Aristocrat and Desperado


buck_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Aristocrat and Desperado
Synopsis Two oddly-dressed and once-broken people drift into each others' paths, and end up talking about art, the army, and a gay bar, among other things.
Date December 2 2009

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

It's a chilly day in New York - but clear skies and a temperature noticably above freezing mean that Central Park is still a bustling hive of activity during the office-workers' lunch breaks. People cramming in a bit of exercise, others holding half-shouted conference calls on cell phones with unreliable reception, couples holding hands, and those wrapped up in warm coats and loud music piped through their ear-pieces all gather and move to and fro, swirling around the entertainers, tourists, and vendors of hot snacks and drinks.

Stalking through the shifting throng, a young woman in elegantly archaic masculine attire uses the rhythmic tapping of her steel-shod cane to help to clear a path through the oft-oblivious crowds. A wry smile lifts the corners of her mouth, and she watches the goings-on she passes with a distinct air of amusement.

Nearing a water-side bench just as it's vacated by its previous occupants, she hastily moves to stake a claim to one end of it, swinging a backpack off one shoulder to rest it upon the seat, leaning over as she delves inside - and draws out a large, hard-backed sketchpad and a slender box of some dark and smoothly-polished wood.

Unfortunately, Buck has yet to obtain a coat appropriate to New York. In an effort to combat the cold, he has turned up the collar of his denim jacket so it nearly touches his hat at the back of his head. He still looks kind of cold, though, as he walks through the park toward the fountain. His head tilts back and he looks up at the mostly-bare trees with a thoughtful frown. Or maybe just a regular frown. Hard to tell.

The chilly, denim-clad, moodily-frowning cowboy does rather catch her attention, the woman's head cocking as she studies the out-of-place figure, briefly glancing around to see if there's anyone else in view dressed remotely like him.

Most likely there isn't, in New York City. Buck moves forward to look into the pond, reaching up to adjust his hat a little, maintaining that mild stoic frown.

Ygraine pensively bites her lower lip… then opts to start hastily sketching an outline of the scene around and over the pond. Should a certain moody pretty-boy happen to stay in place long enough to be drawn, then so be it….

Buck dips into a pocket and tosses a couple of coins into the water. He quickly shoves both hands into his pockets. He looks up again at the branches.

Ygraine arches one brow at the unexpected gesture, but after a moment concludes that her skills aren't up to the task of attempting to capture it directly upon the page. Instead, she continues hastily laying in the outlines of the scene, focusing particularly upon Buck and his pose, trying to catch the angle of his hat just right, and the impression of pensive concern his stance conveys….

Of course, Buck finally moves, coming over to settle on the very bench Ygraine is occupying, in fact. "Mornin'," he offers politely as he settles down. He nods toward the pad. "Hey, you sketchin' this place?"

"Trying to", Ygraine says with a slightly rueful smile. "Though I fear that my talents are far below those of most artists you see here." Her crisp, educated accent clearly marks her out as a foreigner - an educated Briton, to be precise.

"Well…I don't see a lot o' artists," The Texan draws thoughtfully, "So I'd prob'ly think you're pretty good." He shifts his posture to face more toward her. "Hey, c'n I see?" He points at her sketch pad.

Ygraine laughs softly, shrugs, and nods, turning the pad towards him. At the moment, it's in the "lines and ovals" sort of stage of sketching, with lots of swift strokes to delineate shapes and precious little in the way of detail. Still, it's identifiably enough the pond, trees, and a figure in a hat….

"Hey, look at that!" Buck says cheerfully. "That's here, right?" he inquires. "I bet you're pretty good. I mean, I c'n see that ain't finished 'r anythin', but that looks pretty good t' me."

Ygraine laughs again, clearly pleased. "Yes, it's meant to be here. I hope that it will be recognisably here some time soon, but…. I'm trying to get my eye in again. I've never done it professionally, or anything of the sort, but my efforts are usually just about tolerable."

"Well, hell, I rec'onized it, didn't I?" Buck returns, smiling. "I dunno what you mean 'bout 'tolerable.' One o' my sisters likes drawin'."

"I enjoy it, but… I very rarely manage to get what's in my mind onto the page", the Briton says ruefully. "Every now and then I do, and it feels wonderful, but… I've still got a great deal to learn. I should really try to practice it rather more. Some are lucky enough that it mostly seems to come naturally, but almost everything about this, I've had to be carefully taught. Hopefully your sister is rather more naturally blessed."

"I ain't really much of a judge," Buck admits. Then he thrusts out a hand. "Name's Buck. You English 'r somethin'?" He maintains a broad, friendly smile. It's sort of like the expression of a dog with its tongue out.

Another soft laugh, then Ygraine carefully tucks her pencil into its box and accepts the offered hand, shaking rather more firmly than might have been expected. "Yes, I am. Ygraine", she says. "I'd identify you as Texan…? But I'm afraid that I couldn't say which part. My ear's not yet sufficiently attuned to the accents over here."

"Yeah, uh-huh," Buck agrees, shaking her hand warmly. He doesn't seem to mind any firmness. "Blanco, Texas. Central. Y'know? Hey, you got some pretty fancy clothes, there."

Ygraine cracks a swift grin, glancing down at herself as she reclaims her hand. "Thank you. Since I get stared at whenever I open my mouth, dressing to stand out didn't seem to be too much of an additional risk. And since half the locals seem to expect any educated Briton to be the cousin of the Queen, a touch of aristocratic elegance seemed to be something I could get away with…."

"They do?" Buck asks with some confusion. Apparently, royal relations didn't occur to him. "Man, you'd think in a big city like this, people'd be used to foreigners."

Ygraine chuckles. "And never say you live in Scotland, or you'll be told by half the people you meet that they have a cousin over there - and do you know him?" She shakes her head, flashing a grin. "I'm sure that you run into jokes about six-guns and rodeos and "injuns"…"

"Oh," Buck says. "I don't know any Scots." He frowns thoughtfully. "I dunno, some people ask me if I'm in the rodeo, around here, I guess. But I tell 'em no, that's my sister."

Ygraine laughs, and cracks a swift, broad grin. "Really? The one who draws, or another one? Either way, I'm impressed."

"Another one," Buck answers. "My older syster, Lavannah. The one who draws is my third sister, Louise." Buck grins and shrugs. "You'd be more impressed if ya met her, though. She's a firecracker."

Ygraine giggles, shaking her head. "I've got just the one sibling - a brother. That was quite enough for me. And my partner's an only child, so I've not acquired any more as in-laws. But… an artist, a rodeo-rider, and… what's the other one do? Or are there more?"

"Well, I got four sisters," Buck answers. "Lavannah's the oldest, then Louise, she makes clothes an' draws an' stuff like that, then Bernice, she's a housewife, just got married, startin' up a family, then Lyra. She's still in college. But whaddya mean 'partner?'" Buck asks curiously. "Like, boyfriend? Girlfriend?"

"Wife", Ygraine says with a slight smile. "Or 'civil partner', to be legally accurate. Or in New York "girl I sleep with", given the state of the law here. "Partner" tends to be an easier shorthand that scares people less."

"I dunno," Buck says with a shrug, "Guess th' law can't stop you from /sayin'/ 'wife.'" He grins and nudges Ygraine. "Hey, you know, growin' up ev'rybody thought my sister /Lavannah/ was a lesbian? Cuz o' she was always a tomboy, y' know? Better'n everybody at ridin'." He laughs aloud. "Boy, were they off!"

Ygraine giggles and shrugs. "I always thought I'd end up falling for some really hunky athlete. I was a rider myself - though cycles, rather than horses. Tall, dark, handsome and muscular I thought would be my thing. I wound up falling for a beautiful little actress instead."

"Oh, hell, you oughta meet my sister someday. Y'all'd prob'ly get along great. She likes motorcycles, too. She's real rough, though. Maybe you're a little more, uh…" He gropes for the word, "Refined. Naw, that's good you got married an' everything. That's okay over in England?" Buck shakes his head. "I don't think I'd ever do a good job o' bein' married."

Ygraine lets out another giggle. "The UK allows "civil partnership". You get all the legal benefits of marriage, but since marriage is formally defined as "between a man and a woman" - in both the dictionaries and in law - it was easier, and aggravated fewer people, to call same-sex unions something different."

The Briton shrugs. "I'm not sure that I'm going to do a wonderful job of being married, but I'm going to try. She's over there studying at the moment, but… I figured I might see if I can make myself useful here."

Buck listens thoughtfully to the news about the state of gay rights in the United Kingdom, nodding now and again. "So whaddya do?" Buck wonders. "Me, I sorta ended up ownin' this bar… Actually, you should come by sometime. Bring y'r girlfriend. Wednesday night's Ladies' Night."

Ygraine giggles. "I'm not sure that I'll manage to get her over here for a drink", she says with a grin. "But I can see if I can round up anyone else while I'm here. What's your bar's name? And…."

She shrugs rather selfconsciously. I used to compete internationally. As a cyclist. Now, I mostly work as a translator, though my formal training's in international relations. There's just not much demand for anyone with training in how to end conflicts without shooting people, or to avoid them becoming "hot" in the first place."

"It's called 'Desperado,'" Buck says, "In Chelsea. Wow, you must be pretty smart," Buck says. "So, you're like a negotiator or somethin'? I get that. I'm a vet, myself."

"That was the idea, in part", Ygraine says with a lop-sided smile, having taken a moment to work out that Buck does not mean 'veterinary surgeon'. "I worked for the UN as an unpaid intern for a few months. Meant that I was here on the day of the Bomb, which… rather put an end to that. But while people'll pay me to translate business contracts between French and English, there's virtually no money to spare for anything unprofitable like trying to get people talking to each other before the guns start firing. And… given recent problems here, that's not likely to change in the US, in particular. There's quite enough conflict within the States."

"Guess so," Buck says with a slightly disinterested shrug. "Anyway, the bar's a cool place. I'm still learnin' to make those complicated drinks, but I got a couple bartenders who know 'em all."

Ygraine cocks her head. "How did you end up with a bar in New York?", she asks curiously. "It sounds like… quite a shift for you."

"Oh," Buck says. "Well, I was unemployed, an' a buddy o' mine from the Army left it to me. He must'a died. Anyway, I took it over an' it sorta turned into a gay bar, so…that's where we're at."

"Sorta…? It happened by accident?", Ygraine asks, clearly more than a little surprised. "Well, I suppose it is New York. And… I'm sorry to hear about your buddy", she adds, belatedly registering the rather odd comment. "So… you'd left the army when it was left to you?"

Buck shrugs at the first question, grinning sheepishly. "Well, I dunno, the place used t' be a straight bar, but it's in Chelsea an' so I just sorta made it over t' suit my tastes an'…" He laughs. "Happened naturally, I guess. Guess it was bound to eventually. But, yeah, I got out like a year a go, medical discharge. Wounded."

Ygraine winces at the last. "Ouch. I hope it's not still bothering you. I mangled myself in various ways while competing, and that was quite bad enough without anyone else having been responsible for it…."

Buck shrugs at that remark. "I dunno," he says. "It don't bother me too much, I guess, but I got some brain damage. Prob'ly more trouble f'r other people th'n me."

Another wince, and a sympathetic look. "Ow. Hence the discharge. I didn't think you moved like you were carrying an injury, but… they're not always visible, I know. The worst damage usually isn't…"

"Yeah, they don't discharge you if you're still in any fightin' shape," Buck says. "I mean…well, I think I am, actually. They just didn't think so. An' I was out for awhile."

Ygraine nods sympathetically. "Can you re-apply… or are you happy to throw yourself into being a bar-owner now?"

Buck shifts a shoulder uncomfortably. "Well, I can't re-apply. I couldn't find much of a job anywhere. I have, uh…some problems, from the injury. But I'm still in good shape," he hastens to add. "I like the bar, though."

Another sympathetic nod is followed by a rather apologetic look. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be prying. I'm glad that your buddy was able to set you up with something that you're enjoying."

Buck smiles uncertainly. "I don't remember him," he admits. "Anyway, that's nice you got the, uh, the drawin' as a hobby. Sounds like your kinda work's real hard, right?"

"I got told to start it up again as therapy", Ygraine says with a gentle smile. "I used to do a bit when I was a lot younger, and… well. Everyone knows that drawing badly fixes all sorts of problems, eh?"

With a wry chuckle, she shrugs slightly. "I'm hoping to manage to arrange something with the UN again, even if it's unapid. Most of my time in New York, I've worked as a bicycle courier. Handling the routes through the Midtown Ruins, and the like, where the government won't send its own employees."

Buck shakes his head slowly. "Man, that's some serious bike business," he says. Remembering to look at his watch, he says, "Listen, I gotta go unpack some inventory, but come on by the bar sometime, all right?"

Ygraine chuckles and nods. "Desperado, in Chelsea. Especially on Wednesdays. I'll try to find someone to bring along", she says with a smile. "It was nice meeting you, Buck."

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