Bombs at the Burlesque


ezra_icon.gif kaydence_icon.gif

Scene Title Bombs at the Burlesque
Synopsis It's not your usual cop bar, but Ezra Grimes and Kaydence Lee Damaris aren't your usual cops.
Date October 18, 2009


A flashy little strip club, its name advertised in bright neon pink above the door in swooping cursive, with the figure of a woman outlined in the same seeming to kick a leg with each flash of the light. Two bouncers stand by the door, which is a reflective chrome and stays closed unless opened by the security duo, with a red carpeting extending out onto the pavement. They will check you for I.D. before permitting you entrance. You'll be greeted by a woman in full burlesque regalia, with exaggerated makeup, a corset that barely keeps everything in, fishnets and feathers. Provided you can pay the cover charge, she will show you to a table, offer to get your first drink of the evening, and leave you alone to enjoy what Burlesque has to offer.

The main room's focal point is the generous stage, a circular platform with Broadway lights around the edges, and a catwalk that extends further out into the scattered round tables where patrons can sit and drink. The lights that shine down on it are never particularly clear, often shards of pink, green, blue, which hide as much as they reveal. There is almost always a dancer on the stage, even as even more girls move around the room to give more intimate shows on tabletops. There's a long bar that crawls along one side of the room, with a couple of bartenders behind it, a counter of black glass with rows and rows of liquor on display on glass shelves. Leather booths are tucked away towards the back, offering some privacy for whatever purpose.

Despite the proposed theme of the club, impressions of burlesque only factor in with the permanent staff and particular shows of featured dancers. Otherwise, the tunes are standard for any kind of strip club, and the girls will wear what they like. There are private lounges for more expensive, personal shows, and a darkly lit, obscured staircase leading up to both dressing rooms and the manager's office.

Homeland Security. Desk work. Papers filed.

Ezra Grimes isn't so much sitting in the strip club as he is — well, languishing in it. He sort of absent-mindedly sits in a leather seat at the edge of a booth, smoking a cigarette. Technically, you're not supposed to smoke in here, but he's a policeman and he doesn't cause trouble. They seat him in a corner of the joint and as long as it's a slow night, there's not a problem. An empty leather book sits on the table in front of him, next to a few empty glasses and one half-full shot glass.

Review your case files. Make your performance review. Check the cold cases. More desk work. Loan work to Homeland Security.

Sure, some of the staff worry. It's a little bit of a headache to have a guy with a gun and a badge sit in your strip club, drink, and stare at the ceiling. It kind of gets you hot under the collar, like there's something a little abnormal about the man with the loaded weapon.

Sift through your filing cabinet. Sift through your desk. Dig around in your own head. Ezra Grimes has been busy, but he hasn't been doing any /work/. Not /real/ work, anyways.

"A roll of dimes for your thoughts, Frank?" It wasn't hard to guess where her partner got off to after a long, trying shift. She's beginning to feel as ineffective as she suspects he is. Though the beer bottle she holds to the side of her face, soothing a fresh black eye, shows she's at least been rewarded for her time and effort in some way. She drops down into the seat across from the man, loosening the purple tie about her neck that's really matching the bruising around her eye.

"Piece of fuckin' work, huh?" Kaydence sets her beer down on the table and shrugs out of her chocolate brown coat, unbuttoning the top three buttons of her rumpled white dress shirt. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I got to bust that son of a bitch for beating on his wife," she of all people would be, "but aren't we supposed to be doing bigger things? His ability shouldn't have even counted for a blip on the radar. That shouldn't have been our call." The woman scowls and takes a drink. "Ever feel like you're being punished for something you didn't even do?"

There's a mostly-naked lady dancing somewhere, but Ezra doesn't seem to particularly notice — or mind, one way or the other. "Yeah. Or something I did do. We did do. But there's nobody punishing us. 'Cept maybe us." Ezra looks off at the ceiling, as though by honing his thousand-yard stare he might uncover some insight into his troubles. "He got you pretty good, huh." Ezra seems… spaced out. No, worse than that. Miles away.

So where's his head at, anyways? "Can't get out of all of them unscathed." Except for Ezra, who hasn't been hurt — in the slightest — in a long time.

Kaydence's gaze follows Ezra's up, up, up to the ceiling. There's nothing there. Well, nothing that shouldn't be there. She looks again to the man's face and then reaches out to place a hand on the book in front of him. Maybe that'll get his attention. "May I?"

"Knock yourself out." The little notebook is pretty sparse — it's full of notes and clippings from case files (he's not technically supposed to xerox those like this) that suggest an 'x-factor'; unexplained loose ends, bureaucratic muck-ups that don't make sense, people who don't belong to the PD or Homeland Security or anyone else, for that matter. "I've been working on it. In my spare time. But I'm still going nowhere fast."

The woman taps one of the pages and frowns. "I remember that one. Bizarre. It's like our suspect completely disappeared." She waves off a questioning look from a barely dressed waitress. No refills, no house specialties, either. "Is this what's eating you? You haven't been your usual, sunny self." It's sarcastic, but there's some sincere concern in Kaydence's inquiry. "I'm beginning to think Lau is purposefully pairing me with you brooding types."

"Something's missing. A piece. There's something. I can feel it in my head. Just behind my eyeballs, but I can't — I can't put my finger on it. It's like I can smell it and touch it and taste it but I can't see it." Ezra puts his cigarette out — in a little shotglass set aside for just such a purpose — and leans forward, almost hunching over the table. "This isn't what we came here to do. We're not— we're not doing /our jobs/."

"Well," Kaydence reasons, "if it's behind your eyeballs, you'd probably have to look severely cross-eyed to get anywhere close to it." She grins faintly, but only briefly. He's right. She eyes the shotglass, considering for a moment asking for a cigarette, but she lets the craving gnaw at her unanswered. "We're doing what we're supposed to do, within the limits laid out by the powers that be, whether the worker drones like us think it's enough or not." She leans back in her seat and consoles, "It isn't our fault. It's the system."

"Yeah. Funny," he mutters. Eyeballs. Ho, ho, ho. Ezra shakes his head. He's not buying what Kaydence is selling. "It is our fault. We made the system. We let it happen. All of us. Now we've got… Homeland Security working one way, the NYPD working another… and somebody else pulling the strings. CIA? NSA? … I don't know. Maybe it's not government at all. Maybe they're Powers, like PARIAH." Ezra mimes pouring out a drink for the deceased organization. So long, o worthy foes. "A President so greasy he slides uphill, a population that would rather be told to do nothing than to do anything at all. Christ, we cordoned off an entire borough as a lost cause. An entire borough! It's the way it works. It's the way people works. Something explodes and all the rules change."

"That's not us as individuals. What are you gonna do? Lead a one man crusade to Washington? Knock down doors and demand change?" Kaydence quirks a brow and takes a long drink from her beer. "Or maybe you're gonna join those kids in Phoenix? Spray paint some walls, record some viral videos… Did you hear that interview Varlane did with Glenn Beck? It's a miracle Commissioner Lau didn't turn purple and have a heart attack. I can't believe he ever thought that was a good idea. Glenn Beck's a freaking monster."

The bottle is drained and Kaydence shakes her head with a frown. "You're right. Whole fucking system is broken. And there isn't a whole lot either of us can do about it on our own." Fingers are raked through dark hair. "Do a shot with me? It feels like a good time to drink something with bomb in the name, if you'll pardon the reference."

"And we eat up. People either love to listen to him… or they love to hate to listen to him. We made the world look like this. We re-made the world in our own image, and it was halfway down the road towards retarded," Ezra says, with a grimace, before he raises a hand. Drinks. Drinks sound like a plan to Ezra, apparently. What else goes best with a pool of existential angst?

Kaydence orders herself something called a Bombsicle, which is layered red, white, and blue like a popsicle of the same name, and tells the waitress to put whatever Ezra wants on her tab. "I tell you, I thought the whole world went to hell when the bomb went off." She leans against the table, lamenting now as he has been. "But I was wrong. The world went to hell a long time ago, and you and I? We were born into it. But this is all we know, so we make do with what we have. And people like us, we try and make a difference. For ourselves, and for the future." She rests her head in one hand and asks, very seriously, "Where the fuck did it get my husband?"

It isn't often that the topic of Spencer Damaris comes up between these two, and when he does, it's usually in reference to happy times. It's never met with the sort of grief that seems to be carried in Kaydence Lee's eyes now. "Where's it gonna get people like you and I? We try to do the right thing, but to what end? Face it, we wouldn't know what to do with change if we finally caused it."

Ezra has a Bombsicle, too. Why not. "Sorry. Something's just… itching me in the wrong place, lately, and not knowing what it is— that's the part that bothers me the most. There's a piece that doesn't fit, and it's ripping me up in the head. I can barely sleep."

When the shots arrive, Kaydence lifts her glass. "Cheers." She knocks back the drink smoothly, like the veteran she is, and quickly twirls a finger in the air to indicate to the watchful waitress that a second round should be forthcoming. "No, it's fine. I just get tense around holidays." Holidays? "My little girl wishes her daddy could see her dressed up like a ragdoll this year. Christ, it's a fucking miracle I was able to find a store-bought costume for her that didn't make her look like she was ready to audition for a job here!" A hand is waved toward the stage and the flavour of the hour working it. She doesn't even get looked at.

The dark-haired woman falls quiet and circles a finger around the rim of her glass. "This job is tough for people like us. We care too much. You know why I'm a cop, but what about you? What made you want to eat, sleep, and breathe the misery of this city, giving all this effort so the world may be mended."

"That's just it," Ezra says, his eyes half-squinted. He remains silent for a long time; his drink lags just a few seconds after hers, but he drinks all the time. "That's part of what bothers me. When I think about it. That's exactly it." Ezra glowers into his drink, which is now mostly empty.

"I don't remember anymore." Why he started doing this, that is.

"How does someone like you, who pays such attention to detail, not remember why you decided to do this?" That understandably baffles Ezra's partner. Kaydence's face screws up with confusion. "Then again, you see enough injustice, and it all kind of blurs together. Sometimes it's just the straw that broke the camel's back, I suppose. Spence wanted to be a cop when he was a little boy, so that's what he did. It's only once he got older, got into college, that he knew that he made the right choice and that he wasn't just chasing some little boy's dream." The empty glass is brought to her lips and tipped back, shaken out to put the last lingering drops of liquid onto her tongue.

"The why isn't important anymore anyway," Kaydence concludes as her glass settles down onto the table with a gentle thunk. "What happened to me doesn't matter anymore. I'm still doing this job." She pauses as the next round is brought, again drinking it down in one smooth motion. "Incidentally, the bastard that raped me gets out in two months. I'll have to make a point of spending more time with people so they can varify my whereabouts if he happens to wind up on the wrong end of someone else's gun." Someone skipped dinner, because it's obvious she isn't keeping up with her partner tonight when she leans against the table drunkenly. "How about it, Detective? You wanna be my alibi for tonight? My girl's with my mother until tomorrow afternoon." There's no mention of where her fiance might have gotten off to.

"I don't know if that's a good idea, Detective," Ezra says, looking absently at his drink. It's like he's trying real hard to remember — like maybe he dig up that missing piece and everything will fall into place. Nothing fits in. The puzzle doesn't resolve. He pulls out another cigarette. He's thinking about it, and the two halves of his brain are making strong arguments for and against.

Ezra stands up. "I'm going to head back to my office. Tell the kid I said hi. Maybe another time," he says, simply, after a few moments of debate. "Be careful out there."

"Shame," Kaydence laments with a shrug. "You too. And the offer's open even if it's just so you have a place to eat pizza, drink beer, and a couch to crash on when it's done. It sucks to be alone sometimes." Spoken by a woman who knows, obviously. "Call me if you need anything. It's what partners are for." She lingers in her seat, fishing about in her discarded coat for her wallet so she can settle their tabs, and give the man a head start.

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