Bought And Souled


cardinal_icon.gif bebe_icon.gif tuck_icon.gif

Scene Title Bought and Souled
Synopsis Bebe buys something while Tuck shows Cardinal a little piece of his soul.
Date March 14, 2009

Tucker's Pawn Shop

Every shelf, every flat surface in the entire shop is covered with things. VCRs, DVDs, small pieces of machinery, cheap jewelry - all the kind of stuff worth little money. It's the merchandise that's not worth protecting, even here. If someone wants to steal a VHS copy of 'The Little Mermaid,' then so be it. The primary purpose of the clutter of items is a front - to distract from the fact that the real purpose of the shop is to sell stolen, high-value goods.

The front part of the shop with its knickknacks and assorted low-value items is separated from the high value items by a counter and a layer of bulletproof glass. There is a slot beneath the window for exchange of money or small goods. At the base of the counter is a chute for larger items. Surveillance cameras keep a vigilant watch over every square inch.

There is a small arsenal of weapons up on a pegboard above the counter. Not just guns but knives, tasers, pepper spray, handcuffs, nightsticks, brass knuckles - all sorts of things meant to cause pain. There's a rotating case at the counter that holds many expensive jewelry pieces, including a few Rolexes and a large assortment of engagement rings. There are expensive cell phones, iPods, laptops and other various small electronics, including listening devices and CB radios. Just about anything worth stealing is displayed behind the glass and up on the walls. Many items however, are by special request. You gotta know what you're looking for.

The sun's rising over Staten Island, casting its rosy glow over the dirty streets and tenements of the Rookery - a sign for people elsewhere to stir for the day, while here it merely scatters the human cockroaches back to their holes until the great solar disc slides back down beneath the horizon.

It's been a long night, and the spoils of the evening were brought down to the 'pawn shop' by a certain burglar named Cardinal. The proprietor - or whoever he's hired recently - is in the back checking on some things, the back locked up nice and tight and no face showing through the bulletproof window that Tuck's so often seen through. The criminal's browsing through the shelves of junk in the front; picking up an old hand drill and turning it to one side and the other, noticing the frayed wire before setting it down once more. Despite the dim light, he's wearing shades at the moment, protecting his eyes from even that minor glare.

While most people might just be waking up, Bebe has yet to see any real sort of sleep despite spending a majority of the evening in bed. That's the nature of the beast when it comes to her like of work — er, bartered servitude, whatever. She pretends to be surprised when she finds the pawn shop operating bright and early… at least, that's what the brief expression she flashes over otherwise fresh features seems to suggest. Intrigue. Or, perhaps hopefulness. That's not the sort of thing you see around the Rookery very often.

She looks astoundingly average in her 'civilian' clothes, quietly eyeing the items kept in cases or out on display that she passes by on her way up to the counter. She raps a knuckle against the bulletproof partition and pitches an inquiry into the back with a slightly elevated volume to her voice, "Tuck?" When she's greeted by nothing discernible but silence, she hazards a question to the only other guy in the place, "Is Tuck back there?"

As the door opens, Cardinal turns just a bit to look back over his shoulder to the door; recognition flickering behind his eyes, though his glasses hide it, a smile tugging up just a bit at one corner of his lips. "He's out checkin' on something," he replies casually, easily, turning away from the scattered camouflage-junk upon the shelves. "Should be back in a bit. Whatcha looking for, hot stuff?"

Well, well. Looks like we've got a charmer! While Bebe's on the job, this is the brand of banter that she's expected to entertain with a shy smile and a coy laugh; Jack has practically turned tossing out corny lines into an art form, after all. It's the hook she's supposed to bite and swallow. Off duty, however, Bebe's free to nibble (or not) as hard as she likes. Big, brown eyes reckon with Cardinal's countenance for a moment before she decides to play it safe with a smile. "He'd holding something for me," she says, suddenly captivated by something completely mundane just to the left of the criminal's head. Was that innuendo?

"I'm sure he'll be back soon," Cardinal replies with a casual roll of one shoulder, "I'm jus' keeping an eye on stuff for him until then." Well, not officially, really. He's sure that Tuck wouldn't mind if he was watching things while the other man was out, though. Probably. He leans his shoulder against the shelves with a slight creak-shake of the metal shelving, arms folding loosely over his chest as the settles in there, a smile casual on his lips, "So, if you don't mind hangin' out until then…"

Sure. She's got a few minutes to spare. Besides, this guy isn't stalking her through the aisles, invading her personal space, or coming off completely creepy so Bebe doesn't imagine anything untoward might be on the agenda with the proprietor in absentia. There's also the reassuring and watchful gaze of the undisguised cameras that clutter up the corners of the shop.

Time for a little casual conversation. Bebe still lingers near the bulletproof glass but wagers an inquiry ever so slightly over her shoulder: "Buying or selling?"

"Oh," Cardinal replies with a quiet chuckle weaving through his words, his head shaking subtly from side to side, "Selling, always selling, at least usually. I don't usually need the sort've hardware that Tuck's got back there. Although, admittedly— " A turn of his head from where he's leaning to a shelf of junk used to camouflage the store's real purpose, glasses-shadowed gaze falling on the case beneath the counter, "— kind've got my eye on that Rolex down there. Don't make 'em like that anymore." Bloodshot, hazel eyes look up and over the edge of his shades to Bebe, then, "You?"

"Buying," Bebe admits unabashedly, although the shrug that rolls her shoulders suggestions she isn't entirely sure if that's the truth. It might be an error to declare that she's got money to spend in a place like this but, then again, it's a pawn shop and not Bloomingdale's; big spender she obviously is not. Her gaze immediately retrains to the implements of death and dismemberment located on the far wall and kept behind the glass as if to suggest she's here for one of them.

The good thing about a layer of bulletproof glass and nothing valuable out front means that a bathroom break doesn't require he lock up. If the 'merchandise' out front disappeared, it would save him a trip to the dumpster. Most of the DVDs are bootlegged or old rentals and the various VCRs and scrap radios are the fare of thrift stores.

Now, normally a bathroom break doesn't last as long as this, but the fact that Tuck emerges with a slightly damp shirt and a plunger in his hand might give a clue as to why he was detained. He's got a sour look on his face that turns into a twitchy, barely-there smile at the sight of customers. "Cardinal." A beat. He props the plunger up on one shoulder, then tilts his head to get a better look at Bebe. "Hello missy. What can I do for you folks?"

The direction of the woman's gaze is followed, and Cardinal's smile tugs up just a bit at one corner, a roguish curve. "Good choice," he observes in casual tones, "Tuck's got one've the best collections on the island, best prices, too. An' it's not too safe for a woman to walk around alone in this part've town without some protection…" A lift of his chin up to the window, then, as that sour face appears behind bulletproof glass, "'Ey, Tuck. Just entertaining this lovely young lady while she was waiting for you."

One of the unusual benefits of spending her lucrative hours clad in little to nothing manifests in the form of selective memory; Bebe's barely recognizable with her clothes on and it's almost always up to the folks who have seen her otherwise to decide if they want to bother acknowledging it. It doesn't bother her a bit. Without a wig and heavy make-up to hide beneath, she's really quite plain… but still pretty. To Tuck, she offers a sweet smile and says, "I'm here to have a look at that comb you mentioned. Do you still have it?"

Tuck swings the plunger down and sets it aside. He snatches up a nearby dish rag and tries to dab the dampness off his shirt. "Was a sink. Sink stopped up," he murmurs. He looks a little self-conscious.

There's a beat as Tuck tries to drum up the answer to Bebe's question. "Uh, yes. Yes I do." Cardinal is given a sidelong look. Whenever the thief comes to see him, it's rarely without reason and rarely as a customer. He reaches forward and undoes the heavy latch that allows him to swing the heavy bulletproof window back. He disappears behind the counter. There's the sound of shuffling and the clink of metal and glass items. Then he stands up with a velveteen box in hand. He snaps open the old, loose latch, opens it and spins it around. "Seemed like your style."

Resting on a bed of frayed velveteen is either a replica or an authentic Art Nouveau comb. The comb is fairly large - about the size of Tuck's palm and is gold celluloid with rows of blue rhinestones - some of which are missing. One of the comb picks is chipped, but it's still quite lovely. It fans like a peacock's tail and has delicate, filigreed designs.

A comb, eh? Cardinal takes a step over, though he keeps his distance to allow the woman to check out the object she was looking for; craning his neck a bit, he clicks his tongue to the roof of his mouth almost chidingly. "And here you told me you didn't want girly shit in here, Tucker," he observes, though it's more amused than anything.

Oh, hey. There's the face that some folks actually have to pay to see; Bebe's lips round into a nice little 'o' and she even exhales a subdued "Oooh." in appropriate appreciation. She even goes so far as to pitch herself up onto her sneakered tip-toes, making for a much more amusing view from Cardinal's side of the counter, to be sure.

"How much?" she asks, chin lifted so that she might be able to look Tuck in the eye. Let the negotiations commence.

"I don't,” says Tuck. He sounds a bit defensive. Seems the pawnie isn't in his usual quirky good mood. Lines of distraction are etched onto his face. A kid coming back from the dead, then running off will do that to ya. "I was clearing out some boxes of stuff to make room for more useful stuff and I found it. Box of stuff from an estate sale a few years back." Back when Staten had estates.

He grins a little at Bebe's reaction. Bingo. That's why he's a good pawnie. He connects people with what they want. "Mmm. Well, it's old. Not 1920s, I don't think. I'd say it's more of a 40s or 50s replica. But still." Tuck picks up the comb and turns it over. "Fifty."

At the defensive snap from the fence, Cardinal brings a hand up, tugging his shades down a bit on his nose to regard the man with reddened eyes. "Well, someone's in a bad fuckin' mood," he murmurs, though less offended than curious — leaning back again, shoulders resting on the shelf of junk and broken appliances, watching the pair from his casual slouch.

"If it was intact, maybe." Bebe's all business when it comes to making this sort of transaction and her expression now suggests that she's hip to haggle until Tuck's heart tires in his sinkwater-soaked chest. She pitches a sly look over to Cardinal and says, "S'my birthday tomorrow…" Just in case he wanted to know. When her eyes wander back over to Tuck, she's still smiling but making the expression small, "Twenty."

Tuck just gives Cardinal a look. If they were in private, he might say more. But there's no way in hell he's going to out a weakness in front of Jack's girl. "If it was intact, it'd be worth seventy-five or eighty. I could bring it to the mainland and sell it to an antique dealer. Then it'd be perched in the hair of some silicon socialite. This…" he holds up the comb. "…was made for a girl like you." A beat, "Happy birthday. Forty-five."

A low chuckle tumbles itself past Cardinal's lips at that glance, and comment. "What size're you?" A curious and random question, one hand coming up to scratch short, bitten nails against the stubble shadowing his jaw like a particularly thick layer of dust.

A question that could have just as well been answered by marching right on up and tugging at her waistband in order to sneak a peek at what lies beneath under the guise of checking the tag stitched into the back of her jeans — no, seriously, she associates with the sort of guy who would think to do exactly that — Cardinal actually earns himself some brownie points for being an inquisitive stranger wearing sunglasses inside instead of manifesting into a grabbyhands jerk who needs to learn a lesson. He also earns himself an answer as she holds up four fingers behind her back.

"Thirty," she counters to Tuck, eyebrows lifted in interest. She's rising up faster than she's going down. Normally, the situation would be reversed.

"I'll let you have it for thirty if you owe me a favour," says Tuck. Somehow the fence manages to say that in a non-lecherous way. Obviously twenty bucks doesn't buy much of a favour, but it's better than nothing. She might be willing to tell him info that's not really a secret and is no danger to her to reveal. It's an investment in a potential working relationship, all for the price of an antique goo gaw. If she bites. "Nothing extreme. Just information if I need it. Deal?" He sets the comb back in the velveteen case. It makes the piece look more elegant, somehow, despite the bald spots on its resting pillow.

When he's haggling, he's all business. His ears are open to Cardinal and Bebe's exchange, but his eyes are on the petite girl.

"Figures," Cardinal comments rather dryly, mostly to himself, his head shaking ever so slightly, "All that shit I grabbed is, like, size zero. I don't think actual girls come in that size. Not that I'd want 'em to, but…" A shameless thief, he is. At least here on Staten, where the cops aren't likely to come unless they've got a tank with them. Or they're so undercover even they don't remember who they are half've the time.

John Logan's littlest hooker mulls Tuck's proposal thoughtfully while those big, brown eyes consider the comb held up behind the counter longingly. Sure, it has it's flaws and it might even be on the verge of falling apart completely but it's still pretty and has a purpose to serve and that's really what seems to count. Her consent comes only after an extended silence. "Alright. Thirty… and information…" What's the harm?

What's the harm indeed? Gilbert Tucker's a harmless guy. Ask anyone on Staten. But perhaps that's an underestimation. "Sold." He snaps the comb's case shut. "You've got a deal, my dear. If we still had a bridge, this pretty thing might've ended up at an auction."

Then he turns to Cardinal, one brow arching. "Is the business you're here for of the sensitive nature, sir?" He reaches down below the counter and pulls up a small plastic bag which he snaps open.

"Oh, not today," Cardinal admits with a shake of his head, turning a bit to reach out and wrap his fingers about the fabric handles of a duffle bag that was sitting on the shelf with the other junk — hauling it up, he shakes it with a rattle of plastic and metal, suggesting easily, "Figured you might be interested in some power tools I happened across, some car batteries…"

There's some fishing around in front pockets to be done as Bebe's small fingers discreetly sort out the bills found within until she comes up with the right sum. One ten, one five, and fifteen ones. Her gaze momentarily bounces back up and onto the wall whereon Tuck's second-hand hand-canons can be found for sale. She's content to let Cardinal talk his shop, though, since he was here first and her initial transaction has been brokered with relative ease.

Tuck slides the comb into the bag and exchanges it for the cash in Bebe's hand. No receipts. It's not that kind of business. The money is ferreted away somewhere out of sight and he makes a notation in a ledger. "Please, m'dear."

When Cardinal produces the bag, he motions to the counter. "Mmm. Depends on the type of batteries. If they're in good shape and can hold a decent charge, I've got a buyer." He's banking on the fact that the government'll start cutting off the power to different parts of the island sooner or later.

"The cars they were in were still runnin' at the time," replies the thief rather casually, hauling the duffle up onto the counter and thumping it down there; the zipper pulled down to reveal the hardware he'd looted over the night. After the week he's had, he needed to get back to basics a little. "Take a look." A half-step back, then he glances sidelong to the other customer.

"Of course, of course. You're not exactly the salvage type, are you?" Tuck says this with a tiny twitch of his lips. He sorts around in the bag and checks out the power tools. This is why he likes Cardinal. The thief rarely brings him broken stuff, and when he does it's not on purpose. That puts him above ninety five percent of the people who walk through the door with crap to sell. "I'll give you two for this lot, and thirty each for the batteries."

"Good enough," Cardinal replies easily. Of course, he doesn't do this for the money, either, probably; can't, given how he rarely haggles, and could probably be moving a lot more expensive shit than he does, given his skills. "So…" A brow lifts at the other man, "…poker still on for next week?"

"Indeed sir. Not sure who's going to show, but the word's out in any event." Tuck tugs the duffel back behind the counter, makes another note in the leger, then deals out cash which he tucks into an envelope and hands to Cardinal. And hey, he doesn't cheat Card. Much. Or rather, he figures the volume he buys makes up for the occasional short-change on one or two items.

"Listen…" He glances towards where Bebe is browsing, then over to Cardinal. "You got time to do a bit of recon for me?"

The envelope's taken, tucked into the inside of his jacket… and the thief arches a brow, giving the man a curious look. "Recon? You've never been interested in all the underworld political shit before, what's goin' on?" Cardinal's head cants a little to one side, brow furrowed in the fence's direction.

Tuck shakes his head. "Not…," he glances over towards Bebe, then leans in a little closer to Cardinal. "It's… not like that. I'm looking for someone. I know he's here, but I don't know where. And he might spook if he sees me." From the way his face tightens, this is why his mood's so bad.

Cardinal takes a step forward, one arm leaning on the counter and his head tipping in closer to the other man. He's frowning, though mostly in thought, offering in quieter tones, "Alright… so… who's the guy, and what d'you want to know?"

Tuck grits his jaw. He rubs his face. "It's… my kid." he mumbles those words. "Rocket came to see me last week. He's working for someone on the island." A beat, then, "But you can't tell him I sent you if you see him. And you can't let anyone know my kid's still alive. There're people who'd fuck with him just to get to me."

"Your kid?" Cardinal's brows knit together, leaning a bit as if to glance back towards the door, "I mean, I saw your pictures, but, I figured—" A pause, "A'ight. I'll see what I can do. What's he look like, these days, an' you have any idea what he's up to?"

Tuck reaches into his pocket for his wallet. He pulls out a school photo from three years ago. It's a picture of an awkwardly grinning thirteen year old boy with wiry brown hair. "His…hair looks a little lighter. He's taller." He swallows, then reluctantly passes the picture over. He's got dozens more, but still. "Somewhere and working for someone I managed to not cross paths with for two years. I don't think he's ever left Staten. He came to see me, but he wouldn't stay." He looks down and pulls in a steeling breath. "Just wanna be sure he's okay. That he's not in with the wrong people." Who are the right people on Staten?

The picture's taken in hand, and Cardinal reaches up with his other to pull off his shades - wincing slightly at the light around the counter - to regard it for a moment. "I'll see what I can do," he murmurs, "I'm usually pretty good at findin' people when I need to. You just want me to find out what he's up to, then? No problem."

"Yeah. Just. Yeah." Tuck scratches the side of his head. "I'd appreciate it." It's hard for the tough-as-nails, guarded fence to conceal what his son being alive means to him. It's tearing him up that Rocket isn't with him. "He's angry at me. For a lot of good reasons. I was…really fucked up just before the bomb." Which is why he doesn't touch alcohol.

"Hey, hey, I'm not your shrink, man…" A hand's held up, Cardinal's head shaking a little, "I'll find your kid, though, make sure he's not in with a bad bunch. Or, hell, let you know if he is. Not a word 'bout who sent me, either."

"Sorry," mumbles Tuck. Right. Shove it back in, Gil. Walk on it. Show your soft belly to Staten and you'll have no guts inside of five minutes. "You can call it a banked favour, or we can work it out in cash."

"Just add it to my other favor," Cardinal says with a shrug of one shoulder, his hand dropping back down to the counter's edge — and he offers the other man a slight, reassuring smile, "It'll work out, man. Don't worry 'bout it."

"No offense, Card. But I can't just think 'it'll work out' when I just realized my kid's not been dead for two years." That's snapped out again and Tuck's voice raises to the point where Bebe can hear it. He drops it again, carefully. "Sorry. Just. Fuck."

"Relax, relax…" Cardinal's lips purse in a slight frown, "I'll find 'im. I'm sure he'll come around eventually, I mean, shit. Blood's thicker'n water, right? Supposedly, anyway, wouldn't know, don't got any've my own."

"You sure about that?" Tuck rubs his cheek and stares off at a vague point in space. "Anyway. I gotta close up shop. Gotta go to a meeting. Just drop the batteries off around back, uh? Cover them with a tarp." He reaches for the window to swing the bulletproof glass back and latch it into place.

The duffle's zipped back up, and Cardinal hauls it off the counter; looking at the other man with something approaching concern, though, not too openly. "Sure, sure, no problem," he allows, casually, "I'll let you know when I find the kid, eh?"

March 14th: Reflections

Previously in this storyline…
John vs. John

Next in this storyline…
Fear and Loathing

March 14th: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
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