While Shadow is waiting for his flight at the airport, a man walks up to the counter, requesting a first class ticket. He seems confused and senile, causing the Airline Attendant to hurry him to first class anyway. Shadow boards the flight and discovers his seat is already taken by someone with the same seat assignment. The only seat left available is in first class, next to the old man who is now coherent and clear-headed, having scammed his way to a first class ticket. He greets Shadow with a Jack and Coke.
They strike up a conversation and the man knows that Shadow had just gotten out of prison. He introduces himself as Mr. Wednesday and asks what was Shadow's downfall. Shadow reveals to him it was small-time casinos and does a coin trick for him. Wednesday tells him he uses people's faith to con them. He passes Shadow a first class toiletries bag and offers Shadow a job. Shadow declines because Robbie is holding a job for him at his gym.
Shadow has arrived at Jack's Crocodile Bar and heads to the bathroom where Mr. Wednesday appears from a bathroom stall. He is still offering him a job and he passes Shadow a newspaper with an article on the car crash. He tells Shadow that Robbie had also died in the accident that killed Laura.
Shadow admits to Wednesday that he is broke and jobless but he'll only work for Wednesday based on the flip of a coin. Wednesday calls Heads and Shadow is surprised to discover it is Heads when he rigged the toss. Wednesday goes to the bar for drinks and Mad Sweeney approaches Shadow to warn him about Wednesday.
Wednesday returns with three shots of mead for Shadow to drink. Shadow takes the first shot and Wednesday tells him the mead seals their bargain. Shadow will be his driver and bodyguard and will hold his vigil upon Wednesday's death. Shadow agrees to $2000 a week on the condition that he won't hurt anyone for fun or profit and that he will quit if Wednesday pisses him off. Shadow drinks the second shot to seal the deal and the third shot as the "charm." Wednesday spits on his hand and they shake.
Sweeney starts pulling real gold coins out from everywhere and Shadow asks how he does the trick. Sweeney tells him it's the easiest trick in the world to just pluck them out of the air. Shadow asks again and Sweeney challenges him to a fight for the answer. Shadow declines, yet Sweeney keeps egging him on. He starts to insult Laura and Shadow punches him in the face. While Wednesday watches, they begin brawling, tearing up Jack's bar and fighting until Shadow blacks out.
Shadow wakes up in the back of Mr. Wednesday's car on their way to Eagle Point. He finds Mad Sweeney's gold coin and Wednesday says Sweeney taught him the coin trick. He cleans up in a gas station bathroom before dropping Wednesday off at a motel and taking Betty, Wednesday's car, to the church for Laura's funeral.
Shadow returns to the motel and pounds on Wednesday's door, disrupting him with a young, blonde woman. He tells Wednesday how Technical Boy hijacked him and tried to kill him. Wednesday offers him occupational hazard pay and doubles his salary. Wednesday promises that he is angry about Technical Boy and has a plan.
The next day, Wednesday arrives at Laura's house after Shadow has finished packing up all their belongings. He asks Shadow if he'll miss Eagle Point. Shadow says no because it was Laura's town. Wednesday tells Shadow that he only gets to be upset for so long because Laura was cheating on him.
They take off in Wednesday's car, Betty, and start driving. Wednesday informs Shadow they won't ever take the highway and will take back roads to recruit various people to attend a meeting in one of the most sacred places in America. Their first stop is Chicago to get Wednesday's hammer.
They stop at a diner where Wednesday is meeting someone. He gives Shadow a list and sends him shopping. After Shadow is finished shopping, he returns to the diner, passing by the man Wednesday was meeting with. Shadow tells Wednesday that Lucy was talking to him from the TV and he thinks he's going insane. Wednesday gives Shadow the choice of either fighting the strangeness or accepting it; either the world is crazy or Shadow is. Shadow asks if this is part of them "reprogramming reality" and Wednesday says that going mad is not the biggest sacrifice to make.
They start driving again and Wednesday discovers a cell phone in the bag of stuff Shadow bought. He tosses Shadow's cell phone and the one Shadow bought for him out the car window, saying, "no cell phones." He tells Shadow his secret to attracting the young blonde women is with "charm." He taps his fingers along the dashboard and the radio turns on.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive at an apartment in Chicago. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Wednesday that Czernobog, who is currently in a field killing a cow with a bolt pistol, will not be happy to see them. She brings them into the apartment and Wednesday presents her with the vodka, romance novels, and binoculars that Shadow picked up from the store. Zorya Vechernyaya downs the entire bottle of vodka before calling for Zorya Utrennyaya to come to the kitchen. She explains that their other sister, Zorya Polunochnaya, is asleep. Wednesday passes Zorya Utrennyaya the books and sets the binoculars down in front of Zorya Polunochnaya's door.
Zorya Utrennyaya makes coffee for Wednesday and Shadow and Zorya Vechernyaya offers to read Shadow's fortune. Shadow heads for the bathroom just as Czernobog returns home. He is not pleased to see Wednesday and throws a lamp at him. Wednesday offers him the cigarettes and herb Havarti but Czernobog still wants him to leave. Zorya Vechernyaya tells Czernobog she already invited them to dinner.
From the living room, Czernobog becomes upset with Wednesday and raising his voice. Zorya Utrennyaya hurries in to shush him so he doesn't wake up Zorya Polunochnaya. Wednesday is trying to get Czernobog to come to the meeting because everyone else will be there and will think Czernobog is weak if he doesn't show. Czernobog tells Wednesday he wants his brother, Bielebog, not him.
They sit down to a terrible dinner of tough meat and soft potatoes, which Wednesday enthusiastically enjoys. Czernobog asks Shadow if he is Black. Where he is from, everyone is the same color so everyone fights over shades. Bielebog has light hair where Czernobog has black hair so everyone thought Bielebog was the good one and it turned Czernobog into the bad one. They are both gray now so there is no longer a way to tell who is light and who is dark.
Czernobog shares how they first arrived in New York and it wasn't so bad but then they came to Chicago and it's not so great. He had to get a job in the slaughterhouse and became a "knocker" on the killing floor. Zorya Vechernyaya opposes him telling cow killing stories at dinner but he continues anyway. He explains how it takes strength and skill to artfully kill a cow properly with a sledgehammer. If not done properly, the cow becomes angry and angry meat tastes bad. He complains about the ease of the bolt gun that makes it so anyone can kill cows now. He asks Shadow if he plays checkers and invites him to a checkers game after dinner and Shadow agrees.
After dinner, Czernobog sets up the checkers board, playing black and they begin their game. Czernobog asks if Shadow wants to see his killing hammer and retrieves it from over the mantle. He explains how blood feeds the hammer, giving it shine, with sunrise blood being the best. Now, his hammer is red with rust but Shadow sees blood pouring off it from the 10,000 kills Czernobog made. They continue playing checkers and Czernobog offers to make a wager. If he loses, then he will go with Shadow and Wednesday to meet with the others. If he loses, then he gets to hit Shadow in the middle of the forehead with his hammer.
Wednesday tells Shadow it's his decision if he wants to make the wager. Shadow considers all the crazy things he has seen in the last few days and what is real and what is not. He agrees to Czernobog's wager and they keep playing checkers. Czernobog starts singing an old song about bitter coffee and a spoon that makes it sweet as he gets more and more of Shadow's pieces off the board. Shadow loses the game and Czernobog declares that at sunrise, Shadow will willingly go down on his knees for him to knock his brains out.
Mr. Wednesday enters Zorya Vechernyaya's bedroom where she is getting ready for bed. He comments on how she has learned to live with less but she is deserving of better. He pours his coffee grounds onto his saucer and asks her to read his fortune. She tells him that whatever he is trying to do, he will lose. They go outside for a walk in the night and Zorya Vechernyaya warns Wednesday that what he is doing will kill him this time. He gives her a kiss to remind her of when they were young. Zorya Vechernyaya pulls away just as it starts raining and asks him angrily what he has done. Wednesday responds with "war."
The next morning, Wednesday asks Shadow if he wants some coffee before they go rob a bank. Shadow and Mr. Wednesday arrive at the bank they're going to rob. Shadow is incredulous and doesn't want to enter but Wednesday drags him along, promising him he won't get in trouble. Shadow notices all the cameras in the building as Wednesday tries to avoid having his face captured. Wednesday grabs a pile of deposit slips and they leave the bank. They walk across the street and Wednesday has Shadow write down the number of a payphone. He brings Shadow a hot chocolate and tells him to "think snow" to concentrate his mind. They head to a photocopy shop as Shadow thinks about snow. While they wait for service, they chat about the many versions of Jesus. Wednesday tells Shadow to keep thinking snow while he makes business cards and posters. Shadow zones out again while thinking about snow before Wednesday startles him, telling him to stop because it's snowing enough now and they don't want to immobilize the city.
They sit down for some lunch as Shadow questions Wednesday about the snow, wanting to know how it happened when the weather was supposed to be clear. Mad Sweeney abruptly shows up, demanding his gold coin back from Shadow because he gave him the wrong coin. Shadow asks him how he did the coin trick before he'll tell him what he did with the coin. Sweeney once again claims that he plucked the coin out of thin air. Shadow says Sweeney can find the coin on Laura's grave back in Eagle Point. Sweeney leaves, telling Wednesday he'll see him in Wisconsin.
Shadow and Wednesday arrive at the bank with Wednesday dressed in a security uniform. He passes a business card to Shadow, reading "A1 Securities" with the name A. Haddock on the card. Wednesday will pretend to be Jimmy O'Gorman. He tells Shadow to do a bit of shopping at the grocery store and wait by the pay phone before he heads across the street to the bank. He places out of order signs on the ATM and night deposit slot and begins collecting night deposits and providing fake receipts to unsuspecting bank customers. The cops pull up and question Wednesday who hands them a business card. The pay phone rings and Shadow answers it as Andy Haddock, Jimmy O'Gorman's boss. They are calling to check up on Jimmy and Shadow reassures them he is supposed to be there, going so far as offering them a job with his security company. The police leave Wednesday to continue with his business.
Shadow is driving while Wednesday counts out the money from the bank scam, paying Shadow his salary. They continue driving back-roads out of Chicago as Wednesday presses Shadow about him pretending that he "cannot believe in impossible things." A wolf crosses the road in front of them, causing Shadow to slam on his breaks. Shadow asks Wednesday directly if he made it snow. Wednesday offers him the choice of either believing he did or acknowledging he is delusional. They go on to discuss Shadow's belief in love and Wednesday's fear of being forgotten.