alexander_icon.gif amato_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif munin_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Gutterball
Synopsis Deckard, Alexander and Teodoro witness a murder at Kingpin's Bowling Alley, but the murder itself is not so shocking compared to what the killer leaves behind.
Date November 6, 2008

Kingpin's Bowling Alley

The desk at the front accepts players' money and rents out the flat-bottomed shoes used in bowling alleys anywhere. Plaques from past tournaments held at Kingpin's line the posts on either side of the counter, along with an assortment of pictures and posters.

Thin red carpet covers the floor as far as the broad, shallow stairs leading down into the bowling pit. An assortment of vending and arcade game machines line the back wall; a counter and corresponding line of stools provide places for people to watch the games while they eat. Snacks are not, of course, allowed on the floor.

Below the stairs are the computers controlling the lanes and the games, with groups of chairs clustered about. Beyond them are the hardwood-paneled lanes, just waiting for pins to be set; behind, in the shadow of the counter, are shelves and shelves of bowling balls in all sizes and colors.

On a late Wednesday night, Kingpin's Bowling Alley is remarkably busy. There are a few groups of teenagers and college students looking for a brief if nostalgic reprieve from their otherwise flashy and hectic lives, an elderly group on some sort of club-related outing, and one young family using a lane with bumpers. There are others milling about the lanes, the shoe counter, the snack bar, and video games. Undoubtedly, if the management decided to install a few billiard tables, they would drum up even more business.

Among the alley's patrons is a tall, thin man, who is currently waiting his turn in one of the padded, plastic chairs associated with his lane. His hair is brown and mussed, half in his face - but that's the latest style, right? His clothes are equally nondescript and trendy: faded blue jeans, a striped button up shirt, and a corduroy sports coat. Behind the shoe counter are a brand new pair of Converse sneakers. The screen above lists the players as "Ashley" and "Gabrielle," and the ignorant eye might suspect that the man is simply observing while some mysterious third person is in the restroom.

It's true that "Ashley," is observing. He's caught the eye of a somewhat attractive young blonde, who has in turn noticed him. They smile at each other when they catch the other looking back, but that's as far as the subtle, long-distance flirting has gone.

Indeed there are lanes occupied by teenagers, college students, and senior citizens. Then there is the one on the opposite side of "Ashley" and "Gabrielle." It is occupied by a single creepy 40 year old man who is probably at least slightly drunk, if the coordination issues he's having while attempting to line himself up before the pins is any indication. He has apparently determined that he is excempt from the "no snacks" rule, as an open metal flask serves as a makeshift companion propped up in one of the empty chairs behind him. According to his score screen, his name is Burt Reynolds.

Alexander is in black hoodie, jeans, and stupid grin. Is he already a bit drunk? Perhaps. He's singing to himself, more than his companion, "Take the skinheads bowling, take them bowling," as he bounces in. It's barely above nonsense, really. He's got his black knit watchcap pulled off, and is stuffing it in one of the capacious pockets, happy to be out of the cold.

It's difficult to hold a bad or near-foreboding mood with a redhead blithering songs you've never heard of next to you. He'd tried, of course. Twenty-five-years-old, estranged from family, erstwhile terrorist, and unaccountably retarded with his progress at school, Teodoro is generally pretty good at retaining enough anger to make life picturesque. Unfortunately, his mood lightens. And in the process, magically transforms the bowling alley into—

Well, a bowling alley. Stinks like cigarettes, soundtracked to clinking beer and masticated peanut shells. "Amico, you are a fucking lightweight," Teo remarks companionably, slinging an arm around his friend's neck. He cranes his head up to look at the wall clock. How long was it until the next alley opens up, again? "And seriously. What were you doing last night?"

It's easy enough for Amat-"Ashley" to ignore the older man as he looks across to the blonde. She takes her turn, concentrating when she throws the ball. A few of her more sympathetic companions frown and express their sympathies as it starts to lean fatally to one side, aiming for the gutter. But Blondy isn't about to let that happen. She squints and jerks her head to one side, and as if there were an invisible cable connected from her head to the ball, it swings back and hits the first pin square-on in a classic strike. Cheers erupt, and Blondy is met with amazed cheers and hugs from her friends before she excuses herself to get a drink from the snack bar. She does have quite a few people in her party, and it will take some time for her turn to come up again. Seeing his chance, Ashley gets up and nervously curls his fingers into fists, briefly touching the thin latex pads on his fingers to his palms just to ensure they're still there.

Burt Reynolds, currently in the process of executing a granny roll that is made all the more inelegent by the way he has to half-squat to assume the position, releases. His ball drops heavily, and begins its creep down the lane with such a sluggish lack of enthusiasm that it might not even make it all the way there. He's distracted, though. Blondie's big score prompts him to straighten and turn after her. Rather than actually follow, he just kind of stands where he is and ogles from afar. Only moderately creepy.

"Whatcha mean?" Al wonders, gaze up on the boards. Oh, that's one open. He ambles for it. "And I'm not a lightweight. Just a recovering Baptist is all, doll," he insists, heading for the ball with that gait that's almost a parody of a hoodlum's strut.

Oh, good. An open alley. Now Teo just has to refrain from thinking too hard about who else might have worn these shoes before and what residue is squeaking against his socks as he obediently picks up his feet and follows at a lope that only retains a hint of the hoodlum's swagger he'd actually worn once. Bowling is, he thinks disparagingly, a uniquely American sport not because no other country has any real part in it, but because no other nation would want to.

Case in point, one— he glances up at the passing screen before craning his head backward— 'Burt Reynolds,' and his behavior toward that… All right. Fair enough. Carina— "Fuck, sorry," he says, braking a moment before he walks up the back of Alexander's pants and turns his head around. His brow stoops, suddenly hair-raisingly serious: a young man's way of paying attention. "Okay. Which one's a 'strike?'"

A pair of pale green eyes, shadowed by dark lashes and even darker, more defined brows, watches the scene as it unfolds. Munin, or "Gabrielle" if you prefer, sits at the bar and nurses a tall glass of what looks like cranberry cocktail, complete with a slice of orange perched precariously on the rim of her glass. Her elbows rest on the counter's edge, her face cupped in the palms of her small hands with her fingers spread across her cheeks. Although the expression on her face appears disinterested, the tightness in her shoulders and neck belies her true feelings. For whatever reason, this young woman is nervous — a vibrant fleck of pent up energy awash in florescent colours, her pale skin glowing faintly beneath the blacklight.

Ashley's glance to Munin as he approaches Blondie, who is ordering nachos, is rather nonchalant. She could be anyone, and only the most vigilant would know her to be Gabrielle. Smiling, Ashley slides somewhat effortlessly into his game. The posh British accent he adopts, and the claim that he's a graduate student at Columbia in Blondie's - or it's Cynthia Meyers, isn't it? That's right - department. She'd recently won a scholarship in the department she apparently shares with the graduate student. And how did she save that gutterball? Trick flick of the wrist?

It's when Ashley enters this seemingly innocent line of questioning that Cynthia pales. But the smooth-talking man glazes over it seemingly well, laughing it off and pointing out that with the election results, she won't have to worry. Of course, Ashely isn't going to let on that he knows Cynthia Meyers of Hoboken, New Jersey, is a registered Evolved. Neither does he shy away from her. The charm is only multiplied, and as he leans in to whisper something in her ear, a hand slips into his coat, presumably to pull out a card where she can reach him.

What happens next is quick and subtle. Palming a small syringe, not unlike something that would be used to administer insulin, Ashley brushes Cynthia's thick hair behind her ear, letting his eyes close for that moment when he receives the rush of images - a young woman's sins. But there isn't time to waste. The syringe's cap is flicked off deftly, catching in the blonde tresses the very moment that Ashley sticks the needle into Cynthia's neck and depresses the plunger. She gasps silently, and the long-haired brunette in the jeans and sportcoat is opening the door to the parking lot before she hits the ground in one fell swoop.

Burt Reynold's eyes flick up from Cynthia's boobies upon identifying the delicate cylinder of a syringe rising with "Ashley's" hand. His brows twitch down. "…" says he, granny roll still drowsing its way dejectedly down the alley behind him while he tries to put two and two…oh. "Holy shit."

And ….shit, what's that? Al's diverted from his path to the holy lane of the pins by the woman collapsing. He's no medic, but he's got enough first aid training that he detaches himself from his comrade, and goes running to her side. "Teo, call 911," he says. It's a weird echo of the soldier he used to be - his manner's curt and matter of fact, that amiable grin gone.

For whatever reason, Teo was trying to explain himself, retroactively. Gesturing in the blondoid's general direction as he studied the bowling equipment. "I was looking at—" What? Surprise jolts through him visibly, head up and blue eyes lancing adrenal attention over at the woman now toppling toward the ground, and his friend bolting in her direction. Stupidly, he asks the empty column of air Alexander had just departed: "What?"

Fortunately, however, he manages to divide his faculties between making that demand and yanking his cellphone out of his pocket. His hands don't shake, his gaze doesn't stray; he dials, an expededient beep-beep punch of numbered buttons; he starts to move toward the forming knot. "—Hey," a salutation directed at no one: at everyone. "What the fuck just happened?

"Anyone?" halfway down the aisle, he wheels on the ball of his foot, casting a haphazard glance across faces puzzled or frightened. Long fingers go white-capped around the phone. "Stroke? Anyone see anything? Anything?"

The cause of Cynthia Meyers' collapse is right there in her neck, hidden by her thick hair. Tied around the syringe with a red ribbon, the sort anyone can get in a craft or card store, as if the injection tool and it's now emptied cargo were present that needed a tag. The paper is nothing special - standard, scrapbooking quality cardstock, in eggshell.

On the paper, in tall, black, block print are three words.


Outside in the dark, Ashley kicks off his bowling shoes. He hadn't intended to steal tonight, and he won't. It doesn't take him long to toe off the leather worn by so many before him, and within seconds he's slipped off into the city's shadowy depths.

But don't you worry. He'll turn up - far from here in a tent city, where he will, as a blonde clergyman, add a paper bag of nondescript items to the trashcan fire which a number of down-on-their-luck citizens are warming themselves. It will keep them warm for some time, and they're quite grateful to the young, anonymous priest. Or was he an angel?

They'd have to ask Cynthia Meyers that. Whatever drug has been injected into her neck has already done it's work, and though she stares up at Alexander and the ceiling beyond him, her eyes are glassy and unfocused. Off to judgment, where she shall meet her maker and her eternal fate.

Good luck, Cynthia.

Did anyone see anything. That's a tricky question. Jaw worked slightly aside, Flint/Burt Reynolds watches the rush for Cynthia's body at a slight remove. His ball, giving up on its endeavor entirely, trips sideways over into the gutter. Eventually, aware of the fact that he's staring in a way that just might qualify as conspicuous, he turns enough to look sidelong over at the alley that was occupied by Amato, and presumably still is occupied by Munin.

The gaggle of college students who were with Cynthia slowly come to realize that all of this growing hubub is about their friend. They're friend who is now lying unconscious on the floor. Screams break out, and the lot of them rush to her, some held back by the others as the whole group goes into a frenzy of yelling and crying. What happened? Is she alright? Oh dear God, what's going on?

Al…..well. Something rather odd's begun to happen around him. The air's alive with unfocused motion, like a breeze that comes from nowhere. And the glasses of the drinkers around him have begun to shiver and sing, though they are far from fine crystal. He himself remains impassive, ducking to pull the syringe from her neck. The tag attached to it is vanished, immediately. Should he take evidence? No, but he is. He looks to Teo, and the blue eyes are icy. "That man killed her. Murdered her," he says, dropping the syringe back on her body. And lower, "We need to be gone."

Teo doesn't answer for a fraction of a second, despite that his fingers are laced tightly over the receiver of his phone and his gaze as flat as Alexander's is overbright. The next instant, he jerks his chin down into the cell and speaks, his voice rapid-fire as if squeezed out through the constraints of panicky civilian stress: "A girl just fuckin' fell down! I don't think she's breathing. We're at Kignpin's Bowling Alley in the Bronx, and we don't know what to do. Fucking send someone—"

clack. Flipped shut the next instant, the tiny handheld is jammed into Teo's pocket even as he claps a long hand around Al's arm, once, hissing two words, monosyllabic, not quite curt, before he pushes away. Shoulders his way through the crowd, moving toward the far end of the shoe counter; a separate path.

Munin hasn't been near the alley for almost twenty minutes now, but it doesn't take much investigative prowess for Flint to locate her at the other end of the bar, her bare legs dangling over the edge of the stool upon which she sits. Her gaze meets Flint's and, steadily, holds it for what seems like a very long amidst all the chaos but can only be a few moments. Taking this as her cue to leave, she shifts her weight forward until the very tips of her toes touch down on the linoleum floor and she slides off the stool, her pea coat slung haphazardly over her left shoulder. Time to be gone — Alexander couldn't have phrased it better.

Deckard should turn his resume in to the NYPD, clearly. Sobered rather abruptly by the totality of circumstances that this whole murder thing has entailed, once he's picked Munin out from the other bodies still lingering near the bar, he doesn't break eye contact until she slides off the stool. From there, it doesn't take him more than a couple of seconds to clear out his screen, scrap up his flask, and slip towards a fire exit in the opposite direction.

That subsonic humming dies away, as Al forcibly brings it under control. He flashes Teo the little scrap of cardstock that was in his palm, lip half-lifted in a rather wolfish snarl. "Right," he says, as he lets Teo lead him along. He's conveniently feigning feeling faint, stumbling away on the Sicilian's arm.

By the time the paramedics and the cops arrive, the majority of the bowling alley's patrons have calmed down, but are still rather tense and shaky. Statements are taken, evidence is examined, and Cynthia is removed to the morgue. Strangely, until the tapes are retrieved from the few cameras that survey the alley, the only bits of evidence the police have to go on is a pair of brand new Converse sneakers, size 10, left behind the counter, the bowling shoes outside, the syringe, and the statements of a few people who actually saw a tall man with long brown hair talking to the deceased student and another red-headed one rushing to her when she fell before mysteriously bolting.

November 6th: Sharp Edges
November 6th: Connections
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