So I realize that this is getting long, we’re in the 30,000-word range now, and it’s feeling like it’s going to be novel-length by the time I’m finished. So I guess my question now is, if I keep posting the whole thing up here, am I killing any chances of getting the thing published later? I didn’t start this journey with an idea towards writing a book, but that’s more and more what it feels like. Meh, if you wanna buy a copy when I’m done with it, you will. If you don’t, you’ll read it here and that’ll be that. Enjoy.
I sat for a moment digesting. I knew Lucky kept tabs on me, and it stood to reason that he had kept an eye on Eve and Cain, too. What I didn’t understand was why Cain had been playing cards with him, and said as much.
“Because we were making money, Pop. We were hustling mining camps for their claims in card games.”
“With Lucypher? What kind of stupid shit were you up to, son?” I started to stand, but sat down at the look in Cain’s eyes. It was a cross between shame and fear, with more than a little resentment thrown in, and a lot of it was directed at me.
“Really? Who was I supposed to pal around with, Dad?” The emphasis on the last word was heavy with sarcasm, and I suppose it was only to be expected. “I was thousands of years removed from any paternal influence, I had murdered my closest relative and best friend, and Mom was in the middle of one her nuttier periods. Besides, Lucien and I had plenty in common.”
“Yeah, that’s what he called himself then. Nobody in their right mind would play cards with a guy named Lucky, and Lucypher was a little blatant.”
“And what in the hell, no pun intended, do you think you have in common with Lucypher?” I was trying to keep my voice down in case the octogenarians sharing the buffet with us weren’t as deaf as I thought.
“The same thing that Mom does, we’ve made Choices. Look, I can’t tell you any more about it. It’s part of the deal I accepted when I made my Choice. Just let that part of it go for now, because I’ve got a feeling before long you’re going to understand it better than you’ve ever wanted to. Suffice to say that Lucky and I have spent some time together in some of the seedier parts of the world, and that we were working together in Deadwood. Of course, what I didn’t know was that Lucky also had other things working.”
“He always does.”
“Yeah. So he had been pumping McCall full of liquor earlier in the day, and telling him how Hickock had been talking about what a sucker McCall was and how Hickock had to give him money for breakfast because McCall had lost his last dollar playing cards. I never did find out what Lucky had against Hickock, but he got McCall wound up enough to walk right up behind Hickock and blow his brains out through his eyeballs. Hickock dropped his cards on the table, a couple of boys went after McCall, and Lucky stole the money in the pot while I sat there with pieces of Wild Bill’s brains splattered all over my favorite coat. After a couple minutes’ shock I ran out into the street and grabbed Lucky. I pulled him into an alley and asked him what the hell he was doing. He said that he was done with Hickock, done with McCall and done with the West. He said he had bigger things to do in Europe and needed a little seed money to get him there. He left me with half our winnings, a coat matted with blood and brains and a stupid look on my face. I didn’t see him again until Germany.”
“Germany?” I asked.
“Another time, Dad. The point is, he told me the same thing he told Emily, you never leave while game’s still good. And judging by the look on your face, he’s said the same thing to you more than once.”
“Yeah. We played Glic once or twice in France, and Lucky always had a sense for when the game was good, when you could take down a hand just by vying at the right time, and who at the table was not terribly attached to their money. I always wondered what he wanted with the money. It’s not like he needs it.”
“I asked once. He said it’s just a way to keep score. The money itself only matters in that it means something to the guy you’re taking it from.”
“That sounds like Lucky.”
“Yeah. But what does he want with Emily? He had to know who she was, and he had to know that eventually you’d find out he’d been around her, and that you’d be pissed.”
“True, but would he care? It’s not like I can hurt him, Cain. Nobody can. At least nobody that was born here.”
“No, you’re probably right. But then why mess with her? She’s just a normal kid. It’s not like she’s one of us.”
“Maybe not, but he’d know that she mattered to me, and he’s always loved screwing with the things that I care about.” I leaned back in the booth and sipped on a Coke. None of this made sense. I’d spent enough time around Lucky over the centuries to start to think I had an idea how he thought, but this had me completely stumped. It’s like he knew I’d find her, like he…I sat bolt upright as the thought hit me. “He knew!”
“He knew this was coming! He knew that we’d all get together, that I’d see Emily together, that I’d have to come for Eve, that I’d find out that he’d been messing with the kid, all of it. The bastard probably set up the whole mess in Vegas that sent me to her in the first place.” I let out a low whistle at the way he’d played me. Again. After all this time, just when I thought I was getting to a point where I could see his moves, and he’d checkmated me again.