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Callisto Calling

(Xena Humor)

by Tim Wellman

"Oh, great," Callisto said. "Back on earth and I'm having a bad hair day." She puffed her hair in the mirror, and adjusted her sword. Turning to face the shopkeeper, she threw a loaf of bread on the counter. "Can I have this if I don't kill you?"

"Take it," he said. He threw up his hands and backed away.

"Thanks," she said. "I've always said you can get more with kindness than with hate."

She walked back onto the street and tossed the bread to Joxer, then mounted her horse. Women grabbed their children as she rode by; men averted their eyes; everyone knew Callisto. She took a deep breath, and smiled; it was good to breathe again. She rode proudly through the village, pleased by the whispers of, "Callisto."

"Joxer, keep up," she said, looking back as he lagged behind.

"Yes, Callisto," he said. His voice was calm as he stared straight ahead. He walked faster, till he was by her side.

"Million's of people in the world, and Hades has to team me up with you," she said.

"Yes, Callisto."

"Oh, shut up."

"Yes, Callisto." He stared blankly, showing no emotion.

"Just take me to Xena," she said. She pursed her lips. "Time for the Warrior Princess to take a dirt nap."

"Yes, Callisto; yes, Callisto; yes, Cal..."

She reached out and smacked the back of Joxer's head. He shut up.

She followed him out of town and down a dusty road till it was dark. He looked ahead, not noticing the occasional holes and stones. When he fell, he hopped back up again, continuing to home in on Xena and Gabrielle. Then as they came near another village, Joxer stopped and held out his arm, pointing into the forest.

"Is Xena over there?" Callisto said.

"Yes, Callisto."

She hopped down from her horse, tore off a small piece of the bread, and stuffed it into Joxer's mouth. "Good boy," she said, petting the side of his face. "Good boy." He chewed the bread.

She swaggered through the waist-high brush, then sprang into Xena and Gabrielle's camp, who happened to be snuggling at just that moment. Callisto cleared her throat, and Xena jumped up, dropping Gabrielle like a rock, and reached for her sword. "Callisto!" she said. "Don't you know the meaning of 'can't win'?"

"Don't you know the meaning of 'denial'?" Callisto said, darting her eyes between Xena and Gabrielle.

Xena looked puzzled. Gabrielle adjusted her skirt, then looked for something big to throw at Callisto.

"How did you find us," Xena said. "We were enjoying a nice weekend in the country."

"I have a good dog," Callisto said. "Joxer! Here, boy!"

Joxer came stumbling through the brush, stopping at Callisto's side. "Yes, Callisto."

"What did you do to him?" Gabrielle said, brushing the leaves and sticks from her body.

"Hades enchanted him for me," Callisto said.

"Neat trick," Xena said. "Does he do anything?"

"Joxer, roll over," Callisto said.

"Yes, Callisto," he said. He fell to his stomach and rolled in the dirt.

"Joxer, beg," Xena said.

"Yes, Xena," he said, putting his arms out and sticking out his tongue.

The three women laughed.

"Hey, wait, wait," Gabrielle said. "Joxer, fetch the stick, boy." She threw a branch into the brush and Joxer bounded in after it. In seconds, he returned, holding it in his mouth.

They laughed again.

"I hate to ruin the party," Callisto said. "But I've got another appointment waiting; so, if I could just kill you, I'll be on my way." She drew her sword and held it out in front of her.

Gabrielle grabbed some burrs from a nearby bush and threw one at Callisto. It landed in her hair. "I've got a handful of these, don't make me use them," she said.

"Hey, stop that," Callisto said. She tried to pull the burr out, but it was stuck. "Oh, great. I'm going to have to cut that out."

She turned her sword toward Gabrielle.

"Take that," Gabrielle said. She threw another burr.

Callisto tried to block it with her sword, but it landed in her hair, too.

Xena tried to sneak up behind Callisto, but she turned to face her. Xena looked up at the sky and started to whistle. Gabrielle threw another burr.

"I said, stop it!" Callisto said. She was starting to cry.

Gabrielle giggled. "Yea, make me, you big baby." She threw another one.

Callisto swung her sword at it, missing again. "I'm telling Hades," she said.

"OK," Xena said. "We're sorry." She snickered and looked at Gabrielle. "Quit, Gabie."

Callisto was balling, now. "It's just that if you had this hairdo, you wouldn't think it was so funny," she said. "I mean I brush and brush and..."

"Come on," Xena said. "Sit down and I'll get them out for you."

Callisto tried to smile. She sat down on a rock and Xena stepped behind her. She laid down her sword and stroked Callisto's hair. Then, one by one, she worked the burrs out.

"You know, you really do have nice hair," Xena said. "You just need a little conditioner."

"Thanks, but lately I've been so busy, what with my overwhelming desire to kill you, and all," Callisto said.

Xena ran her fingers through Callisto's hair, then rubbed the back of her hand across her cheek.

"Uh hum," Gabrielle said. "Xena, the burrs are out."

Xena pulled her hands away. "There, all done," she said.

Callisto reached up and touched her tresses. She turned and looked at Xena, smiled, and snuffed her runny nose. She sniffed again. "Is that jasmine you're wearing?"

"Just a little something I splashed on," Xena said. She held her wrist up to Callisto's nose.

"Uh, don't you have to be killing us, or something?" Gabrielle said, trying to get between their conversation.

"Oh, yea," Callisto said. "Well, I've kind of lost my desire, now. The moment's gone."

"Time is so fleeting, touching us softly with it's fingers, then passing through us like a ghost," Xena said, glazing over.

Callisto looked up at the stars and sighed.

"What the hell are you talking about?" Gabrielle said.

Xena shook some sense back into her head. "I know, why don't you join us for dinner," she said. "Eating will take your mind off killing us."

Callisto shrugged. "If it's not too much trouble."

"No trouble," Xena said. "But we may need more food." She paused for a moment. "Gabie, could you run into the village and pick up something?"

"Oh yea, like that's going to happen," she said. She pointed to Xena and then to Callisto. "I know what's going on here; don't think I don't."

"Gez," Xena said. "OK, we'll send Joxer."

"Joxer!" Callisto said. He looked up and cocked his head. "Go into town and fetch something for us to eat."

He panted and pranced around in a frisky mood, then ran through the brush toward the village.

"I'm betting, that's the last we ever see of him," Gabrielle said.

"Well, good riddance," Callisto said. "He smelled and he had fleas, anyway."

Suddenly a loud, booming voice came up from beneath them, causing the ground to shake. "Callisto!"

"Huh oh," Gabrielle said, "Somebody's in trouble."

"I send you on a simple mission, and you spend it flirting the evening away," Hades said.

"I was just..." Callisto said.

"Get back here, now!" Hades said.

"Are you really in trouble?" Xena said.

"Naw," Callisto said. "If you know the right buttons to push, he's a real softy." She stood up and sighed. "It's just the trip home that I hate." She put her arms over her head. "Going down," she said. Suddenly a big hand came out of the ground and grabbed her ankles, then pulled her down into the earth. She waved as she disappeared.

"Not a bad person, really," Xena said.

"Yea, I don't think I can stand to hear your voice, right now," Gabrielle said. She turned her back to Xena.

Xena threw up her hands, then sat silently on a rock, while Gabrielle picked the petals from a nearby flower. In the distance, they heard the haunting sound of Joxer, howling at the moon.

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