Charity Drive


dumortier_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif merlyn_icon.gif

Scene Title Charity Drive
Synopsis Character is measured by what one can do without when others are in need.
Date June 1, 2021

"For smoke damage," Elliot says, an easy smile covering actual disgust. "Fucking hyper-entitled parasites." The rich never change, so here they are now to help the unwilling make some small sacrifices.

He nods in passing at other volunteers in this makeshift distribution center. Donations gathered, sorted, repackaged, and stuffed into box trucks. It's mostly the thought that counts, and for the rest there's theft.

Former Department Store
Phoenix Heights

Tuesday, June 1st
2:15 PM

Merlyn lifts a box, smiling warmly at the others as she passes. If anyone looks like a cheerful helper, it's her. That's a smile she's perfected. She slides the box into the back of the truck before looking over her shoulder. "Smoke damage," she echoes, then her tone lowers. "Apparently some people don't know how to fucking wash clothes." She wipes her hands off on her jeans as she turns back around. "How many more boxes have we got to fit in?"

"Where are all the dry cleaners when you need them? I miss having one on every block." Dumortier's presence is a small one, despite his introduction to Elliott largely being 'this is some help'. He's in the back of the truck arranging boxes into more secure stacks, methodical and quiet.

The door to the cabin is an open one, and periodically he takes a look out the windshield to gauge when the driver will be back. He has his hair pulled up under a cap, and work gloves on hands, seeming for all the world like any other volunteer. "I'll set the GPS when we fit the last."

"We should get a couple more cases of water," Elliot suggests to Merlyn, "plus one of those boxes of toys, kids need comfort objects." He knows this from personal experience, though the only one of his that still remains is his book; the rest were lost along the way just like the compulsions that required them for comfort.

As for Rene, Elliot appears to ponder the question seriously while not taking it that way at all. "This definitely does feel like a 'dry clean only' neighborhood," he muses. "Though I'm guessing chemical shortages closed most of them. We could suggest to the locals that they throw their clothes in the Hudson, that's like ninety-five percent industrial chemicals at this point. The shit they use for dry cleaning is bound to be one of them."

Merlyn makes a small snort of amusement. “Careful, someone will take you seriously and then they’ll start trying to pay people to wade into the Hudson to retrieve their clothes after.” Glancing at the two, she turns to go retrieve a box of toys. While she does, she seems to chat happily with a nearby volunteer before lifting the box and heading back over.

“Good thing we’re leaving soon, I just got a pulse on the volunteers and some of them are getting a touch suspicious.”

"I'm just glad I know a lady." Dumortier murmurs to Elliot as he collects a box from the floor's edge. "The log changes are convincing enough for a gaggle of Karens. " He raises a brow under the brim of his cap, glancing down to Merlyn when he crouches on the edge of the hatch to talk to her. "Their idea of forensics is enhance more and we got this DNA from a mosquito dead from a heroin OD in the backseat."

"Once it's on the road it will go where the order says to go."

Elliot focuses on the boxes at hand, but his attention is in his peripheral, running an inventory on the assembled Karens' body language. He doesn't feel the need to hurry regardless. "If we do need to leave quickly and without our driver," he admits, "I'm not our best driving alternative."

"And you joke about backseat heroin-mosquito DNA," Elliot says with the same seriousness, "but that's how they got Capone."

“I’m not too worried about them, I just wanted to give a heads up. Pretty sure some of them are only looking at us because we’re obviously the most attractive volunteers here. A couple might be actually wondering what we’re up to… but I’d wager by some of the looks that we’re mostly safe,” Merlyn slides the box of toys into the truck for Rene to reposition.

“I’ll grab the case of water, I’m kind of curious if I can figure out which one of us won the Karen’s Choice Beauty Pageant,” she sounds amused as she retreats in the direction of more of the supplies.

"And I think we all know you're full of it." Dumortier laughs in an aside towards Elliot, shaking his head. "Ah, yes, jealousy, the oldest trick." He snorts as the toy box is slid in place. "If we lose him," Rene angles his head towards Elliot, mouth flat. "I'll do it. Let's just hope for everyone playing nice, hm?"

Hope it's a rather new concept to Elliot, but he figures he may as well apply it where it fits. Preparing hope for the Lock takes constant attention. "I really hope it doesn't come down to a prettiness fight," he says with a smirk as Merlyn walls away, "I don't think I would take that loss well."

For at least one person involved in this more-legitimate affair, they've read the air and misunderstood the signs severely. One of the other Karen-headed volunteers is headed their way, not with a look of suspicion– but with a box in hand.

"I thought I'd heard there was a donation truck stopping by … that must be you all, right?" Honey-vinegar warmth, a smile on her voice but not in her soul. Unfamiliar, patently, to nearly everyone here… but not absolutely everyone.

Barb Tracy isn't a face you forget. Though she's apparently forgotten Elliot's, judging by the way she goes from blonde to him back and back to Dumortier again with that small smile of hers that's beatific in practice.

"Try as we might, there's always those in need," Barb chimes up to Dumortier, shifting the unmarked box in her hands to offer it up his way.

Ffffffuck, Elliot thinks, immediately pulling Wright's attention.

"Bail out, bail out!"

Case of water bottles expertly hefted, Merlyn returns and beelines her way to the truck so she doesn’t have to carry it for long. She sets it down on the truck bed, letting Dumortier do as he wanted with the positioning. Now that she’s not burdened by the weight of the case, she turns to take in their new arrival. She smiles at Barb, the same friendly practiced smile she’s been flashing since they started loading the truck. She doesn’t, however, say anything. Probably because she’s trying to determine the woman’s intentions.

"Oh, always." Dumortier answers with a matched sort of sweetness- - though it lacks any of the facade he is able to read in this new woman's body language. She's right- - and he answers honestly. Nothing to see here except assurance. He accepts the box she offers, patiently testing its weight before setting it atop the nearest column he's Tetris'd into the truck.

"Tragedy after tragedy, you know? The whole… cliche of never catching a break rings a bell." One hand gestures as if tapping that aforementioned bell at the edge of an invisible thought. "But, ah, something to be said of curses, too, hm?" Manner at ease, Rene appears more than willing to engage, a polite curve to his smile and features boyishly shaded under his hat.

Elliot does his best to keep himself mostly out of focus as he runs the numbers on the situation. Things in the Tracy family have been touchy since Wright told her father that she and Elliot sport-hunted his fascist war buddies.

The fact that she doesn't seem to recognize him is a relief he keeps to himself. Not really ready to deal with the awkward 'how have you been', he decides that saying something is probably better than not; the Elliot Hitchens that Barb Tracy knew rarely ever spoke. "We all have to be our best selves to get through it," he tries.

Barb lets out a hmm of agreement at first as Dumortier takes the weight from her hands, idling subconsciously closer to Merlyn as she returns. Silent camaraderie, whether or not it's deserved. The comment passed about curses brings her to arch both eyebrows high in telegraphed surprise that someone would go there. "Well," she proposes with intense delicacy. "Let's hope that the Safe Zone isn't cursed with tragedy. I recently moved here after all, and I have a granddaughter here, too. Though we all know there's trouble still yet to come, what with the…" Her nose wrinkles at the unfortunateness of it all. "Fires still on the proverbial and literal horizon."

Elliot's comment is a hopeful one, though, and she turns to him with a smile that's genuinely warm. "That's the spirit now, isn't it?" Her posture turns to include him in on the conversation, shoulders squaring his way. "And an artful way to put it, at that."

"May we all have the strength to do what we have to," Barb demures with a sympathetic bob of her head.

"Oh god," Wright says, feeling ill, "she likes you."

Merlyn’s friendly smile remains and she enthusiastically nods her agreement to everything Barb is saying. “It’s so very good that with all that’s going on there continue to be generous people willing to give something of themselves to help others.” She, as it turns out, doesn’t need to bother to come up with things to say. Barb’s just looking for people to agree with her.

"Maybe she just found a lucky charm, then." Dumortier flashes a tiny bit of tooth in his smile for Barb, quelling it soon enough before he slides the water case aside. For all his size, Rene is still used to physical labor, somewhat punctuated by the way he starts methodically checks and tightens the various ratchet ties.

"I can't speak for proverbial, though it seems that a lot of us have tangled with burning before." A scoff highlights his breathe when he offers a sheepish laugh. "The Devil hasn't killed me yet, so here I am."

"How many left there, Button?" Question aimed for Merlyn, Rene edges toward 'show-on-the-road'.

Elliot sets down a clipboard on a box before walking to the end of the truck. "I'll grab the last case of water," he says before descending. "I've done enough standing around looking pretty for the day." He directs the comment toward Merlyn, keeping some space between himself and Barb. He's taller than when she last saw him… seventeen years ago, holy shit. He smiles pleasantly to her regardless.

And she returns it with warm sincerity, eyes and posture turning to follow Elliot as he goes.

Barb doesn't follow, though, eventually coming back round to Merlyn. She seems more at ease than before, a sense of having found her way back among good company abound for how genuinely nice these folk are all being. She interjects almost over Rene to earnestly ask, "How did you get all wrapped up in this anyway?"

Merlyn addresses Rene's question first. "I think that's the last of them, soon as that water's in," she says, then offers Barb a winning smile. "I've been helped before in the past, so I like to give back when I can. This just happened to be an opportunity to do some good. The world always needs a little more good in it." It's all truth, really, which makes it an easier situation for her to say smoothly.

Dumortier allows his gaze to briefly travel after Elliot as he goes to get one more of the water; he leans a hand up against the mouth of the truck's frame, smiling to Merlyn with a nod. Soon, then. Barring traffic, by the time it all gets where it's going, they'll be more or less in the wind- - making good time. Not in a hurry, just hands being busy.

"Ah," A hand seesaws. "Same for me I suppose." Rene chooses to slot himself in with Merlyn's answer for the sake of ease. "I've seen a number of communities be forgotten after a disaster. Been in a few myself… and it is never easy to get what you need." He drums a gloved hand against the nearest stack of boxes.

Elliot doesn't dally, merely takes a moment to look around for anything else they might be able to steal. Toiletries are in high demand, but nothing is conveniently packaged at the moment. With Barb's eyes boring into him he isn't going to waste a second getting them on the road. He returns to the truck, handing up the water and pretending he didn't hear the question so he can avoid having to answer it. "Looks like that's it," he says.

The look in Barb's eyes shifts, almost softening but not quite as she bobs her head in response to Merlyn's answer. "It's so good of you to give back when you were looked out for before. Really, the most human thing a person can do is to do unto others…" She's momentarily distracted from the rest of that as Elliot returns, chiming with a small smile, "You know?"

Wright dry-heaves.

A sympathetic nod in that same vein is given up to Durmortier, and then Barb slides a step back, her arms settling into a fold before her. "Well, you all have a safe drive ahead of you. Hopefully the roads stay clear and free."

Merlyn smiles again. “Thanks,” she directs to Barb as a means of ending the conversation. She glances to Elliot, then to Rene, checking to make sure everything’s in order so they can just get out. No need to stay under the watchful eyes of the Karens of the building any longer than necessary. She steps closer to the truck, more than ready to stop using the plastic smile reserved for strangers she doesn’t trust.

In another time and place he might be tempted to be more sweet to the stranger, but right now they just need to be in and out. No point in being memorable.

"All set, lovelies?" Dumortier asks brightly of Merlyn and Elliot, slotting the last arrival into place and hooking the bungee over the last sides. He gives them a smile before he makes his way to the front of the truck. "Hop in if you're coming, otherwise I can meet you."

Elliot is delighted for this nightmare to end, turning to Barb with a warm smile of parting that Wright doesn't appreciate at all. "Thanks again for the donations," he says as he makes his way to open the passenger side door for Merlyn to take the middle seat. "We'll make sure everything gets to where it's needed."

"Please, please leave before she gives you her number," Wright begs, too horrified to stop streaming.

The physical distance and the occupying of hands seems to be the only thing that keeps Barb from pursuing a handshake farewell for any of them, but she watches them all closely all the same. Curious, marking down identities for the future, such as they can be seen. "Glad to see it going to help our fellow man. We can only hope that in all this woe out here, there might be other opportunities to give back and uplift each other throughout it."

But that seems to be it for her part. Barb lifts a hand in farewell, fingers waving from side to side before closing down over her palm in thought before she turns away and heads back to a gaggle of volunteers, that same thoughtfulness still in her eyes.

Merlyn smiles pleasantly, offering a small wiggle of fingers in departure before she looks back to the others, climbing up to slide into the seat. "Ugh, I hate when people act like that. Such two-faced higher-than-thou attitudes," she mutters.

"God bless." constitutes Dumortier's farewell to the older woman, one hand gesturing the same. In some capacity, he sounds like he might mean it. Somewhere in there. As Merlyn and Elliot slip into the front seats, Rene lowers the back door with a rattle of metal and a brief, far look towards where volunteers go through care boxes.

"She seemed- -" Dumortier sidles through the cabin's divider and into the driver's seat. One hand navigates the tablet used for maps. He pauses as he finishes inputting the address from an already altered email. "A little…. lost."

Elliot holds a hand up in parting, smiling wide. "Take care," he says, then follows Merlyn into the cab and closes the door.

"Ohhhh my God please drive," he says, his carefully maintained mask of pleasantness dropping like a rock down a well. He chuckles a bit manically, eyes wide as he looks down to Merlyn. "That's Wright's mother and she didn't recognize me."

"Holy fuck," Merlyn says, letting out a laugh. "Her mom is a bitch. I kind of feel awful for Wright now." She struggles to stop laughing for a moment. "You realize if you see her again now she'll remember you and that will be a whole hell of a thing and a half." She gives him a light nudge with her elbow before she looks back to Rene. "Now we just get the fuck out."

Dumortier can't help but laugh at the mortification that Elliot lets wash out. "Wow." He turns over the engine and checks his mirrors, pushing the seat up and forward. "I bet it'll hit her in a nightmare tonight." That's not helping.

"Alright, alright." Though pre-war, the truck is ready too, growling and rolling off the lot and onto the street. "Bon voyage."

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