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vegasangel.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2017

Angels in Vegas

 

by Tom Darin Liskey

 

 

I met Death in Vegas once. Yep, Death. The real one.

 

It 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.

 

But 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.

 

When I told him that he really looked like the big screen version of Death, he winked. 

 

“Cameo.” 

 

Wow,” I said starstruck. Death, it’s really you!” 

 

Yep, in the flesh,” he whispered.  “So to speak.”

 

But Vegas?

 

Because what happens in Vegas . . .”

 

I got the inside joke that everyone knew. 

 

Then 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.

 

The crowd grew around his table. People hollered every time he rolled the die. 

 

 

 

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 a postmodern gem. Whatever that means. 

 

When I asked why he wasn’t playing chess anymore, Death frowned.

 

“That game. It always ends in tears.”

 

The 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.

 

Death 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 hint. 

 

I was broke, anyway, and my heart felt like America on the day that Elvis died.

 

When 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.

 

The 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. 

 

Tom 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 Nude Poems, Driftwood Press, and Biostories, among others. His 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 photography column at Change Seven.

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