"So that's what we've done, gotten by, out on the edges of things, where no one was watching us too closely. We have, let us face it and admit it, little influence. We prey on them, and we take from them, and we get by; we strip and we whore and we drink too much; we pump gas and we steal and we cheat and we exist in the cracks at the edges of society. Old gods, here in this new land without gods." Wednesday, at the Carousel
"They brought Anansi with them, or maybe it was Anansi who brought himself, stealing his way across rivers and oceans and seas in song and in stories. They brought him with them in the ships, in the dead generation where the floor was made of board and rolled with every wave, ships that smelled sick and putrid with faeces and urine and salt. When they pushed the still ones overboard into the hurling water they murmured stories about how Anansi could steal death from life itself. When the flesh slapped the waves the blood within the bodies jolted and froze and bled out through mouths and nostrils and unseeing eyes, Anansi followed using the trail of red that mapped out their journeys from there to there, feeding them more stories at every shore and port.
The old stories are the ones that gave him power. The old stories that help him remember who he is, wherever he is, whenever he is, no matter what he is. Anansi the Trickster, Anansi the Tricksky, Anansi the Spider. He wove webs where white men did not expect them, and trapped their hearts and minds and stole their souls to weave more webs. He was not a god who needed fires, temples, sacrifices. Their sacrifices to him were in their voices. Every African man or woman who had to bear the whip or lash who spoke the African word gave Anansi strength. When the ones who were whored or who whored themselves to the white men spoke to their children, it was about the Spider man that they spoke, of tricking and usurping and lying and staying alive. And when the men beat the black words out of them, they framed Anansi in new words, new languages, an old god in a new land.
Anansi and the hornets, the gum baby, the serpent, the leopard and becoming invisible in God's ey----"
Mr Nancy shut the book, sighed, and hit himself lightly on the forehead. Thunk, thunk, thunk. He was alone; no one really ever wandered into an American public library to borrow books about men who were spiders or anything like that. Half of the books were wrong, in any case; the other half were clever lies he had made up himself one way or another. Mr Nancy was surrounded by such books - some of them his own stories, but stacks of them other people's. He'd read every one before, that being the problem. He'd combed Dewy Decimal 0 to 198.5, and there was nothing there that he hadn't heard or told before. A bad time, for a storyteller.
'Crock load of shit, ain't it all?' somebody spoke out from the side of a shelf. Mr Nancy's head shot up - he hadn't heard anyone come up, and when you were someone like him you heard everything on the front stage of the world.
The intruder was wearing a shirt so loud that Mr Nancy felt his eyes would go blind. Expensive stuff, practically dripping with the signs of casual post-war opulence: leather shoes on legs crossed at the ankle. Full, fabricy pants. There was only one way someone like them would've got clothes like those, and only one of them who would want to wear them anyway.
'Loki,' Mr Nancy sighed, leaning back against the shelves. 'Scared me for a moment there.'
'Who else would it be but me, old friend?' Loki grinned, in that way of his that promised nothing but trouble. Troublemaker and troublemaker, the both of them; didn't mean that Mr Nancy couldn't be on his guard. Some men are better than others, and Mr Nancy knew when to bow and turn tail in full flight. 'I've heard things.'
'We all hear lots of things,' Mr Nancy said, playing dumb. Drying up was one thing, getting in with Loki was like grasping the can-opener in one hand and the tin of worms in the other. 'What things are you hearing?'
'That you're looking for something.' Loki uncrossed his legs and pushed off from the wall he'd been leaning on.
'I'm not looking for trouble, if that's what you mean.'
'It'll be fun.'
'Lots of the things you do are real fun, even more of 'em end up with someone in deep crap.'
'We're brothers,' Loki said genially, slapping Mr Nancy on the back and pulling him up from the make-shift stool that he'd made out of copies of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, volumes A through to F.
'From a different mother, I'm pretty damned sure,' Mr Nancy muttered. Better to give in than to even try. 'What have you got?'
'I think I've found your leopard,' Loki smiled, gently extricating Mr Nancy from his comfortable home amidst the shelves (no one, absolutely no one, checked in on this part of the library - Mr Nancy's pillow was some soft cover book with the word harlequin somewhere on the cover). 'And your snake. Two for the price of one. Don't tell me no - I won't believe you, storyteller.'
They left. Later, the book Mr Nancy had pursued was picked up by someone else, who read his tale:
"-nvisible in God's eye. For that was the pact that they had made, and that was what Anansi needed to get, by trickery or crookedness. A jarful of angry hornets; a fairy; spots from a leopard; a great, multicoloured snake. In exchange, the Sky-god would give him the stories of the world in a box, Anansi's greatest joy and desire."
'Huh,' the librarian said, huffing and putting the 38th book he'd picked up from the floor back onto the shelf. 'Weird story.'
New York City, New York
New York was tall buildings and bright white days and leather-jacket-and-hand-gun nights: Mr Nancy didn't like it, and said so. In the daytime kids drew chalk games of hopscotch on the streets and boys jumped almost-naked off bridges or bits of jetty into the Hudson. At night - Mr Nancy didn't want to think about it much. Urbanisation had crept up on him in the last few decades. He liked none of it: the death, the taxes, the ugly motor vehicles, such as the one he was currently in. 'We're in a flashy car going around a bad neighbourhood,' he pointed out, watching the dirty streets and avenues go by. 'I don't like it.'
'You, my friend,' Loki said, eyes on the road and with one hand hanging out the window, a cigarette dripping from his fingertips, 'need to lighten up. I've found you the last two things you need. You should be grateful.'
'I agreed to come along, not to owe you one,' Mr Nancy shot back. Loki laughed at that, turning to blow smoke into the other man's face.
'You're a shrewd one as always,' he said. 'Good to know some people still know how to get around. The two we're going to go see? Salt-of-the-earth human types, as though there's no difference.'
'Some people come from humble beginnings instead of the ending of worlds, Loki,' Mr Nancy said wearily. 'You go around just wanting it all to end, starting fires and knocking people about and making noise all over the place. Some of us just want a nice fire and a couple of good graffiti artists.'
'Not going to be getting any warm blazing hearth here, brother,' Loki said, pulling the car over in some dingy looking car park that looked more like a batcave than anything else. 'Up we go,' he declared, hitting the street and yanking down a rusty fire-escape ladder and clanking up it in his patent-leathers.
Mr Nancy crawled his way up comfortably, finding footholds without even bothering to look, or being worried about the rust and wet. They went up four levels before Loki wrenched back a window and clambered in as if he owned the place. Mr Nancy cautiously followed.
The room they ended up in was cramped. There was light up on the ceiling, and a couple of yellowing lamps, two lumpy looking mattresses on the open floor and a double decked bed with no ladder crammed into one right-angled corner in the single bedroom, which was separated from the main area by a flimsy wooden door that wouldn't stand up to a strong wind. A small kitchenette with a well-scrubbed but stained sink came graced with an oily looking toaster and a haphazard collection of forks and spoons and knives that looked like they'd been meticulously stolen, one at a time, from various very lousy cafes and restaurants.
There were occupants there already, two of them; one dressed like he owned nothing but black clothing in his wardrobe and the other with hair that looked like an ice-cream truck had had a particularly violent accident with a large bottle of multi-coloured chocolate sprinkles.
'I found us a roommate,' Loki proclaimed. Mr Nancy spent the next three seconds processing the fact that the subject of that sentence ("roommate") was in truth his own person ("Mr Nancy"), and that the two strangers were regarding him with the eyes of New Yorkers on the verge of eviction. Give us money, their eyes said, and we'll give you a quarter of our floor.
Gods, weren't they all?
Mr Nancy extended a hand. 'I'm Mr Nancy, boys.'
"Boys" was right. The rainbow-sparkles one looked like he'd fall over if he didn't have his monochrome friend to lean upon. Mr Nancy shot Loki a look. He was getting too old for this kind of fraternisation; either that or he just saw no point in it, frisking around. He had no appetite, and Loki was voracious; they were going to share a single room, nothing good was going to come of this.
'I'm Kets,' the be-rainbowed one introduced himself, getting up from the table he'd been sitting at (it was covered with tarot cards, almost every inch, different decks, too, major and minor arcanas) and extending a hand. 'And that's Tez,' he said, nodding at the grim reader (if it was the black boy who opened the cards) next to him.
'It'll be 300 a month,' Tez said, sullen, 'and no delaying, no rain checks, I don't care if you've got to rob a bank to get the cash, just pay up every third of the month and we won't have any trouble.'
Mr Nancy hadn't been expecting that avalanche of words, so he just nodded. That seemed to satisfy Tez, who returned to flipping open card after card after card. Kets moved and got a small little kettle going on the kitchen stove. 'The usual, Low Key?'
Low Key? Mr Nancy thought to himself, incredulously. If that wasn't either hiding in plain sight or just bad inventing... Loki shot him a grin - smug - and strutted, or maybe he sashayed, over to the kitchenette. Mr Nancy didn't miss the flick of the eyes that Tez sent over, or the half-scowl that materialised on that pale face. He had to admire Loki's mastery, and also how much of a bastard "Low Key" could be. Ten minutes in and he was making small take at the stove, digging for teabags like he knew where everything was.
He turned his attention to the boy at the table instead. Pulling up a chair, Mr Nancy put himself in front of Tez and crossed his arms, smiling. 'So it's Tez?'
'Yes,' Tez answered, sliding his hand over the cards on the table. They seemed to shuffle themselves neatly onto the palm of his hand. Easy magic. Tez smoothed his hand back over the table, his white, pale fingers on dark, dark wood. 'Pick a card.'
Mr Nancy picked a card. It opened blank. Tez looked up at him, liquid, feline eyes angry for a moment. He took the card back, and laid it face down on the table. Flipping it open again, The Magician appeared, working grim and steady and printed with old, fading ink. 'What are you?' Tez growled, keeping the cards as though afraid of this sorcery not his own.
'Just like you,' Mr Nancy grinned. 'The cards have nothing on me, kid.'
'Don't call me a kid.' Tez's movements were quick; half a blink and the cards were already gone, secreted away somewhere. Real quiet, too, and subtle.
'You ain't been here long,' Mr Nancy countered, slipping into the game. 'I can tell. No one wants to live in his backwater hole, reading cards and renting rooms to get by.'
Silent resentment sounded across the table. Mr Nancy dug into one of his many pockets, and took out a dog-eared pack of cigarettes. 'Stick with us,' he suggested, offering Tez one and a light. 'We'll stick with you.'
In another state
He found her the way he found everyone. Because he was persistent, and saw a little bit more with only one half of two eyes. How he found her didn't matter - only that he did.
Wednesday trundled into the clinic's waiting area and smiled at the young nurse there in her white uniform. 'Good afternoon to you, my young lady,' he greeted her, since she was manning the registration counter. 'I need to see the doctor.'
'I'm sorry, sir, but Doctor Edna is just about to go. She's seeing her last patient for today.' The girl smiled regretfully at the fatherly old man with the jaunty eye patch and the nice suit. He seemed a decent sort.
'Is she?' Wednesday said, surprise writing itself over his face. 'But it is still ten minutes before when your informative signboard says you close. I hate to impose upon anyone,' he said, 'but my stomach hurts me something terrible, and I thought I'd find someone to look at it if I came here.'
He managed to at once seem both polite, and also unbearably uncomfortable. The nurse bit her lip, looking around. Then she presented him with a clipboard and held out a pen with her pink-painted nails. 'Oh,' she fretted, twisting the edge of her sleeve. 'I suppose one more won't hold the doctor back too much. Just fill that in, sir, and I'll set you right up.'
'Thank you very much,' Wednesday crooned, taking the pen and scribbling down details onto the lines without so much as pausing between each lie. 'My stomach may be a-churning, but a nice young girl like yourself does put a smile on my face no matter the discomfort. Regards to you, good lady,' he said, putting the clipboard gently back into her hands. 'Bless you, bless you.'
She blushed, and scuttled behind some filing cabinets to hide the fact. Wednesday settled into a chair, and closed his eyes for a quiet nap until he heard the door to the consultation room open and shut. He hobbled in as the last patient hobbled out; the poor man was holding an apple in his hand, one of the little trademarks of this particular clinic, a parting gift for good health.
'You'll be my last for the day,' the doctor inside was saying as she made her notes, 'so I'll --' She looked up, and went silent.
'Cat got your tongue?' Wednesday smiled at her, dusting off the chair in front of him and seating himself in it. He took from the neatly stacked basket a curiously golden-skinned apple and took a big bite, crunching loudly as he greeted her. 'Hello, Iduna - an apple a day keeps the doctor away, hm?'
'Marie,' doctor Edna said, distracted, pushing the small window to her side open and calling the nurse to her. 'Marie, you can tidy up and go on home first. I'll finish up in here, don't want to hold you back.'
She waited for the noise and bustle of the girl to fade before she spoke again. 'Wednesday,' she read off the file in front of her. 'Wednesday.'
'That is indeed my name, good doctor,' Wednesday nodded, patting his stomach to indicate himself. If he was in any pain, he did not show it. 'And I've got a question of a rather medical nature to ask you.'
She shifted in her seat uncomfortably, straightening her hair and her white coat as she did. 'What is it?'
Wednesday, adjusting his own cuffs an echo of her motions, leaned forward across her table, getting in close. 'I was wondering, doctor, if it was normal if all - and I mean all, doctor, not just one or two or three but, let's say, hypothetically, ten, eleven, twelve -- I was wondering if it was possible for all the children born to me by any woman and every that I find to share my bed - I was wondering if their all coming into the world stillborn was a normal thing?' His voice was bright, but his one good eye seemed to burn with an inner light.
Edna's breath caught. 'What have you been doing?' she asked, fearfully. 'What on earth have you been trying, Wednesday?'
'I haven't seen you in years,' Wednesday continued in that dreadfully cheerful voice, 'is that any way of answering my question? Tell me, doctor, tell me if that's normal. They say that you're good, really good at helping people live good, long lives. You can tell me this, can't you?'
'Is this why?' Edna replied, as if talking to someone else entirely, her words making no sense against Wednesday's questions. 'Is this why I've been hearing things? All those human girls, Lillith and Isis, and the others? Even the Al Basti - is that what I have been hearing? Dead things born? At first only deformed and now - now getting more and more twisted?' She recoiled from Wednesday now, pushing her chair back.
Wednesday stood, and the clinic seemed to quiet for Edna's tastes. 'I've tried with every woman I can find, every damned type,' Wednesday said quietly, 'from every country and in every colour, from every backwater state and in every expensive hotel, I've fucked in every position and screwed under every phase of the moon and still nothing,' he snarled. 'Nothing.'
'Don't touch me,' Edna breathed, shaking her head. 'Don't come any closer.'
'And then I thought,' Wednesday said, as though Edna had not spoken, 'and then I thought, I've tried everyone - but no one else came from the North, no one else but you.' He stopped in front of her. Edna's back was pressed into the wall. 'It's better if you don't struggle,' he said, bringing a hand up to touch her face. 'I'm desperate.'
Edna shook her head mutely and made small, choked sobs of protest. 'No,' she mouthed, her voice gone. 'No.'
'I've got to have a son,' Wednesday said, bringing his hand to her collarbone, pushing off her white coat, pulling her down and pushing her onto the small medical bed. 'I must have another son.'
New York City, New York
Mr Nancy was not going to get money from Loki. He wasn't even going to ask - asking meant trouble. So he left the kids with the liesmith, and went out in the daytime when the trains were full of people who would pretend to ignore the crazy old man in the gloves and boots spouting myths and legends from memory in a rumbly old voice. More practically, he went out and found a job as a stand-up in an anonymous, smoky bar, telling old jokes to new audiences who found themselves in stitches after every story, but who could never remember what the punch line was the next morning, or even what it'd been about. They paid him enough per hour that he could buy hotdogs and pretzels to get by on in the day, and a lonely pint of beer to get through the night.
He'd take the rattling monster back to the apartment and scamper up three flights each night to see the fruits of Loki's slow but intricate labour. Food started appearing on the counter; the good stuff, too, not the cheap stuff with the Chinese or Thai labels on them. The lumpy mattresses evolved into a lumpy couch and a decent, if trod-upon, futon. The tea started tasting like tea instead of drain water. Tez smiled every once in a while, when he thought no one was watching. Kets was probably already in love for the second time in his existence; slithering here and there from the top bunk to the bottom bunk to Loki's couch, but never onto Mr Nancy's futon.
In lieu of a working television, Mr Nancy told the three stories about everything and anything.
Kets listened enraptured every night, his feathery, outrageous hair framing a curious, creation-young face and eyes. He kept asking questions; why was Tiger so foolishly proud? Why was Spider so deliciously tricksy? He fed off of it, and Mr Nancy fed off of him, and had to avoid Loki's sly gaze in the evenings when he shut the door to the boys' room behind him a little too late in the evenings.
'Taking a liking to him?'
'I don't do what you do,' Mr Nancy replied. But he did, yes he did; he was the partner in this thing, even if he couldn't pull the play quite as smoothly as Loki, he was in on it and wouldn't be getting out.
Loki laughed, and bade him good night and sweet, technicolour dreams.
Mr Nancy's answer was to try to be as decent as possible; it had only been two months and already he felt a bit like filth had gathered on his edges. Stories weren't exactly lies; now he was just telling fibs and that was uncouth, uncultured. He spent a few nights of each week at the stove bubbling up rich, spicy, meaty things which he dolloped onto Kets' plate and poured over Tez's bowl and instructed them to eat, to put some meat on them bones.
They liked him - they liked him and Loki - even more after that, damned stupid children.
One night he came back later than usual, pockets full with tips from a particularly good night out. He shut the door behind him, stamping his feet to shake off the rain, and then stopped.
The living area was dark, but a vertical bar of light shone out from the bedroom. The door, left slightly ajar, revealed a slit of vision: skin, white, beautiful, smooth young skin and dark, dark hair, moving up fluidly and then down again. A moan, and then Mr Nancy caught sight of a flash of pink and green and gold, Kets arching backwards into Loki's hands, gasping softly, mouth agape, arms tied behind his back with Tez working steadily to bind him further.
He tried to turn away, but could not. He watched: Tez moving feline over Kets, pink tongue licking a trail that drew unmuffled groans and tight, high, hot wordless begging. Loki running fingers down Kets' bare back, fingers going lower, lower and lower until Kets was writhing and Loki pushing in and then he really could not look, he had to turn away, but nothing could block out the sound of Kets whimpering like he was being devoured alive, and perhaps he was; his voice hitching up, up, up until it was nothing but a long moan that then turned into a low scream.
Mr Nancy took out a cigarette with shaking hands, went back out the door and smoked in the stairwell until his pack ran out, and then he went out into the rain and walked a square of deserted blocks in the bitter rain before going back.
Loki was dressed and sipping something from a mug in the living area by the time he returned, dripping but feeling far from cleansed. 'I tied up your snake,' the man smiled, voice rough. 'And took the spots from your leopard.'
The door to the bedroom was shut tight. The light was out from under the door. Mr Nancy swallowed. Loki nudged another mug over the table towards him. 'Take a drink,' he said. 'It'll warm your bones.'
There was a tarot deck sitting near the cup, and a few strands of multicoloured hair tied into a single lock. Mr Nancy closed his eyes, and drank. The taste of copper exploded in his mouth; if it weren't for the vague, sick rush of power through him he would have been sick. He finished it in one mouthful, to the sound of Loki somewhere in the background making disapproving noises ("It is better savoured, you know.")
Mr Nancy slammed the bloodied mug back onto the table, swiped the tarot cards and hair off the table, and opened his eyes and said, 'You're a murderer, Loki.'
'Who the hell isn't?' Loki toasted Mr Nancy with his drink. 'It's a dog-eat-dog world.'
Mr Nancy shook his head, putting his things into his pockets. He buttoned up his coat, and walked out of the door and into the night. Loki did not find him in New York city the next day, but then again Loki did not go back to that small, ratty apartment, was not even anywhere near the state when the questionable neighbours finally started complaining about the smell.
Waiting and loneliness are two terrible, terrible things. Companionship in solitude - that is necessary, needed, craved. As it had been, from the first landing, as it had been, by the sea, as it had been, under the tree, as it had been, those hundred years, and the thousands that followed.
Loki arrived at the funeral parlour in a suit and a tie. Mr Jacquel opened the door, his voice a growl of warning before the first word was spoken. 'Get off of our doorstep,' Mr Jacquel said, 'otherwise I will personally make sure my next meal comes from parts of your body which you do not want missing.'
Loki bowed deeply. 'You're a polite fucker, aren't you,' he said, straightening.
'No,' Jacquel said. 'I am not.'
'Who is it?' a voice from inside said. Loki stood on tiptoes, leaning in to look. Jacquel put a hand firmly on the doorjamb, blocking his line of sight, and barring him from entering.
'No one,' Jacquel called back. 'A wanderer. He was just,' he added, 'leaving.' Stepping out, Jacquel closed the door behind him and folded his hands across his chest. 'I've read Ibis' records,' he said to Loki, sharp teeth flashing white as he spoke. 'I know what you've done.'
'I want nothing to do with you,' Loki said, putting his hands up. 'Don't be such a suspicious bastard.'
'State what you want,' Jacquel growled again, getting more and more guttural by the word. 'And then you will go away from this place.'
'I've been listening,' Loki said, waving a finger in the air. 'To the usual channels that we tune into. I smell death in the air, so I come sniffing. Who was it? What was it?'
Jacquel's laughter was a bark, sarcastic and tight. 'You've come all the way to ask that? Only you would have the audacity. Very well. If I tell you, you will leave?'
'I will fuck off just as you want, I swear it on Odin's swinging body and on this country's weak, horrible beer.'
Jacquel was not impressed. 'It was a baby,' he said, deadpan. 'Child of the All Father. It died on its first night, the longest any of his children have lived. Now I have told you what you wanted to know. Go away, Loki. Go far away.'
With his eyes shuttered, Loki tilted his head at the information, and nodded when Jacquel finished. The coroner walked back into the house. By the time the door clicked shut, the street was empty, and there was no sign that anyone had been there to begin with.
'An' then he took their lives, they were snuffed out like candles in a storm, flicker of life that came and then goin', it goin' so, so fast, like it weren't not ever there to begin with at all.'
Mr Nancy liked the heat and noise a lot more than he did the freezing cold of the Northeast. The different quarters all had their own flavours; it was like sampling fine wine every time he found a different cubby-hole to tell a tale and pass the night. They soaked up his words no matter how he chose to say them, and now he had a myriad of stories, almost every story in the world to tell.
He still told the one about two young boys and the demon in the night more often than any other, though. Tiger and Rabbit and Spider made regular appearances, but every once in a while, in every new place, he would have to tell the story about blood and betrayal and greed, and his listeners would listen to his voice spin a web around them, and they could never escape. Truth is the hardest story to flee from, and its magic is long and persistent and almost devilish.
Mr Nancy took the money they gave him and bought himself a bottle from the bar, put it in a brown paper bag, and when he was on the street sipped at it through a dirty old straw.
It was when he turned into an alleyway that he got hit. Not by any crook or small-time thief: Mr Nancy was shoved backwards fast enough by someone quiet enough to take him by surprise. A voice hissed in his ear: 'Tell me where he is, tell me where Loki is or I swear I will break all your eight goddamned legs, Anansi.'
Mr Nancy closed his eyes. 'I haven't seen him in years,' he shook his head. His assailant slammed him against the wall a second time.
'You're telling his stories, stories the two of you shared. Tell me where he is.'
Mr Nancy almost felt pity for the desperate, wandering man. 'You won't find him here. Maybe you'll find him up north, where the snow is. I don't know, All Father. All I know is that he's waiting. He's been waiting a while now. And that he can't be nothing good.'
Wednesday released Mr Nancy and stepped back. He looked like shit. His eye was without its patch, hidden instead behind ragged, oily, patchy hair. He was pale, and when Mr Nancy put a hand out, cold to the touch, freezing in even the Orleans heat. He gave the man his drink. Wednesday drank. 'I'm going crazy,' Wednesday shook. 'This damned godless country is going to drive me mad, is going to have me down on my knees like a whore scraping and begging just to survive.'
'We're all,' Mr Nancy said, 'trying just to survive. Don't go looking, Wednesday. He's nothing but trouble.'
'Up north, you say?' Wednesday said, rubbing his hands together for warmth. 'Up north. Maybe he'll be by the shore. Yes, by the shore.' He laughed, a short, harsh, insane sound that subsided only a few moments later. 'I need to get myself together,' Wednesday mumbled. 'We all need to get ourselves together.'
'The times are changing,' Mr Nancy agreed. He patted Wednesday on the back. 'There's a bar, two streets up,' he said quietly, kindly. He took two dirty fifty dollar bills and put them in Wednesday's hands. 'Nice girls, I hear, and cheap.'
Wednesday closed his fingers around the money. 'We can't keep living like this,' he told Mr Nancy. 'We're gods. We have to fight. We have to fight back.'
Mr Nancy said nothing.
Wednesday closed his eyes, and waited for the shaking to stop.
'I'll remember your kindness, Anansi,' he said when he got hold of himself again. The money went into a pocket. 'I'll remember you when I find a way to fight back. When that happens, I'll remember you.'
'I'll tell the stories for you,' Mr Nancy said. 'If you have any story worth telling.'
Wednesday laughed again, sounding a bit more like himself. 'I'll have a story for you,' he said. 'I'll have a hell of a story for you.'
They parted in that alleyway - Mr Nancy to the next hole in the wall, Wednesday to find himself a girl. Afterwards, Mr Nancy went to sleep.
The All Father did not sleep.
Wednesday went north, on the road to finding gods in America.