Grain Of Salt


joseph_icon.gif phoebe_icon.gif

Scene Title Grain of Salt
Synopsis After painting a picture or eight, Phoebe shares them and the ability behind them with Joseph.
Date July 6, 2009

Thornton Estate

Arriving at the Thornton Estate, Joseph is escorted inside by a stoic Mosha. And while the driver is firmly noncommittal about what might be going on, it is still more then a little clear that he is both worried and displeased at the Pastor being summoned. Regardless of that fact, the estate is still lovely and the house itself contains more then a few breath taking works of art.

It is outside the door to the conservatory that Mosha comes to a halt, a light wrapping announcing their presence before he opens the door to permit the pastor inside.

The conservatory, located on the far end of the manor, is a large round room with walls made almost entirely out of floor to ceiling windows and a soaring domed ceiling. A circular couch rests to oneside of the room with a solid oak desk standing next to it. What draws the eye, however, are the easels set up before the windows, at least eight all told, each of then bearing horrific depictions of New York City under water. Before the paintings, with a glass of wine in hand, Phoebe stands in stoic silence, her expression about as far from pleased as it is possible to get.

It is only once the door has closed, and she is certain that they are alone, that she turns to regard Pastor Sumter with a pointedly shuttered gaze. "I would," she admits in quietly serious tones. "Prefer that this were not necessary. Under the circumstances, however," and here, she gestures toward the paintings with her glass. "I am afraid I have no choice."

Upon the main canvas, the symbolism and imagery displayed in only three colors is profoundly disturbing. It looks as though one is staring out a window with perfect perspective of a recognizable street in Manhattan's lower east side. The moon is high in the sky, silhouetted by an enormous black bird with wings that reach from one end of the painting to the other. However, the pinions shed from the bird fall not as softly as a feather is wont to do, but with mushroom clouds of multiple nuclear explosions on the horizon.

It's only in further scrutiny, that one can see that the streets of New York are flooded, water has risen halfway up skyscrapers, drowning the city in a sea that was once a river. Only one color is used beside the black and white of the painting, and that color is a rich coppery red that is used to paint the ring around the otherwise black moon set against a starless night's sky.

As one's eyes drift to the other canvases on easels around the conservatory, more paintings of a city submerged underwater is shown. Skyscrapers with barnacles crusting up them, reflections of broken crowns of ruined buildings in Midtown barely poking up beneath crashing waves that break on gargoyles and rain gutters.

"I have," she provides, perhaps needlessly. "Episodes." Episodes. Such a lovely way to put it, really.

A visit to Phoebe Thornton's home would be intimidating. Never mind a vague and urgent note, a mysterious limousine, an inexplicably unhappy and moreover intimidating driver. The pastor didn't even try to make conversation, and even now, as the door shuts behind him and Phoebe utters her carefully picked words, Joseph has the sense enough to hold his tongue for the main part.

And look at what's been shown, dark eyes traveling from one canvas to the next with a furrowed brow look of vague incomprehension. Polished shoes ring lightly against the floor as he moves closer, towards the main painting.

His hands travel to the pockets of his suit jacket. In one, is the crumpled handwritten note Phoebe had passed to him - crumpled only after he'd worried it in his hand on the drive over, with the word 'dire' on it and her signature. Almost like a pass of some kind, identification to get in, although it hasn't been taken out of his pocket since he placed it there. He sends a glance back towards the woman and he admits, "I don't think I follow, Ms. Thornton," but an effort is being made, at least. "These are— amazin' in their own right, but…" But Joseph somehow doesn't think he's here to appreciate art, exactly.

"Forgive me, 'episodes'?"

It is a few long moments before Phoebe so much as moves, let alone offers a response. When she does, it is to polish off the wine in her glass and move silent to her desk to refill the crystal glass. Half that is swallowed before she glances back at Joseph, quite pointedly not glancing at the paintings. "Usually," she provides in quiet tones. "Mosha would have had these incinerated for me." The paintings indicated with a slow sweep of the wine filled glass. "Considering the content, I decided that such an act would be impossible." This time. Again, the glass is raised to her lips, half the remainder of the contents swallowed and the glass refilled. "Episodes, Pastor Sumter." She reaffirms. "There are time when my paintings do not come out as I might have hoped."

At the subtle clink of glass against glass upon the refill, Joseph looks back at her and the dark colour of wine rolling about the bottom of the crystal curve, of its journey up to disappear, before another top up soundlessly spills from the bottle. It's a ritual in its own right, Joseph knows that much, but he says nothing on it. Just recognises it, and veers his fascination with the paintings into concern and towards the older woman.

"Whatever's got you worried…" And the incomplete thought produces an incomplete sentence, Joseph's mouth thinning into a rueful line for a moment, before looking back at the paintings once more, walking along them, recognising them for what they are. "You mean to say these are real, somehow?"

Being a breed of precog himself, there's a certain lexicon you get used to. Hope, being one such common notion.

"Oh, they are real," Phoebe assures in tones that hold not so much as a hint of pride or pleasure in her work. It is in the wake of another swallow wine that she glances at the paintings and frowns faintly. "Understand, Pastor Sumter, that this is not a knowledge I share freely. I have worked very hard at keeping all of this… secret." It is distressing, to have such things turn up as they do. Pushing off the edge of the desk, her heels click sullenly on the floor as she paces toward the main painting, her lips turning down in a visible frown. "These, however, I could not risk ignoring. Obviously." It is after a momentary silence, that she slants a glance at Joseph, her expression serious. "Under the circumstances, I called the person I believe will both see to it that something is done, and keep thier silence."

"Understood," Joseph says, the word gentle but certainly sincere in tone. "Your secret's safe with me." His eyes fix on the bird with its falling feathers and the bursts of explosions it produces, silently studious for several moments, now, trying to get a grasp on an impossible scenario being dubbed— real, of all things. More than the materials, the canvas, the paint and water.

There's a tick of a hesitation, before he says, "It's symbols. It can't be anythin' else, I mean— it'd be impossible." A sidelong glance. "What I can do— I guess it's sort of the same thing, except instead've paper and ink, it's people. My gift is one where I can let people see their own future, and so many wander away confused because it never shows 'em a straight answer. It's implied, with metaphor and…"

Another incomplete sentence, before he asks, "What you ever seen anythin' like this before?"

"Not quite like this," Phoebe admits. "Usually it is smaller things, symbolic and abstract in nature." Sighing, she shakes her head and returns to the desk to refill her glass. "I rarely make sense of them in time to do anything about it." Or her daughter might still be alive, although she does not say that. Instead, she takes a long swallow of wine, absently gesturing toward the paintings. "This… This I could not allow myself to sit on, for obvious reasons."

There's familiarity in the hook of a half-smile that is given in response to her words, a glance down. No, symbolic futures are only so helpful. Big blatant ones, though— "No," Joseph agrees, a hand up to rub his forehead a little, as if to stave off a headache, or just out of the desire to fidget. "No, I don't blame you. You painted a flood, Ms. Thornton."

That hand lowers again, thought written into his expression. "I had— an episode myself, once. I was out late, after curfew, and I got mugged. It was a little while ago. Mostly alright, except one of 'em managed to hit me over the head so hard that my ability got its wires crossed and started sendin' me visions, whether I wanted 'em or not."

A beat, and a shrug. "There was a lot of water. What I saw. Sometimes like a baptising, otherwise like a drowning. It wasn't…" A hand goes out. Gestures vaguely to the paintings. 'Epic', being a possible end to the sentence. "What do you think it means?"

"I was under the impression that God promised that never again would he destroy the world by flood, Pastor." Still frowning, Phoebe takes another swallow of wine, an obvious solace found in the burgandy liquid. "I have no idea what it means," she answers frankly. "Beyond destruction and death of massive proportions." Pressing her lips, she folds her arms over her torso, one nail tapping slowly against the crystal glass clutched tightly in her hand. "The flood imagery could be purely symbolic. It could be water, it could be blood, it could be the tide of war," she admits. "I was hoping there might be someone better qualified to discern it's meaning then myself."

"New York's not the world. Seems like it, sometimes." But with water levels halfway up skyscrapers— Joseph's shoulders draw up a little beneath the tailored, stitched edges of his jacket, not quite a shrug. "I don't think your God given gift would have you paintin' them lightly," he agrees. "I don't know if He'd let the world drown itself again in wrathful rivers and tides, but—

"The story itself is about change. Violent and unstoppable. The last solution."

Maybe he could have a glass of wine too, but Joseph chooses to remain where he is. "Of course, like I tell people I give visions too, the ones they're for— it's down to their own gut instinct. Seems like you're already uneasy, though. What would you have me do, Ms. Thornton?"

What would she have him do? "I honestly do not know," Phoebe admits. Glancing down at her glass, she shakes her head, exhaling a barely heard breath before turning back to her desk. "I cannot bring this to light," she states frankly. "Truth be told, I would not know whom to tell without running the risk of exposing myself." A second glass of wine is poured as she refills her own yet again and carried back to be extended without comment to Joseph. "I was hoping you might have insight into what this might mean." She admits. "That you might know how to get the paintings to those able to do something about it. Bombs, after all, are a thing of man." Another swallow of wine is taken before she exhales a short, sharp laugh. "Or perhaps I simply needed comforting words before casting them into the flames," as Mosha would have rather done earlier.

A wider smile is offered, Joseph ducking his head. "Perhaps," he agrees, glancing down towards the wine glass, a split decision made before his smile turns apologetic, somewhat sheepish. "Thank you— I don't drink," he states, the words coming a little stilted and awkward with polite sensibilities clashing with principle, weight rocking back on his heels a little as if to shy away. "For what it's worth— I'd keep one."

A look cast towards the paintings, and a nod to the one at its center, with its ominous bird shadow. "If you can. You can explain away one, 'stead of however many this is. I don't know who yet would need to see such a thing, but I can probably guess there's a few out there who deserve to.

"And as for comfort… the Flood came to rid the world of violence and sin. Maybe there's a message in the symbol, 'stead of simple destruction. Between Humanis First! and their own death toll climbin' higher and higher— I don't know. Seein' that get changed or purged away ain't such a bad notion."

Finishing off the half full glass of wine, Phoebe sets it aside in favor of holding the second. And, as she listens to Joseph, her nail slowly returns to tapping on the outside of the glass. "I will have them packed up and stored for the time being," she decides. It is in the wake of another significant pause that she shakes her head and sighs. "I apologize, if I have come across as hysteronic in this matter, Pastor Sumter. As I said, my episodes are not usually this… colorful.. and in light of that…" Trailing off, she shrugs slowly glancing down at the wine as she swirls it in the glass.

"It's suddenly not so simple anymore," Joseph finishes. "Eight times over. No apology needed, Ms. Thornton. Good or bad, I think you got yourself a warning; one I'm pretty sure was designed to shake you up. Get your attention. I'd thank you for sharin' that with me, regardless."

His hands return into his pockets again, and he adds, "Not to detract— but I did want to ask if you wouldn't mind comin' down to St. John's with me this week. There are some people there I think— well I was gonna be lookin' for volunteers for Staten Island and I reckon you'd lend me a little more credibility. And I'm told it's a good place to go if you want to help and you're unafraid of— gettin' your feet wet."

Maybe an unfortunate phrase, considering the circumstance, but a recited one.

Deciding to take the paintings with a modicum of salt, Pheobe finally sets the glass of wine aside, sharp blue eyes slanting a glance at the Pastor in response to the invitation. It is as she straightens and refolds her arms over her chest that she tones with tones bearing a hint of wryness. "I wouldn't mind joining you, Pastor Sumter. Although I cannot imagine that you need my presence to enhance your own credibility. I think, however, I'll prefer not to consider it getting my feet 'wet'." No, that's just a little too close to home, at the moment. "Just let me know when you care to go?"

"Hands dirty?" Joseph offers instead a little wryly, a shimmer of a shrug, gaze breaking from hers in something like sheepishness. "Whatever you want to call it, Ms. Thornton. I was going to head there Wednesday, before service that evening. Credibility or not, I'd appreciate it."

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