Title: Gin and Cigarettes
Fandom: American Gods
Word Count: 318
Warnings: a bit of drinking and smoking
Disclaimer: Neil Gaiman owns the 'verse. The gods own themselves.
Special thanks to sionnain for betaing on short notice, and for the spooky anecdote that sparked the whole thing. She told me the story of the little girl in the red dress almost two years ago, and I never forgot it. Also thanks to Pele for letting me write about her :)
Wednesday once told Shadow that there were no gods to be found at Disney World. No true numinous power at the shrine of the Mouse. But he was wrong.
They wanted authentic Hawaiian carvings for the hotel, you see. And authentic hula rhythms for the nightly show. Important to fully immerse the guests in the experience. And so it was all letter-perfect.
Far more perfect, in fact, than they could have possibly had in mind. The meticulously crafted icons and symbols, the pounding pulse of the drums, the volcanic rocks strewn along their fake beach (and hadn’t they ever heard not to take the volcanic rocks from their home?), all combined to recreate a ritual as old as the islands, no less powerful for being unwittingly performed. They called her, and she came.
The children, laughing, told their parents of the strange little dark-haired girl in the red dress, who didn’t seem to be with any grown-ups at all, darting here and there among the oversized cartoon characters and the bustling waitresses, and then seeming to vanish entirely.
And by night, once in a while, a pretty young man caught sight of a woman of impossible beauty, black-haired and golden-skinned and whirling madly in a sparkling dress the color of flame. He might have even wandered upstairs hand in hand with her, marveling at the heat of her skin, and lay with her until sunrise. They always left her in the morning, murmuring about wives, girlfriends, children. But here in this strange place she lacked the power to burn these faithless ones to cinders.
But sometimes an old woman would sit at the bar, sipping a glass of gin, straight up. She would bum a cigarette, watching the fireworks show across the lake. “That’s nothing,” she would say with a grin. A snap of her wizened fingers, and the end of her cigarette began to smolder. “That’s nothing.”