Uzume and Ms. Cosmetic – An American Gods Story

The strip club was fairly sparsely populated but it was that definitely the usual for a Thursday afternoon. Cigarette smoke hung in the air even though it had been banned from bars and restaurants years ago. There was also the smell of a little bit of cannabis in the air which was definitely not legal in Virginia. The owner did not really care about it. The place was out of the way enough that he got away with it. There was also the smell of stale beer. This was all mixed with the desperate and futile use of air freshener spray. There was the usual constant pulsing of music and the flashing of lights. Despite this, there was not much energy in the place either from the performers or their audience.

As the clock ticked over to one in the afternoon, the DJ roused himself and looked at his list. His face brightened as he saw the stripper scheduled for the next set. He flipped a switch and turned his microphone on.

“Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the fabulous shining star of the Sunset Lounge,” the DJ said. “You know her, you love her, put your hands together for Suzie!”

He started to pump the music again, a sort of JPop and Trap blend that was high energy and very happy. A young Japanese woman took the stage like light and lightning personified. She moved fast and with a joy that shone like the sun. Unlike the other girls, she seemed to really like what she was doing. She brought the energy to the room and soon the small crowd was clapping, banging on tables, cheering her on, and, most importantly, showering the stage with money. Suzie took off her clothes without a shred of reluctance or embarrassment. She was a complete professional.

As her set was ending, Suzie noticed that a strange woman had sat down at one of the tables. The woman was staring intently less like she was watching a stripper and more like she was studying a painting or taking inventory in a shop. It only threw off Suzie for a moment but it unnerved her. She ended her set and went to the back. She threw on a robe and headed into the hallway to go get some tea. However, the strange woman was in the hallway. She was very angular and overly perfect and completely unreal. Suzie led the woman through the back door and out behind the dumpster.

“What do you want?” Suzie asked. “You’re one of those new gods, aren’t you?”

“I am,” the woman said. “You’re Uzume, no?”

Suzie shrugged but nodded. “Yes but I don’t trust you,” Suzie said. “I don’t want you here.”

“That was all Loki and Odin,” the woman said. “There is no real conflict between the old gods and the new gods.”

“Still, you creep me out,” Suzie said. “What’s your name?”

“We don’t really do names like you old gods,” the woman said. “You can call me Ms. Cosmetic.”

“I can guess what your goddess of,” Suzie said with a smirk. “What do you want from me?”

“I’m here in the spirit of new cooperation,” Ms. Cosmetic said. “If you are not returning across the sea with other old gods, I have a proposal for you.”

Suzie sighed and shrugged. “I don’t think I’ll like it,” she said. “but go on.”

“I could make you beautiful,” Ms. Cosmetic said. “I can make you glorious. I have connections with Media, we could make you a new global face. More than a supermodel. You would be a deity model.”

Suzie laughed and shook her head. “I’m not the goddess of beauty, I’m the goddess of laughter, happiness, and revelry,” she said. “This is all-natural and it’s going to stay that way.”

“Suit yourself,” Ms. Cosmetic said, clearly disappointed.

“No offense,” Suzie said. “but you’d be better suited going after car crash victims, burn victims, cancer survivors, and so many more people who really need you.”

“It’s a thought,” Ms. Cosmetic said. “Not much glory in all of that.”

“Suit yourself,” Suzie said with a laugh and a toss of her hair. She headed back inside to get ready for her next set.


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