Blind Spots


bebe_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Blind Spots
Synopsis Two hard-working supporters of Staten Island and it's Rookery have a brief encounter in one of the island's feeding troughs.
Date February 11, 2009

Sheung Wan Kitchen

It's not just the large selection that makes Sheung Wan Kitchen special - it's the quality, the sights, the atmosphere, and the friendly service. This is a very small restaurant with only a handful of seats in front of a large, flat counter where meals are prepared in full-view by some of the Rookery's more knowledgeable chefs. Stacked high against the far wall are wicker baskets full of dried sea creatures, mystery animal parts, deer antlers, wine with whole king cobras, heaps of herbs and twigs and tree barks. Although these are meant to go into the dishes that are served here, it is not impossible to haggle for them.

A large chalkboard behind the counter advertises the kitchen's special menu, though some items are more difficult to read than others. Most popular is the Tree Lizard Soup - cooked with yams, Chinese dates, ginseng, medlar, and something called tragacanth, which is reported to be good for asthma, colds, lungs and the heart.

The talented chefs of the Sheung Wan Kitchen have yet to cook a dish that Wes Smedley hasn't been able to polish off with relish.

This isn't the sort of place where the man's tri-colored mutt of a dog gets scraps, either. Carson lies serenely at his master's feet while the smuggler and purveyor of all manner of merchandise finishes off the latest culinary concoction conjured by the cooks of the Kitchen.

It's a late lunch, or perhaps an early dinner. Regardless, the man seems altogether pleased with the food, letting out an appreciative whistle as he relaxes into his chair. "We're gonna start us a little bet, Fob," Smedley chuckles, at which Carson lifts his head with interest. "When I can bring you a bit you can't make tasty, you pick up the tab. Deal?"

Fob, whose name is likely not what his customer calls him, simply smirks and nods curtly. As skilled as he may be behind the counter, it isn't his place to deny a man like Wes Smedley.

The dens who host the denizens of Staten Island all have their own variety of regulars and the Sheung Wan Kitchen is no exception. Due to its neighborhood proximity to the Happy Dagger, more than a few of John Logan's 'working girls' find their way over more often than not before the onslaught of another evening's shift begins. Cue the arrival of one Barbara "Bebe" Dahl — teenaged whore and Tree Lizard Soup lover. Someone behind the counter recognizes her and she's greeted warmly with, "Usual?"

"Usual," she says still wearing her brilliant smile. While she waits, she gives the patrons to be found 'round today a momentary and unobtrusive inspection.

It would be ideal, perhaps, if the patrons in turn regarded Bebe the same way. Carson, however, is intrigued by this new customer, but he has better manners than to go over and immediately investigate her. Instead, the lanky dog pushes himself to his paws to watch Bebe with an expression that might be called suspicion, if dogs are capable of such faces.

His master, on the other hand, only spares the woman a brief glance before he goes about the business of finishing off his beverage, doing all he can not to look at her directly, if at all. What is intended to be a sly and inconspicuous avoidance, however, sticks out like a sore thumb on a practiced craftsman.

Bebe certainly isn't the sort to seek out ways to make clearly uncomfortable people become even more uncomfortable. It's bad for business. With the most of her weight rested on the counter courtesy of her forearms, brought together at the palms as if striking a pose for prayer, she rests her chin on her shoulder ever so often in order to sneak a peek over to Smedley and his four-legged friend while waiting for her bowl of steaming soup and sticky rice.

Carson takes the peek back at him as an invitation and crosses the small distance between Smedley's chair and Bebe's to sniff her more directly, his tail wagging lazily behind him. But while he's not trying to pay attention to Bebe, Smedley can't help but notice when his dog leaves him. He frowns, furrowing his eyebrows as he watches the betraying canine.

"Carson," he calls in a gruff tone, whistling short and sharp to call the dog back. But Carson only sits and looks over his shoulder at the man. There's nothing wrong with the hooker, after all. She's just here to eat soup.

Aw! Doggie! Most women are suckers for animals, babies, or both — it seems Bebe fits the first category easily enough. Check that box off on your list. "Well, hello there," she says down to the dog, voice friendly and welcoming and just slightly this side of babied up a bit. "Aren't you handsome?" Of course, she says this just as Smedley happens to sidle up so, you know, is she talking about the dog… or his master?

Swallowing discomfort, Smedley rises from his chair and tosses a few bills onto the counter, presumably to cover his meal and some measure of a tip, before he strides over to Bebe and the beaming dog. But rather than look the hooker in the eye, Smedley keeps his eyes on the animal even as his hands move to grab Carson's collar.

"Sorry, miss," he grumbles, his voice low and as frustrated as it is apologetic. "Th'mutt forgets himself sometimes, is all."

There's the shadow of a laugh in her voice as Bebe recoils from the reclaimed canine and says, "I don't mind." It takes her a moment to recognize that Smedley seems to be doing an awful lot of not looking at her despite his awkward attempts at conversation. How odd that dichotomy is; when she's dressed in next to nothing, men can't seems to keep their eyes off of her, but when it's just a t-shirt and slightly snug jeans, she becomes a blind spot.

She notes the awkward lack of eye contact and, instead of lingering out of hand to not be looked at, she says, "I should go… wash my hands." There. When she makes her play for a sanitary sidetrack, Smedley can escape and these two can never again meet fully dressed again — if only the Fates were that merciful.

It's only after Bebe has risen to find a place to perform the pre-dining ritual that Smedley is able to lift his eyes and look at her for longer than a moment. Still, his face is pained when he finally does so. Letting go of Carson, he rises. A few more bills are tosses onto the counter - enough to cover the house's specialty.

Whether or not the chefs decide to let the generosity favor themselves or the working girl, however, is up to them. Even before the wrinkled and worn bits of paper have been snatched up by one of the greedier hands behind the counter, Smedley and his dog have made their exit.

February 11th: How Many Periwinkle Vans Could There Be?
February 11th: Cat And Mouse
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