The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break - Steven Sherill
If you have horns it's hard to pass unnoticed, Steven Sherrill remarks towards the end of his wry, melancholy, beautiful first novel. The Minotaur seems to manage pretty well, none the less. Five thousand years ago, after a secret deal, he sneaked out of the Cretan labyrinth by the back way, leaving Theseus to claim the kill. Known simply as M, the bastard offspring of Queen Pasiphaë and the Bull from the Sea has been wandering about ever since, here and there, doing this and that, keeping his conspicuous head down.
The trailer is old and cramped, not designed for the likes of the Minotaur. He lies in the center of his bed vaguely remembering a time of more space. A time even before beds. But those memories are fleeting, nebulous. They fill him by turns with melancholy and a vague terror. Summer heat, undaunted by night, overpowers the oscillating fan on his chest of drawers. The air is so humid it’s almost visible; the topsail of the boat in the framed photograph seems to flutter. The sheets and the Minotaur’s pajama pants are damp from sweat. A baby-blue chenille bedspread lies bunched on the floor, kicked away during sleep. A dog barks outside his window.
“Buddy! Shut up!” Sweeny yells from somewhere inside his house. Buddy, a wheezing piebald English bulldog, does in fact stop barking. Without looking the Minotaur knows Buddy is pacing back and forth on the concrete floor of his narrow chain-link run. Without doubt he knows that Buddy will start barking again in a few minutes. The dog run is small. The low wooden shelf offers little shade from the sun. Buddy’s only distraction is half of a chewed basketball. The Minotaur understands completely Buddy’s need to bark.