asked.

“I don’t … do I … am I supposed to … are you hitting on me,” she asked her voice full of worry. I smiled and she relaxed. I have that power. Still.

“No, I am not hitting on you,” I assured her, “I saw you being ignored and thought it was unjust and so … justice.” The clerk handed me my drink and I paid. “Have a lovely day,” I said to Emily and walked out of the shop.

I walked toward the office and I knew she was one block behind me. I knew she turned down Green street. I knew she took a right on Republic ave. And I knew she put a key into the lock of a sweet shop, stepped inside, turned the sign on the door to read Open and started her day. I watched her in my mind as I took the elevator up to my floor. I watched her set out candies and cakes, start making hot chocolate, as I wandered down the row of cubicles and turned into mine. I kept tabs on her as she greeted customers, took care putting truffles in gold boxes and tying the boxes with precise ribbons. I watched her pour hot chocolate for a grandmother and her granddaughter as I scrolled through pictures and profiles. I watched her all day long.

In the time that I watched her I put five matches together and received a call from a couple that I had matched last month, Jenny and Clyde, who wanted to invite me to their wedding. I was overjoyed and, normally I told couples it was against the rules but this time, I said yes. I needed to see the fruits of my labor. I needed a shot in the arm.

***

I handed Emily her coffee the following morning when she walked in the door of the shop. I had gotten there five minutes before her usual arrival time and ordered. She thanked me and I asked her if I could walk her to work, that I wanted to see her shop.

“Are you sure you’re not hitting on me,” she asked and I assured her that I wasn’t. “Are you stalking me to kill me then,” she asked, with such earnestness that it almost made me cry. “I suppose if you were going to do that you wouldn’t tell me, but I think you’re an honest man so I am taking a chance that you’ll be honest with me.”

“I am not stalking you to kill you either,” I assured her and, she believed me. She introduced herself as she unlocked the door to her shop. Told me that it was her grandmother’s shop. “She left it to me in her will,” Emily explained, “I had gone to France to go to culinary school and loved it. I was great with desserts and confections but I missed home so I came back and helped her run the place. Created a bunch of new stuff and, when she died, before she died really, she promised it to me. She kept her promise. I promised to make it the focus of my life and keep it running forever.”

“You’ve kept your promise,” I said and she nodded, but there was something else there. She opened the shop, started the hot chocolate and then she put four different truffles into a gold box for me and wrapped it with a ribbon.

“You’re very kind,” she told me. I thanked her and walked to work. I was late but I didn’t care.

***

The following morning when I walked into the shop, Emily handed me my drink.

“Americano, right,” she said and I smiled. “I got here early and I stood right in front and I raised my voice,” she said, very proud of herself. “They finally noticed me.”

“How could anyone not notice you,” I said and she blushed. I walked her to work again. “So, tell me,” I said, “yesterday, you didn’t seem to happy about running the shop forever.” She gave me a sideways look.

“You listen,” she said, “more than just with your ears. My grandmother said my grandfather was like that. He listened with his ears, his eyes and his heart.”

“I like that idea,” I told her and she agreed. “So …”

“So,” she said opening the shop and starting her work. She found it easier to talk if she was moving, working, it was a way to keep the focus partially off herself. “So, I’m alone,” she said, starting the hot chocolate, “I fear I will always be alone. I work and work and … I love it. I love the customers and the sweets and the life but I’m alone. I don’t know how to meet anyone. People … I don’t know, they overlook me. So, I was thinking, when I get too old, who will I give the shop to?” She disappeared into the back room and I thought about it for a moment. She returned. “So, lately I have been thinking about joining one of those online dating sites and …”

“No,” I shouted before I could stop myself. She pulled up short.

“Oh, okay,” she said, baffled and put a tray of truffles into the case, “I won’t then.”

“No,” I said and then, I handed her a card, “I mean, don’t join just any … dating site …” She read my card and then looked at me.

“You’re a matchmaker?” She was surprised and I had to admit that I was as well.

“I am,” I told her, “and I’m good. I really am. Tell you what, why don’t you let me … why don’t … you allow me to …um …” I didn’t know what I was saying and she waited for me to finish a sentence.

“Are you saying you’re going to find a match for me,” she finally helped me out.

“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying, I will find the person who is exactly right for you.” She smiled but it was soft.

“So, you’re really not hitting on me,” she said and it took me off my guard.

“No, I’m … I’m old and bald and … no, Emily, I am not hitting on you. But, I am serious, I am going to find the man for you. The right man. I promise.” She agreed, asked what she needed to do and I told her to leave everything to me.

“Don’t I need to fill out a form online or … send a picture to some database?”

“Normally, yes,” I told her, “but not this time. This time, I am going to take care of everything for you.” I took out my phone, snapped a very unposed picture of her, wished her a good day and headed back to work. I sat in my cubicle and I thought about her all day. I scrolled through thousands of pictures, read hundreds of profiles and none of them seemed to be right for her.

“Gotta break the rules, Cupovic,” Tony said, sticking his head over the mutual wall of our cubicle. He was holding up a new plaque. The plaque was for top matchmaker of the region. “Big dinner and party tonight at the Carlton, you going to come?” I told him I would try. “Try,” he said, “you got big plans tonight, Cupovic?” I thought about that for a moment and told him that I might. I stared at the computer screen for the rest of the day and then, left early. “See you tonight,” Tony called as he saw me heading out. I waved, mumbled some remark and headed to the train.

Back home, I poured myself a drink and went to the closet in my bedroom. I dug way in the back and pulled out the solid oak box, carved by the wood nymphs of the sacred forest of the Gods. I placed the box on the bed, and then rifled through my desk to find the key. The gold key. I slipped the key into the lock, gave a turn to the left, then, to the right and the lock released. I stood back, took a deep breath and then, opened the box.

“Hello my dear,” I said as I gingerly removed the bow from its velvet bed in the box. The bow felt light but powerful in my hands. It had been some time since I had handled it but, still, it was familiar and it began to hum as soon as I wrapped my fingers around it. I pulled the string and released it. The familiar twang filled the room and I felt renewed. I was going to do this old school. I was going to ditch the computer, ditch the rule book and go back to my roots. I was determined to find the perfect one for Emily.

The arrows were glowing and I took one out of the leather quiver. I knocked the arrow and drew it back. I felt strong again. I felt at home again. Suddenly my fingers started to shake and, accidentally, I loosed the shaft. It soared out the window and out into the city.

“Oh, that’s not good,” I said, sticking my head out the window wondering where the arrow had lighted. I held my hand out, whistled and seconds later, the arrow was back in my hand. “Where did you go,” I asked and placed the arrow against my forehead. Immediately the image came to me.

A postman handing a package to a pretty housewife. The arrow pierced her heart and instantly, she was in love. She told the postman he looked warm and asked if he wanted to come in for a glass of water. I pulled the arrow off my forehead and threw it back into the box. I would need some practice, I was obviously rusty. I took the quiver out of the box, closed up the box, put it back in the closet and then got online and looked up archery ranges. Tomorrow was Saturday and I decided to spend the day at the archery range.

I would need to be in top shape if I was going to find a match, the perfect match for Emily.

***

“Works a lot better of you actually have a bow and arrows,” a guy said to me the following day as I stood on the range firing arrows at the target. I didn’t understand what he was saying then I realized that my bow and my arrows were invisible to mortals. I must have looked like an idiot standing there with nothing in my hands, shooting at the targets.

“Yes,” I said, “Old … um … Navajo technique. First, you spend time imagining the arrows, feeling the bow in your hands and then, only when you have the feeling perfectly, do you pick up the actual bow and loose the arrow.” He thought about that for a moment and then moved on.

I spent four hours at the range, firing arrows at a target. At first, my aim was awful. I was all over the map. My shoulder hurt, my eyes blurred. I took a break, thought about Emily and went back to it. By the time I was ready to leave, I was hitting bullseye after bullseye. The kid was back. I was ready to get Emily a man.

As I walked out, I noticed the guy who had spoken to me standing on the range with nothing in his hands, going through the motions of firing arrows. I gave him a nod.

***

“Are you sure you’re not stalking me,” Emily said when she saw me at the wedding. I was shocked to see her. She told me that Jenny was one of her best friends. “This is why I wanted to join a dating site, because Jenny met Clyde on one.”

“I know,” I told her, “I was the one that set them up. That’s why I’m here, they invited me.” She loved that.

“Well, then I have the right man in my corner. Are you here with anyone,” she asked and I said no, so she told me that, just to make sure I didn’t uncomfortable, she would be my date. I offered her my arm and we found seats.

The wedding was lovely and they, Jenny and Clyde, were extremely happy.

“We cannot thank you enough,” Jenny said during the reception, “I had seriously given up until I talked to you.” I congratulated her, thanked her for the invitation and told her that she and Clyde were going to have a long and very happy marriage. I could say that because, well you know, demigod. “You need to talk to this guy,” Jenny said to Emily when she joined us handing me a drink.

“I already am,” Emily said and gave me a smile.

We danced, we laughed and I kept my eye out for a suitable man. Just to keep sharp, I loosed an arrow at a bridesmaid and a young doctor. Later I saw them, rather disheveled, sneaking out of the coat room. They giggled as they passed me. I smiled. I still had it.

“Will I see you for coffee tomorrow,” Emily asked as I walked her to her car.

“You will, thanks for being my date, you’re swell.” She laughed at that.

“Swell,” she said said, trying it out, “sounds like dialogue from a nineteen forties film.”

“Nothing wrong with the old ways, the classics are usually still the best.” She agreed.

“I love the classics,” she said, kissed my cheek and wished me good night. As she drove away, I started walking down the driveway toward the train station. As I was walking I passed a couple, standing off the path, partially hidden by the darkness. I thought perhaps they were making out until I caught a piece of their conversation.

“I understand,” he was saying, “I do, believe me and I am happy for you, I just hope you’re happy and, above all, you’re safe.” She was crying and then she hugged him.

“I know you don’t like him but he’s really good to me and he’s getting counseling and … oh, Henry, thank you for being so sweet, you’re a good, good friend.”

A car pulled up, the passenger door opened and the girl hurried to get in. She looked back and threw the man a kiss. Then, the car drove off. I kept walking. I sensed him behind me and when I reached the train station I wasn’t surprised to see him sit down on the bench next to mine. I waved, pointed to his suit and asked if I hadn’t just seen him at the wedding.

“Yes,” he said, “I was there, great wedding. Happy couple.” I agreed. We were silent for a moment and then I asked him if he was a friend of bride or groom. “Neither,” he said, “I was a plus one.”

I poked a bit and he told me his story. Classic nice guy, loves a woman, she, of course loves a guy that is no good for her. He’s supportive.

“–and blah, blah blah. I know, what a rube. What a sap,” he said and laughed at himself.

“I don’t think so,” I said, “honor, care, a true heart, those things, despite what some may think, are still very important. I admire you. I think she is lucky to know you.” He shrugged. “But, I also think it’s time for you to think about yourself and your heart.”

He gave me a look and I assured him I wasn’t hitting on him. I told him why I was at the wedding and gave him my card.

“Really, this stuff honestly works?”

“Sometimes, look, it’s not science, despite what the card says, it’s all gut instinct and … well, it’s what I do.”

He looked the card over and slipped it into his pocket. The train came and we got on board. We rode it back to the city together and talked about life, work, love. By the time we stepped off the train, I knew I had the right guy for Emily. Now, I just had to get them in the same place so that when the arrow pierced him, she would be the first person he saw.

Simple, right?

***

“I found him,” I told her the next morning when I handed her coffee, “he was at the wedding.”

“Which one was he,” she asked. She didn’t seem excited and then she seemed to be playing with me, “he wasn’t the guy that just stood next to the shrimp mountain all night filling his face with shrimp and glaring at anyone who came near?”

“Um,” I said trying to recall that guy.

“I mean, I don’t want to pass judgement it’s just, he wasn’t polite and, well, I like manners. I like a man who is polite, speaks well, you know, a gentleman. He didn’t seem like a gentleman. Especially not when shrimp was involved.”

“No, I don’t really remember that guy, but I assure you the guy I found for you is a gentleman, well spoken, kind and caring. He’s also easy on the eyes.” I smiled and she said aaah and her face lit up. “What,” I asked, “do you know who I am talking about?”

“No, I don’t. It’s just … well, it suddenly makes sense.”

“What does?”

“Why you’re not hitting on me. It’s okay, Eric, I understand now. He’s easy on the eyes. Are you sure he’s right for me and not for you?”

She laughed and walked out of the shop. I stood there not understanding what she meant and then, it hit me. I rushed after her.

“No, I’m not gay … I can be objective, it’s part of my job. I am not afraid to say a man is good looking, doesn’t mean I’m gay.”

“Okay. I mean, I didn’t think you were, I didn’t get that vibe but I just couldn’t … I don’t know.” She stopped but I knew there was more. I caught her arm and turned her around,

“What is it, Emily, tell me.”

“I guess I wanted it to be because … I can’t understand why you’re not hitting on me. I assume because there is something wrong with me, but I don’t want to admit that.” She slipped out of my hand and walked on. “I need to focus on the shop today, Eric,” she called over her shoulder, “I’ll catch up with you later.”

How could it be her, I wondered. She’s … perfect. She is perfect for … someone.

At the office I was sitting in my cubicle wondering about Emily when my phone rang. I answered.

“Hey, is this Eric,” the voice said. “This is Henry, we met on the train, after the wedding, you gave me your card.” For a moment, I didn’t know what he was talking about but then it came back to me, this was Emily’s guy.

“Yes, Henry, yes, it’s Eric, thanks for calling. So, what do you think?”

“I think … why not, right, maybe you’re right. Maybe I need to start thinking about … I don’t know, my own happiness.” I was thrilled. I knew he and Emily would be the perfect match.

“Yes, Henry,” I told him, “we have to make sure we’re happy. Unless we make ourselves happy, there is no way we can make anyone else happy.”

“Okay, now what?” I told him that I had the perfect girl for him, gave him the address of Emily’s shop and told him to meet me there tomorrow at noon. He agreed and the plan was set. Tony stuck his head over the wall.

“Breaking the rules, Cupovic?”

“Going old school, Tony, going old school,” I said and called it a night.

I went home, got the bow and arrows and went back to the range, I truly wanted to be at the top of my game. I truly wanted to make Emily happy. I went back to the range the following morning as well.

***

“Sorry I didn’t make coffee this morning,” I said as I walked into her shop fifteen minutes before noon. “I had a thing I had to take care of.” She was a little cool toward me. I understood, I think, but I was sure that would pass once she met Henry.

“Oh, did you miss coffee this morning?”

“Come on, Emily, you cannot be mad at me, I found your guy.” She stopped putting candy in the case and looked at me, “No joke, perfect guy, he’ll be here to meet you in ten minutes.” She slammed the tray into the case, closed the case and disappeared into the back room. I waited. After a few minutes, she didn’t come back and I got worried. “Emily,” I called into the back room.

“I’m not here,” she called back. I thought that was cute but a little frustrating. The love of her life, was about to come in.

“Okay, well, if Emily is not there could you please find her and tell her that she needs to come back out here because the perfect guy for her … her happily ever after, is about to walk through the door.”

She said nothing. The hands on the clock showed noon. I wanted to be ready. I stood in the corner of the shop, pulled my bow and arrow from under my coat, knocked an arrow and waited. Emily came from the back.

“Eric, do you not get it—” she said and then, it happened. The door opened, I turned and there was … Tony.

“Cupovic,” he called, “you sure you should be in a sweet shop, I mean …” I lowered my bow, my fingers slipped and the arrow flew. It ricocheted off the floor then up and off the brass teapot clock on the wall and pierced Tony’s heart.

“Eric, I asked you a question,” Emily said, coming around the counter.

“Sweet heaven, you’re beautiful,” Tony said and Emily gave him a look.

“Him,” she said, “is this him?”

“No, no he’s not …” the door opened and Henry walked in. “Him, he’s the one, he’s the …”

“He’s what,” Tony said, his face the misty shock of a man who’s been pierced by Cupid’s arrow because, well, he was. Emily started yelling at me, Tony started confessing his undying love to Emily, Henry was asking me what the hell was going on. It was all crazy.

“Wait,” I screamed and everyone stopped. “Listen to me … I am Cupid, the demigod of love. After Olympus, after you guys stopped believing in us, we all had to get regular Jobs.” I looked at Tony. “You met Bacchus the other night, he goes by Buck, runs and is part owner of the bar where you passed out.. Vulcan owns the tire company, Athena teaches women’s studies at City College, Zeus … well, he’s in Hollywood just bagging chicks and me … I work for a dating site. Now, Tony, I just skipped and pierced your heart with an arrow, that’s why you feel the way you do about Emily. Best thing for you to do is go on a bunch of dates with a bunch of different girls and it will wear off. You’re not the one for her so … it won’t stick. Emily, I cannot hit on you because I am a demigod and a couple of thousand years old. Apart from that, I’m also balding, fat, not very attractive and kind of lost in the world. Henry, you seemed like a nice, guy, I listened to your story and I believe that you and Emily would make a great match. So, that’s what’s going on. Henry, I need to shoot you with an arrow and you need to look at Emily and you will fall in love with her and you will live happily ever after. Okay, make sense?” They all stared at me.

“You’re fucked up, Cupovic,” Tony said and handed Emily his card. “You and me … right?” She took the card and he walked out of the shop throwing kisses to her as he left.

“He’s not …” she said.

“No, he’s not, I promise,” I told her, “In fact, I bet he’s over you by end of day today.”

“Um …” Henry said and waved.

“Right, Henry, okay, good, this is Emily, she’s the one for you,” I said, grabbing my bow and knocking an arrow, “I am just going to pierce your heart with this arrow and all will be well.”

“What … um … what arrow,” he asked and I tried to explain that they were invisible. “Right,” he said after a few seconds. “I’m not sure why you’d pick me to play this kind of joke on but it’s not really that funny. Emily, it was nice to meet you but …” and with that he walked out.

I chased him for a few blocks assuring him I wasn’t crazy, that the bow and arrow were real, just invisible. I have to admit, when you’re chasing someone down the street shouting about an invisible bow and arrow, it does sound a little crazy. I finally gave up and went back to the shop.

“Are you insane,” she asked when I walked back in, “that whole speech. You’re Cupid, the demigod of love. Eric, seriously … are you dangerous, crazy or just … I don’t know.” I sat down and had no idea what to say.

“I’m sorry,” was all I could come up with.

“What’s wrong with me,” she asked, “do you really have to make up a story like that just to … I don’t know … just to let me down?”

“No,” I told her, ”I am not trying to let you down, I’m trying to make you happy. And it’s not a story, Emily, it’s true. I work as a matchmaker, following an algorithm and I am not doing well at all. I am lost and I am confused and then, I saw you and it all made sense. I wanted nothing more than to make you happy. I stopped thinking about myself and my misery and my confusion and I was suddenly focused and clear and I only wanted one thing.”

Silence.

“And tell me, Eric, what was that one thing that you wanted?” It all suddenly made sense. It was all so clear and so obvious to me. This time, it was different, this time I didn’t poke myself with my own arrow. This time it was just …

“You, I want you.”

“It’s about time,” she said and then, she kissed me. It had been centuries since I had been kissed and I felt all the decades of being alone, being lost, being confused suddenly drift off into the air. I felt whole again. I felt like me again.

“That was a sweet story, Eric,” she said holding onto me, “you should write that down.”

***

We had a small wedding in a park. All the Olympus folks showed up. Emily was finally convinced that I wasn’t making the story up when Zeus appeared one night in my apartment, raving drunk, with four women and threatened to lightning-bolt my ass back to the stone age if he wasn’t allowed to perform the ceremony. She took it well, I have to say. Bacchus had the reception in his bar, which he won back in a poker game. My mom showed up and had all the single guys drooling. All in all, it was a good day.

At work, I stopped going by the rule book. I kept the bow and arrows under the desk and went old school a few times a month. I trusted my guts again, didn’t need no stinking algorithm anymore and, low and behold, I won matchmaker of the year. In fact, two years in a row now.

In the end, it turned out, I was actually right. People still needed love and passion and they still needed a little push in the right direction. Turns out, so did I. Emily and I are expecting our first child. I hope it’s a boy, she hopes it’s a girl. Truly I just want the child to be healthy. I do hope she has Emily’s brains and heart and her beautiful eyes. I hope the child gets as much as he can from Emily, that would make the child just perfect. Just perfect.

Just between you and me … I do hope he has wings.

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Sexy Stories

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