Cain wonders where the golden wine goes, because Death has no stomach and no throat; a skeleton cannot digest. And Cain drinks as much as Riff will let him, because he knows that Riff won’t let him get drunk and all the same tipsiness seems very attractive when he is faced with a perpetually grinning skull.
Occasionally his hands shake when he reaches toward the board, but his face, like Riff’s (and Death’s, for that matter), is always composed. It is a point of pride.
Sometimes Cain plays chess with Death. The game has a nightmare’s logic; the pieces melt in shades of gray and lurk in shadows and have a tendency to shift when he isn’t looking. He cannot control them, not even his own pieces, except for a battered knight that moves where no other pieces think to go.
Cain has never lost a game yet, but he loses pieces, and when he hears the hollow clink of captured pawns he pales, for all his studied self-control. Whenever he is alone after the games he hears the sound of falling chess pieces over and over in his mind. He tries very hard not to be alone.
Death is a gracious loser. He has time. Cain has never lost a game yet, but someday Cain will lose. Everyone loses to Death, eventually.
Sometimes Cain plays chess with Death. He thinks he should stop, but there is something addictive about the leap of lamp light on golden wine and the jumble of pieces and the points of blank infinity in the two holes that are Death’s eyes.