a little longer chunk this time, couldn’t find a good break around the 1,000-word mark. Enjoy
“We’ve gotta go.” I said after allowing myself a moment to wallow.
“Where?” Cain asked.
“I’m not sure yet, but we need to get everybody together and get ready to roll. If Lucky’s known about this for any length of time, then we can’t be sure what parts of what has happened have been our idea and what’s been his.” I dropped a five on the table for a tip and headed back to the poker room. When we got there Emily had taken her seat in the back corner, and her stacks were smaller than when we had left. There were more green chips, though, so it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I stayed on the periphery of her vision for a minute while she played a hand, and then tapped my wrist where a watch would be if I wore one. She looked at me and Cain, nodded, and picked up a couple of racks for her chips. We met her at the cashier’s cage as she was folding a nice little stack of hundred dollar bills into her front pocket.
“You boys are back early. What’s up?” She asked as we came up on either side of her. Cain and I were both looking around like our heads were on swivels, sure that we’d see Lucky leaning on a slot machine somewhere. It was useless, of course. Nobody sees Lucky unless he wants to be seen, and then you usually don’t want to see Lucky.
“Time to go sweetheart. Did you have fun?” I kept my tone light as we headed for the doors. I didn’t need any interference from casino security if they thought we were trying to muscle the girl. She picked up that something was wrong, and put her arm through Cain’s as we walked. We looked for all the world like a father and a couple of young lovebirds. I put that disturbing thought out of my head, and before anyone took notice of us, we were back out on the street headed toward Cain’s place.
We’d gone about half a block when Emily pulled up short. “Okay boys, out with it. What’s going on? Why did you come back early, and why were you in such a hurry to get me out of there?”
I could see that she wasn’t interested in waiting for an explanation, and checked off impatience as another attribute that she got from Eve. Yes, I know I credit Eve with all the character traits that I find annoying, and that I take credit for all the traits I like. She does exactly the same thing. She blames every hot-tempered moment in human history on me, from the start of wars to hockey fights. It’s a thing we do, so just leave me alone, okay?
“Well, Em, Dad and I had a little conversation and we realized that your friend Luke is someone we both know, only I knew him as Lucien, and the last time I saw him was in the 19th century.” Cain started.
“And I usually call him Lucky, and the last time I saw him was just a few days ago, when I left Las Vegas and started this whole trek.” I continued.
Her eyes got big and her mouth opened in a big, round “O” as she sat down on the stoop of the house we were in front of. I thought for a minute that it was because she had made the leap as to whom we were really talking about, and I guess that was probably part of it. But the rest of it was the fact that the son of a bitch was standing right behind me. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and spun to throw a punch. Lucky wasn’t the pacifist that Michael was, though and he caught my fist in his left hand without so much as a blink.
“Peace, Adam. I’m just here to talk.” He purred in my ear as he slowly forced my fist down to my side. We tend to forget exactly how powerful the seraphim are when we don’t see them do anything out of the ordinary, but Lucky was strong. “Good evening, Cain. Emily.” He inclined his head to each of them in turn.
“Morningstar,” replied Cain with a nod.
“Um, Luke? What’s going on? And why did he just call you…oh.” Emily put it all together pretty quickly, then her hand flashed to outside of her pocket where the money was, as if to touch it to see if it burned her or something.
Lucky chuckled a little at her discomfort. He let go of my hand and took a step back, holding his hands outstretched, palms out at me to keep me from charging him. I had no doubt that he could do plenty of unpleasant things to me, maybe even kill me, but I wasn’t in a place to care just then.
“Relax, Big A. I’m just here to talk. And just for a minute. We wouldn’t want your little poof friend Michael to smell sulfur on you, after all.”
“Alright then, talk.” I muttered, moving slightly in front of Emily.
“That’s sweet, Adam. But really, if I wanted to hurt the child I would have done it long before you ever knew she existed. But anyway, I’m here about the Choice. There are things you should know.”
“And we should believe you why?” I asked with no small hint of sarcasm.
“You probably shouldn’t. But you shouldn’t believe everything your mealy-mouthed sword-swinging nancy-boy tells you, either. Just like me, Michael has his own agenda. And it might not have your best interests at heart.”
“Oh don’t worry. I trust him at least as much as I trust you, pal.” I spat.
“And when, in all the years we’ve known each other, have I ever lied to you?” If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought he was actually hurt at the notion. I had to take a minute and think it through, then I looked over at Cain, whose expression mirrored my own.
“Never.” I said in a quiet voice.
“Exactly. I have never lied to you, Adam. And I haven’t spent the better part of seventy-five thousand years telling you the truth, not always the whole truth, mind you, but the truth nonetheless, just to build up equity so that I can lie to you on a muggy early morning in Louisiana. So will you at least give me a chance to say my peace?”
“Go ahead.” I was actually listening, although I wouldn’t for a second put it past him to be honest for a few thousand years just to set up one huge lie now. After all, he invented the long con, as it were.
“So far Michael has been telling you the truth as well. There is a Choice coming, and it’s another major Choice. But just like me, he hasn’t told you the whole truth. He hasn’t told you what’s at stake, and he won’t. Neither will I.”
“So why bring it up?” Emily asked. “If you’re not going to explain yourself and tell us the consequences of this Choice, why bring it up in the first place?”
“My dear girl, I am the Devil, remember? Torment is kinda right in my wheelhouse.”
“Ass.” She muttered as she leaned back on the stoop.
“Adam, you always did breed the most potty-mouthed children. But where was I? Oh yes, the point. The Choice
Michael is leading you to isn’t the only one coming for you, Big A, and it might not even be the most important one.”
“What the hell are you talking about? I get the whole tormenting obtuse thing, but shit, Lucky, I have no idea what you’re babbling about.” I interjected.
“Your Choice, Adam.” He replied calmly.
“Huh?” My natural eloquence sometimes amazes even me.
“Your. Choice.” He said very slowly and distinctly, as though speaking to a particularly slow first-grader. Eve did that, too, and I can bet I know where she learned it. “Haven’t you wondered why Eve made the Choice in The Garden instead of you? Haven’t you wondered why Cain and Abel both had their Choices so early in life and after all these years, you’ve never had to make a major decision? You know, something that might affect someone other than yourself?”
“Not really, no. I figured not everybody makes the big decisions. And after this long, I just kinda figured that I wasn’t going to have to.” It sounded lame even to my ears, but it was how I’d muddled through for so long.
“Sorry, pal. The father of the human race has a Choice to make, too. And yours is coming up soon. It’s part of this whole trip, and it might be even more important than the one little Mikey has already told you about.”
“Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t he tell me I had a Choice coming? And why won’t you tell me what it is?” I was starting to get agitated, and Cain put a hand on my shoulder to keep me from going completely apeshit.
“He won’t tell you for the same reason that I won’t tell you more. We don’t want to influence your decision too soon. We both want the same thing, for you to choose our side, but we don’t want to make our case until the last possible moment so our arguments stay fresh.”
“Yeah, like there’s any chance I’d take your side in any argument.” I spat at the fallen angel.
“Of course there’s a chance. After all, Eve did, didn’t she? And by telling you a little bit now, while Michael is still keeping you in the dark, I undermine his argument before he ever makes it. Quite brilliant, if I do say so myself.”
He smirked and it was all I could do not to punch him square in the face. It helped that I knew he wouldn’t let me, and I didn’t want to end up with a sore jaw.
“So what do you want with us tonight, Lucypher?” I drew myself up to my full height and addressed him with all the weight I could put in my words.
“So formal, Adam? That was all. I’ve just been waiting for you to find my connection to dear little Emmy here, and thought that would be the most apropos moment for a chat. But now I think you probably want to be on your way, and since Eve got to Cain’s apartment about twenty minutes ago, you should probably go see if your first love and your last one have started the jell-o wrestling yet, don’t you think?” I glanced over at Cain, a little alarmed for his knick-knacks, and when I looked back at where Lucky had been standing, he was gone.
“Dad?” Emily asked from the step where she was sitting.
“I’m a little scared.” Her voice was very small, and when I looked back at her, she could have as easily been fifteen as twenty-four. I held out my hand to help her up, and put my arm around her shoulder as we started walking through the night toward Cain’s place. Our feet splashed through things that were probably better left undescribed as we walked down the suddenly too-empty streets.
“I am too, baby girl. I am too.”