Full of Holes


joseph_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Full of Holes
Synopsis Joseph makes contact with the Ferry through Teo.
Date June 16, 2010

Staten Island: The Angry Pelican

A stone's throw away from the little makeshift harbor on the foreshore of the Arthur Kill river is this little even more makeshift bar. Little more than a shack, the interior barely fits more than its own stock of alcohol and kitchenware, and the seating spaces are outdoors under a rickety wooden cover decorated with fishing paraphernalia and nets. The chairs and tables are broken down cheap things that look like they've been scavenged from all over the place, mismatched but comfortable with some cushions or blankets thrown over them. The ground is sandy and dirty, as if the beach extends right under your feet, and despite being outdoors, the place is cluttered. Simple alcohol is provided - whiskeys, rums, and beers - without a chance of food, and you'll mostly find yourself in the company of thieves, considering the kinds of boats that dock here.

There are a couple of sheltered spots on Staten Island, if sheltered is meant to be synonymous with the kind of protection that the Ferrymen provide. There is, of course, the Garden, the cosiest prison in the known world, with real bundles of drying herbs hung from the windowsill and chains linked to cots in the basement. McRae's, that Joseph has only visited on supplies runs and met a girl there, once. Probably others, less permanent hovels, like the youth shelter crossways from the Rookery or the Lighthouse when there's room to spare and no government officials comin' a-knockin'.

Where Joseph is waiting for Teo is none of these places, which is rather the point. Considerate to a fault, he's headed out towards the Great Kills harbor as opposed to waiting for the Sicilian to drag himself all the way inland, as well as maybe some thought and respect given to the hideaway that Deckard entrusted him with. There's a nice car stashed with it, too.

He didn't drive the El Camino out here, though, and the Ferry-owned truck he keeps stashed this side isn't around either. Maybe Joseph Sumter flirted his way into getting a ride, or he walked in, and considering his hair is still rain wet — but it's also not a cold day, and they all will probably sooner take wet over freezing. At least for a while. The summer thunderstorm above has decreased to a light shower since Joseph has taken to perching at one of the dry spots in the Angry Pelican's half-assed shelter, even the stronger winds only managing to blow the falling rain about a foot from the pastor's boot.

He is an unlikely type around this place, but he doesn't stand out as such, not unless you glance again. A light weather jacket pull over a thin sweater, jeans and boots, ringless hands clasped between his knees and a lack of alcohol on the empty, grimy table in front of him. Not just because he's a recovering alcoholic, but have you seen what they clean those glasses with?

Teo lopes in, using the characteristic gait that the youngest and most familiar version had favored, like his legs aren't properly hinged to his pelvis and that his personal power is directly proportional to how large the horizontal percentage of the sidewalk the pitch and jaunty pickaxeing of his knees can take up.

He is a likelier type, probably, but he stands out more. Good skin, straight nose, strong jaw, the sucking wound on his face. He looks like someone hated him enough to leave him with that, at least, only as much a victim as he must have been a villain, covered in the same democratic filth as has the unshod homeless and plumbing rats of the island even though the backs of his ears are scrubbed pink and his clothes are merely old, underneath the crisp redolence of detergent. He's letting the bulge of the pistol under his arm show.

Well, to those who know how to tell. Teo doesn't know whether or not that's a trick of perception that Joseph has managed to pick up during the slow downward spiral of his life into New York City as Hell, but the threat and cold reminder isn't really for him, anyway. They may not be friends, but Teodoro approaches the pastor with a certain absence of malice that is based on nothing demeaning. Water drips off the ends of his hair. "Buongiorno."

"Hey." A glance past Teo reveals the grey and crusty coast of this side of Staten Island, the rain having made pockmarks in the bit of beach that is actually sand and not rock, and overall not a very nice environment to stroll down, and so there's no getting up after that slight twitch of movement that implied he was about to. Instead, Joseph settles, adjusts his head to point slightly more socially towards the one adjacent to him, and lets his arms fold comfortably over his stomach.

He doesn't have anything with him, save for a worn looking backpack kept between his ankles, crumpled and near empty looking. He does have stuff, in some corner of the GCT, but right now, all his worldly possessions have come down to a backpack and a change of clothing inside it.

If anyone wanted to rob him, they'd be pretty disappointed, and would likely just take the gun he does not actually have on him. All things considered, he has a smile for Teo, and demonstrates that he's one of those breeds of people that don't dart glances at physical faults like the puckered seam at the left of Teo's mouth, and he doesn't even have to try. "Thanks for comin' out. How much do you know?"

Chair legs scratch into dully-scarred floorboards, catches a clicky tick against a prised-up nail at the end of one and then wobbles to a halt in Teo's hand as he sidles around to sit in it. If he winds up with a compulsion to oder alcohol that he subsequently has to fight down, he does a good job not letting it on, propping his elbows up on the table's edge and settling without slouching. He's glad that Joseph's manners haven't faded with the frost, at least as pertains to the scar on his face.

Too vain to care that much for most other aspects of civility. "Non problema. I don't know anything, I think.

"I have a small constellation of guesses, mostly revolving around the 'houses, supply line failures during the blackouts the other week. Eileen's push for leadership, your potential entanglement with a new wave of inscrutably-motivated kidnappers— and your even more puzzling return, in light of that. And, um," the expected first wave of accusations regarding his invasion of Deckard's journalistic privacy, but evidently: that was just him projecting, "some personal shit. Only, we wouldn't really be doing that here.

"Probably." A beat. And then, maybe irrelevantly, but carefully neutral, "You look a little thin." Guilt has whetted his perceptions, either sharpening his attention to detail or merely his attitude. There is a coffee stain below his wrist that he ignores or doesn't see, splaying his fingers to soften the slight tilt forward of his posture.

This is not as new an observation as his other ones, and Joseph's eyebrows go up and then down in understated expression. You don't pig out on food when you're living off the Ferry, but that no one's really noticed that Joseph is as much refugee— his employment burned to the ground by Evo haters, his bank account carefully conserved but ever depleting, apartment lost— as he is Ferryman isn't a bad thing. For the past year, maybe. That he could always go back to Tennessee is a good way to throw off the scent.

He could always go home. "That's about the most of it," he says, and a shrug that says as pertains to now. "Kaylee was in the same place's me — catch and release." Flint's apt words, not his, and he doesn't think before repeating them. "No memories o' what happened, but I'm startin' to think it's kinda different. I dunno if they took my memories exactly.

"It's been comin' back a little, is all. Anyhow."

He's getting ahead of the conversation, but he's had a lot of time to wait around, to think. "I don't think they got me near anyplace Ferry-like, but I didn't know that when I woke up at the hospital— Methodist Hospital? It's in Brooklyn. So I've been staying away from the network just in case, but I figured I might as well check in with someone— " That he doesn't mind endangering? No. That's not true, and hadn't been true of Deckard. That Joseph sees both of these men as fiercely competent at survival is— not necessarily off the mark.

That answers that, then. Eileen hadn't been sure— where, of course, absolute certainty is a rare luxury for Ferrymen operators, of what had happened to Joseph, who had taken him. How they'd… apparently done away with his memory, and this is something that Teodoro finds particularly alarming. What other secrets the pastor might have been made to divulge. Teo lets concentration show on his face, but nothing uglier than that. "Glad you did," is what he says. "Glad you're back.

"Catherine started doing gymnastic arithmetic in her head, putting together the abilities of those who got taken, trying to choke some sense out of this thing that happened out here a few weeks back. People have been talking about asking contacts and interrogating potential co-conspirators, 's well as the obvious staffing shortages. People have a shit-ton of questions," and there's something mildly apologetic about that, the crease of Teo's nose. Despite the fact that Joseph had self-evidently come prepared or at least expecting to provide answers, it seems awful, somehow, after having observed—

Joseph looks a little thin. "They… the hospital—" His shoulders huddle forward faintly, and he curls short-shorn fingernails into his own palms. "They just let you walk right out?"

"Yeah. They kept me round for observation after I woke up," Joseph says, sitting back in the chair and folding his arms a little tighter. "I was comatose for at least a day, is what the doctor told me, which is about how long they had me. I had to tell 'em my name 'cause I didn't come in with nothin' on me — just the clothes on my back, and…" His fingers seek upwards, towards the neck hole of his sweater, and plucks out the silver chain.

Twin crucifixes jangle where they weigh it down, mixmatched things of chipped gold-plating and another seemingly made of glass and silver. Different shapes despite being roughly the same size. "Nice of 'em," he notes, letting it drop to rest against the outside of the cloth across his chest. He'll be tucking them again to hide by the time he's headed inwards Staten Island again. "Woke up not knowin' nothin' except that I was visiting Pastor Ashby in Greenwich, last thing I remember bein' heading from there. I thought maybe I'd been in an accident or somethin', except I wasn't injured. Then I remembered about Lynette and Kaylee."

And got scared doesn't have to be articulated, an uncertain quirk of a smile following. Maybe because he'd also considered the other options, ones to do with fresh needle marks and always being unhappy, and that remembering how people have been victimised in roughly the same style was a relief.

"I talked to Kaylee on a payphone. She said Gillian was gone too. She said about all the visions."


—doesn't precisely answer that, then, but it's an awfully fucking leading lead. Teo's brow knits slightly. He isn't very good at merely regurgitating the opinions and reservations of others, but he keeps them columned in his head. Eileen under the hmmm let's not make hasty judgments! header, Cat and Kaylee closer to the bristling suspicions end of the spectrum. Joseph, seemingly and understandably hesitant about committing to any specific course or exposition. Underline that: understandably. If his brain was full of holes too, you know?

Heh heh. Too much of that going around lately. And maybe that is why there is a sudden hand on Joseph's forearm, long fingers closed over the skinny strip of bone and flesh underneath the fabric of Joseph's garb, squeezing briefly, once, a token of inadvertent sympathy disguised underneath the expected ones about brotherhood and your standard-issue ninja reassures pastor. "We should get you checked over for tracking devices, and then I think you should come in. There's probably something psychic that can be done about your memories. Probably. I think they'dve caught it at the hospital if you had a concussion that bad."

That's meant to be a good thing. Brain damage: never fun. Teo tries on a smile that the scar on his other cheek probably would have besmirched irrecoverably in the eyes of most men. He shifts a brief glance around, reassuring himself they're in the company of nobody lucid within earshot, then adds, "We have new security protocols, ways to protect you guys from those vecchio."

He manages not to twitch beneath the grab — Flint is a standoffish kind of companion and probably has similar reactions whenever Joseph tries to hug him, which in ALL FAIRNESS was just this one time. Teo's attempt of comradely reassurance is appreciated, though, the ever increasing lines at Joseph's eyes shadowing with a quick smile. "Oh, great. That's good. I've— I called Deckard, when I was bein' let go." A glance upwards to minorly study Teo's face at this news, to see what happens behind it, before studying again the grimy picnic table turned bar bench. "…and I don't want to get him in trouble anymore'n I do the network, so.

"We might want t'give 'im back his car, maybe. The keys, I mean." And by extension everything else, except the food having been long since passed around the Terminal, and the knife.

The souffle caves in. Metaphorically speaking, as the Sicilian has never attempted the fabrication that particular dessert. Teo's smile fades and he retracts his hand, fingers closing and opening again, closing, opening. Slow flex. He hesitates, but it is only the kind of hesitation that is painfully illustrative in and of itself, an awkward and ugly unravelling. His grip winds up hooked over the back of his own neck, cold knuckles squeezing down on bare nape. Well. 'Well.'

He doesn't say it aloud, but it's there, dithering in the air, a useless expenditure of a syllable. About that. About — Deckard. He grinds a pale-eyed stare into table-top.

Joseph is also expressive, mostly in the eyebrow area — they knit together, now, as Teo seems to come apart a little at the seams, static silence buzzing in the wake of the pastor's own hesitant mutterings, but there is something about now that is familiar. You ask people how often they go to church and there might, in some cases, be this kind of silence, shyly wandering gazes and hesitations. You get someone coming to you about a thing they did and not really wanting to put it into words, just wanting assurance that it was okay to do. They behave like this too.

When he smiles again, it's less the nervous, fluttery thing that passes as one just barely. His fingertips rap against the edge of the table in a fidget. "We don't have to tell 'im if you went and lost them," Joseph offers, fully aware that that's likely not the problem, but injecting some optimism into his tone all the same.

Optimism can as often be regarded as Teodoro Laudani's stock and trade as well, but he seems a little bankrupt for the moment. Bought out by a priest. It is taking him a few seconds, but he is finding it in himself, somewhere, the grace to flush, red from the collar all the way up to the apples of his cheeks. "Sorry. Fuck. I'm sorry," he says, although they both already know this: "That isn't exactly…"

He falls uncomfortably quiet for another long moment. A wind is a lonely sound outside, and the shuffle of one old man making his way past the wall and its decorative crabs and petrified nets is not much happier, but the rest of the room seems far away. "He did mean for it to be read in the end," Teo says, his voice not defensive, but instead like glass. "Probably by Abigail. I'm sorry. I don't think it'll change anything," and he looks up, his face paler than his eyes, "but I am. I don't know— what. How did he sound, when you spoke to him?"

Joseph's smile dims, and though he's now no longer confused about what Teo is alluding to, it's this later comment, I don't think it'll change anything, that forces creases through his brow. His hands now rest on the edge of the his side of the table, fingernails lined with dirt but apart from that, his hands are clean. "He sounded alright. I ran into him a few days before I got taken," he explains, watching the table top instead of Teo. "We were at my church and he needed a place to stay for the night, but he looked—

"Good? Sounded alright. He… told me that somethin' went wrong with him, that you found people to make it better." It would not be hard to be better than a serial killer and then chained up in a basement, but Joseph doesn't need to spell it out for Teo.

Or if he does, he's not inclined to. "The man's head is hard to get into," he mutters, a rueful tip of his head where he slouches back into his seat. "Reading what goes on in there— I don't blame you, exactly."

Relief comes before Teodoro can really expect it. Not that Joseph's good opinion isn't worth having, but Teo isn't all that used to caring very much; both the baby version and the ragged old sociopath had been maladjusted in that particular way, as often immune to criticism as to praise, the former defended by self-loathing and the latter armored by a billion pounds of ego. He was worried. He trusts Joseph's judgment, though. His eyes close and open with a few different kinds of combined surprise, then relief, and he rubs the back of his knuckles on his nose.

What's left is an uneven wrack of other nerves in his stomach. He flexes his fingers on his lap and wishes he had a drink, but that would be impolite. 'Found people to make it better.' What does Deckard think he knows? Mystified, he opts to remain silent for a few more seconds, borrowing it for composure, staring at the grain of the furniture surface, disguising that in the vague, unspoken excuse he was waiting for the pastor to say something. Conversational lulls, you know.

Perfectly natural. "Do you want to read it?" he asks, abruptly. His eyes dart upward, like an apology: not to insult Joseph, or anything.

Dark eyes narrow — not in a glare, but something of a wince from the immediate certainty that Joseph does want to read Deckard's journal, and silence is judging what Deckard would want and maybe also what Jesus would do (and it's difficult to imagine that these two criteria would coincide ever). His fingers knit together and he lets out a sigh, a shudder of a shrug crosses through the set of his shoulders. Maybe there has been too many slip ups of truth to contrast with the more recent vagueness for Joseph to care too much.

Too many open envelopes containing loveletters he was entrusted to pass on. That's one of the things about some stereotypes of Southern Baptists — nosiness. At least Joseph lacks the subsequent gossiping mostly. "I'd like to read it," he responds, sounding weary about the matter.

Teo is not exactly disappointed. He's not exactly worried either, although he honestly thinks that last entry there could have been, um, nicer to him. Mostly. This is the problem with caring about what other people think then having somebody confess to wanting to read a diary entry all about hating him. He rakes his fingers through his hair, scrapes a thumb around the curve of his ear. "I'll give it to you to give to him," he says. "If that's all right with you. I don't know who else is in contact with him, and it seems to mean something that you were the first."

Something about their friendship. Also, nosy Southern pastors commonly employed to facilitate the transfer of love letters seem like the go-to point for journal packages that had possibly been meant for Abigail. "Here." And he produces the diary, rather suddenly, from the inside of his enormous coat. Beaten-up, sooty, probably in slightly better condition than the way they'd first found it in. He sets it down on the table with slightly more care than it probably requires, and shrugs, as if that's the only caption it could possibly require.

"I wouldn't have you gettin' ahead of yourself," Joseph immediately protests, hands splaying up and off the table. "I just ran into 'im, that first time. Serendipity, I guess — we was both hangin' out front the Guiding Light, and there he was. No money or nothin', but, uh. A nice suit, for some reason." His mouth quirks into a half-smile, and despite this denial that he wasn't so much Deckard's first contact by choice, his hands are still going out to pick up the grimy book.

Resisting the urge to flick it open in front of Teo, peering over its shabby front cover instead before glancing up. "Maybe you should check in sometime. He might want to thank you, for whatever it is you did for 'im. And if he don't, then, uh— I appreciate it. Whatever it was you did."

The look on Teodoro's face is strange, and that isn't a self-deprecating dig about his scar, either. He is actually fighting down the urge to reach across the table and snatch the diary back like a snakebite, but it turns out, he's so good at resisting the impulse to take-backs that it isn't really apparent at all. His fingers don't even convulse. After a moment, the peculiarity of his expression resolves itself into a smile, inimitably wry, narrow and heavy at the eyes. A last drop of water parts with his needle-dampened forelocks, connects with his sleeve.

"Maybe," he answers, finally. "Lot of sh—uh, stuff to do between now and then, though. Like your intake. Can you hang around here a bit? Sorry." The apology comes before he knows where it's coming from, neither Catholic guilt nor a deadpanned mockery of it. They are surrounded by drunkards and the smell of urine-diluted alcohol, he means. Teo's gesture is vague but illustrative enough, angled out at the door. "I should call Eileen."

Joseph casts a quick look around the place, from the bright orange plastic crabs on the walls, to the bilgey water gathering in a puddle in the middle of the floor from rain run off and the lack of proper drainage. But there are far, far worse places to be — cleanliness is not necessary Godliness, sometimes. "Go on," he agrees, and leaves the thanks silent and manifesting only as a quick smile before his attention drops.

At least he has reading material.

They're disgraceful friends, hacking journals like this. Somehow, that doesn't entirely extinguish the flame of vague hope in Teo's heart, that whatever possible kudos he might have earned in the course of… of having Deckard abducted and brainwashed and reinvented according to the Company's requisite parameters might still hold up valid over the test of time.

At the very least, he can additionally do his fuckin' job. "All right," he says, pushing his chair back with the same grating, tactless motion with which he had scraped his chair in. It's fortunate, that there will be no one conducting illegal gambling in the basement, with the doubtless accumulation of floodwater after the day of all too real weather they've been having. "I'll try to be quick." Teo puts his hands in his pockets and takes a step backward, flitting a brief gaze over Joseph again, reassessing him from the tangled top of his head to the worn leather laced around his feet.

Every time the pastor comes back from the dead, another layer seems to be ground away, another, newer, stronger tincture of light coming through. Not that Teodoro thinks of it in those terms, of course. Not even he's that sentimental, or internally coherent. He thinks he's just checking the pastor out. :D He lifts his chin, see you, sec, and turns away.

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