Angels in Vegas
by Tom Darin Liskey
met Death in Vegas once. Yep, Death. The real one.
was right after the Great Plague. He was at a casino in Las Vegas, winning more
money than you can imagine. What was so funny was that he really looked like that
Nordic actor who played the Grim Reaper in Bergman’s Seventh Seal.
this Reaper was at a gaming table in a fancy tuxedo with a stack of red chips
in front of him—his black robe left behind in his comp room for the cleaners.
Death had this luscious blonde clinging to his arm. The way she drank her
martini even made me thirsty.
I told him that he really looked like the big screen version of Death, he winked.
“Wow,” I said starstruck.
“Death, it’s really you!”
“Yep, in the flesh,”
he whispered. “So to speak.”
“Because what happens in Vegas
. . .”
got the inside joke that everyone knew.
Death rolled the dice. The Harvester of Souls was on a red-hot streak. The
croupier sighed and shoved more chips his way. Death’s pretty lady friend
cooed and squeezed his arm.
crowd grew around his table. People hollered every time he rolled the
In Bergman’s film, Death played chess.
He played with a knight just back from the Crusades, during a time of
plague in Sweden, or wherever it was. The young crusader was playing for
his life. But so was death. I mean Death was playing for the knight’s
life. The movie was filmed in black & white. It is rife with symbolism.
A former professor called it
gem. Whatever that means.
I asked why he wasn’t playing chess anymore, Death
game. It always ends in tears.”
blonde sighed and clapped her hands. She was coaxing him to throw the dice
again. Then she squealed in delight. It was louder than the ding of the
one-armed bandits across the aisle.
looked at me and shrugged. He was tired of the small talk. Death blew into
his fist. He tossed the dice. They clanked on the green felt tabletop. The
winning streak continued. More cheers from the onlookers. The pile of chips
grew higher. Death’s pretty blonde friend wiggled her fingers at me. I took the
was broke, anyway, and my heart felt like America on the day that Elvis died.
I stepped outside, I saw this really famous TV psychic. This guy used to go on
all the syndicated talk shows to tell audience members what their dead loved
ones wanted them to know. But the “talking-to-the-dead” business went bust
after The Plague. The market was totally saturated.
physic was unshaven and filthy. He had a plastic cup in his hand, pleading for
some spare change from casino goers. The look on his face let me know it was
tough all over.
Darin Liskey spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela,
Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern
Mississippi. His writing has appeared in the Crime Factory, HeartWood Literary Magazine, Live
Driftwood Press, and Biostories, among
photographs have been published in Hobo
Camp Review, Roadside Fiction, Blue
Hour Magazine, Synesthesia Literary Journal, and Midwestern Gothic. He uses images and words for a monthly narrative
at Change Seven.