It was a dark and -o god- stormy night. The bums that usually cleared out five minutes before the little tip saucer appeared on their table hung around and actually dropped change on the saucer.
Pennies, for the most part. The occasional nickel, crying because it was alone. And one ancient-looking coin and a string of cowrie shells.
Aisha freshened up the weirdo’s coffee and said, “We prefer legal tender, here.” The coin was surprisingly heavy and almost disgustingly filthy.
“That coin,” slurred the bum, “could buy this whole block. ‘Sgotmy face on it.”
“Sure it does,” smiled Aisha, subconsciously checking her avenues for escape. She had to take it, because otherwise the bum would forget the money - or in this case, filthy old junk - actually belonged to Aisha and take it back.
“It is also a powerful totem against lightning.”
_It’s a good thing we only serve coffee after hours…._ At the risk of repeating herself, she said, “Sure it is,” and scraped some of the filth off. Some really old imagery. “This is a very weird picture of… Thor? Isn’t he s'posed'a have a hammer, not a spear?”
“Thor. Ha!” Thunder punctuated their conversation, as if objecting to the outmoded blasphemy. “Thor gets all the freaking credit. Followers. Comic books. Movies. Now he’s swanning around like Fabio and more 'me me me’ than backstage at the opera. *Thor*…”
“Oh… kay. I needed a reminder why it’s never a good idea to chat with customers. Thanks for that.”
“There are older gods. Better gods. Purer gods. From the first places! We came before *any* of those simpering posers from the north. Or the east.”
None of the other bums seemed interested in rescuing her. Or calling for more coffee. Or fake-calling for more coffee in order to rescue her. _It’s official. Chivalry is dead._ “Of course there are.”
“Ancient. Like that coin. They say Croesos invented coins, because he is whiter than those who did invent them. Just like they have Thor instead of the mighty Shango!”
“Shango? My nanna used to tell me about Shango…” Aisha checked the coin again. That wasn’t a badly-rendered breastplate. Those were badly-rendered breasts. Shango the Thunder Queen. Who split the air with her spears of light.
…amongst many other unlikely things…
“Thor has all the attention. Thor has all the glory. Thor has fucking comic books… But he is only pretend, compared to the mighty Shango!” Another thunder crash.
Pops, scrubbing away at the grille, stared through the service window at Aisha, who made desperately covert bail-me-out signals.
“I used to have the adoration of thousands. Thousands!”
“Poor you,” sighed Aisha.
Pops smirked and shook his head and shrugged. Pops-sign for “I’m not doing jack until there’s a fight.”
_Thanks a bunch, Pops._
“Now, I am lucky to have a few hundred who even know my name.”
“Poor you,” sighed Aisha.
One of the bums hanging out at the bar decided that outside was starting to look better than inside.
“I have been searching for a real warrior. Someone who cn stand to fight the battle ahead. A champion among champions.”
“Him?” The weirdo laughed, and outside, a cacophany of thunder almost obliterated the sound. “No man is equal to a woman. Especially a young woman. Not even if he knows my name.”
Weirder and weirder. “Uh. What?”
“No man alive has the magic to grow another human inside him. No man has been born who can withstand the fight to bring a life into the world. No man can bear the brunt of menses like a woman can. He is simply not strong enough. No. You, Aisha. You are the champion I seek.”
The dirty hoodie slipped open during her speech. Shango. Old and withered, but still recognisably Shango. With her hair knotted into complicated buns on either side of her head.
Nanna once told Aisha that they were for knocking sense into her allies when they argued too long.
“And so they are, when I am close to you.”
The dirty old umbrella by her side was looking less and less umbrella-like by the minute. And Shango actually looked a little more… vitalized.
“Because you know me. Because there is a part of you that believes. Because you look at these pale, sad men that have been made into gods and wish that just once, they would show someone like you in a position of power.”
“…more than once would be better…” mumbled Aisha.
“How about the opportunity to be a champion… every day?”
Most of the surviving imagery flew into her head. “Uhm. I wouldn’t have to run around in a skin-tight outfit with my boobs hanging out, would I?”
“Only if that pleases you.”
“No… I think that’d get the wrong kind of attention.” Aisha lowered her voice to a whisper as she sat opposite the ancient African goddess. “Way too many men.”
The mighty Shango grinned. “I was right to choose you. You will do well.”