For All The Marbles, Part II


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Scene Title For All The Marbles, Part II
Synopsis Kain Zarek negotiates with a hallucination, or maybe blackmails Cardinal, or he's just shouting at a refrigerator. It's hard to tell.
Date March 8, 2010

Red Hook

Dusky gray light filters in through unblinded windows, and the overcast skies clouding up the late afternoon seem to go on forever. Outside the narrow windows of Lola Mayeux's safehouse-apartment, drifting snow is blown by light winds off of the roof and up from the street. Down below, Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood looks like it has been reclaimed by the ices of Antarctica, a particular frozen circle of Hell from which Richard Cardinal may never have truly escaped. It hasn't stopped snowing since the day he died.

Maybe he never did make it back.

It isn't the freezing cold that draws a paper thin shadow across ice and snow towards that brick apartment building overlooking the river, but rather one of the two occupants of a third floor apartment therein. Like smoke through a curtain, Richard Cardinal's ephemeral existance affords him a level of mobility that most living beings simply do not possess. Slid like a letter beneath the door he arrives to the residence of Lola Mayeux, to find not the saucy tart herself prancing around its less than well-tended walls, but a cajun of a different stripe seated in her recliner, hands folded in his lap, head bowed and a cell phone in his hand.

Blue eyes are transfixed on an entry listed in the phone; Damaris.K Frustratedly, and unaware of the phantom haunting his discontent, Kain closes the cell phone and leans his head back into the chair, staring up at the cracked and peeling paint on the ceiling.

Although the cajun killer isn't someone that Cardinal's revealed his identity to, he's been meaning to check in on her to make sure she's not doing anything particularly foolish or dangerous. She gets bored, after all. So imagine his surprise when he finds one of his other pawns - and a particularly important one - there instead.

Richard observes in silence for awhile, before a hollow whisper stirs behind him, "…that wouldn't be Kaydence Damaris's number, now would it? Tsk, tsk, Zarek. Does her fiance know?" Does he know?

Kain should jump, he should skitter and shout and look aghast at the sudden intrusion of a voice at his side. "Piss off," is not the grumbled reaction the blonde man should give. With the phone laid in his lap, he just stares down at its closed front, brows furrowed and eyes halfway closed. "Ah' ain't talkin' to m'self no more…"

Breathing out a sigh, Kain brings a hand up to his forehead and slouches forward, fingers raking into his hair. "God damnit Ah'm talkin' to m'self…" he breathes out in a whisper, shoulders slouching forward and eyes falling shut. After his last conversation with Lola regarding Cardinal, it's no surprise that the man thinks he's losing his mind.

"Oh for the love of God…" This again? The tattered shadow of Richard Cardinal twists down over the couch, spreading up across the wall in a lacy splay of blackness, "…didn't we cover this entire 'You are not hallucinating' bullshit already, Kain? It's getting rather fucking tiring having to have to argue that I exist every five fucking minutes. It's starting to make me doubt it…" Doubt it…

Rising up from the chair, Kain stares down towards the source of the voice, lips downturned into a frown and slowly shakes his head. The cell phone is tucked into his back pocket as he walks across the floor towards the tiny kitchen, pausing once he passes from carpet to linoleum to look back over his shoulder at the source of the voice. "Ain't nobody else that knows you're alive, Dickie. Lola don't know shit— nobody. Jus' you an' me."

Kain furrows his brows and runs his tongue over his lips, casting a side-long glance towards the windows. "Exactly how's that not me hallucinatin' this outta' some fucked up sense'a guilt? Ah' don't even know if that really was a phone call Ah' got the other day or jus' me thinkin' it an— Ah'm talking t'mahself again."

"I suppose I could have someone else who does know contact you so you know I am really alive," Richard replies in that hollow whisper of his, the fluttering shreds of darkness shifting lazily across the wall like the results of a shadow lantern left to turn on its own, "I've been rather trying to keep it quiet, though. I assumed you'd be at least a little discreet, Kain…" Kain…

A silent moment, before Cardinal asks carefully, "How can I convince you that you're not talking to yourself, Zarek?"

"That'd go a whole long way t'provin' Ah'm not goin' out've mah mind. Make sure it's someone Ah ain't never met before, otherwise Ah' might just think Ah'm makin' it up." Tilting his chin up, Kain offers a blue-eyed stare to the direction of Cardinal's voice. "Ah' came over here, Dickie thinkin' that Lola was a part'a all'a this, cause she showed up at mah penthouse talkin' about carryin' on your work and bringin' down the Linderman Group an' all that same shit you tried t'spoon feed me…"

"So Ah' asked her 'bout that Nichols girl, an' she didn't even know who Ah' was talkin' 'bout. So if you're really real, why don' you tell me how you expected me t'get in touch with you if'n th' only buddy a'yours Ah' know of ain't in on the little game! You got a bat signal Ah' can shine up into the sky for you t'show up?"

"I gave you a phone call, Zarek," replies the tattered shadow pointedly, "You can't tell me that you don't have caller ID, I'm pretty sure it comes standard with voice mail these days." These days…

Dark brows twitch, Kain considers Cardinal thoughtfully for a moment. "DIdn't think t'check… every spooky nutjob in town Ah' ever did business with used disposable phones after leavin' cryptic messages on mah' voicemail." One brow kicks up slowly, "Ah' wasn't entirely convinced Ah'd even heard it anyway…" Squinting, Kain looks away from the sound of Cardinal's voice and moves towards the refrigerator, opening it up with a rattle and removing an open carton of milk. He leans up, staring over the top of the door towards where he'd heard the disembodied voice earlier.

"If you got a plan other than drive me fuckin' crazy… Ah'm all ears. Ah' ain't got nothin' else for me in this city, Dickie. Ah've got mah' dead-end job and nobody who gives a damn whether Ah'm alive or dead 'cept when they need me for somethin'. So why don' we get down t'business and talk' bout how your little plan's gonna be for all the marbles."

"I have a plan. I still need a few more… details to finalize it," replies the living shadow, ephemeral darkness drifting along after him into the kitchen, Richard's tendrilling form crawling over the edge of the refridgerator door and covering the mustard as if peering over it, "Nicole Nichols is part of that… she was one of Daniel's tools when he brought down Rickham, was one of his personal assistants for a long time… she has intimate knowledge of the Group and how it works. I'm currently working to… turn her to our cause." To our cause…

"Our timetable's going to have to pick up, though, given that Monroe is still tearing away at the foundations. He already cleared out your bank account." Bank account…

It's not exactly recoiling given how slow he performs the maneuver, but Kain's quiet backpedaling away from the oily shadow slithering down the inside of the refrigerator immediately removes any sense of hunger or thirst he might have had, and the carton of milk is closed and placed carefully back inside of the fridge, though it's not closed since those are mostly airtight and what if Cardinal got stuck? What if Cardinal got stuck? The thought echoes around a second time, blue eyes inspecting the refrigerator, but Kain decides not to leave Lola a very shadowy surprise.

"Who's Monroe and where can Ah' find 'im?" Kain arches one brow slowly, looking askance at Cardinal. "'Cause right now that motherfucker's cost me nearly everything Ah' own, an' if it weren't for Danny ownin' Dorchester towers Ah'd be out on mah ass like trailer park trash after a fistfight." The analogy is a little bit over the top. "Unless of course any minute now Lola's gonna' walk in an' wonder why Ah'm talkin' to mah'self."

"Adam Monroe." The shadow spills down across the front of the fridge's door, spilling down to the kitchen floor and slithering in broken, tacky lines and strips over the tile, "An old… acquaintance… and enemy of Daniel's. The man is several hundred years old, and I can count the number of ways to actually kill him on one hand… he's a perfect regenerator. I only know of two of those." Claire…

"Monroe'll get his own soon enough. He was working with Liu and Song, too, which is one of the reasons he's so pissed off right now."

The squint Kain gives Cardinal's shadow is a bit intense as he slowly urges the refrigerator door shut in the wake of Cardinal's emergence. "So you're saying ol Lazarus Long is up in Danny's grill because of somethin' he did when he was a kid or somethin', and that somehow tracks back t'me because Ah' work for 'im?" Narrowing his eyes, Kain crosses his arms over ihs chest and exhales a deep sigh. "So why ain't you an ol' Lazzy workin' together t'bring down Danny? Sounds like you both got the same axe t'grind… an' if he's all 'bout funneling my money into some charity organization maybe he ain't such a bad apple?"

One brow lifted, Kain considers the shadow of his maybe hallucinations, tongue rolling across his his upper teeth slowly. "'Cause right now Dickie all Ah'm hearin' is Ah' got a plan, and the last person t'say that to me was Damaris, an' Ah'm a strict follower a' once bitten twice shy."

"Trust me, he's not the sort of bastard you'd want to work too closely with… and the only reason the money went to where it did was because the technopath that he hired isn't quite as bad as he is…" As he is… The shadow begins to slither back towards the living room, "…and I do have a plan, Zarek, you don't have to believe me if you don't want to. As soon as your part shows up… you'll know, I assure— "

Pause. "Lazarus Long? You read Heinlein?" He sounds absolutely startled about that. He wasn't entirely sure Kain knew what science-fiction was.

"Ah' read," is all the answer Kain gives to the topic, huffing out a snort afterwards like some indignant period on the end of his sentence. "So this Adam fella' got himself a hard-on against Danny, but it's a worse one than you got, so the two've you ain't playin' patty-cake no more, and you're both sort've livin' forever Highlander types, 'cept you're more spooky ghost? Yeah somebody'll believe me if'n Ah'e ver talked about this…"

Frustrated grousing aside, Kain's expression seems to be one of less obvious distaste and depression than earlier. "You said ol' Lazzie's got himself a techno-person to do all his computer widgeting for him?" A dark brow comes up as Kain tries his bestt o size up a shadow— and fails. "Well then, why don't you hand me over her name and that'll go a long ways t'makin' me feel a whole lot better about Mah'self when Ah' beat the remainder of mah missin money outta him."

"Trust me, I could tell you much more unbelievable things, Zarek…" Nuclear shadows… immortal ghosts… time travel… A twist of that tattered shadow spills up along the wall, Cardinal's whispering voice moving with it, "…and she works for me now, that's why I know what happened to you. Your money's chump change compared to what you'll have access to once we take over the Group, though." The Zarek Group…

"Leave the takeover process to me. When we do move in, though, we'll have to act quickly. The government'll roll in to try and subpoena everything they can, maybe even try to take the company over." Take it over…

"People keep on tellin' me t'trust them…" Kain bitterly admits with a narrowing of his eyes towards the tattered phantom gliding across his walls, "and ain't nobody never given em one good Goddamned reason t'do that. Everyone keeps tellin' me trust me an' then they either get themselves shot, blown up or disappeared." Turning his back on the shadow, Kain runs both hands through his hair and exhales a tired sigh. "You ain't ponied up nothin' Dickie, not one single damn reason why Ah' should trust you instead'a jus' goin t'Danny an' lettin' him know he needs t'call Ghostbusters."

Kain turns at that, brows furrowed and eyes narrowed. "So here's what you're gonna' do to inspire my confidence again, Dickie." There's a low quality to Kain's voice, frustrated and level. "You're gonna find me six hundred and twenty five thousand dollars, the sum that was taken outta' mah bank account. Yer' gonna' get it to me, or Ah'm gonna' go spraypaintin' the world to tell whoever wants t'listen that you're around an' maybe some kinda' dangerous assassin."

Kain's lips press together into a thin line. "Ah' lift one finger, call one press conference, an' suddenly everyone's wondering where the shadow is. Maybe Ah' get the po-lice to check mah calls, find out who called me an' jus' maybe they're interested in that. So now's when you get t'pay up, Richard. Your little pet techno-bitch owes me money. You don't wanna owe money to a mobster."

"You lift one finger, call one press conference, and you'll be thrown into a mental institution for being psychotically delusional, Zarek…" A dark twist of amusement to that hollow whisper from Richard Cardinal, "…and that's before the CIA makes you vanish into a deep, dark hole for the rest of your life. Assuming that they're the ones that get to you first. If I were you… I'd hope that they were."

"There're things far worse than mobsters, Kain. I'm one of them. You don't want to threaten me…" Me… That low hiss fades off as the darkness spills away, "…but if all you care about is that piddly amount of money? I'll see to it, then. Six hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars? Chump change…" Change…

"Talk's pretty cheap Dickie, you get me my money back, then we'll talk." Kain's blue eyes narrow slowly, "You show me that there's a Dod damned reason t'trust you… because Ah'm done takin' people's word for things." Kain's brows furrow together, a slow look from Cardinal's tattered form to the windows, and Kain's voice becomes more distant. "You want me to keep Lola in the dark about your miraculous resurrection, 'cause Ah'll be outta' here faster than you can say one night stand if so. Last thing Ah' need is that nut-job thinkin' she's lookin' out for me."

Kain's eyes drift back from the window, having a hard time focusing on Cardinal's ephemeral form. "Or are you actually gonna' start fessin' up t'people that you ain't dead an' they can stop mournin' you an' tryin' t'keep your fool torch lit on their own?"

"I'm surprised to hear she cares…" A hint of bitterness, there, in Richard's voice, "…fine. I'll talk to her, if you think it's so important… I might have a job for her anyway. I'll see about your money, Kain."

Then, while he watches the window, the tattered remnants of Richard Cardinal are gone. Maybe. Probably. Really, can you ever be sure?

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