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Chapter Four

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Let the Midnight Special
Shine its light on me
Let the Midnight Special
Shine its ever-lovin' light on me

–The Midnight Special, traditional

Chapter Four introduces the Zorya sisters and Czernobog, who challenges Shadow to a game of checkers.

Plot Edit

Shadow and Mr. Wednesday eat breakfast the next morning at the Country Kitchen across the street from the Motel America where they spent the night. They discuss Laura briefly and then talk about the route their road-trip will take through Chicago, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

They arrive in Chicago and meet Zorya Vechernyaya, a Russian Slav, outside her brownstone. She tells Shadow about his name that "when the shadows are long, that is my time. And you are the long shadow." She is on her way to buy groceries and Mr. Wednesday gives her an additional $40 to help feed him and Shadow. Mr. Wednesday and Shadow proceed to the apartment where Czernobog answers the door. Zorya Utrennyaya sends them into the sitting room while she gets them coffee.

Czernobog begins relating his past job in the meat business and how he was a "knocker" on the kill floor, taking a sledgehammer to knock the cows dead before slitting their throats and draining their blood. Zorya Utrennyaya returns with their coffee and Shadow excuses himself to the bathroom.

When he returns, Czernobog is angry with Mr. Wednesday for trying to get him to come along with them. Mr. Wednesday says Czernobog should do it for his brother, Bielebog. Czernobog tells Shadow about his brother and how Czernobog was the dark-haired, bad one while Bielebog was the blonde-haired, good one. Czernobog then tells Shadow to play him a game of Checkers.

They start playing checkers and Czernobog wagers Shadow that if he wins, he gets to hit Shadow on the head with a sledgehammer like he used to do to the cows. If Shadow wins, then Czernobog has to come with them on their trip. Czernobog wins the game and Shadow challenges him to a rematch, saying if Czernobog wins again, it gives him a second chance to hit Shadow over the head because he will need it since he is no longer as young and strong as he once was. Shadow wins the second game so Czernobog agrees to go with them and will hit Shadow on the head after everything is over. Zorya Utrennyaya and Zorya Vechernyaya serve up dinner and then tell Mr. Wednesday and Shadow they can stay in their home. Mr. Wednesday pays Zorya Vechernyaya $45 for them to spend the night.

Shadow sleeps on the couch in the sitting room and has nightmares of explosions and dying. He wakes up to see the third sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, awake and standing at the window, star-gazing. She invites Shadow to join her on the roof and he follows her out to the fire escape and up to the roof. She tells Shadow that he was given protection once before but gave it away. She will give him protection again but it won't be as strong as before and tells him to take the moon out of the sky. He doesn't understand so she does it for him and seems to pluck the moon from the sky and gives to him a silver dollar, telling him to keep this one.

The next morning, Shadow wakes up to realize there is no fire escape outside the window, yet in his pocket is the silver dollar. Mr. Wednesday finds him awake and tells him they are going to go rob a bank.

Coming to America Edit

1721

Mr. Ibis writes in his journal about how many of the early immigrants to America were indentured servants and deported criminals. He recounts the tale of Essie Tregowan from Cornwall who was a con artist, thief, and prostitute and believed her good luck was from leaving a saucer of milk out for the piskies. She is eventually caught for her crimes and escapes hanging because she is pregnant and is transported to America instead.

In America, she marries the widowed father (John Richardson) who bought her indenture, raising his daughter (Phyllida) and her son (Anthony) and having another son together (John, Jr.), all the while teaching them about the piskies and other myths of her old country. Eventually, her husband died, one of her sons killed the other and ran away, and she remained on the land with her daughter and grandchildren. One day, while she was shucking peas, "Cousin Jack" from the old world came to visit and she took his hand and passed away.

Dreams Edit

Shadow has dreams of the Checkers games he played with Czernobog.

Shadow has a nightmare of driving through a mine field while bombs are going off and bullets are flying through the air. He is struck by bullets in his lung, his spine, and his shoulder before an explosion ends in darkness. He tells himself he is dreaming even as he remembers that dying in dreams meant death in real life. He doesn't feel dead and is able to wake up.

Coin Tricks Edit

  • Zorya Polunochnaya plucks the moon out of the sky, producing a silver dollar (not an actual trick)

Places Edit

  • Eagle Point, Indiana
    • Country Kitchen
  • Chicago
    • Czernobog's brownstone
  • England
    • Cornwall
    • London
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Ships
    • Neptune
    • Sea-Maiden


People Edit

Notes and Trivia Edit

  • Zorya Polunochnaya gives Shadow a 1922 liberty-head silver dollar.

References Edit

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