3 a.m. No chance of any hapless customer wandering into the entrance of Hell, so the pool table at Lucien’s Bar transformed into a poker round. Clotho sat between Death and Michael; Lucien, Chronos and War took the other spots.
The bartender took everyone’s order, returning with peanuts, chocolates, carrot sticks and sardines.
The game had been lively, a progressive back and forth of winners, when War threw down his cards in disgust.
“You’re cheating again, Lucien!”
“Of course he is,” Clotho said. She gently nudged a mouthful of feathers away with a mute apology to Michael and lit her own slim cigar. “You’re such a poor sport.”
Chronos felt something caressing his leg, winding its way up under his robe. It was quite pleasant – and distracting – but he wasn’t sure if it was harmful or not.
“Lucien, is something under the table with us?”
“Oh, that’s just Jezebel. Is she playing with you?”
Chronos knocked his chair over backwards trying to stand up. “You didn’t tell me she was here. I would have worn undergarments.”
“Sorry. I didn’t know you were Scottish.”
“Come here, sweetheart.” Death reached down and plucked the creature up, winding her around his neck. “No flesh for you to sink your tentacles into.”
The creature’s eyes flashed red but settled down once Death grabbed a sardine out of War’s bowl of munchies and popped it into her mouth. She soon fell asleep on his clavicle, her tentacles winding around his ribs for balance.
“So, are you in?” Michael grinned over at War, who grumbled but picked his cards back up and tossed a chip into the pot.
Trying hard to focus on the game and not on how close he’d come to being maimed, Chronos studied his cards.
“Time, the rest of us haven’t got a lot of it,” Clotho chided. “Are you going to play?”
“Oh, sorry. I’m in.” He tossed a chip and watched it hover in the air. The hourglass on his belt had a tentacle wrapped around it, causing time to sputter and spurt. He sighed and bit into a carrot stick for distraction.
“That does it for me,” Michael said. He laid down a full house and started to reach for the pile of chips. “It’s almost dawn. Back to work.”
“Not so fast,” Clotho said. She spread out a royal flush with a triumphant smile. “Pay up, Lucien.”
He gritted his teeth and signaled the bartender. A box appeared in her hands. She leaned over and gave him an air kiss before throwing a thread and traveling out.
Death chuckled at Evil’s look of consternation. “What are you going to do when your stock of Sumerian cigars run out?”
Lucien groaned. “Quit inviting her to play poker, I guess.”