Lucie silently stared into the darkness of the room, the room with no light, its pitch-black windows blindly trying to discern the dark side of the moon outside. After a while she said, “I ‘spect I woulda come up to your room whether you said you were impotent or not or whatever reason you just said. Never underestimate a woman’s curiosity. But all’s I can say is, that was the most fun I ever had with a boy who never once tried to haul my ashes.” She patted his thigh. He didn’t move. She squeezed him; still nothing, so she pinched him.
James sat up. “I suppose that’s a compliment,” he said.
“You might be a shaman, but you surely aren’t the master of flattery,” Lucie retorted.
“You’re beautiful, Lucie, from the top of your head to your tiny little toes. Which of course isn’t the reason I chose you tonight, but still—”
“You chose me?” Lucinda keened. “Like hell you did! I picked you up!”
James clasped his hand over her mouth. “Please! I already told you, be quiet about . . . him. All it takes is a mention like that and he’ll be standing here in front of us, churning out fire and brimstone and sulphurous gaseous farts!”
Lucinda, quivering, pulled the bedclothes up to her neck. “You mean—I mean, are you referring to—ah, like you mean there’s a real guy with horns and a pitchfork and he’s that angel whose name starts with an L?”
“Why? What’s he want here, you know – here?”
“Why ask why?” said James. “It’s his turf. Always has been, since he got, you know, kicked out of Heaven.”
Lucie stared at James, her eyes filled with the shock of disbelief, her delicate lips forming a perfect O as if she were about to blow a smoke ring, except she didn’t smoke. Cigarettes, at least.
She said, “It’s all real? God, and like Heaven? And Jesus and Mary and Moses? And all those Bible stories, you know, the flood or the frogs falling out of the sky, ker-splat, ker-splat? The Good Place, and Eleanor and Michael and Tahani?”
James nodded again. “Which more or less brings me to my reason for being here, with you, tonight.” He shifted on the bed, plucked Lucinda, naked as a newborn baby, from the covers and set her back down in front of himself, the two of them cross-legged like Hindu yogis. He reached out toward her and ran his hand up and down his forearm a few times. An odd-looking tattoo resembling a stylized sun appeared where there had been none a moment earlier.
Lucie cocked her head toward him, looking at the tattoo, then his face, and back at the tattoo. At least it seemed like she was looking at his arm. James pulled the covers up over them. “So?” she said. “You got a tattoo. That’s a very popular thing these days. I myself don’t care to have my pale pellucid pink perfect skin scarred with tattoos.”
“Oh, but what about this?” said James as he took her hand, pulling her toward him. He passed his hand up and down her own forearm, just as he had done with himself. When he took his hand away, Lucie saw a similarly stylized crescent moon.
“Oh my Dog,” she said, running a finger over the tattoo. Big eyes, O mouth all over again. “Is this some of your shaman stuff?”
“Not really,” James replied. “But you do need to understand that you and I have been chosen. These tattoos confirm it. They’ve been here, waiting to be discovered, for a long, long time. I learned I was chosen when I became a shaman. Now I know for sure you are my chosen partner. My spirit guide told me when you sat beside me in the bar that it might be you. I have looked for you everywhere on earth for as long as I can remember. Now my search is over and we can embark upon our mission.”
“But why? Why me?”
James paused, wondering if he should give her his why-ask-why reply again, but decided against it. “Ah, well, there’s no other way to say this, but you and me, Lucinda, we gotta save the world.”
What happens next? A new chapter in two weeks.