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“I pay you fifteen dollars for this?” Thor acted humanly livid when the barber handed him his bill. It was easy though, as he was truly livid to some measure. As if the pain of having to give up his millennia old flowing flame-red hair wasn’t enough, he now had to part with some Earth-money allowance as well. I hope Sif doesn’t hate me for what I’ve done, he exhaled hard at the thought of his beautiful consort, the goddess of the Earth with magical braids. She loved him and his locks beyond measure and was forever devoted to him. And here he was, at the heart of his wife’s dominion, shedding the very locks that she so loved without her consent. The reason? Loki had to be caught and Thor had failed enough times. “Beg, borrow, steal or go in disguise,” Odin had ordered, “Just make sure you get Loki. Or you’ll have a lot of explaining to do.”

“You don’t expect me to pay for your haircut, do you?” the grumpy barber lady asked as she deftly flipped the scissors from finger to finger, her scowl visible to him even through her dark sunglasses.

“No, ma’am. And here you go,” Thorsten gave her a twenty dollar bill, “and keep the change.” Her hostile glare now transformed into a warm smile. “What’s your name, son?” she asked.

“Thor…sten,” Thor heaved a sigh of relief at not having given away his real name and so, himself. Not that telling her his real name would’ve mattered, but such was his disposition. The last thing he wanted was one of Loki’s moles to find him and let Loki get away as was the case several times in the past. His every endeavour to capture Loki was thwarted by his unwillingness to beguile even his enemy, and so a mole always helped Loki – who had no such scruples – to get away. The only way to break the jinx was to shed his Godly appearance and blend in with the mortals. So far, so good. A mortal calling me son, Thor was relieved.

“You are not from around here?”

“No ma’am. I am from another land,” Thor blurted out, his face now pale at having said another land.

“Thorsten from another land. Hmm. Germany?” the lady hauled Thor free from the predicament that she had caused him in the first place.

“Yes ma’am. I am from South Germany,” Thor said in a heavy deep-throated accent, trying to sound German.

“Ah! You sound a little northern. I thought you may be a Hamburger,” she winked.

“That’s gross. I am not a hamburger. I just ate one,” Thor said naively.

“Ha-ha. That’s a good one son. I meant to ask if you were from Hamburg?” the lady couldn’t hold back her laughter.

“Ah! That Hamburger,” he chuckled, “No my dear lady. I am from Frankfurt and I am in a hurry,” Thor started to leave.

“Don’t you want to see if I gave you a good haircut? What’s so important that you need to rush without checking if you look as good as you wanted me to make you? Kids today. They always leave in a hurry and come back to complain later,” the old lady snapped. Here was a German kid in an American barbershop, her shop, not wanting to ascertain if he had gotten his money’s worth.

Won’t hurt. Better to trust the human instruments on their land than my own senses, Thor took a good look at himself in the mirror. She had given him a neat side-part-fade-pompadour with the sides near clean shaven and the top well rolled back off the forehead. His beard was shaved to a fine gradient extending from sideburn to sideburn. That and the grey pinstripe suit he had sourced from an Italian specialist made him look every bit a dapper mortal celebrity and the least bit a fabled God.

“Neat,” he said and stuffed another fiver into the lady’s hands and walked onto the street even as she stood with her mouth agape.

“Electric,” a young blonde lady made a pass at him as he walked past a girl gang. “No, lightning and …,” he stopped short of identifying himself as the God of lightning and thunder and not electricity. What if she’s Loki’s mole too? Thor hurried from the scene, the girls taunting him for being a stuttering stud.

Thoughts of Loki drove him made with rage. Thanks to that spineless wretch who goes about wreaking havoc, I’ve had to burn midnight oil to track him and get here. I have even had to strike a deal with an equally unscrupulous arms dealer for a meeting with him. I have to get him this time, and make him bleed and kneel for his crimes. I’ve lost a lot. My time, my flame like hair, my beard, my armour, my divine apparel and have had to reduce myself to a mere mortal look-alike that even the mortals dare taunt. And for all this, he will pay, Thor gnashed his teeth as he headed to the agreed rendezvous point – a derelict pier in a hidden cove that was used only by the agents of evil.

As he waited for Loki and his team to arrive by boat, he looked at himself in the water to make sure he didn’t look his Godly self. While the shrouding darkness would serve to conceal his identity to a large extent, he didn’t want to take his chances and wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything obvious that would give him away. Loki was a God too and the last thing Thor wanted was for Loki to find out and flee.

Thank goodness I look only like Chris Hemsworth and not myself. There is nothing to be worried about, he told himself although still in a state of feverish excitement. He had seen many a gory battle and not once did he have to get his work done in an ungodly, underhand manner as this time. None of the battles had called him to even bat an eyelid as he slayed hordes of opponents without breaking a sweat. He sat down and took several deep breaths to steady his pounding heart. He then stood up and paced the pier to let the walking keep his adrenaline in check while he waited for the defining moment of his life.

After a while, Thor saw a boat head towards the pier. The boat looked unearthly, emitting nothing more than a hum as its front cut the water effortlessly, setting of ripples that resembled his lost wavy locks. Thor stroked his hair and then pulled his hand back instinctively. I must be every bit a mortal as I can be. Thor started walking towards the edge of the pier to greet Loki, to hold him and then at the least expected moment, capture him.

“You must be Thorsten,” Loki called out loudly while still on the boat, sporting his characteristic sinister smile even as the boat got close to the pier. Thor nodded in acknowledgement and smiled subtly, relieved that his disguise was too good for even his evil half-brother God. He crossed his hands in front of himself and looked on patiently as Loki’s sidekicks harnessed the boat onto the pier and unloaded the consignment onto the plank at the behest of their master.

Patience is the key. I can’t rush now. I can get rid of these mortals in a flash. They can even get away. What matters is, I secure Loki. I shouldn’t rush it, Thor waited with bated breath as the men worked. He even managed to smile at them every once in a while when their eyes met, to appear one of their own.

“Loki,” the evil lord extended his hand towards Thor as he finally left the boat and ascended the pier, his lanky form dressed in black overalls and coasting like a swan, in stark contrast to the muscular Thor in a fitted two-piece suit, moving in measured steps. Thor followed suit extending his hand, more to appear human than as an act of courtesy.

The moment Thor unclenched his fist to shake Loki’s hand, a thunder cracked and a bolt of lightning lit up the moonless night sky, extending from the sky above to a faraway bush on the ground at some distance. And as the men gathered on the pier watched, a mallet – the divine weapon of Thor hidden in a bush – came tearing through the damp air and landed softly and loyally on Thor’s palm as it had done a million times before. Thor was in shock.

“Thor. Run,” Loki screamed and jumped onto the boat with his men. Even before Thor could recover and wield his mallet, the gang got away their, unearthly boat aiding their escape in a flash. The master was gone and so were his accomplices. There wasn’t anyone to even see, let alone catch. Loki had slipped away and so had his men.

A forlorn Thor sat on the pier and wept inconsolably. He now had to kneel in front of Odin. He would be made to explain his failure to the legion of the Gods. Much worse, he had to answer Sif, who he knew would be mad at him for letting a mortal woman to cut her favourite golden tresses off. He would also have to explain why he had to pay her to lose his tresses.

Thor, looking more like Matt Damon now, flung his poor mallet away and wished for once that he indeed was a mortal that didn’t have to go back to Asgard. I’ll make a fine demolition man given how good I am with the hammer.

Oh! The travails of being a good God.

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