I rested my chin on Death’s shoulder, eyeing the lump of body that lay next to Death’s IKEA kitchen table. “Taking work home with you, dear?”
“Love. Shut. Up.” Death spiraled away into the apartment, hands clasped behind his head. “Tell me the blood didn’t get onto the rug. If it just stayed off the rug, I will be fine. I can handle this if my rug is fine. God, the rug.”
War pushed in behind me to get a better look, still wearing the completely skanky leather get-up she’d manifested to go out with us. She shrugged at the body like huh I’ve seen better and instead turned her attention to Death, who was staring down at the stain on his knock-off Persian rug as if the blood was his own. War said to me, “You’d think he’d never seen a body before.”
War pissed me off as a general rule, so I pretended I hadn’t heard her. Instead, I went into the kitchen area and got myself some pink lemonade out of the fridge. With hollow eyes, Death watched me down half of the lemonade. “Where did that come from?”
“I put a case in the fridge last time I was here.”
“God,” Death said again, as if that was even worse than the blood stain on the carpet.
Death joined me in the kitchen and pulled a pint of ice cream out of the freezer. He shoved a huge spoonful into his mouth and spoke around it. “Right. Because I always bring people back to my apartment to kill them. On my rug. On my frickin’ rug. With splatter up the wall that Clorox isn’t even going to touch. Why didn’t I think of that?” He pushed the ice cream container across the counter and groaned. “I’m not even hungry. That’s how bad this is. I’m not even hungry. For chocolate ice cream. The world is ending.”
“You’re being melodramatic,” I said. I finished my lemonade. “You should have a lemonade.”
“Lemonade irritates my ulcer,” Death said.
Humor crouched beside the body. “Someone had to have shot him. Are you sure you didn’t kill him, Death?”
Death bristled. “I am already the most unfortunate bastard alive, being both Death and the owner of a stained Persian rug, and now you’re intimating that I’m addle-pated as well?”
“Hey,” I broke in hurriedly, patting Death’s shoulder. “No one is calling anyone crazy. We believe that you didn’t do it, my sweet, but I do have to mention two little things. One, Humor’s right, someone had to have done it. And two, no one says ‘addle-pated’ anymore. Sorry, babe.”
Death glowered at War.
“What!” she said. “You don’t think I did it.”
Death made a little hand gesture that indicated it was obvious. “Humor’s never killed anyone. And while Love makes me wish I was dead sometimes, she never manages to actually perform the deed. You, on the other hand . . . ”
While War sputtered and denied it, I got myself another pink lemonade and walked over to the body. It really was an awful rug; Death should’ve thanked whoever smeared blood on it. I poked the body with my pink-toed shoe.
No one else had bothered to notice that the cadaver was still in possession of a gun, nor that a folded piece of paper lay inches from his limp hand. I opened it up and read it while swallowing the rest of my lemonade.
War’s voice was getting shrill in the background. “I don’t think I have to remind you that while War’s deadly, I sort of need you for anyone to actually die. I don’t do anything but make them fight. No one dies without you. And I sure as anything didn’t put some guy in your apartment. I was partying with you guys, remember?”
“Um, guys,” I said. “I think we have a problem.”
Something in my voice made Death shut his mouth before saying whatever he was going to say. And Death being silent made War and Humor silent too. They all looked at the piece of paper in my hand. I spread it out and held it up for them to read it. Despite the blood smeared on it, the block letters were still quite legible:
WE DON’T NEED YOU ANYMORE.
Author’s Note: Sucks to be irrelevant, even if you’re a minor god.
photo courtesy of tanakawho