When I was a student, and I first started applying myself to this writing thing, I started writing short stories. When I was a student, I also watched a lot of Jeremy Kyle. I think you can see what's coming here.
I was rooting through my old short story folder for the original .docs of some pubbed shorts, and came across Phaethon. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever written, and I buried it and forgot about it. Now, 3 years later, I think it's time to share it with you.
Here's the story it's based on, for reference.
“Abandoned by my Dad before I was born - now I’m in trouble he wants a DNA test.”
‘My next guest is a young man who, at just sixteen, has already been in trouble with the law, and even the Gods. He’s here today to confront the father who abandoned him and his mother before he was born. Let’s unravel this; please give a big welcome to Phaethon!’
‘Welcome to the show - take a seat, mate. Now, it’s a shocking headline, this one. “Abandoned by my Dad before I was born - now I’m in trouble he wants a DNA test.” Tell us a little bit about this.’
‘Erm, well it’s like, when I was born, my dad wasn’t there, and my mum brought me up and when I was like, fourteen, she told me he was Phoebus-Apollo and that.’
‘So your dad walked out on your mum when she was pregnant? I mean, did he know she was pregnant?’
‘Err, I’d’v thought he’d’v figured, I mean she says he didn’t use nothing.’
‘And yet he doubts he’s your father? What does your mum say about this; does she have any doubts?’
‘Nah, like she says she was right shocked when she found out cos like all he did was come to her in like a shower of gold and then she was pregnant and she never even shagged anyone ever.’
‘Has there been anyone for her since, have you ever had a father figure?’
‘Nah, she cant stop crying now so I reckon that puts blokes off and that.’
‘Brave lady. So you’ve never had a father figure? Well I suppose that could explain how you ended up in trouble - tell me what happened next.’
‘Well like once she’d told me who he was I went looking for him didn’t I? And I found him in this golden palace-’
‘A golden palace? And he’s never paid child support? That’s despicable.’
‘Yeah, it was well big and he had this crown with bits of sun on so I reckon he was doing right well for himself, ya know? So I says nobody believes he’s my dad cos they think me and me mum are scum, ya no, and if people knew he was my dad then I’d get more respect, int it?’
‘Your dad is a respected figure. Tell us what he does exactly.’
‘Well he’s a god I guess.’
‘Phoebus-Apollo, god who pulls the sun across the sky, controls the day and the night, is that right?’
‘Yeah. When me Mam told me that me dad was a god I thought it’d be Zeus, ya know? Because I know a few he’s fathered, like. He was big at the time weren’t he?’
‘So what did he say when you approached him? Did he have any qualms then about being your biological father?’
‘Nah, he said it was grand and he was happy for people to know I was his, right? But I knew nobody would believe me unless he gave me like some proof, ya know?’
‘Almost a public declaration?’
‘Yeah like that.’
‘And what did he say?’
‘He said that was fine. And whatever I wanted to do, ya know, he was happy for it. Asked me what I wanted him to do.’
‘So he’s gone from being fine with it to denying you’re his son? What went wrong?’
‘To be honest, I couldn’t tell you. I dunno, he’s just suddenly changed, you know?’
‘Well, let’s get to the bottom of this, Apollo is here, let’s bring him out!
applause. some audience members boo before disintegrating into nothingness and dust.
‘Welcome to the show, Apollo, take a seat.’
‘Hello. Well first of all I have to say, he’s talking rubbish, he hasn’t told you the half of it, he hasn’t.’
‘Is it not true you never paid a penny of child support?’
‘And you abandoned him and his mother before he was born?’
‘Now look here, I’ve got a full time job haven’t I? It’s very difficult for me to get time off and I don’t get paid as such, there are just compensations, like divinity and that.’
‘But you have a golden palace! Let me tell you, I may not be divine but there is nothing, NOTHING I wouldn’t do to make sure my kids were supported.’
audience applause. some whooping.
‘It’s not that easy - as I’m a divine being I don’t have access to money. She never came and told me she was pregnant, you know. I didn’t find out about the lad until he turned up on my doorstep.’
‘Your golden doorstep?’
‘My doorstep is golden, yes. But since I found out about him I’ve tried to do my bit, you know. I got in contact with his Mum to see what I could do for her but I couldn’t talk to her. She wouldn’t stop crying.’
‘That’s your fault that is, Dad.’
‘Can you counter that accusation?’
‘That I can. He’s not told you what it is he’s done.’
‘Don’t ask him th-’
‘You’ve had your say, let your dad, if he is your dad, have his. Go on.’
‘Well it was like he said, he comes to me and says “Dad I need you to do something so I’ve got proof and people believe I’m your son”, so I says what do you want me to do? Cos I’m keen to make up for the lost time, you know? So he says he wants to drive the sun across the sky, doesn’t he? Which I can’t really let him do, you know. So he has a tantrum, doesn’t he, that he can’t get his own way, and so being as how I feel guilty for not being there, you know, I give in and let him. So I give him advice on what to do cos it’s tricky you know, the horses pull hard and you’ve got to be on the ball to control them.’
‘And did he listen?’
‘No, he was just sighing and yawning and looking at the horses. I should’ve known
then he’ll be trouble but like I say, I felt right guilty, you know? Well he jumps in and I swear he sets off at a right pace, faster than he should, and I told him to stick to the straight path East to West but he thinks he knows better, you know? Goes haring off all over the place and pretty soon the horses bolted and were going all over the shop.’
‘Then what happened?’
‘Well he went too close to earth and now there’s deserts and stuff where there weren’t before.’
‘Well there’s crops and fields and woods on fire, and oceans drying up, you know? People dying and that, and nothing I can do from where I was. Ends up setting himself on fire, he does, calls out and wakes up Zeus. Zeus gets cross, understandably I reckon, and knocks the carriage over, the boy here falls out, down to earth and into a river, and dies.’
‘You’re dead? You never mentioned that before.’
phaethon looks sheepish.
‘Well, ya know, I was upset, weren’t I?’
‘We’ve all been badmouthing your father and it’s true, he wasn’t there when you were young but you know what? What you did was worse than that. You lied to the show, Phaethon. You lied to my researchers. And you, Apollo, I’m not saying you aren’t responsible. If you’d been there in this kid’s life from the beginning then this would probably never have happened.’
‘If he’s mine, you know?’
‘Well, we’ll soon find out. So what were the repercussions of this?’
‘Me? Ah, well, as I say, the kid over there’s dead now and the famine and deserts and whatnot. But then once he’s dead in this river, his Ma and his sisters keep crying, sisters get turned into weeping willows they cry so much, you know.’
‘Your sisters are weeping willows? You never mentioned any of this before, young man. And my researchers tell me that your friend is now a swan because he kept diving down to see you in this river you fell into. What do you have to say about that?’
‘Well, if me dad had been there, ya know?’
‘It’s time for those all important DNA results. If it turns out he is your son, Apollo, you’re going to have to accept this is at least partially your responsibility. Here we go.’
a hush descends.
‘It says here that Apollo….. IS the father of Phaethon.’
audience applause and whooping. phaethon’s mother can be seen weeping. apollo puts his head in his hands.
‘Don’t look so surprised, Apollo! It’s time you started acting like a father to this poor kid. Our team backstage are ready to help both of you sort this out, but next time you decide to turn into a shower of gold on a woman, put something on the end of it!’