A Very Large Codfish


baxter_icon.gif lou_icon.gif

Scene Title A Very Large Codfish
Synopsis In which Officer Jordan Baxter drives Lou up the wall in a nightmarishly cruel accident that involves him being himself.
Date January 12, 2008

Queens — Leon Brothers Construction Compound

One of the larger buildings in the Leon Brothers Construction compound is the combination garage and machine shop. Forklifts, backhoes, manlifts, and trucks of all sorts are parked here and there in various stages of repair and condition. It's nearly always alive and rather loud whether the noise comes from the workers shouting back and forth, the machinery powered on, or even just the drone of fans and heaters, and a strange, dull chemical smell hangs heavy in the air. Somewhere between offensive and tolerable, the thick odor of industrial lubricants and solvents has been known to linger on visitors long after they've left.

A pair of long, pillar-like legs juts out from beneath a jacked -up dump truck, wiggling occasionally as their owner goes about one task or another.

Though Baxter isn't very mechanical, as men go, the clinging quality of the industrial chemistry is understood the moment he steps on-site. Flies on-site. He puts his nose to his bicep, where his tattoo peaks out from underneath a black T-shirt— a conspicuous lack of cover in the winter weather— and sniffs once. Twice. Admiringly. Probably, he's making plans to get that handyman's belt and a few hours with Audrey. She always appreciates realism, and her sense of smell is more or less slaughtered from all the fucking cloves, anyway.

Soundlessly, he lands near the protruding legs, abbreviated as they are by the the truck's bulk, man and machine seeming nearly as impressive in stature as one another. "G'morning," he greets Lou's boots.

There's a loud ~THUNK~ followed by the clatter of some tool or another falling on concrete and an impressive string of curses and imaginative phrases. Afer a brief grunt the greeting is returned. "Thought I told you shop hands to quit sneakin' up on me, dammit."

"I'm not a shop hand, dude. I'm a cop." It's a blithe admission, insofar as that Jordan's disembodied voice seems unaware that there's anything culpable or distasteful or otherwise worthy of the term admission about being a cop. "Or I will be one in about an hour. Until then," rak rak, his palm strikes the top of the truck like he's giving a particularly burly dog an affectionate slap to ingratiate himself with its owner, "I was kind of hoping you'd have a professional opinion about this thing my friend's car is doing since she got back from Colorado."

"Fair 'nuff," comes the deep voice from beneath the truck. "You wanna scoot back a bit so I can crawl out from under this heap?" No love for the company vehicles, it seems—if so then it's likely the sort that results in pigtails dipped in inkwells and frogs in schooldesks. "What kinda car is it," he asks as he begins shimmyiing his way out.

From the Lou's-eye-view of the world, Baxter emerges feet first. From the Baxter's-eye-view of the world, Lou does that too. The cop turns out to be smaller than the other man by far, leanly muscled, clad in civvies, blue-eyed, fair-skinned and blond as every Aryan stereotype that ever condemned his own race or any other, lean jaws, eyes that smile, perpetually, even in the ugliest throes of temper.

Coincidentally, he's also floating a little way above the ground and backward, granting Lou the space he had requested. "Nissan Quest 97 XE," he says, cheerfully. "And her husband doesn't know why he doesn't get laid anymore."

"Well, as much as I'd like to blame the second bit on the first and just tell ya to buy American," he replies, pausing to wipe a smear of grease from his hands before he continues, "can't do it in good conscience, and you'd probably just buy a Dodge anyhow and blame me for yer bad luck. A word to the wise: that's a warning, not a brand name—you don't go buyin' 'OH FUCK' brand breakfast cereal."

The boy in blue lets his baby blues smile harder for a protracted moment, studying Lou's face as he offers advice that sounds— pretty sound. "It's been stalling out," he says, turning to study the truck that had previously been subject to the mechanic's ministrations. "But only since Colorado. She's been driving it everywhere between Long Island and Florida for years. Nissan might be a piece of shit, but I don't think even your best brand of cereal's going to come with a free prize that runs on unleaded. You have any other thoughts?"

"I'd check the basics first—always. Save yerself some cash. If it's stallin' it could be a hundred different things, really." Lou takes a moment to rub his chin against his shirtsleeve as he prepares a list. "Check the filters—air, oil, and fuel. If yer handy you can check and make sure the fuel pump's workin' although yer prolly not gonna be able to fix it yerself if it ain't. Make sure the spark plugs are still in good condition and there's actually a spark gettin' to 'em. Dump some gas treatment or even just a cup or two of everclear in your gas tank next time ya fill it up. If it's still givin' ya fits, then yer prolly gonna want to take it somewhere that has a diagnostic computer and they can give ya a better idea. They'll likely charge ya for it, but you'll at least know what's wrong." He takes a moment to glance skyward, mentally checking to see if there's anythign else he may have missed then shakes his head with a grin. "So officer, what seems to be the problem," he concludes with a grin that's conscious of the total banality of his question.

Despite enough sweat and the heat of machinery here, it's still cold as a witch's tit and Baxter seems immune to it. His boots don't look like they have snow treads, and his arms show bare as he drops to the floor of the garage, into a squat, elbows folding across his knees. He starts to pick at a scratch in the chrome of the truck. Hard-edged, if blunt, his fingernails make an erratic, brittle squeak that rankles human nerves, would probably drag a hoarse and heartfelt whine out of a dog, if there was a dog around. "Hey, she isn't my woman.

"I'll be sure to tell her boy that. "Thanks, dude." The corner of his mouth goes up. "I do this weird shit where I project my personal issues onto other people's issues.

"It's kind of fucked up— like medical students' disease, diagnosing symptoms in everything 'cause you're reading about it. Take the car and Colorado. I kept thinking altitude. And when I go back to work in an hour, there's interviews I have to do, following up on cases from out of state, and I'm probably going to end up thinking every-fucking-body's Evolved." Squeak. Squeeeak.

"Well now, that does seem like a problem. You wanna talk to me about what out-o'-state case I'm involved in?" Lou seems more amused than anything, although he does point a toe towards the scratching. "And if you could cut that out, I'd appreciate it. Noise aside, I try to keep these things looking as passable as I can, and peelin' off some extra flakes ain't makin' my job any easier."

A flat thumb slides in under one piece of paint that's turned up already. When Baxter looks up and stands up, he apparently forgets where he put his hand and the piece breaks off like carapace, shedding powder down his pant leg. He is left staring at the chink he'd left, his brow slightly furrowed, as if unable to wrap his little blond head around how that happened.

"You're involved in an out-of-state case?" he asks. "Man, if that's true, if I were you I really wouldn't make that my first question. I dunno. I haven't opened the folder yet. Where are you from?" His teeth show white as a young wolf's, a sidelong grin, rictus bared in something like mirth.

Lou rolls his eyes in mild exasperation. "Just cuz I got a Southern drawl don't make me Forrest Gump. I'm guessin' you didn't wander in here officer, make yer way past another three other mechanics, and coincidentally happen to walk up to me, a person who recently located to your city, and just happened to decide to ask me about yer mechanical problems." Angry? Not yet… but annoyed might fit the bill. "So I'll tell ya what… in the interests of keepin' this friendly, I'm gonna letcha start over. You introduce yerself, I'll introduce myself, we'll shake hands, and then you can start talkin' to me like I ain't some punk kid. Or you can walk the fuck on and come back when you've got a warrant."

"I could have a warrant in one hour," Jordan says, motioning with a lazy hand. It finds its way to the back of his neck, is joined by the other, long fingers lacing at the base of his head. "I'm off-duty right now. If you aren't some punk kid, you should've figured that out by now: I'm some asshole who flies around like some asshole who can fly. And if I was trying to be an asshole, I wouldn't be pretending I don't think every giant redneck mechanic is just finding an uncreative way of reinventing the word autoeroticism.

"I'm Jordan Baxter. Most of the time, I'm a cop. My partner's wife fucked up her car. Who're you?"

"Everyone else calls me Lou. You want more, you go spend an hour and get yer warrant. In the meantime, off-duty or not, you went and identified yerself as a police officer, and I would very much like your badge number, because if I see you again without a warrant in your hand or a sincere fuckin' appology passin' your lips, I'm gonna call it harassment and have a talk with whatever you call yer internal affairs guys 'round here. Don't gimme any bullshit about not rememberin' or not havin' it on you, or even try to tell me I ain't entitled cuz I knwo good and well that I am." Ladies and gentlement, we have raised our terror alert level to Peeved (orange.) "You walked up to me at MY job, on MY time, and went from bein' all cutesy and dancin' around whatcha wanted to fuckin' insulting. Maybe that works on the yankee crooks you got up here, but it don't sit well with me." Okay… maybe Angry. (reddish-orangish) "And I don't give a good goddamn if you can fly shoot lasers outcher ass or if you're as normal as the rest of us. You had yer chance to play this civil and it's over. You wanna send another officer to talk to me, you got my address and phone number I'm sure. Until then, I suggest you drop a card or gimme that number of yours, and then get your ass a'movin'."

After a long, thoughtful silence, Baxter crosses his eyes. "You just identified yourself as somebody who fucking hates cops. You don't see me braiding my panties and threatening to break up with you over that, do you? Jesus fucking Christ. Calm down, Goliath. I was trying to be nice." It isn't his fault if he's not very good at it. He is about ninety-eight percent sure of this fact. Turning, he peers over the hood of the truck, locating the bumbling heads of the other mechanics across the garage.

"Bullshit. I just identified myself as someone who knows cops and don't feel like being fucked around by one who ain't got the good sense to represent himself properly. I know little shits like you. Get yer badge, slap it on, and spend the rest of yer liffe writin' parkin' tickets and pushin' around folks, think they're gonna take it because you got the gun and they don't. I got you pegged, sure as shit, and you? You don't fuckin' know me from Adam, and you obviously ain't got a fuckin' clue what you're talking about you little pissant rookie piece of shit," Lou replies with a snort—he doesn't seem to be calming down at all. "know how many cops I got in my family? How many times I patched up a city or county car for nothin' more than parts and a beer? How many sheriffs and sheriff's sons I went to school with? Any clue how many State Troopers I got on my GODDAMN CHIS'MUS CARD LIST? NO?! Then gimme your fuckin' badge number and get steppin' you useless fuckin' twat."

The glance Baxter directs up and over his shoulder reads as neither annoyed nor particularly amused. "I don't really care who your friends are," he enunciates with diction as precise as a Manhattan local is capable of. "Unless you do. And I'm not giving you my badge number for another hour, because that is just weird. I'm not asking you for your driver's license, either. If I don't know you from Adam, I don't know why you're freaking out," he complains. He manages to catch the eye of the office girl in time to make her have to smother a smile that's probably mostly nerves.

Probably. Turning back toward Lou, he props his elbow on the truck's hood. "I like writing parking tickets, but my handwriting is super shitty. I don't like pushing most people around, though," he admits. "I don't like touching them."

"I'm 'freaking out,' because you decided to come bother me at work," Lou explains as he begins fishing a cell phone from his coveralls. "I'm freaking out because I was polite and cooperative and you were a snide little shit." He pauses to dial, briefly before stating "directory assistance."

"I'm freaking out because when I gave ya a second and a third chance you couldn't be bothered to straighten up, you figured you could bully or weasel your way out of it and…" Another pause, "Yes ma'am. Internal affais… erm… bureau? Yes, that's it hun. Thank ya." "And I'm freakin' out because you tried to pin the onus on me for bein' a cop hater when you couldn't understand that I don't hate cops, I just hate little pricks like yerself who have the goddamned nerve to call yourselves one and disgrace every good man and woman wearing a badge."

The conversation seems to be over as far as Lou is concerned, and he literally turns his back on Baxter to speak into the phone. "Yessir, I'd like to file a formal complaint…"
At this point, Baxter's eyes are on the ceiling, the knit of his brow tightened by the effort of consulting the teeny-tiny portable Knowles he keeps in his head for advice, and then reviewing everything he said that could possibly have set Lou off like this. It takes a considerable amount of time. Long enough to get through the first layer of Internal Affairs' telephone bureaucracy, at least.

Unfortunately, while he's trying to figure out where it was he went wrong, he forgets entirely to look concerned that Lou is adding his drop of bile and woe to the flood that forever inundates the NYPD branch of IA. He is, however, perfectly sincere when he says: "I'm sorry for saying you use cars to masturbate," he announces to Lou at large, pushing himself upright, shoulders square, stare steady. "Even if you do, I shouldn't judge. It's cool."

Lou would likely find that hilarious at any other point… but to judge by the color of the back of his neck and scalp he's not in any mood for humor. Normally a light tan it's actually a blistering red at this point—and listening to the absolute worst recording of 'Muzak's greatest hits' for a few minutes really doesn't seem to be improving the situation. "Yes ma'am, I need to file a complaint about an officer… No, I can't say as I do, ma'am, he refuses to identify himself, I just have his name, Jor—" Judging by the abrupt cut off and grunt that follows, he's on hold again. He doesn't bother to turn around to address the man, just stars talking in a manner that's evenly measured, but still stressed. "Mister Baxter, I am done talkin' with you. If you'd like to speak with the folks on the horn when I'm done, I suggest you get zippin' over there right now or find a pay phone. Our conversation is over."

This isn't going well. Knowles is probably going to make him give him the interviews to do. Which— actually, would make Baxter really happy because he wasn't looking forward to those anyway. Which was sort of what this conversation was about, or supposed to be about, by the expression of revelation that suddenly strikes through the younger man's features. Right.

"I had shit to say," he says, at about the same time as Lou is making his suggestion, apparently oblivious to the color massing down the back of the older man's neck and shaven melon. He continues without pause. "People make mistakes. Like me, just now, with the masturbation. And the Linderman Act disturbs my shit. Did you hear me, or was I talking over you?" he asks, shoving his hands into his pockets, cocking his head.

"Yessir, a complaint. Jordan Baxter. He's identified himself as an officer, but one off-duty. Won't show a badge, won't give me his badge number or even say what precinct he's out of—somethin' about outta state cases is all I've got out of him." Apparently Lou meant exactly what he said. "No sir, I've been cooperative to a point, and even agreed to be cooperative if he could manage to talk to me like an adult. Frankly he's been a sorry excuse for a police officer today." He pauses for a moment, apparently listening to whomever it is on the line. "Uh huh. Uh-huh. And who should I be asking for there? Thank ya."

Never one to be rude, Jordan Baxter proceeds to wait throughout this process. He spends his wait time watching Lou with a reasonably pleasant expression, pausing only to look at the clock on the wall.

The next 20 minutes involve (thankfully as afar as Lou is concerened) far less hold time and far more actual information exchange. Names, times and locations, a brief rundown of the incident in which Lou seems to object to everything from being approached at work to Baxter's flippant tone and remarks to his refusal to provide any sort of identification. One gets the impression that if Lou thought it worthwhile, he'd complain about the man's clothes while he was at it. on the other hand, the recounting he gives is pretty accurate and factual—if a bit skewed. Nothing added, nothing really left out, including his own upset and rather foul-mouthed responses. Near the end, he seems to agree to come on down to the offices later, although whether it's to fill out further paperwork, discuss whatever it was Baxter was there to talk about or both seems to be unclear.

As he snaps the clamshell closed and stuffs it back into his overalls he begins to kneel down, ready to silently climb back under the truck.

When the bigger man kneels, so does the smaller one, dropping back into his crouch in tandem with Lou's movements. "You're very thorough. That's cool," he observes, by way of compliment. His elbows turn outward atop his knees and he slouches slightly between peaked shoulder-blades, is careful not to show too many teeth when he smiles. See, nice smile. Jordan has a learning curve. It's doubtless steeper than he likes to pretend, but he shows a reasonable facsimile of contrition.

To the discerning eye, anyway. By now, Lou's eyes are probably underneath the truck, possibly leaving visual identification unavailable as a means of discernment. "I'm also sorry I said you hate cops. I know if I said I was sorry about the car thing on-time, I wouldn't have to be apologizing for the other thing, too. Will you forgive me?"

Lou's eyes are indeed under the truck, followed by his shoulders, torso and waist. There's a grunt shortly after the call for forgiveness, but whether it's a response or just a random vocalization isn't exactly clear.

The crowd in the shop is slowly beginning to disperse as people here and there shuffle back to their -actual- duties, or simply find they can't find any plausible reason to remain within earshot without being just completely obvious—but there are a few die-hard snoopers still left.

"I can't believe you dissed my T-shirt, though. That was low." Baxter's voice floats underneath the belly of the truck while no scuff of shoe nor disruption of air betrays any movement nearer or away. "And the 'second chance to start over and I'll cooperate' thing. I mean, fuck cooperation. The car advice was solid. You could've just lied. 'My name is Bessy Lewis,'" a poor falsetto squeaks along, "'this is my Unca's truck. I need forty dollars for the consultation fee.' Would've been pretty fucking funny."

Lou is apparently still not in the mood for levity, nor coversation. The sound of some sort of ratcheting mechanism pauses briefly and a few words roll out from under the truck. "Officer, I'm sure if I throw you out of here you'd be happy to write that badge number of yours on the papers you gotta submit to file charges. But I'm not that fuckin' stupid. In the meantime, I just talked to your boss. IAB knows I talked to your boss because I talked to them first. They might just keep an eye on how it gets worked out. You really think you're gonna help the situation by standin' there and crackin' bullshit jokes after you've been asked to leave repeatedly?"

"Nnno," Peter Pan replies, dragging the syllable out as he watches the other snoops disperse in reluctant chokes and snags. "You pretty much told my boss— and the IAB— that you flipped your shit after some guy walked in and told you what filing department of the NYPD he's going to after his lunch break is over. It was also pretty fucking weird you gave me only your first name, then rattled all your personal and contact information off into the phone right in front of me. If I was hunting you, you'dve fucked yourself over pretty hard just now.

"Do you really have cop friends back home?" His voice seems nearer, then, as if he's ducked his head down low beside the wheely board Lou's installed himself upon.

"You fucking knew it already, and if you didn't, then you're even more of a goddamned rookie than I thought," Lou retorts, anger rising in his voice as he once again starts pushing himself from under the truck. This time a whole lot faster. "You came to my job. You walked right up to me, and you started asking questions. I'm not a fucking retard. You were here to see me, and if you weren't then you had no reason to either identify yourself as a police officer. 'If you were hunting me.' Bullshit. No ifs there, kid, and you ain't so goddamned slick. If you'd introduced yourself right off the goddamned bat and asked me what you were here to ask in the first palce you'd have gotten my full name and all the answers ya wanted AND your fuckin' car advice, and hell, I'd prolly offered to take a look at it for ya even if I hate messing with fucking Nissans." Every word is rapid-fire at this point as Lou pushes to his feet, face practically a glowing red as a vein throbs on his forehead. "But you wanted to play yer fuckin' cops and robbers bullshit, dance around and wave yer badge and say 'oh I so got you man, I got you, I tricked you, I'm so smart!'" The last bit is done in an obvious mockery of Jordan's Manhattan accent. "You want to be a cop, BE A GODDAMNED COP, NOT A FUCKIN' KID WITH A BADGE. Until then, get out of my face and QUIT FUCKING WITH MY JOB."

Lou's eyes narrow as his lips spread in a grimmace. In a low, hissed whisper, something meant to be only heard between the two of them, he concludes, doing his best to not even move his lips. "Flying or not, I'm pretty sure I can still put you on the ground if you don't, rookie."

Promptly, and apparently delighted that Lou finally came out again, Baxter gets out of his way. Everything goes downhill from there, of course. In Baxter-cam, the artery jumping in the older man's forehead looks like a tumor swift on its way to sentience.

A horrifying spectacle to behold, and soundtracked to an appropriately noisy wavefile, the hurricane force which would probably do something worse to his complexion if Baxter weren't physically built to resist the force of air pressure that would buckle a sports car. He squints in the airflow of the roar, then at Lou's lips when he switches to whispering.

Baxter whispers back. "God, you're so fucking suspicious. If I tell you why I came to see you, will you stop yelling and threatening to punch my face off? And what the Hell is wrong with your mouth? Why are we whispering? I think you need blood pressure medication. There's something wrong with that." He points at the upper right corner of Lou's head.

"DO I LOOK LIKE I GIVE A FUCK WHY YOU'RE HERE, ANYMORE?" Lou roars back at the man. His hands are balled into fists—hard enough to turn every bend and curve white. Whatever tool he's using it's probably a good thing he left it under the truck when he came out. He snarls down (or up, or sideways—whichever way Baxter's moved) at him, "You don't get the fuckin' right to harass people where they work, act like a stuffed turd, try and pick a fight and THEN HAVE THE FUCKING NERVE TO TELL ME I'M -SUSPICIOUS.- FUCK YOU, HOSS. If I wasn't -certain- you had a badge you'd be picking your damned teeth up off the ground right now. So turn your ass around and FUCKING WALK." with every word, Lou advances on the man, step by step, closing whatever distance is necessary until their noses are inches apart—assuming Jordan lets him catch up.

That, Jordan does. Let him catch up, that is, and when their noses are mere inches apart the blond man blinks sky-blue eyes that reflect Lou's scarlet visage back at him bulged in convex and slightly distorted by the striations of irises. Lou's scarlet visage closely resembles Mars under those circumstances. "I wasn't trying to pick a fight," Jordan protests.

He pantomimes a stack of folders with his hands, which probably doesn't actually resemble a stack of folders to anybody else until he explains: "I had this stack of folders on my desk.

"'Check these people out after lunch.' See, my boss is anal-retentive about following leads for that whole mandatory Registration act I don't like. He drives everybody fucking mental, I swear. I'm not very good at his way of 'checking people out.' I don't think anybody is. I didn't really get why we do this. So I picked a random name, off-duty, no paper, no cuffs, and went to see what they were like.

"Really big. Pissed off. Good with cars." A quizzical smile pulls the corners of Jordan's mouth wide and his stack of folders falls, crumples to nothing. "I guess this is why we do it Harvard's way. Have a good one, Mr. Lou." The gap between their noses widens as Jordan lifts off the floor, easy as walking.

"Whatever, ya lying little sack of shit. If you had an ounce of decency you'd turn your fucking badge in right now," Lou replies, his lip still curling in a snarl. "Now get the fuck out. Fly on home to your little nest." With little more regard, he turns his back on Jordan again and starts stalking back towards the truck.

Whether because Peter Pan doesn't have an ounce of decency or because he stopped paying attention the moment he finished speaking and started flying, Jordan's going now, with no visible intent of giving up his badge, looping lazily over the roof of one truck and around strip lights. He waves at the office girl on his way out, offering a smile that warrants a small one in response.

"Jody!" Lou hollers across the shop to one of the hands. "If you're gonna eavesdrop, at least bring me that buffing compound. And quit actin' so jumpy…. Not like I'm mad at you."

According to JM Barrie's text, 'Codfish' was Peter Pan's more oft-used insults for Captain Hook.

January 11th: Soiled Hands
January 12th: Split Personalities
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