Hopeful Hands



Scene Title Hopeful Hands
Synopsis A rumor brings a hopeful woman to a charity center in search of a man named Joseph.
Date July 18, 2010

Helping Hands, Inc - Bronx

It started as a rumor. Someone with the name of Joseph giving people hope and helping them through the difficult times that continue to plague the city of New York. The rumor spoke well of him. An older man, sad but kind, who rarely spoke of himself, or his past, but always had an open hand for those in need. Warm blankets provided to people in the extended winter thet shut down much of the city, and even after it seems he helped promote groups to rebuild the city, bringing in many who offered their hands and bodies to the cause.

It would be through one of those who donated their time to the cause, that would lead her here today—

The glass door has blue pain, faded and chipped, declaring it to be the office of 'Helping Hand, Inc.' A charitable organization, dedicated to rebuilding small office in upper Bronx. A single desk is visible from the door, a middle aged woman moving a mouse around and looking at webpages, while the phone rings once, before switching over to an automated service.

A beep-beep announced the door opening, but she doesn't look away from her point and clicking, only saying, "If you're looking to volenteer, there's a form," she gestures without looking. There's a few forms, a few flyers mentioning events, and a plaque with a list of 'Honored Members'.

Two pink-nail-polished hands rest on the frame of the door as Lydia's eyes scan the room. Her lips gently edge upwards towards the woman behind the desk, but return to a straight line when no contact is made. Yet something persists in her eyes; something beyond the tells of her face: hope. Against all odds she's come here, searching for that which she desires above all else.

After several seconds of apprehension— still lingering in the doorway— she pads into the room, that smile regaining its politeness. Even-toned and even-paced she responds to the woman in kind, "Thank you."

While it may not be why she's here, she folds the form in half to, theoretically, be completed in good faith later. Along with the form, she takes one of the flyers and leans forward to examine the names on the plaque, her quiet curiosity brewing underneath a contented exterior.

"This damn internet is so slow," the woman behind the desk complains, as she finally looks away through her glasses. The pictures load at a snail's pace onto the page that she's just pulled up, some kind of joke poster about copy machines. The woman probably wishes there were one about internet as a whole, too.

"If you're wanting to donate money, you can get up there too," the woman comments, pointing a stray hand toward the list of honored members. "You can also get up there if you show up to a lot of events and do a lot, too." The voice is bored and tired, lacking in energy, but polite enough. She taps at the monitor as if that'll make the pictures load faster, and then focuses her eyes back over. "Looking for something in particular?"

The lists include many names, but one stands out. A Joseph. Not Sullivan, but changing last names wouldn't at all be a surprise.

The woman is issued a comforting smile, more genuine than not. "It's like that sometimes. Slow," Lydia agrees. "But sometimes maybe we all need to slow down. When everything moves fast, it can be hard to catch up." There's a small shrug as she glances back to the plaque, considering whether this woman can help her. She stares at the one name that could be of interest, her only lead in some time. Finally, shuffling away from the plaque and back to the woman, in silence she considers the question.

Finally, she manages with that same even-tone, "I'm looking for someone." Her eyebrows furrow and the smile turns mildly sheepish, "There was a man who helped me when I needed it." Hope still reflecting in her eyes, she lies to finish the request, "I wanted to thank him." Pointing towards the plaque she adds, "I believe he's been commemorated on your plaque. Joseph." Intently she watches the woman behind the desk, keenly eyeing any clues as to who this man might be.

"I dunno, the day goes by so slowly when there's nothing to do— and this is a slow time for me, cause everything we can do we already are," the secretary says, hinting towards the fact that the group is up to their ears in lending 'helping hands', so can't plan any more events until they get more money. Pulling her glasses off, she grabs a tissue and starts to clean them, before she squints over at the plaque, likely unable to see much more than a colored square on the wall.

"I'm afraid I don't know all the name's on the plaques— I just accept the checks and send people to the right places." There's something dismissive in her emotions and her stance. It's almost as if she may know more than she's willing to reveal.

"But I can forward a letter or an email, if they left contact information, though. What all did he do for you?" Polite prying, as she puts her glasses back on, but if her jokes aren't going to load, a office lady needs something to do.

"I suppose that's the way it is for all charities. Famine in the summer, especially. People think less of each other when the weather is warm and Christmas is months away." Her gaze remains fixed on the other woman, almost skeptical as she steps forward once more, putting her just in front of the lady's desk, but it's an unuttered skepticism accompanied with crossed arms and ankles as she leans forward.

Curiously, Lydia arches a single at the woman, "So you've never met a Joseph around here then?" She watches the receptionist for intonation otherwise as her hands rest on the edge of the desk— her blue dress a contrast to its tone. "Joseph helped me in ways I can't begin to describe. When I had no one, he was there. Of course, I recognize in hard times this is probably a story you hear a lot," cautiously she skirts around the question, not lying, but not telling the truth, existing somewhere in the in between.

With another polite smile she queries, "Does anyone else work in this office? Maybe someone else knows him— ?"

"I'm alone right now, but I do know a Joseph. Don't know if it's the one on the plaque. Was a pastor who helped out a few times. Nice guy, real helpful, could be the one you're looking for, but I haven't heard from him in a while, not since his church was burned down, by those Humanis First pricks," the older woman says, seeming to accept the vague but truthful sounding explaination.

"He was one of those Evolved. Registered and everything. So they didn't much care for him and burned the poor man's church down— It was the Guilding Light Baptist, down in West Village— don't think anyone's rebuilt it yet. If he's the Joseph you're looking for, someone down in the Village may know where to find him now."

A pastor at a church. "How long had he been at the church?" Lydia's attention piques as she reaches for the flyer she'd just retrieved. She points towards a pen on the woman's desk before asking, "May I?" Yes, she'd like to use it. "And… what could he do? I mean Evolved-wise? The Joseph I'm looking for had an ability." Tension forms along Lydia's arms and shoulders at the prospect of finding someone from her family, especially someone so vital to her, and her lips edge up into that smile again, this time thankful. "Has he volunteered here recently?"

"Not lately, no— I haven't seen hide nor hair of him since last year, just before winter. That's when the church was burned down— there was a lynching too, it was horrible. That church never did nothing wrong, other than having one of the pastors Evolved and pro-Evolved sentiments," the woman says, her own southern accent becoming more and more apparent the longer she talks. "He'd only been here— maybe half a year? But they'd helped with homeless, and that's how we worked together. I wouldn't put it past him if he were helping out somewhere else, still, or even pointing people our way— that's what he did. He could show you where you needed to be, what you needed to do."

Lydia reaches for the pen and scribbles down a few notes for herself on the back of the flyer. "He sounds like a wonderful man." The woman is again issued a thankful smile, the kind akin to being issued an unexpected treasure, but to Lydia, this is the most precious information of all. And then she asks as the smile fades, "Who was lynched? A member of the church?" Or Joseph? She can't bring herself to actually speak the last question and so she leaves it implicit as she sets the pen down and clings to the flyer once again.

"I don't recall the name off the top of my head, but I think there were three— Joseph was one of them, Mr. Sumter," she says, giving the full name. "But he wasn't killed, they were able to get to them in time. All Evolved, likely. Poor things. I wouldn't want to be an Evolved in New York, not after everything that's happening here." There's a genuine feeling of empathy for the Evolved from her, though it doesn't seem as personal as it might if she'd been one herself. Maybe someone close to her is, or maybe she's just a genuinely good person.

"Actually I did hear about him, I think one of our groups helping at Summer Meadows mentioned he was helping there…" she puts a hand on her mouth, as she thinks of it. "Yeah, Summer Meadows was built after the church burnt down— it's over on Roosevelt Island. You might be able to find out something about him down there."

While there might be hundreds of Joseph S's in New York, somehow the last initial only feeds Lydia's hope more, she pushes it back, restrains it as best she can, yet it still creeps into her eyes. "I'm glad he's okay. The others?" She arches a single eyebrow again. Did everyone live through the ordeal, or did the lynching end as expected: in pain and death? "Summer Meadows," she repeats as she places the flyer flat on the desk again to scribble down the new lead.

"Do you know anything else about him? Anything at all? It really could help me track him down— I owe him a lot, I mean, if it's the same Joseph." She smiles weakly now, weariness creeping into her features which she fights with determination, after much time searching she finally has a lead.

"I think only the one died, but I don't know much about it, other than rumors. But rumors are usually pretty informative," the older southern secretary says with a grin, becoming more and more animated the longer she talks. There's only so much that she can do on the computer, and despite the horrible side of the conversation, she seems happier just having someone to talk with. Must come with working in the office alone today…

"A young woman, I heard. I think the other victim was a cop, or something. It was a pretty big deal for a while, but this was last year, so now the Great Blizzard is more talk of the town." She chews on her lip, trying to think. "Fraid I don't know much more than that. The Senior Pastor was George Ashby. You may be able to look him up, he might know where Joseph ended up after the church was burned down."

She glances away and blinks, "Oh look, my pictures finally loaded."

"Of course. It's just sad when people are hurt." Lydia nods. There are always rumours and so many these days are more full of fact than fiction. She scribbles down George Ashby's name and nods again before inhaling a slow deep breath. Serenity occupies her face as she gives the woman a slower nod, more expressive and telling than the first. "I'll look up George Ashby, maybe it'll take me somewhere. I really do owe Joseph." More than she can explain.

"I guess I should let you back to your work," she sets the pen down and once again clings to that flyer; it's now her lifeline of information. "Thank you so much for your help." Slowly, carefully, she takes a step backwards, not yet looking away from the woman.

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