Annual Cleopatra Lottery
Spend a Night with the Egyptian Queen!
Enter in person at: 777 Lay Lady Lane
We accept both chance and fate.
The Cleopatra Lottery is run by the Paradise Grant Committee and is in full compliance with the Pussy Pact. All participants enter willingly and with full knowledge that their indulgence rights will be abused.
Jim read the flyer three times before he looked at the man who had given it to him.
“What is this?” he said.
“It’s the Cleo lotto,” the man said. “We run it every year. Winner gets to bury his bone in the Queen of the Nile.” He failed at handing out another flyer. “You must be fresh from the circus if you haven’t rolled for Cleopatra.”
“Yeah, pretty much.” Jim read the flyer again. It was a plain piece of paper, black and white and matter-of-fact. “She’s the one with the face, right? I mean, the thousand ships.”
“You there! Cleopatra Lottery! Lay Lady Lane! Chance or fate, don’t be late!”
Lay Lady Lane was a long shining broadway of neon lights. Marquis flashed the names of history’s most beautiful women. Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Mata Hari, Pocahontas, Brigitte Bardot. There were more that he didn’t recognize – Wang Zhaojun, Madhubala, Hwang Jini – and Jim lost count. Above them all in the center of the broadway Cleopatra glittered.
Jim walked in through the revolving doors. The lobby was crimson and gold. The men in front of him and the ones pushing past him went through one of two doors, above which read Take Your Chances and Accept Your Fate. He went to the help desk.
“First time?” the man said. His nametag said Butch, Angel in Training.
“Yeah,” Jim said.
“Well, it’s pretty simple. You go through that door, you get what’s coming to you. You go through that one, you get something else. It’s like, you walk the path or you roll the dice.”
Jim checked his pocket. The dice were still there.
“What about this bit where my indulgence gets abused?” Jim said, showing Butch the flyer. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“I mean, you’re here to roll dice for a chance to spear the queen and you’re asking me about the fine print.”
Butch, Angel in Training, had a point. Jim laughed, shook his head, shrugged. “Man, sometimes I just want to know what the hell’s happening to me.”
“Tell you what,” Butch said, “Here’s the short of it. Lucy, her whole thing is everybody gets what they want, right? She hates rules. But what’s the first thing you want to do when you get to Paradise? You want to fuck Cleopatra. So Cleopatra’s got, like, millions of dudes trying to fuck her every day. And that’s a shitty Paradise. So Cleopatra rounds up all the scorchers, you know, your Marilyn Monroes and your Joan of Arcs, and they all march on Lucy. And Lucy’s cool – have you met her?” Jim nodded. “Yeah, you seem like the type. Anyway, she sets up this whole infrastructure and assigns a team of angels to field requests, they sort it all out and pass on the good ones. Now Cleopatra just gets an email every week, and if she sees something she likes she can jump on it.
“It all sounds good, except Cleopatra – just Cleopatra – needs a thousand angels to sift through all these requests. There’s a shortage of angels. And there’s millions of dudes that are pissed off because of the selection process – they know damn well Cleopatra isn’t gonna blow some salesman from Alabama. So there’s hardly an angel in Paradise that isn’t on fuck request detail, and everything with a dick is crying foul. I mean, they don’t even have the personnel to do the whole meet and greet thing. People are getting hit by buses, waking up here, they don’t know what’s going on. They’re still clogging up traffic. It’s a fucking mess.
“Finally Lucy comes out with the lottery and the Pussy Pact. She tells Cleopatra and every other scorcher if they spread their legs once a year they’ll get angelic privilege. To the hard-ons, she says you’ve got an eternity to win, if you don’t like it the Truth Road is that way. That cooled everybody off, and we built Lay Lady Lane.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Jim said. “So, this is just saying I might not win.”
Jim said thanks and went to take his chances.
He walked out of the casino, rattling his glossy reds and shitting a grin. He hadn’t lost a roll. The room he walked into was all windows and cushions. Light played on the marble floor. An angel, not in training, greeted him.
“Congratulations,” the angel said. “Please, if you’ll take a seat, fate will present the final challenger soon. Feel free with the fruit and wine.”
“Is Cleopatra –” Then he saw her. She lay draped over a sofa, a bare and tan leg dripping from its side, one arm a triangle behind her head. What fabric she wore was white and pulled taut by golden rings that pressed against her skin. Midnight hair, cropped short, cut straight across her forehead. Blue eyes. They looked at Jim.
“Uh, hi,” Jim said. He aborted a handshake mid-step, failed to convert it into a wave, tried to save it with a scratch and tripped over a pillow. His dice skittered over the marble and came to rest at Cleopatra’s hand. She picked them up and held them in her palm.
“Well?” she said.
“Those are my dice,” Jim said, pointing.
The angel chuckled. Jim flushed.
“Einstein gave them to me,” he said.
The angel snorted.
“They are lovely dice,” Cleopatra said. They were still in her palm.
Jim stepped carefully over the pillow. He stood over her. She saw him look at her breasts. He cleared his throat and took the dice.
The other door opened. A man in a white suit strolled through it. Jet hair slicked over a sculpted head. One hand disappeared into his jacket pocket, the other held a boot.
“There’s at least one man back there,” he said, “who thinks if you can throw a boot, you can change destiny.”
“Welcome, and congratulations,” the angel said.
“Angel,” the man said. “Cleopatra.” A nod for each. To the angel – “So which kind are you? The kind that takes my coat, or the ethereal kind?”
“I can manage both.” The angel took his jacket, and the boot, and showed him to a seat.
“This is a lovely apartment. Say, you there, I’m sure the lady loves the view, but mine’s obscured. What do you say we dispense with flirtation and get down to business?”
Jim realized he was standing right in front of the Egyptian Queen with his ass in her face. He took a breath, gritted his teeth, composed himself. He wasn’t any less of a man than this guy.
“Business it is,” Jim said, and sat down. He could see the angel biting his lip. God he wanted to punch that fucking angel.
“It is customary for the representative of fate to choose the final game,” the angel said.
“I represent myself,” the man said. “Fate’s your word, it isn’t mine. I don’t want any part of it. Besides, I’ve been out of ideas since I woke up in this crazy joint. Let the kid decide, he’s good for it.”
Jim held out the dice. “One roll,” he said. “High roll wins.”
“Short and sweet. I like it. Who’s first?”
He rolled a nine.
Jim shook, blew, rolled. Eleven.
“Yes!” On his feet, fists in the air. “Eat shit, Bogart, the queen is mine!”
Humphrey twirled a finger. “Reel it in, cod slayer. I’d say you should play it closer to the vest but you wouldn’t know how to wear it.” He stood up, leaned over, spoke from the corner of his mouth. “And I didn’t want to say this in front of the lady, but Joe Louis is taking a dive.”
“The unknown soldier is going for a walk.”
“I don’t . . .”
“Your zipper’s down and I can see your testicles.”
Jim coughed and pivoted. With his back to the queen he checked his crotch. It was fine. He double-checked. No Joe Loius.
He turned around and Bogart had her slung over his shoulder. The actor kicked open a window, pulled a gun from his jacket and fired a zip-line into the gardens.
“What the hell, man? You lost! Angel, stop him!”
Bogart give him the dramatic profile, the last look back.
“It was a good roll, kid,” Bogart said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
The two of them zipped out of sight. Jim ran to the window and watched as the actor stuffed Cleopatra into the back of a Packard Super Eight and drove away.
“Can he do that?” Jim said. “Why aren’t you doing anything? You should be doing something!”
The angel was laughing freely now. “Don’t beat yourself up,” he said. “He does that every year.” He doubled over. “The boot!” he gasped. “Oh, I almost died.”
“But I won,” Jim said.
“Eat shit, Bogart! Eeeeeheeeheehehe!”
4 thoughts on “The Face that Employed a Thousand Angels [Jim #6, Short Fiction]”
Intriguing story, reads smooth as cream and you are undoubtedly a very talented writer but your portrayal of women is pretty awful so far. The women in all of Jim’s adventures are merely sex playthings- there for men to “spear” or “bone”. Cleopatra, one of the most important and interesting figures in all of history (you could have done so much more with such a character) has one line and is then whisked off to be stuffed in a car and fucked by Bogart. Please don’t be yet another author to perpetuate the passiveness of women in literature.
I get where you’re coming from, and it isn’t my intention to perpetuate anything, but . . .
This particular story indicts men just as much as it marginalizes women. The idea that heaven came grinding to a halt because all a man can think to do, given limitless possibilities, is bone Cleopatra – well, I think it speaks for itself. There are black holes to explore, instruments to learn, books to finally read, and we say nope to all of that and where’s the line to fuck the queen? So I would argue that the sexes in this story received an equal share of abuse.
That being said, I was sad too when Cleopatra didn’t get any lines. Bogart tends to dominate his scenes. Maybe in the process of rewriting I’ll find a few more, a few jabs to Jim’s ridiculous libido.
So, Einstein dice comes first, Cleopatra lottery second, and golfing with Adolf third. It’s funny how these stories are all out of order.
To be fair, the oldest story appears to be Truth Road, which is both the first and last story. I don’t really mind it. I just view each story as its own adventure with its own message. Trying to tie the stories all together when so much is left out seems like a pain.