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June 17, 2024

In the Cards

By Lydia Manx

Sissy wanted to tear her black hair out in clumps. Not that it would help the situation any but it sure would go far to keeping her sanity safely inside her head. She was supposed to have been at a meeting but apparently overslept by a day or so. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes she blinked looking around wondering, damn, what day was it? She clicked the cable on and punched in the weather channel. No, she lost two days this time. Fuck.

A brisk knock on the door and very angry shouting from the hallway announced Frank's arrival. She could feel his rage pushing from the other side of the door. He needed to learn to relax before he exploded.

"Go, away Frank!" she yelled while running through the channels, trying to find out what happened. Talking heads spouted nonsensical words while horrors were displayed behind their smiling faces. She just read the scrolling information on the bottom of the screen.

The tornado only had six dead, so that wasn't it. The hurricane missed landfall and dropped live fish on a village. She kept reading and heard Frank let himself in while searching for the rip in time. Then she saw it.

"Fuck me!" Sissy ran a hand over her face. Fifty-two members of a cult of wildflower and love hippies took fatal doses of a toxic Kool-Aid. So unoriginal.

"Would love to, Queen, but I doubt that it would go over very well." He gave her a kiss on the forehead. "I rather like having my head attached. The King would have it on a platter before I could wipe the grin off my face."

"Stop calling me Queen." She snarled and said, "See what your precious King Paul has done? He held me down in the cage for two full days this time. Just so I couldn't stop him."

The newscaster put on a properly grim face and read the words in front of her.

"This just in. Cult figure Marvin Talbot, the self proclaimed Love God, has finally been spotted. Eyewitnesses put him in the area of Las Vegas. More after this brief commercial break." Dancing pills with men and women looked serious about something and Sissy flipped channels again.

"Queen Samantha," Frank persisted, "Why weren't you at the family thing yesterday? I came here and you weren't here. I looked in some pretty scummy places. Even ran into the stupid half-ass biker gang who are supposed to protect you. Momma boys all of them."

"Stop calling me that. Sissy is perfectly fine. Besides the Ravens aren't part of a biker club just some friends of mine." She looked smug.

"Yeah, right they are all branded with those stupid tattoos. You think they would be a bit more original. A bunch of cards -- every last one of them." Frank was being mean but he was right. Sissy never told them to get tattoos but it happened. Ace -- naturally -- had the spade on his bicep. Such a cut up.

"Oh, damn, is Ace still alive?" He had been on watch the night she was sucked into the netherworld.

"No, Sissy, he isn't. King Paul took his head." Frank looked down and then added, "Then he put the head on a fucking platter!"

Yeah, Sissy had problems with Paul. They had been promised to each other by their warring families centuries ago. But part of her responsibilities were to the earth first. Paul, for all his heart, was a soulless jealous bastard. He kept killing anyone who got too close to her. Made any sort of relationships awkward. To say the least. She had men problems. Serious men problems. Ace had been really hot too. Damn it.

Frank shook his head at the rather liquid memory of Ace's head served up on a platter for King Paul. Sissy had to change her list of priorities soon and find some time to be with the King without him having to resort to what was basically kidnapping and definitely mind swiping every time he felt like he'd been neglected. The past year it had been a half dozen times at least that she woke up missing time that he personally knew about from his proximity to them. There probably were more events that he missed due to obligations and the simple need for sleep.

"Well, Sissy, perhaps you could take this coming weekend off and head over to Las Vegas to find that cult leader, what was the Love God calling himself -- Marvin Talbot?" Frank knew that King Paul was going to be there for a poker tournament. He was active in the tournaments whenever they ended up in Las Vegas. If he didn't play, he would stake one of his buddies so he could vicariously enjoy the card play. Maybe they could meet and greet like normal human beings for a change.

He knew that Sissy was going to be in a really bad mood once the loss of Ace hit home. They had been close for years. She wasn't called Sissy because of some family nickname but because she threw hissy fits like the Apocalypse was around the corner when she was crossed. Since most of her childhood was spent being thwarted by various fools and knaves the nickname quickly stuck and became a more acceptable 'Sissy' as she got older and somewhat learned to control her temper. She actually seemed to like being called Sissy, Frank often thought.

"Hmmm, that's not a half bad idea, Frank. I haven't been there in ages. Has it changed much?" Sissy liked the idea of heading over to the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, but between the family command performances and Paul dragging her out of time whenever he got an itch, she just hadn't made it. She wondered how much it had grown like a rose in the middle of the desert. Thorns surrounded the lush beauty. She smiled anticipating a bit of fun for a change.

"Ah, well, how long has it been?" Frank had a vague memory of torrential rains and people screaming, running for the doors at one of the larger casinos last time Sissy and Paul had met in Las Vegas. Maybe this wasn't one of his better ideas. Too bad it was too late.

"A long time! That's it. I'm going." She whirled out of the room while shouting out orders and instructions to the various house servants who hadn't been smart enough to run when she'd been snagged by Paul. Most of the servants took 'sick' days when Sissy was missing because once she got back she was always in a mood. Sissy hadn't hit her insane anger stage yet but Frank well knew it wasn't too far away.

"Crystal? Where the hell is Crystal?" Sissy's imperial tone was rising as one of her favorite handmaidens wasn't to be found. She may not have liked the title Queen but it fit.

Come to think of it, Frank hadn't seen Crystal in a while. Maybe she had run. He knew that Crystal had flirted with the members of the Ravens gang when they were all together but never had seen her and Ace together. With that thought, it was perfectly clear that Crystal had a secret affair with Ace. Frank ran after his mistress, very concerned, since his job was to keep both houses happy, he wasn't sure how Sissy would respond to a relationship between Ace and Crystal.

A blood curdling scream ran through the hallways and he quickened his pace. He rounded the doorway to the library and found Sissy standing over Crystal. The lass was curled in a ball in the corner of an overstuff couch sobbing her eyes out and Sissy was spitting mad. Crystal had a box of tissues in her lap and bits and pieces of discarded ones were scattered around her on the floor. Frank made a mental note to have someone clean that up once the two women were out of sight. They never thought of how much work maintaining a household could be.

"What do you mean you and Ace had 'a thing'? Didn't I expressly forbid you to sleep with anyone in the gang? Didn't I tell you to be a good girl and listen to me? That's it, you are going with me to Vegas. You have to see how to have fun without getting your heart broken." Sissy was calmed by the idea of pulling Crystal with her. Frank was momentarily relieved.

He snuck off to call King Paul's majordomo, Jack, and make sure these two didn't clash in an uncontrolled environment. He shook off any feelings of worry and concentrated on just getting them there in one piece.


The plane trip was decidedly too quick, Frank thought as he viewed the McCarran Airport below him. Dusk was falling and the Strip was already well lit and even larger than he remembered. Crystal had perked up with Sissy's attention and the underlying threat of Frank's presence. He had a chance to pull her aside and told her directly that she had to be on her best behavior, or he would personally see to it that Sissy sent her off to charm school -- one far away and without any men to pester. She put on her best dress, the deep blue one with inset diamond panels, and a large smile. Frank nodded to her and she continued to chatter in Sissy's ear.

The only problem was Frank had been unable to reach Jack. He figured King Paul and Jack had gone ahead to Las Vegas by car. He knew there wasn't good cell phone reception in the desert, so that left him no other option but to join the ladies. He hoped once they hit ground he could reach Jack.

Since they had been in First Class they were the first off the plane. Once they neared the baggage area, he excused himself to use the facilities. They agreed to meet him at the taxi stand and he snuck off to call Jack.

"Jack, finally you answer!" Frank was relieved his call went through unimpeded and that Jack's cell was on for a change. He was very unreliable at times, Frank felt.

"Yo, Frankie baby. Where the hell are you?" Jack sounded like he was talking with a tin can and string.

"In the Las Vegas Airport." Frank could hear crackling.


"The airport. Las Vegas." He was now yelling into his cell.

"Yeah, we are in the airport in Las Vegas," Jack replied.

"What? No, I am in the airport." Frank wondered what Jack had been drinking.

"Fuck, there's Crystal. And oh, damn, Queen Samantha." Jack hung up. Frank snapped his phone shut and ran for the taxi stand area.

He was too late.

"You asshole! How dare you kidnap me? I missed a very important meeting." Sissy was in full hissy fit mode. Thankfully, she didn't have her luggage near but Crystal and Jack were sitting on the heavy bags near two cabs. They both knew they couldn't get between the two without sustaining serious damage. Clouds overhead were pulled into the storm brewing on the ground and Frank was horrified to watch lightning cracking and arcing overhead.

"My lady love. Heart of my heart. You fight this too much. We are to be joined soon." King Paul was definitely a heartthrob.

Other travelers avoided the confrontation. Frank saw a few women grin and nudge their men.

Then King Paul pushed a button on Sissy by saying, "Besides it wasn't a meeting. It was another one of those insipid parties your family is far too fond of having."

Jack and Crystal turned and dove into the waiting taxis. Frank just watched shuddering. There was no turning back.

Queen Samantha stood nose to nose with King Paul and declared, "That is it. This is war!" The few folks passing by were treated to the drama of Sissy striking Paul with a resounding slap. The cards were on the table now and the whole kingdom would suffer. Lightning was now accompanied by a sudden downpour of icy rain. It was like the heavens wept. Frank felt like joining the sky. War was ahead.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2007-06-18
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