Mr. Ibis writes of the gods coming to America in 1697. A spider looks at the future slaves gathered in the hold of a ship transporting them to America. One of them, Okoye, calls to his god, Anansi, asking his god to free him and in return he will sing dance for Anansi the rest of his life. Anansi steps out, wearing a suit, and advises them to take swimming lessons. He then tells them a story: a man getting fucked, because that's the story of black people in America. They have no idea what he means, and Anansi tells them what is waiting for them in America. They will be fucked for 200 years afterward, and Anansi realizes that Okoye is getting angry. Anansi says that angry is good because angry gets things done, and informs them that they are going to face 300 years of abuse and heart disease. Anansi advises them to rise up and kill their Dutch captors. When one man notes that they will all die, Anansi says that they're already die and at least they can die a sacrifice for something worthwhile. He breaks Okoye 's chains, and Okoye grabs tools to free the others. He then sets the ship on fire as the men charge to kill their captors..
Shadow goes to an ER and has his wounds tended to. He then goes to Wednesday's motel room and demands to know what he did. Wednesday lets Shadow in and sees a naked pizza delivery girl on the bed eating pizza. Shadow tells him about Technical Boy's men, and Wednesday claims that he has no idea what he's talking about. Disgusted, Shadow walks off and Wednesday goes after him. The ex-convict explains what happened in detail, and Wednesday dismisses Technical Boy as an asshole. He says that they don't have a clue, and Shadow demands a clue. Wednesday points out that clues weren't in their argument, and notes that Shadow is there. He advises him to chalk it up to occupational hazard, and gives him double pay for hazardous duty. Shadow agrees and Wednesday asks him how much longer he's going to be in town. When Shadow says that he needs a day, Wednesday tells him that they're done there and tells him to enjoy his first bed as a freeman.
As Shadow goes, Wednesday tells him that an insult to Shadow is an insult to him. Just because he didn't lose his temper doesn't mean he's not angry or lacking a plan. Unimpressed, Shadow goes into his own motel room and takes a bath to soak away the pain. He takes off the wedding ring on his finger and sets it on the side of the tub. Later, Shadow goes to bed and dreams of Laura coming in. She assures him that she didn't die and he's just having a bad dream, and Shadow wakes up in an empty room. He lies back, crying.
The next day, Shadow goes to his home and goes inside. There's a "welcome home" sign and balloons up for him, and dirty dishes in the sink. Shadow imagines Laura lying on the bed looking up at him, and then packs away everything. He leaves a box with her personal effects from the crash until last. Shadow finally opens it and looks at Laura's wedding ring, and then finds her phone. There are a number of texts from Robbie, and a photo that he sent of his penis. Shadow tosses the phone back in the box, and goes to work scrubbing the floor until his fingers bleed.
A moving company takes the boxes away, and Wednesday is waiting across the street. He asks Shadow if he's going to miss Eagle Point, and Shadow tells him that it was Laura's town and there are too many memories of her. Wednesday suggests that there's a lot to be said for bottling up emotions, warns him not to knock his teeth in for saying what needs to be said, and tells Shadow that people know that Laura died sucking Robbie's cock. He notes that Shadow is only obligated to feel bad about that for so long, and Shadow thanks him for warning him. before getting into Wednesday's car.
Shadow drives Wednesday to Chicago and notices Wednesday making a coin vanish. Wednesday asks why Shadow practices coin tricks when he doesn't have the personality to be a magician. He tosses the coin to Shadow and tells him to pull off the highway, and says that they will be meeting with people eminent in their respective fields and then they will rendezvous at one of the most important places in the country. First they will stop in Chicago.
Wednesday has Shadow drive to a diner. He tells him to do some shopping for him and gives him a thousand dollars and a list of things to get. Shadow insists that he won't skim anything from him, Shadow goes to a superstore and gets a variety of items, including vodka, romance novels, state maps, and ear muffs. As Shadow goes past the TVs, Lucy in an episode of I Love Lucy looks at him. She calls him by name and says that they need to talk, and everyone in the store freezes.
The woman looking like Lucy--Media--lights a cigarette. Shadow unplugs all of the TVs, but media appears on a screen anyway and explains that she's the one they sacrifice to. The image turns color, and Media says that she hates that they were hurting Shadow. She offers him a job working for her, and "they" are the coming thing. Media tells Shadow that his boss is just selling orange on the side of the road by comparison, and she appears on more and more screens. She says that she was impressed with how Shadow dealt with Technical Boy, and they're all underestimating Shadow. Shadow says that they're done, but Media offers him anything he wants. She warns him that guys like him end up a suicide every time, and disappears as reality restarts.
Shadow returns to the diner and sees Wednesday meeting with a Middle Eastern man. As the man walks out past Shadow, his eyes briefly glow red. Shadow tells Wednesday what happened, Wednesday isn't surprised that Lucy talked to Shadow, and tells Shadow that he's been singled out for unique abuse. He says that it's better to be abused than forgotten, Wednesday tells Shadow that he'll have to decide if the world is crazy or he is. Shadow wonders if they're fucking with his head, and Wednesday tells him that there are bigger sacrifices he might be asked to make then going a little mad.
The two men drive out of town and Wednesday discovers that Shadow has bought him a cell phone. Wednesday tosses it out the car window and says that he misses telegrams. He explains that the states they're heading to have blonde women like he loves, and Shadow points out the girl that was in Wednesday's room the night before. Wednesday tells him that the secret to his success is charm. He touches the dashboard and the car radio comes on., and he settles back to sleep.
In the heavens, a naked man drifts through the void.
In her room in LA, Bilquis lies in her bed, sated on the men and women who have sacrificed themselves to her via sex. Later, she goes to a museum displaying a statue of her from ancient times. Bilquis then goes to a case holding jewelry and a woman's body briefly appears on them.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive in Chicago and go to an apartment building where Zorya Vehcernyaya is letting herself in. She recognizes Wednesday when he calls to her.
In a field, Czernobog kills a cow and goes home.
In the apartment, Vehcernyaya makes tea and complains that Wednesday is bad news. He assures her that he is there on a matter of importance and shows her the items that Shadow bought earlier, for Vehcernyaya and her sister. Vehcernyaya drinks the vodka and calls in her sister, Zorya Utrennyaya, and says that their other sister is still asleep. Shadow offers to help prepare dinner, but Vehcernyaya tells him that he's a guest. She explains that they make money from the slaughterhouse and reading fortunes. Vehcernyaya offers to read Shadow's fortune after tea, and she directs him to the restroom. She warns that her sister is sleeping in the next room and needs her rest. Once Shadow goes, Wednesday tells Vehcernyaya that he's easing Shadow into their world.
Shadow goes to the restroom and sees the gift--a pair of binoculars--that Wednesday has left outside the third sister's door. There's a creaking noise and when Shadow turns back, the bedroom door is closing and the binoculars are gone. He hears a man coughing as he comes up the stairs. Czernobog comes in and Vehcernyaya tells him that they have two guests. Wednesday greets him and gives him cigarettes and cheese as a gift. The old man throws a lamp at Wednesday, who dodges it. Czernobog demands to know why Wednesday is there, and Wednesday says that he's only there to share information and food. The knocker takes the gifts and says that they'll eat first.
Vehcernyaya and Utrennyaya make dinner and refuse to let Shadow help. When he suggests that Czernobog is their husband, Vehcernyaya tells him that Czernobog is no one's husband and she's no one's wife. They're relatives who came over together, and she admits that she's not a good cook. Shadow hands over his tea cup, and Utrennyaya examines the tea leaves. The leaves are in the form of a raven, and Vehcernyaya lies about the fortune she sees. When he doesn't believe her, Vehcernyaya says that his mother died of cancer and he won't.
Czernobog orders Wednesday to go, insisting that he won't leave with him. The others come in and try to shush Czernobog, but Wednesday says that everyone will be there but him and they'll all think they know what "strong" is. Wednesday wants Czernobog there to show them what strength really is, and Czernobog says that he needs his brother. He isn't interested in glory. The third sister calls from her room, asking if anything is wrong. Vehcernyaya says that there isn't and tells her to go back to sleep. Wednesday tells Shadow that they should go, and Shadow points out that Wednesday said that he needs Czernobog. Czernobog insists that they stay for dinner, and they can leave after.
As a storm gathers overhead, everyone eats dinner. Wednesday thanks the ladies for their meal, and Czernobog says that where they're from no one cares about skin color so they fight over shades. He talks about how everyone thought his brother was the good one, so Czernobog became himself. Now they are both gray so there's no point in fighting over color. Czernobog explains that they came to New York and then moved to Chicago, and he had to find farm as a knocker on the killing floor. Vehcernyaya insists that there should be no cow-killing stories at the dinner table, but Czernobog says that it requires strength and speed to kill the cow before the pain travels from the outside to the brain. Now they use a bolt gun and anyone can do it without skill.
Czernobog then talks about checkers, saying that it's honest. He suggests that he and Shadow play checkers after dinner, and Shadow agrees. Wednesday tells Shadow that he doesn't have to play him, but Shadow insists and they begin their game. Czernobog takes the first piece and tells Shadow the game is done, but Shadow says that he's just started. Shadow's opponent asks if he wants to see the hammer he used as a knocker, and takes it down from the mantle. He says that blood feeds it and gives it shine, and the best blood flows at sunrise when the cattle have rested. The hammer head drips blood, and Czernobog says that he killed 10,000 with it. Czernobog sets the hammer down next to his chair and tells Shadow to make his move.
The game continues and Czernobog suggests that they make a wager. When Wednesday looks up, Czernobog tells him that it isn't his game. He then proposes that if Shadow wins then Czernobog will do as Wednesday asks. If Czernobog wins, then he'll knock Shadow's brains out with his hammer after he goes down on his knees. Wednesday warns Shadow that Czernobog is serious and asks how good Shadow is. Shadow asks how badly Wednesday needs Czernobog, and Wednesday tells Shadow that it's his decision.
Shadow accepts the wager, figuring that everything that he's seen is real. He makes his move and the game continues, Czernobog takes the lead and starts singing about the secret of spoons. He finally traps Shadow's last piece between two of his, and takes Shadow's piece. Czernobog says that at sunrise he gets to knock Shadow's brains out after he goes down on his knees willingly, and says that it's a shame because Shadow is his only black friend.
Written by Gadfly on May 8, 2017