Attracting Attention


colette_icon.gif grace_icon.gif

Scene Title Attracting Attention
Synopsis A runaway girl finds a surprisingly empathetic ear.
Date September 4, 2008

Roy Wilkins Park, Queens

At this time of day, Roy Wilkins Park was a sight to behold. It's those late summer days that create the most stunning sunsets, and while the one that is being painted by clouds, sky and sun to the west isn't quite finished yet, it was already an appreciable work in progress. With half of the sky overhead shaded in hues of blue and purple and long shadows cast by the trees, the park became a shadowbox. Cross-crossing branches and trunks all wove together to create elaborately dappled lines of dark against the orange glow of the setting sun. Amidst this scenery, a young girl was seated with her legs crossed on a park bench beneath the swaying bough of an oak tree. The bench, one of many lining the paved walkways through the park, had a single black iron lamp post next to it — currently unlit. The girl was focused on what she had in her lap, specifically, a laptop computer. Headphones were plugged into it, which were loosely set into her ears as she bobbed her head up and down, typing casually onto the small keyboard, while holding half a sandwitch in her mouth, a few crumbs dropping down onto the keys. On the ground in front of the bench, a white paper bag showed the logo of one of the many sandwitch shops near the park. A few joggers pass by as she types, scattering pigeons who had taken advantage of pieces of her sandwitch that she had thrown to them. They'd be back.

Sunset is Grace's cue to start packing up and head home. She brought her own laptop to the park with her today — still a common practice, clearly, if not quite as prevalent as in previous years — and now carries it in a case slung over her left shoulder, left hand curled over the top of the cloth container. The young woman wears a light-blue blouse and darker denim shorts, and makes her unhurried way down the path, apparently unconcerned by the darkening hour. The handgun holstered on her right hip may have something to do with that. Catching sight of the girl on the bench, Grace's steps slow; a tilt of her head is given as she considers the computer on the teen's lap. She makes no effort to hide her approach, or her curiosity — but it's a well-known fact that teenagers with headphones on are dead to to the world.

It's quite true, that fact. Colette's head bobs up and down to the sound of the music she's listening too, loud enough that high notes of it can be heard at a close distance streaming out of her headphones. As she types, illuminated by the glow of the screen, she shifts to one side on the bench to work out a kink in her back. Having paused as she has, Grace notices something else about the girl; one of her eyes is completely blinded. Then, something else catches her attention; Two fully packed backpacks. One is settled by the side of the bench, the other — a messenger bag — is tucked away beneath the bench. This isn't too out of the ordinary, but the girl's reaction to what comes next is, perhaps.

On the adjacent street, visible thorugh a rod-iron fence and several rows of spruce trees a few hundred feet away, the flash of blue lights of a police cruiser causes the girl to startle when she sees them pass by. Immediately she whips out the headphones, letting them haphazardly clatter onto the keyboard. She lets out an audible hiss, closing the laptop hastily and leans forward, trying to reach for her messenger bag which is just out of grasp. "Goddamnit." She grumbles under her breath with half a sandwitch still hanging out of her mouth, leaning forward further with her legs still crossed beneath herself — too lazy to actually get up and get the bag. For her laziness, she is rewarded with a forward somersault, rolling off of the bench and landing on her back as her closed laptop — with the headphones sandwitched between it — lands on her chest. Speaking of sandwitch, that's unfortunately lying in the dirt next to her now.

The girl's reaction — overreaction — to the passing police cruiser draws a subtle smile from Grace. Something not easily ascribed to any single feature of her face, but to her expression as a whole. "The best disguise," the young woman remarks, as she steps up to the bench, looking down at the fallen Colette, "is to not react." Her voice, gravel and broken glass, is perhaps the antithesis of Grace's actual mood, and an unfamiliar listener might miss the good humor beneath the rasp. The laptop is picked up and transferred to her left hand, the woman easily compensating for the bag she's already carrying; then she offers her right hand to Colette. "Need a hand?" That hint of a smile remains.

There was an immediate look of being startled as she heard Grace's voice, it was the kind've tone that one would expect to come from a chain-smoking fifty year old woman, not the graceful thing that just picked up Colette's laptop. For all the generosity and offered help, though, it's quite clear Colette's still a headstrong teenager. "I'm fine." She puffs out her cheeks as she says that, struggling to get up without taking the offered hand. "I — I'm not…" She looks with worry clearly plstered across her face towards the receeding blue lights of the patrol car. "I'm not, uh…" A slight hiss as she rubs a tender spot on the back of her head whre it connected with the ground. "I didn't do anything." It was as much an admittance of guilt as her attempt at a strong scowl could muster. For all her efforts, when Colette tried to look strong and intimidating, she came off as goofy and adoreable. "Can I have my laptop back?" She got up to her feet from her knees as she asked, rubbing one hand against the back of her head, the other holding out a hand for what she was demanding.

If anything, Grace's smile broadens as the offer of assistance is rejected. She doesn't seem ruffled by it in the least — rather more approving. "Never said you did," Grace replies agreeably. She raises a brow as the laptop is demanded, looking over Colette as if to gauge her ability to remain upright this time. But the computer is returned without more than that moment's exaggerated hesitation. Should the girl break it, after all, it's her own problem. "Although you did a great job of attracting attention." Blue eyes flick to the blue light reflecting from distant windows, even that wash soon vanishing in the gathering gloom. When her gaze leaves the street, it's to survey the park around them — the few joggers who are sufficiently occupied with their own business, beyond sparing the pair a glance or two. Maybe a longer amused look, in one case. "Fortunately, there isn't much of it around to attract."

"Well…" Colette turned her head to look back at the fading lights, then back at Grace, "Well they can kiss my ass anyway, I'm not going back." With the lptop now in hand, Colette crouches down and pulls out her messenger bag, stuffing the laptop in and closing it. There's a few spiral-bound notebooks in the bag as well, the laptop now resting on top of them. She picks up the bag by the straps, shouldering it as she walks around her fallen sandwitch to pick up her backpack. This seems far heavier, and bulkier, slung over her other shoulder. "So, like, do you pick of clumbsy runaways all the time?" She arches a brow, bending down to pick up her ruined meal before straightening out again, "Is it a hobby, or an occupation?" She chucks the sandwitch half into the nearby trashcan with a soft clunk.

One dark brow lifts at Colette's comments. For the moment, Grace simply files them away. "Definitely a hobby," the raven's voice replies, as she looks over the girl's assembled gear. Her left hand returns to its rest atop the laptop case, fingers tapping the dark cloth briefly. "This would be my occupation." Or a part of it. "Running away to anywhere in particular? Florida, maybe?" she tosses out, either actually curious or just playing along. Her ruined voice muddles that point, and her expression isn't giving much away.

There's a smirk at first, at the brunette's comment while Colette struggles to arrange her bags in a fashion that won't cause her to tip over. Then, though, comes the indecision and uncertainty, "I ah…" Her eyes wander around the park, "I hadn't… gotten that far yet. Just… away, for now?" One brow raises over Colette's blind eye, and she cracks a half smile. "It's still warm out at night, so I've got some time to figure that out, I guess…" From the sounds of it, she was planning on sleeping in the park overnight, alone. "I guess, I mean, it works for the other hobos, right?" Her smile broadens, ignorantly, "Tomorrow I'll figure it out, there's no rush."

"Have to start somewhere." Canting her head, Grace considers the half-blind girl. Then she half-turns away to rummage in her laptop case, in short order withdrawing a pen and what looks to be a business card. "You ever find yourself over around Morningside," the woman remarks, as she braces the card in one hand and writes carefully on the back, "go to St. John's Cathedral and look up a man called Stephen Harper. Tell him Grace sent you," she concludes, flipping the card up between two fingers and holding it out for Colette to take. "Or don't, as you prefer," Grace adds with a slight grin. On the front of the business card are mundane things — Grace's name, job, office phone number. The back has a shorthand version of what she just said.

That's three. Colette takes the business card, turning it over between her fingers as she looks at the writing printed on both sides, "Cathedral?" It takes her a minute for that to sink in, "What, he's a priest?" Her brow tenses slightly, "I'm not so sure I trust that…" Her head tilts to the side, as she surveys the park. The sun had dipped down behind the buildings just a few moments ago, and in her thoughtful searching of the many faces still out in the hours of dusk, the light on the lamp post flickers on above the pair. Quickly, Colette turcks the business card between her lips to hold it in place, and offers a hand to Grace, "Colette Nichols." She introduces herself with a slight mumble from having to keep the card in place.

The woman chuckles softly. "He's a volunteer. They run a lot of charity stuff; have the resources for it." She reflexively glances up as the light flickers on, then back down to notice Colette's hand. Grace shakes it easily, but skips past polite social phrases. "You shouldn't trust it," she replies baldly. "Or me. You'll either get burned or lucky, and most of the time, I wouldn't put any good odds on the latter." Most of the time.

There's a twinge in Colette's brow as she looks up at the woman during the handshake, visible confusion in her eyes, but also something searching. The way she was handling herself, the way she talked, there was a visible enigma about her to Colette. She was unlike most other people the young girl had met, and that intrigued her. "Guess I'll keep that in mind…" She plucks the card out from between her lips, "If I follow up on this." Two fingers waggle the card back and forth in one hand as Colette tilts her head to the side, regarding Grace intently. "Guess I shouldn't say see you around, then?" Her lips purse, and a crooked smile takes form, "I'll push my luck — See you around, whoever you are." There's something of a teasing manner to her voice as Colette adjusts her backpack on one shoulder, and takes a step back from the stranger. "I've been burned enough, odds are I've gotta come up lucky sooner or later, right?"

"Name's on the card, dear," Grace comments, tone recognizably dry. "It is, after all, mine." She chuckles at the girl, free hand lifting to her forehead to sketch something resembling a salute. "It's your luck, Colette, and luck is what you make it. Make something good of it." And with that, the young woman starts to move on.

Grimacing, Colette furrows her brow and thinks about the card, then looks back up to the woman as she turns to depart. One hand comes up to rub at the back of her head, and her shoulders roll forward, "I always end up looking like a dork, don't I?" She mumbles to herself, hefting her messenger bag back up onto her shoulder as she turns to walk in the opposite direction.

So, her name's Grace...

September 4th: Not That Close
September 4th: A Change in the Air
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License