Introduction: I tried to re-imagine the story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Iphigenia for modern readers. A funeral pyre isn't the only way to sacrifice a daughter. Troy isn't the only war. I left out Agamemnon and Priam's other children in order to simplify the tale.
A squalid bar lies a few blocks down the street from our apartment. I tell my friends that it has no charms, just cheap country songs and sordid people. But that's where my dad goes every Saturday night. He hears the laughter and music, takes a whiff of the stale air, and happily trudges off to Troy. No "old King Priam" lives there, just Philip the bartender. His wife Harriet cleans and keeps the books. Their adult children help too. Harry and Paul serve drinks; Cassie is a palm reader. Paul's girlfriend Helen entertains customers, while Harry's wife Anna assists their mother.
Dad could stay home on Saturday nights and help me with homework. He could attend church on Sunday mornings too. But my dad sacrifices time with us for a little happiness in that squalid bar instead, before he comes home inebriated. "The nectar of the gods," he calls it. I wish that nectar wouldn't make Dad look so old and tired. Strangers call him "Grandpa" now.
One evening, my mom watches Dad picks up his hat and coat for another trek to Troy. "Allen, you've been going to that seedy bar every Saturday for ten years. I don't know why they call it Troy. It's a dump. Be honest with me, Allen. Is there another woman? Are you cheating on me?"
"No, darling! It's nothing like that. You know I just want to hang out with my friends."
"I don't care what you want to do. Tonight's the last night. I'm getting a divorce – and I'm taking Irene with me!"
My parents have had this conversation for years. Every part's the same, except for that word "divorce" – and what follows it. It's funny that Mom would accuse Dad of cheating. He doesn't know about Aaron. I hated him at first, but I'm used to him now. At least Aaron doesn't frequent bars.
Still, I wait for Dad to say, "Don't do that, Claire, really. I'll only stay an hour. Then I'll come home. You'll see. Tonight's the last night." But he doesn't. Dad slumps his shoulders. Then he hugs and kisses me goodnight. Finally he walks out the front door.
When we first moved here, people thought we were the perfect family. Then Dad discovered Troy. He said everyone else was going and he wanted to join the fun. Yeah, it's been fun.