Mr. Ibis writes the story of the coming to America in 813. He writes of how the Vikings were low on supplies. They finally spotted land and came ashore, but the land was barren and they soon fought among themselves. The Native Americans kill one Viking and fire warning shots when the others try to enter the forest. They decided to leave but there was no wind to take them away. They carved a totem to the Allfather, Odin, to intercede with the wings, to make Odin look. The leader took out the right eye of each of his men and then his own, but still no wind. They then sacrificed one of their own, burning him, but still no wind. The Vikings finally realized that since Odin was a war god, they would need war. They fought and killed each other and the wind rose up. Satisfied, the Viking left quickly without burning the dead. When they reached their home shores, not a single one spoke of the New World again. A hundred years later, Leif the Red rediscovered the land and found his god and his war waiting.
Shadow Moon lifts weights in the prison yard. His fellow prisoner "Low Key" Lyesmith figures that it's best to be in prison since there's nothing that can be done to them that hasn't already been done. Shadow admits that he doesn't believe in anything he can't see, but there's something hanging over him. Low Key says that prison has a way of keeping people in prison.
Later, Shadow calls his wife Laura and says that something feels weird. Laura says that the trees are budding and there will be leaves on them when Shadow gets back in five days. He asks if everything is okay, and Laura assures him that nothing is wrong. She says that Robbie Burton is coming by and they're planning Shadow's surprise welcome-home party.
That night, Shadow tries to sleep but can't, and twirls a coin across his fingers. The ceiling cracks open, revealing Laura in bed telling him that she loves him. The vision fades and Shadow goes to sleep. He dreams of walking through an orchard filled with human bones, and tree limbs reaching for him. One of them scratches Shadow's face, and then they withdraw to reveal one large tree at their center. A noose drops down... and Shadow wakes up as a guard calls him out.
The guard takes Shadow to the warden's office, and the warden asks him to sit down. Once Shadow does, the warden reviews his record. Shadow was sentenced for six years and served three, and was going to be released in five days. They're going to release him a couple of days early because Laura died earlier that morning in an automobile accident.
Shadow goes back to his cell and prepare to leave. He puts on his wedding ring and goes to the transfer bus. Once he arrives in town, the airport attendant refuses to change his ticket early without a $200 fee. She points out that there's no death certificate to verify his claim that he's going to a funeral, and Shadow remembers Low Key telling him not to piss off airport clerks. Shadow buys a ticket for a flight the next day and waits in the airport. The next day, he calls Robbie and leaves a message that he's coming home for Laura's funeral.
A man, Mr. Wednesday, is at the desk trying to convince the clerk that he has a first-class ticket to see his grandson. Rather than risk a scene, the clerk agrees to get Wednesday in first. When Shadow gets on-board, he finds someone else in his seat and the attendant tells him to take another seat. She finally gives him one in first-class.
Wednesday is sitting nearby and tells Shadow that it must be his lucky day. He refuses to give up his drink to the flight attendant, and tells her to pour Shadow a drink as well. The plane lifts off and Shadow clutches at the armrest. He admits that he's never flown before, and Wednesday hands him his drink and tells him to relax. Shadow admits that Wednesday is the first person he talked to who isn't an asshole and takes the drink. The ex-con congratulates him on using sympathy to get the upgrade, and Wednesday cheerfully admits that he did. Wednesday asks what Shadow would have done, and Shadow discusses other cons. The older man figure that Shadow is an ex-con and lost something vital in prison. He asks what Shadow's name is, and Shadow admits that he had a hippy parent.
Wednesday asks what day it is and says that it's his day, and Shadow should call him "Wednesday." He asks what Shadow's weakness was, and Shadow admits that they were casinos. Wednesday says that he has two talents: he can sleep anywhere and eventually gets what he wants. As a storm forms outside, Wednesday talks about how unlikely it is that planes can fly. He suggests that faith may be keeping them aloft, and tells Shadow that he's hiring people for perfectly legal work. Shadow refuses, saying that he has a job waiting for him at his buddy's gym. Wednesday tells him that he doesn't and that he can always use a worker like Shadow. He says that the benefits are great but Shadow still refuses and Wednesday accepts his answer. Wednesday goes to sleep and Shadow tries to relax despite the turbulence.
As Shadow sleeps, he dreams of the bone orchard again and entering a cave. He comes to the great tree and a white buffalo with burning eyes approaches him. It tells him to believe… and the attendant wakes Shadow up. They have made an emergency landing, and Shadow decides to rent a car and drive the rest of the way. He stops at Shakamak State Park, goes to the edge of a cliff, and screams in frustration.
In Hollywood, Mr. Paunch approaches a girl that he's met through a computer dating service, Bilquis. She eventually takes him to her bedroom and he asks if she's sure b because he wants to see her again. Bilquis assures him that she's sure and has him lie on her bed, and they undress. She asks if she's spent, and Paunch assures her that she's perfect. They have sex and Bilquis tells him not to let go yet. She tells Paunch to worship her with his body. Bilquis rolls on top and tells him to treat her as his goddess. She demands that he say her name, and he declares his dedication to her. He pledges himself to Bilquis forever, offering everything he has. Bilquis pulls him into her body and then lies back, spent.
Shadow goes to a bar and a bartender, Jack, gets him some chili. She gives it to for him nothing when he admits that he doesn't have enough money for good and gas. Shadow goes to the bathroom and Wednesday comes out of a stall and talks about marriage, and then offers his condolences on Laura's wife. The ex-convict insists that he doesn't want the job, but Wednesday suggests that he reconsider because of Robbie's condition and Shadow being broke. Shadow wonders what Wednesday knows about Robbie, and Wednesday says that Robbie is dead.
Back at the bar, Shadow reads a newspaper about how Laura and Robert died in the same car crash. Wednesday comes over, and Shadow admits that he's broke and doesn't have a job. He offers to flip a coin to determine if he works for Wednesday, and Wednesday agrees. Shadow flips the coin but says that he read the toss and it's tails. He says that it's always going to be tails because he's never going to work for Wednesday because he doesn't like him. Wednesday says that it isn't always going to be tails and walks away. Shadow glances at the coin and discovers that it's heads, and Wednesday calls back to say they'll negotiate the terms of his employment over a drink. Shadow flips the coin and it comes up tails.
A man, Mad Sweeney, grabs the coin and makes it vanish in his hand. He figures that Shadow is working for Wednesday, and tells Shadow that he's a leprechaun. The coin drops out of thin air, and Sweeney asks Shadow how much Wednesday has told him and if he knows who Wednesday really is. Wednesday comes over and greets Sweeney, and has drinks for all of them. He gives Shadow mead and explains that it's a tradition, sealing their bargain. Shadow insists that they don't have a bargain, but Wednesday points out that Shadow lost the toss. Sweeney plays darts and warns Shadow that Wednesday is hustling him, and Wednesday cheerfully admits that he's a hustler and a liar, and that's why he needs assistant. Shadow tells him that he just wants to go to Laura's funeral and say goodbye, and for that he'll work for $2,000 a week. He'll hurt anyone who tries to hurt Wednesday, but he won't hurt people for fun or profit. If Wednesday pisses him off, then he's gone. Wednesday agrees and tells him to drink the two remaining glasses of mead to seal the deal. Shadow drinks them and Wednesday spits on his hand, holds it out, and says that Shadow is his man now. Shadow shakes and Wednesday tosses him the coin back, saying that it'll be heads.
Sweeney comes over and offers his own coin tricks. He starts producing coins out of thin air, and Shadow can't work out how he's doing it. Sweeney says that it's easy just to pluck them out of the air then do sleight of hand, and offers to fight Shadow for the information. Shadow whispers that he's not fighting him and sits back down. Sweeney offers him a gold coin if he wins, and Wednesday comes over and says that Shadow said he's not going to fight him. The leprechaun sees the newspaper and asks if Laura is Shadow's dead wife, and starts insulting her. Shadow punches him and the two men start fighting. Impressed, Sweeney says that now Shadow is fighting for the pure delight of it. Wednesday watches, smiling, as Shadow beats Sweeney. Sweeney just laughs and asks if Shadow can feel the joy. Shadow tells him that they're done and picks up the coin. Sweeney punches him and says that they're not done until he says they are.
Later, Shadow wakes up in Wednesday's car as he drives across the country. Shadow has the coin and asks if Sweeney taught him the trick. Wednesday tells him that he dumped his rental and Shadow will be driving his car Betty from now on. They stop at a gas station and Shadow goes into the bathroom to check his wounds and burhs his teeth. They then drive to Eagle Point and stop at a motel. Wednesday tells Shadow to take all the time he needs and leaves on his own business.
Shadow drives to the church, braces himself, and goes in. He stands by Robbie's wife Audrey, who greets him and asks if he escaped or they let him out. When Shadow says that Robbie loved her, Audrey tells him that Laura died with Robbie's cock in her mouth. Afterward, Shadow lowers Laura's coffin into the ground. He stays at the grave long after it's filled in and the sun goes down. Finally he asks Laura if it was a one-time thing or if she was going to leave him. He explains that he was going to surprise her with all of the books that he read while he was in prison, and that he wanted to come back better then he went in for her. Shadow tosses Sweeney's gold coin onto the dirt.
A drunken Audrey comes over and says that Shadow missed Robbie's funeral. She pissed on his grave, and figures that Robbie and Laura were together for a long time cheating on both of them. Robbie was castrated in the crash, and Audrey told the coroner to leave it where they found it. She admits that she hated Shadow and Laura as a couple because of how they looked at her, and tells Shadow that there's no closure with the dead. Crying, Audrey tells Shadow that she's sorry for his loss and hugs him. She then suggests that she offer him a blowjob where their spouses can see them, Audrey tries to have sex with Shadow, who stops her. Crying, she hugs him while the coin sinks into the dirt.
Later, Shadow walks down the road. The streetlights go out Shadow sees a glowing cube in a nearby field. He goes over and pokes the cube. It transforms into a small drone and leaps onto Shadow's face. Shadow finds himself in a vehicle facing Technical Boy. Technical Boy tells Shadow not to fuck with him, Shadow immediately agrees, and two faceless drones appear and one hits Shadow. Technical Boy tells him not to fuck with him or he'll kill him, and knows that Shadow is working for Wednesday. He smokes synthetic toad skins and asks what Wednesday is doing.
Shadow tells him that he just started working for Wednesday and he's just an errand boy, and Technical Boy tells him that Wednesday is just history and they are the future. He insists that they have reprogrammed reality and prayers are spam, and Shadow points out that he has no idea what he's talking about. Technical Boy sarcastically offers his condolences on Laura's death, and repeats his question. Shadow insists that he doesn't know, and wouldn't tell Technical Boy even if he did know. Technical Boy tells his "children" to kill Shadow, and more of them appear and attack Shadow. They freeze and Technical Boy says that they're going to delete Shadow, pushes a button, and ejects Shadow out of the vehicle. The robot falls off of Shadow's face, and he lands in the field where the Children continue beating him. They then put a noose around his neck and string him up,
Blood sprays everywhere and the rope breaks. When Shadow opens his eyes, one last Child is sliced apart by an unseen force, and Shadow realizes the ground is covered in his attackers' entrails.
Written by Gadfly on May 1, 2017