thrice great hermes
by stanley lieber
hermes was late for work. sl had laid enough traps, diversions, and obstacles to stop a lesser god dead in his tracks. but hermes still had a few tricks up his sleeve. if he’d worn sleeves.
it was a kelly. work one day, enjoy one day off. work one day, enjoy one day off. work one day, enjoy four days off. violet was not going anywhere. today was her day to sleep. as for the following three days...
instead she listened to records. yet another repackaged reissue from the bowie camp. this time, the original 2002 heathen (the rays) ep. expanded at the time of its original release to a full album, against bowie’s wishes, the farce had included unfinished demos, rejected soundtrack submissions, and other odds and ends, all of which had been scrapped by bowie himself before the mastering stage. this was not that. this new release commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of west berlin, indiana, the piece of shit town, population 574, that violet found herself living in. all the weimar shops on the walkway were hawking copies of the deluxe edition. she had bought one, not because it was popular (in fact, it was the fastest selling vinyl of the past twenty-five years), but because she liked the material. "i find i enjoy simply interpreting the songs," bowie had said in a contemporary interview. indeed.
the tracklist proceeded as follows:
3. i would be your slave
4. 5:15 the angels have gone
5. heathen (the rays)
the tracks all fit onto a single side of the record, with the program repeating on side b.
it had been bowie’s first solo effort since 1983, and his last until shortly before his death in 2016. it had comprised the entirety of what he had had to say about the intervening decades. violet once owned a copy of an earlier release, in middle school, and it had helped her to unlock some of the cultural response to the 9/11 attacks on new york and washington, d.c. much later, it had helped her to realize she no longer believed in god.
she’d bought a copy for her son, who already claimed he didn’t believe in god, but she was pretty sure he’d never listened to it.
well, there was always hope.