Grand Nationals of Backroom Illegal Gambling


cardinal_icon.gif charlie_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif kain_icon.gif tuck_icon.gif

Also featuring:


Scene Title Grand Nationals of Backroom Illegal Gambling
Synopsis It's poker night at Tuck's.
Date February 13, 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 jewellery - 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 knick-nacks 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 jewellery 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 back room of Tuck's pawn shop is the den of a scavenger. The whole room is full of shelves stacked high with…stuff. Items are in basic categories, but none of it seems to be of any great value. The proprietor is neat enough that there's room to allow a poker table to be set up in the middle of the room. To the left there is an armchair, a repair table and a small TV. Beside that is a mini fridge that is currently stuffed full of beer.

The fence checks through a pack of cards and tosses them on the table, then dumps out the chips and starts to organize them by colour. There's a bowl of chips in the middle of the table and a radio somewhere warbles out classic rock.

Charlie lumbers into the back door of the shop, a bottle of something nasty in hand. He's still walking straight, but he's got a buzz going. Promising! Sort of. So he waves a finger around the table, selects a seat, and lowers himself onto it. The chair creaks. "So I said, 'Poker? I hardly know her!" You will laugh now. He seems to expect it.

The sound of the toilet flushing in a low rush in the background, and it's followed by Cardinal stepping out a few moments thereafter, sliding the tongue of his belt through the buckle and sinching it tight, the tip left hanging free from the belt-loops of his pants. Classy. He rolls his shoulder with a slight grimace — been favoring it since he showed up — and heads along over to the table, the joke overheard drawing a faint chuckle from him. "Don't know when that's ever stopped anyone in this part've town."

"You are the king of hilarity there, my friend," says Tuck around the butt of a cigarette that protrudes from his lips. Odd how the guy who lives surrounded in kipple lines up everything just so on the poker table. "Help yourselves to beer, gentlemen. It's in the small refrigeration unit to your left. On your right as Mister Cardinal has demonstrated, is the crapper. Please use it and flush accordingly, especially after you have had several beers. Now I am a recovering alcoholic, so the sauce is not for me. But I hope you will not begrudge me a toke as the evening progresses."

Charlie laughs lowly at his own joke. "Poker. I hardly know 'er," he repeats. He's about three seconds from elbowing people. He truly is the king of hilarity. The big guy turns his head to glance at the crapper, eyes Cardinal with a flicker of an assessing gaze behind the laziness. For some reason, he eyes Tuck for a moment with a frown, but it's all good again once he has more rum.

"Begrudge? Hell, Tuck," Cardinal drops himself down into one of the chairs, leaning back with a bit of a creak and resting his left hand down on his thigh—his other hand reaching to claim a handful of chips, "I'm hopin' you toss some of that shit up on the table when you run out've cash." A brief, fierce grin's flashed to the pawnsman, and he leans back to chomp onto the first of the chips. The big fellow's given a casual assessment as well, chin tilting up in a nod over, "Cardinal."

"Is that why you're here, sir? To win a little of my…select stash after I hit the end of my cash?" Tuck squints at Cardinal and a look of mock indignation appears on his face. "…you may yet succeed. Now, the buy-in is a hundred. You are welcome to drop in more of course, but that is the minimum. We are waiting for a few more people. So relax." He walks over and picks up a bottle of V8 juice, then fiddles with the radio.

There's muffled voices coming from beyond the door to the back room, along with a single pair of heavy and clomping footsteps that should in all rights belong to a buffalo judging from the creak of the floorboards. As the voices get closer, the door to the back room opens with a juggle of the doorknob, and a man about the size of a buffalo ducks beneath the door frame and steps into the room. Pressing past seven feet tall and pale as a ghost, this broad-shouldered and no-necked man is as bald as a baby's bottom, with circular-lensed glasses covering his eyes. Judging from the neatly pressed suit and immaculate tie, he's one of Linderman's thugs that have dug their claws into this place.

"'Ey, you was right Mista' Zarek." The lumbering man says over his shoulder with a thick Brooklyn accent, one hand currently brandishing a pastrami sandwich, spattering dijon mustard on the floor.

"Ah' told you, Manny, Ah've got me a sixth sense for card games." Stepping in past the Brooklyn giant is a considerably less monstrous man, dressed in a considerably more expensive suit the color of pitch. It's the sapphire blue tie that stands out and matches the shade of his eyes. "Well, looks like you ladies got yourself somethin' goin' on back here." Most everyone in the Rookery knows this cajun scumbag, Kain Zarek, a high-up member of the Linderman Group, and the chief organizer of the Pancratium cagefights below Truman.

Reaching into the breast pocket of his jacket, Kain produces a thick wad of money, waving it around in much the same way Manny gesticulates with his sandwich. "You boys all got room for one more?" He asks, baring an all-too-white smile.

"Charlie," rumbles the big guy in response to Cardinal. The one what was here first, the somewhat smaller big guy. He puts his bottle on the table and shifts in his seat so he can dig a battered money clip out and peel off a hundred and fifty in rumpled bills. He gives the new arrivals a calculating glance (somewhere under the vaguely drunken glaze, that is) and smirks a little. Right Zarek. Being Muldoon's bodyguard, they've probably run around the same circles.

"Two more," a voice clarifies from behind Zarek. A moment later, the slim figure of a young woman with a tangle of dark hair appears in the doorway, clothed in a heavy winter coat and what appears to be a simple white dress beneath. Tuck and Charlie will recognize Eileen as she maneuvers her way around Kain and his gorilla of a bodyguard, her tiny feet making almost no sound in comparison to Manny's. Barely a sliver above five feet, the bodyguard positively dwarfs her — even standing next to Zarek, the top of her head doesn't come up much higher than his chest. "I know how to play," she adds, somewhat demurely, in case that should become an issue, "and I have money." It just isn't clenched in a meaty fist like Kain's is.

These days, the general lawlessness in the area means that reputation with the underworld means even more than it used to - they might never have met, but Cardinal's certainly heard of the suited man that simultaneously does and doesn't fit into the gathering there in the shop's back room. The burglar's own reputation is a bit less broad despite his achievements, on the other hand, and reserved to certain circles.

A pair of reddened eyes size up the suited fellow with the roll of bills, and then flickers to the woman that steps around his bulk, lips tugging up at one corner in a bit of a smirk. A chip's tossed up, caught from the air in his mouth, and he chews and swallows before allowing, "So long's Tuck's got no problem with it, the more the merrier. Pot just gets bigger, as far as I'm concerned…"

Poker night is the only night of the week that the back door of Tuck's shop is not barred tight with heavy metal sliders. Figures this would be the night that Lindermen folk show. When they do come thundering in to his establishment (one literally, one with presence) the be-spectacled pawn shop owner looks understandably ill at ease. "Well, yes, yes of course. Me poker table est su poker table. But this isn't a particularly high stakes game, gentlemen. You might not find it…satisfying."

And then there's Eileen. The great surprise of the evening - even moreso than the mountain of a man and the other in a suit worth more than his shop. "Well hello there, missy moo." Apparently that is his chosen name for the young woman. He looks at her for a curious moment, then glances to Kain and around to the group of men of ill repute. "…all right." One might expect him to protest more, but he doesn't. Something tells him she can handle herself.

"Well lookie here," Kain notes with both dark brows rising as Eileen steps in, "Ah' ain't seen you in a dog's age girl, what're you doin' down here with us rabid mongrels?" Kain reaches out to pull back a chair for Eileen, still blithely unaware it's her fault his precious car was found destroyed on the Verrazano-Narrows. Kain motions to the chair as he circles the table and comes to stand behind Tuck, tossing the wad of bills into the center of the table with a soft thump. Hands now unoccupied, they both come down to rest on Tuck's shoulders with a discernable weight added to them. Leaning in over one shoulder, Kain's smile spreads from ear to ear as his tone of voice drops to a feigned whisper, "Hey there Tuck and Roll," his eyes flick over to the center of the table, then back again. "Funny Ah' should run into you here, with cash." The smile falters a little as Kain squeezes Tuck's shoulders in a markedly uncomfortable massage, soon straightening up again as he begins to circle the table once more.

Once Kain has made a full circle, like some mobster's game of duck, duck, goose, he comes to settle down in a chair next to Eileen, lounging back as he withdraws a metal cigarette case from his jacket and lays it down in front of him. "S'three hundred in the middle there," He motions with the tip of his nose, "Keepin' it sweet for y'ladies." Even as Kain opens the case and produces one black-papered cigarette, the mountain of a man with his precious pastrami just steps to the side of the door and grows quiet, like some large, bespectacled gargoyle.

"So, what're we playin'?"

Charlie seems more surprised to see Eileen here than Kain; she's wee. And tiny. And also small. "You've gotta be kidding me," he rumbles at her. "Daddy's little girl plays cards? That's a new one. You find what you were lookin' for?"

Eileen slides into the chair and begins unbuttoning her coat, fingers deftly working the buttons back out through their slits, one-by-one, until she can shrug the woolen garment off and hang it on the back of her seat. She really should thank him for 'lending' her his vehicle, but knowing Kain, she gets the distinct impression that would be a Very Bad Idea. Tuck's right — she's more than capable of handling herself, and knowing how to do that also involves knowing when to keep her mouth shut. Instead, she offers the Cajun a subdued smile before she flicks her gray-green eyes in Charlie's direction, gaze growing solemn. "No," she says, "as a matter of fact, I did not. But thank you for asking." To Tuck: "And thank you for letting me join." Cardinal did say it was up to the master of the house.

"There's a lotta people lookin' for something these days," Cardinal observes casually, the legs of his chair tilting back a bit with the shift of his weight and both hands brushing potato-chip crumbs off onto the floor. Fortunately there's not so much that he's making a serious mess, but, hey, better than his shirt! A tilt of his headleft, then rightwatches the progress of the looming mobster about the table, but once he's settled down he rocks back forward again and sits up, chin raising to the pair of newcomers. "Cardinal."

"It's not big money here. Just a friendly game. Hundred minimum buy-in." Which means Tuck's cash on the table comes from the day's take in the shop. Money that should have gone to groceries or rent. He goes utterly still beneath Kain's hands. His body tenses and his shoulders hunch. Breath is held until Kain moves off. And then, tone dull as butter knives, he drawls, "Care for a beer?"

The fence's jovial, slightly rambling tone has cut off. Wait for it. It'll start up again. Probably after he's had a few hits of dope.

He tugs out a chair and seats himself, back straight, eyes alert. He feels like a pack of wolves have invaded his den. Best to not look like meat. He works his jaw back and forth, then starts to parcel out chips according to what everyone brought, then he rattles off some lingo about just what they're playing.

"Right fine pleasure," Kain's tone of voice may not be entirely sincere as he addresses Cardinal, it's somewhat hard to say. The spark of flame coming from his zippo as he lights his cigarette casts an orange-yellow glow across Kain's face, soon fading in lieu of a cloud of acrid smoke rising up from the cigarette. It's clear once the scent of the smoke drifts out that it's not tobacco, but a kretek, a sugar-papered clove cigarette. He slides the silver case across the table towards Cardinal in a remarkably uncharacteristic offering, "Ah'm fine on drinks, just got mah'self back from the Dagger, an' them's on ol' Logan's tab." His smile spreads back again, predatory and uninviting as he lounges back in his chair, sucking on the cigarette as the ember on the end glows a bright orange.

Holding that breath in, Kain stares down at the table, one hand reaching up to pluck the cigarette from between his lips with pinched fingers as he waits for his cards to be handed, out, mouth slowly opening to just let the hot smoke waft out in a drifting haze of gray. Finally snorting the rest out in thin streams from his nostrils, Kain's eyes flick over to Eileen.

"You never did answer mah question, darlin'." Kain's eyes drift up and down the girl, a tense expression threading his jaw tight for a moment. "This ain't the kinda' place young girl are." Unless you count the Dagger, and judging from the tone of Kain's voice, the thought of Eileen working there doesn't set well with him.

Charlie has turned his attention to Cardinal now. And his bottle, which he guides to his lips. "What, like the bird?" he abruptly demands. Charlie marches to the beat of his own drummer. Conversationally. Maybe.

The expression on Eileen's face doesn't change much as Tuck explains the rules. Either she knows what she's doing, or she can bluff well enough to pass for someone who does — and bluffing's what poker is all about, isn't it? "You'd be surprised," she tells Kain, "I think, when it comes to the places I've been and the type of company I prefer to keep. Besides, people tend not to bother you when they know you might be the one stitching them up the next time they haul themselves to the ripper's." She keeps one ear on Charlie's conversation with Cardinal, a slight smile twitching at the corner of her mouth at his question. Like the bird.

Cardinal crooks a brow ever so slightly upwards at the offer, before he shrugs — forgetting himself for a moment, a faint wince speaking of some pain — and then reaches out with his right hand to lift the offered case, thumb flicking it open to let him choose one of the kretek's from within. "Nothin' like a good djarum black," he comments in tones carrying guarded gratefulness, sliding the pack back over and tucking the dark cigarette into the corner of his mouth before reaching into his coat for a lighter.

"Mhm," he agrees, flicking open the battered zippo and bringing the tip into the fire, "Like th'bird."

"Yes, and my name rhymes with 'fuck.' Like the good time." He allows himself a little twitch of his lips. "Moving on." He shuffles the deck like a pro. He takes a moment to show boat a little, then starts to deal them out with a deft flick of his wrist. "Lady and geeee-yentlemen. Welcome to the Staten Island grand nationals of backroom illegal gambling. If this is your first time on the ride, please keep your hands above the table at all time, lest someone think you're a rotten cheater. And we don't like rotten cheaters do we? No, no we do not." In no time, each of them has a stack of five cards in front of them.

"Been a coupla' years since Ah' played mah'self a good game a poker." Kain admits, looking down inspectingly at his cigarette as he seems to momentarily ignore Eileen's response. But it's in saying those meandering words that he allows himself the presence of mind to formulate a response, eyes slowly tracking over to the girl seated next to him. "You're down at Filatov's?" It took him that long to remember the name of the clinic, nose wrinkling slightly at the notion. "Huh," his eyes flick up and down the rail-thin girl again before he lounges back in his seat once more.

"So while Pucker here is dealin' out, any'a you fellas ever been down to the cagefights yet?" A bit of a loaded question, given his position there. It's been hard to avoid the rumors since last night about the long-undisputed reign of the crowd-favorite fighter Rampage being turned to a pile of dust and bones by a newcomer out of the crowd. It's also hard to miss how badly the odds were stacked, and how much money the fight organizers lost paying out.

"Ah'm a bettin' man mah'self," He motions with his cigarette to the stack of money in the middle of the table, "an Ah'm wonderin' just how much you kids know about mister funnybrows who came in and dusted the competition… You boys wouldn't happen to know nothin' about that fella', would ya?" Of course this couldn't just be a friendly card game, nothing is without ulterior motives with Zarek.

"I show up there from time to time," Charlie rumbles with a shrug, collecting his cards and peering at them with a beady-eyed stare through the light haze of booze. "Mister Funnybrows? Sounds like a clown." He considers this thoughtfully. "Clownfights. Hmn."

Eileen organizes her cards, hand cupped in her palm. In spite of the rumours, what happened last night at the Pancratium is evidently news to her, because she raises both her dark brows at Kain in response, saying nothing at first. It's his unique choice of words, however, that really gets her attention. "Dusted?" she asks, lowering her eyes back to her cards and adopting a more neutral posture. "What do you mean— dusted?"

The cards are swept up into Cardinal's possession one-handed, fanned out slowly and kept close to his chest, curled in to keep others from glancing around the edges. As he considers the hand dealt him, those slightly-reddened eyes flicker up from the clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades to look back to Zarek as he interrogates those at the table. A friendly interrogation, at least.

"Can't say that I've heard shit," he admits, cigarette tucked between two fingers for the moment and the smoke stirring past his lips in a cloud swiftly scattering beneath his breath, "Not exactly my scene, though. What happened?" Absently, he lays two cards down on the table to switch out.

Tuck deals in information as much as he does in stereos and hawked diamond rings. He might like to talk, but he also knows when to keep his mouth shut. Sure 'funnybrows' rings a bell, and that guy who came in looking for a watch sure did look out of place. But the less people like Zarek knows he knows, the better.

He slaps the deck aside and fans through the cards in his hand. They're glanced at, then set face down on the table as he draws out a cigarette and lights it. No fancy cloves for him, just good ole cheap tobacco. "The cagefights are quality entertainment. Where else can you see folk get spontaneously combusted or divorced of their arms? It's positively Roman."

As people request discards, he deals out with smooth motions. He discards a whopping three after everyone's had their round. Then a modest bet is dropped into the centre of the table.

Licking his lips, Kain motions with the hand holding his cigarette, trailing the sweet smelling smoke through the air, "Fucker might as well be a clown when Ah' get done with him. There was a Brit snoopin' around after the fight too, pocket himself a few thousand off of the raw deal down there, and got himself rolled up in a carpet for his trouble." Kain's jaw sets crooked, brows lowering as he looks down at the cards dealt to him, his free hand carefully upturning them just enough to peek at the corners before laying them flat on the table again.

Eileen's question is finally addressed once he calms down, exhaling a sigh as his eyes look up to Cardinal. "This kid, I dunno, late twenties maybe — hard to tell. He comes walkin' out of the crowd when ol' man Vasya asks for a fighter to step up. He plays possum and gets his ass handed to him, gets stuck like a pig on the cage's hooks, and then just lifts himself off," cards still on the table, Kain gestures broadly with one hand, "Jus' fuckin charges the guy while there's all this fuckin' black smoke flyin' round. He pins Rampage to the ground, and turns him into an ashtray. Just leaves him down to dust and bones, and when he's done there ain't a scratch on ol' Funnybrows."

Puckering his lips, blue eyes wander the table, "Heard from the bosses that his name's Tavisha." One eye squints, "Ah'm figurin' it's a fake." Finally addressing the game at hand, Kain just takes a third of the chips in front of himself and casually slides them forward in a stack, as if only half paying attention to the game — either that or his hand is just that good.

Charlie swaps cards around, has a swig of his drink, eyes Kain over the bottom of the bottle. British, huh? His gaze flicks to Eileen, then back to Kain. "Who'd pick the name 'Tavisha'? Sounds like a stripper." And then he laughs at his own joke.

Sometime during the course of Kain's explanation, Eileen's face has gone so pale even her lips are lacking the pink hue they possessed when she sat down at the table a few minutes ago. This could easily be attributed to his grim recollection of the events that transpired the previous night, but someone who earns her wages working at a street clinic on this part of Staten Island shouldn't have such an adverse reaction to what amounts to a story.

"Tavisha," she repeats, rearranging her cards in an attempt to quell her trembling hands — it doesn't exactly work, but she's hoping it'll draw attention away from the fact she's starting to tremble like a brittle scrap of leaf. "Never heard of him. This Brit, though… what'd he look like, exactly?"

"Huh." Cardinal's brows lift near to his hairline as he considers the other man for a moment, then exhales a faint snort of breath, "Doesn't sound like anyone I'd want to fuck with, personally—then again, I'm not in that sort've line of work." The dark-rolled cigarette's brought up to his lips, and he takes a long drag on it, leaving it balanced between his lips as he gathers up the cards given to him. A flicker of his gaze over the cards, then to the stack Kain's pushed forward, and he lays his own down. Just about nothing. "Fold."

As he leans back, his attention slips over to Eileen—lingering there with curiousity stirring behind his eyes.

Once Tuck sees the stack of chips in the middle of the table, he folds up his fan of cards and chucks them down. "I'm out." Everyone else might be drinking beers, but he's drinking, of all things, V8 juice. He stands and goes to the mini fridge for another. Bottles of beer are waved questioningly back towards the table. He grabs a bag of pretzels, pops it open and tosses it out within reach.

When he hears the name 'Tavisha,' it just confirms his suspicion. "Fuck," he murmurs, though that could be interpreted as shock rather than worry that this kid might realized he fleeced him over the price of the watch and turn him into vacuum cleaner food.

Elieen's reaction doesn't go unnoticed, though Tuck notably doesn't question. Instead he just makes note of it and mentally files it away like so much trade merchandise tucked around his store.

Rolling his tongue across his cheek, Kain gives Tuck a we'll talk later stare, then turns his focus over to Eileen. "British guy? Tall, wiry, shaved head, talked like he was the jolly ol' Queen of England." The cigarette is momentarily brought back to Kain's lips, a breath drawn in as he thinks on what Eileen asks, looking at her paled expression with a mixture of interest and discomfort. By the time he's exhaled a lung full of hot smoke, his hand is moving towards a direction away from the table, flicking the growing head of ash onto the floor with a flick of one finger.

"He's gonna' work of his debt to ol' Truman down in the cages." Kain rolls one shoulder, "May as well make sense that ol' Funnybrows and Prince Charles have a little rumble in the dirt together, after what they cost me." There's an appreciation of the irony there, that the man who placed the bet and the man who made it all work out should now have to rip each other limb from limb. The Triads that Kain fancies himself friends with these days might get a chuckle out of it.

"Any'a you yahoos know this Tavisha guy? Or ol' Prince Charles?" Kain's eyes drift across the table, looking from one face to another before he eyes his cards with a thoughtful expression.

Charlie eyes his cards, puts them down. "I'm out," he grumbles; he shakes his head. "Not really, no. Why? Are you looking for a date're something?" Who knows why some people say some things. Possibly Charlie's just used to people not calling him on it. Also? Been drinking.

Her fears confirmed, Eileen holds her cards to her chest as she contributes a wealth of chips, matching Kain's bet. She isn't here to win money — the moment she stepped through the door, she resolved herself to losing all the cash she walked in with. It's the price she pays for information, but now that she has the answers she's spent the last two weeks looking for… she isn't sure they're worth the emotional toll they're exacting on her body.

She blows out a long, slow breath and raises one hand to her mouth, worrying the tip of her thumb between her lips and teeth in place of a cigarette. "I've never been to the cagefights," she admits finally. "I know better than to push my luck that far from Filatov's. Do you take escort work, Mr. Zarek?"

"Can't say that I d—" Cardinal pauses in mid-word, and when that word's only one syllable, that's a pretty impressive feat. The big, mouthy thug's considered a moment, and then he very pointedly scooches his chair a couple inches away from Charlie. A bit of ash is tapped off the end of his cigarette, his gaze lingering again briefly on Eileen before he gives his head a shake. "While we're on the subject of who knows who," he asks casually, "Anyone know a guy named Teo?"

"To be honest," says Tuck as he peers at Kain over the top of his plastic black-framed glasses, "They might have come in here. It's possible. I get a lot of foot traffic. So I may have seen them, but I do not know them, as such." He lifts a finger. He chooses to ignore that look from Kain. Yes, yes. Threats later, cards now.

The fence exhales a ring of smoke and seats himself at the table again. A few beers are dropped within reach while he pops the top on his vegetable juice. "Teo? No. Why, does he owe you money?" his brows arch. That's usually why one person is seeking another around these parts.

"Ah'm lookin', cueball," In the background Manny perks up at the snide comment instead directed for Charlie, and disappointedly looks back down to where he was staring at the floor as he realizes Kain isn't addressing him, "for anybody else who might be tryin' to fix the fights. Because Ah've got a hair across mah ass tellin' me that fucker Flint Deckard is tryin' to screw — " Kain's eyes flick back to Eileen as he misinterprets what she asks for just a moment, looking momentarily horrified before putting two and two together.

"Nah, but Manny here does. Ah've got another bodyguard that does side-work too, but he ain't 'round here an' Ah' ain't gonna drag him out." He looks down to the table, to the chips and to Eileen and her cards. Lips purse together, and the cajun rolls one shoulder. He looks half-ready to say something when Cardinal's question comes out. There's a silent lack of response, followed by his eyes diverting to Manny who just offers a helpless shrug. Kain's brows go up in a you got your answer expression.

As Tuck takes Cardinal's question, Kain focuses back on Eileen and gives her a long, quiet stare. "Manny's all done with work for today, ain't you Manny?" The bald thug's eyes widen, and his mouth opens partway as if to say something to the contrary — half full of pastrami — but stops when he sees Kain's withering stare. "You got whatever it is you want," he's rather plaiable today. "And as for payment…" Kain slides his hands under his cards, and pushes them to the center of the table.


Charlie shrugs a shoulder at Kain. It's a big shoulder, though not Manny-size. "Don't know a Teo. Maybe I just don't get out enough. Why would anyone want to know about a guy named Teo? What's with Deckard?" Charlie reaches for his bottle again.

Teo. Flint Deckard. These are names that Eileen does know. It's a small world, after all. "I appreciate it," she murmurs, a tight note entering her voice as she looks between Kain and Manny lurking on the fringe of their game. "I'd just need the company for a night or two at the most. Until I can get a feel for things over there, anyway. Do you know when Tavisha and your Brit are fixed to square-off?"

She glances back over at Cardinal, studying his face beneath her lashes in an attempt to discern his motivation for asking. Ultimately, she's no mind-reader, and her loyalty to Ethan Holden and "Tavisha" far outweighs any she might still have in reserve for Teo. "Laudani?" she prompts. "Skinny Italian kid in his mid-twenties?"

"It was worth a…" Just about to accept that the name remains unknown about the table, someone cops to recognizing the name, and Cardinal's head cocks a bit—a smile just tugging up at one corner of his lips as he replies smoothly, "Don't know his last name, but that sounds like him. Not exactly a common name, either." A drag on his cigarette's taken, ashes brushed off as he waits for the next round of cards to begin. Smoke stirs with his words now, noting, "Ran into him a… week or two back. I was wonderin' if anyone knew anything about him, is all."

He pauses a moment at something else said in the conversation, briefly looking Kain-wards, "Deck—mnm, Deckard. I know that name."

"I know a little bit about a lot of people. Usually not enough to be useful." And not enough for Tuck to be dead for knowing too much either. Seeing as the hand's over, he gathers up the cards, shuffles them, then passes them on to Kain for his deal. He pulls in niccotine between sips of V8 and falls silent to just listen to the conversation. Smarter not to volunteer too much. He grabs a few pretzels and bites them to pieces.

Kain's eyes divert directly to the mention of Flint Deckard, a cold and uncomfortable expression on his face. "Deckard is the cagefight bookie, and Ah'm thinkin' this whole shithole of a mess might be his invention." Puckering his lips, Kain shakes his head and holds out a hand as he motions towards the cards. "Ah'm out, Pucker, Ah' think Ah'm gonna' go get that particular answer from the horse's ass himself." Up and out of his seat, Kain's eyes drift down to look at Eileen, one hand on the back of her chair. "Manny'll stay here, keep an eye on you. Just tell him whatever it is you need done, and we'll talk finances once you rack up a bill."

Blue-gray eyes drift back towards Tuck and the gathered players, settling back on the host after a moment. "As for you," he says with a cant of his head to one side, "Ah'll be back later to talk about what you owe me." After losing as much money as he did at the fights, it's about time Kain cash in some of his debts and favors, and judging from the way he greeted him earlier, it's a fair guess that Tuck owes too many of them.

Charlie snorts faintly, reaching for the deck. "Fuck, I'll deal," he mutters. "See you around, Zarek. Try not to get too roughed up without your shadow." Eileen's given a raised eyebrow - really? A bodyguard? As he doles out cards, he says, "So if we're mentioning people, some skinny old guy tried to knife me the other day."

"Not much to know about Teo," Eileen says to Cardinal, "but if he gives you his word he's usually good for it. I wish I could say the same for most of his friends." She turns her head until her chin brushes her shoulder, looking down at the hand on the back of her chair, then up at the man who is belongs to. "For what it's worth," she tells Kain, half-listening to Charlie and his somewhat abrupt declaration. "I think you've got the wrong man. Be gentle."

"You've either got balls or a brain of solid steel, man," Cardinal mutters under his breath roughly in Charlie's direction as he speaks, his head shaking just a bit. At the words spoken from Eileen, he takes a slow drag on the cigarette in his hand, blowing a wisping column of smoke forthwith afterwards. There's something of calculating thought in his gaze for a few moments, before he eloquently observes, "Mm."

A hand lifts in casual salute towards the rising mobster, offering after him a simple, "'Evening." Then he pauses, asking, "Hey. You got a card, any chance?" Presumably a business card. Not an ace of spades.

"A damn fool's a man who tries to fix a fight," says a guy who probably speaks from experience. Tuck pulls the cards towards him as Charlie deals, then taps out his cigarette into the ashtray. "Especially run by this particular pack of gentlemen."

When Kain addresses him, he tries to discern from the man's posture and tone just what kind of favours he might be in for. "My door is always open for you, sir," he says in a way that sounds genuine despite the fact that he can't possibly mean that.

Cracking a bitter smile, Kain raises his brows and makes way for the door, "Either way, it'll put me in a lot better mood," he adds with a lopsided smile. After all, who doesn't feel better after putting a beating on Flint Deckard? Nobody, that's who. And with the fine assessment that Flint Deckard is likely going to end up black and three shades of blue, Kain slips past Manny and out the door, leaving Eileen — mostly — alone in a room full of criminals and low-lifes.

So all in all, not much has changed there.

Charlie glances over at Cardinal and blinks; there's a little smile, rueful, and he says, "Both. Skull's more like iron, though. What, some watery-eyed old guy goes on a stabbing spree and nobody's concerned? Yeesh. Tough crowd." The cards are dealt; he picks up his own hand.

"Alright, alright…" Cardinal shakes his head, a chuckle rattling in his voice, "…so, an old guy tried to stab you? What, did you knock over his walker or somethin'?" The next hand's gone over, gaze roaming the cards.

"Charles, there are sprees of several different flavours happening in the streets of this island on a daily basis. When one has lived here as long as I, one becomes desensitized to the fucking gore of it all," Tuck tosses some money into the pot and makes an exchange of just one card this time.

"Let me repeat. Some old guy tried to stab me," Charlie says with a snort. "I didn't do anything. Except answer to my name." He pauses. "Maybe that explains it. Still. Old guy. Tried to stab me." He rearranges his cards. "Wiry guy. Bright blue eyes."

"So…" Cardinal looks at Charlie expectantly, waving a hand in a vague sort of 'go on' motion, "…what, is that the whole story? Some old guy tried to stab you for being 'Charles', you shrugged, walked away, what?"

"Our friend of the bright red name makes a good point there, Chuckles. Please, enlighten us with the rest of the tale," Tuck waves his cigarette holding hand.

"Not that interesting," Charlie says, shaking his head. Anyone what needs to exchange cards, he exchanges them. "I punched him out and left him. I'm curious about it. Why was it you wanted to know more about this Teo guy?"

Eileen lapses into silence now that Kain has left, choosing to focus instead on her cards. She may not lose everything, after all. As the men go back and forth, debating Charlie's story, she mentally thumbs through her imaginary address book. A wiry old man. Blue eyes. Likes to stab people.

She's drawing a blank. Unless, of course, you count someone whose name has already been put on the table — Flint Deckard can't be more than fifty, now that she thinks about it. Does he fit Charlie's description? More importantly, does it matter?

Cardinal's hand presses against his brow, thumb rubbing against the inside of his eye's orbit as if to push back a headache. "You'd make a horrible reporter," he murmurs, grinding out the cigarette and tucking the djarum into his jacket to finish it later, cards laid down and exchanged. "I was just curious. He was wanderin' around completely fuckin' bombed out of his mind when I ran into him—surprisingly, I think he survived the night."

"He must be a scrapper if he survived the night on substances around here. Tell him I said kudos if you ever see him alive." Tuck drops his bet into the pot. He seems to have relaxed since Kain's departure, though the hulking man in the corner of the room still gets the occasional cornered glance. He looks to Eileen. "Doing okay there, miss? I mean, I know you're doing fine with the cards. Y'want something to drink?"

"Check for roofies," Charlie says pleasantly. He opts to stick with his cards so far this round, eyeing the others from beneath furrowed brow.

"Oh, no — I'm fine." Eileen's voice suggests she's anything but. She places her cards down on the table, face-up, and leans back in her seat, defeated. "Fold," she announces, "and just as well. I ought to tell Filatov I won't be around for the rest of the evening so he isn't left wondering. It was a pleasure playing with you, gentlemen."

"It was good to meet you… I don't think I caught your name, though?" Cardinal crooks a brow up a bit, admitting, "Might run into you again at Filatov's next time I get my dumb ass shot." He sticks with his own cards as well, keeping them face down before him.

Seems things are about to get interesting. Tuck doesn't look prepared to fold either. He takes stock of what chips Eileen has, then thumbs through the pile of cash to give her her winnings. "Take care of yourself there, sport. I don't have to tell you these're mean streets."

"Don't take candy from strangers," Charlie tells her with a wryly amused expression, reaching for his bottle again. "Especially ones in vans."

Eileen gathers her cash, tucking it inside her interior coat pocket as she removes it from the back of her chair and pulls it on. "Eileen," she says, mostly for Cardinal's benefit, though it might be news to Manny too. She, Tuck and Charlie have already been acquainted. "Eileen Ruskin. I've no birds in mine, unfortunately."

"Watch yourself," Cardinal offers affably enough, before turning back to lay down his hand and leaning back, "Call." Nothing special, pair've kings. "And hey, strangers have the -best- candy. Just don't tell them you're taking it."

"Full house," says Tuck as he drops his cards onto the table. He lifts a hand towards Eileen, then turns to Charlie to await his cards.

February 13th: Lesson Plan

Previously in this storyline…
Die Trying

Next in this storyline…
New Neighbor

February 13th: River Of Dreams
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License