I Don't Want to Be Switzerland


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Scene Title I Don't Want to Be Switzerland
Synopsis Tuck and Logan pen a deal to get the pawnie off Staten and onto the mainland. But first, there's a discussion about giving up contacts.
Date September 12, 2009


In an hour, it's due to get crowded. For now, the clientele is scattered through Burlesque's darker corners, a couple of them lit up by the stage as a woman dances for the leaflets of cash being held up to invite her closer. Logan is apart from those near the stage, those by the bar, and has since taken up his preferred spot of a booth towards the back of the building. He can see the stage, the staircase, and perhaps more importantly, he has a clear view of the front door.

A cigarette already lit up and leaking smoke, and a glass of some liquor or another in front of him, Logan has his attention on the dancing woman, as can only be expected. Leaning right back into the generous booth, with the heel of his boot caught up on the edge, he curls an arm around that raised knee casually, twisting his wrist so that the cigarette clamped between fingers can ash into the ceramic tray nearby.

It might be the most dressed down he's been. The slacks are formal, pinstriped and tailored, but the sleeveless T-shirt is black and plain, hugging his torso and baring shoulders. The accompanying jacket is draped casually on the seat next to him, and he takes a sip of bourbon as he awaits his— client? Associate? Neighbour? Something along those lines, to be determined.

One of the things that Tuck treats himself to when he gets over to the mainland is a haircut. He's fresh from the salon with unruly spikes of hair somewhat tamed. Glasses have been exchanged for contacts, not out of vanity but because, simply put, it lets him blend into a crowd. Big plastic frames are meant to be seen, and he doesn't really want to draw too much attention.

So the Staten fixture pushes open the door to Burlesque with freshly trimmed hair and clothes that made an attempt to be respectable. A pair of dark slacks, a patterned collared shirt and a tweed jacket with elbow patches. He can't, apparently, be entirely un-quirky.

The proprietor isn't hard to pick out. He makes a line for Logan, giving only the slightest cursory glance to the dancers. And it's not because he's polite. "Well. Seems like business is good."

At a sign of movement, a shadow headed for him, the younger man peels his attention from the stage to look up at Tuck, allowing a small smile to tug at the corners of his mouth. "It's not bad," Logan allows, then indicates with a flick of his hand for Tuck to sit opposite him. "You clean up alright when you're on this side of the river, don't you?" There's a soft, dull thud as Logan's heel connects with the ground, pushing his leg out of that angle to sit up properly, sitting his cigarette in the ashtray before picking up his drink. "I don't suppose you want one of these."

"Yes well, you're lucky I put on pants. I have a high counter in my shop for a reason." Tuck's lips twitch. Hard to tell how much of a joke that actually was. He slumps into the seat, glances out across the room, then returns his attention to Logan. "Also, I don't trust the hairdressers on Staten. They double as emergency surgeons, or at least, it seems that way from the strange matter on their razors and scissors. Or maybe they double as hired killers. You never know." He raps his knuckles on the tabletop and eyes the drink. "No, no thank you." Sober since the bomb. Funny how it's worked the opposite for a lot of people.

"I tried to get my clothes drycleaned over this side for much the same reason." Ice clinkaclinks against the crystal sides of the glass when Logan goes to knock the rest back, tension in his brow at the insistent burn it makes down his throat, cooling into a warm glow in his belly. Setting the glass down and plucking up his cigarette again, Logan continues with; "So. Surely you're not making the jump purely due to the lack of a decent barber in the Rookery, are you?"

Tuck may not drink anymore, but he does still smoke. Can't give up all vices, now. At least not all at once. He withdraws a packet and then a cigarette, then takes his time lighting it. "It's time for a change. Seventeen years on Staten is plenty long enough. Plus I hear rumours that the military might be moving in. And I'd rather not be there for that show."

Logan's head tilts to the side at this news. News inasmuch as it is coming from Tuck's mouth, and there's a short amount of silence as he assess him with bright green eyes through the hazy, shadowy lights of the strip club. The added presence of Tuck's cigarette thickens the smoke wrapping about their table, though certainly doesn't bother the erstwhile pimp any. Then, his mouth forms a half-smile, and curiousity leaks into his voice as he asks, "Really? Who told you that?"

There's a rough chuckle and a slow inhalation of the cigarette. He lets the smoke fil his lungs before exhaling a slow cloud. "A friend." He leans forward and taps the ashes into a tray. "Whether it's true or not, someone is going to make a move for Staten sooner or later. Whether it's the Triad, whether it's the military or the Feds. And I'm tired of being Switzerland. Switzerland may be neutral and safe, but it never gets any fucking bigger and no one talks about it much." The analogy kind of falls apart there at the end, but.

Logan is already rolling his eyes by the time Tuck has carried on with his explanation, shaking his head briskly and dismissing the rest of the words as so many— well, words. He gives an exhale of cigarette smoke, and even its opaque white dragon-steam curls move with impatience as he taps out some ash from the burning tip. "When I ask who, I'm looking for a name. 'A friend' tells me piss all, right? You might not care exactly what direction the storm is coming from, but I do."

"And I'm not about to tell you, Logan. I'd think you'd know me better than that by now. I'm not going to give up my sources." Tuck's brows raise. "I believe it. Enough to make my move off the island. That should tell you enough."

The look Tuck gets across the table is ice cold, before Logan puts out his cigarette. "Let's get one thing clear. You're paid as an informant. Caliban wanted you to come to me with what you know. If you're not going to give up your precious sources, then what the fuck are you good for?"

"Yes, and when I talked to Caliban, I made it clear that I had to keep myself neutral to useful. And to do that, there'd be some information I can't pass on. One is the identity of the person who told me this. I can tell you I heard that the military is going to make a run at the island, make an example of it. And soon, from the sounds of things. But I tell you who, I lose that contact, and any other information that I might get from him in the future." He's not intimidated by that look from Logan. Or if he is, he's hiding it well. "I'm useful because people trust me. And they trust me because I don't sell them out. I turn everyone over to you, and I've got shit to work with."

He listens, at least, even if that assessing look doesn't lessen as Tuck reels off his explanation. There's a second of silence that goes by afterwards, before Logan replies. "You telling me that a little bird told you about military presence on the island is not enough. Just because you've got your knickers in a twist is worthless without the why, which is the real information that you are benefiting from. But fuck us, I guess. If you think Caliban is going to be happy with that…"

There's no end to that sentence, Logan simply giving a loose shrug. "Maybe he will be. But if you're going to hold all your cards to your chest to remain useful then you're not going to be particularly useful at all. Let me make it easy - does this chap start with a C and end in 'ardinal'? Or maybe he's more of a poltergeist." His voice is droll, dry enough to split.

To Tuck's credit, he keeps a good poker face. There isn't really a reaction to Cardinal's name. "If a Triad member or some schmo off the street came in and shot his mouth off about this, I'd serve him up to you on a platter. If I don't give up an identity of a source, that means they'll continue to be useful. Look," He sets the edge of his hand against the table in a cutting motion, "The whole reason I'm a good set of ears for you is because people talk to me, people say things to me that they wouldn't say to you or to any suit, or to anyone else. I start reporting everyone who comes to talk to me, and suddenly you don't have someone people will talk to. Trust my fucking judgment here okay, Logan? Cut me some slack. I have some idea of what I'm doing." He sits back and rests his weight against the booth.

"You could trust our judgment that we won't go chasing away all your contacts," Logan points out, although the edge of frustration has vanished from his voice. Lazily, he scratches his jaw, then steers his attention towards the seat beside him. Nudging aside his jacket to reveal an elegant leather briefcase, Logan goes to paw through it. "Do you reckon you'd still be that go-to info broker by the time you're set up here? I'm not so sure. It could be smarter to seal your loyalties to Linderman if you're to be performing another function altogether, by handing over what you've got." His words are almost candid, as if attempting to step out of the previous posturing to offer a suggestion.

Tuck exhales and rubs his forehead. He'd thought of that, but. "Staten's not…well, it is an island, but you know as well as I do that business doesn't just stay there. My Staten contacts have mainland contacts. And really? What I've got on this particular matter isn't a whole lot. I told you everything I know about it. Everything worth knowing save who told me."

He pulls air between his teeth, glances to the briefcase, then up to Logan. "I've been writing up some stuff on a few unconnected lowlifes that Linderman might be interested in. Independent operators who can only get away with what they're doing on Staten. They might be good to bring in or take out, depending on how cooperative they are. A few other notes on people who won't be much use now, who aren't connected to anyone big but might know a few things." People he owes money to, no doubt. People who might've burned him in the past. People he won't lose any sleep over selling out.

A black folder is drawn out of the briefcase, a professional looking item that somehow doesn't really match Logan, but there he is, handling it, flicking it open to review the contents as he listens. "Bring in, take out." He repeats these words, absently, but doesn't offer anything more than that as to what exactly he's observing. Picking out a couple of sheaths of paper from the file, Logan slides them across the table, avoiding damp rings of water from glasses as he goes. "There's a bit of property they're willing to put in your care, it's in Red Hook." Not a bad location, for those with a finger in Staten Island still - many a boat to and from find themselves docked there. "You'd own it yourself, entirely in your name, and they'll probably want a cut of the profits in return."

Tuck picks up the paperwork and scans down it. He's not entirely unfamiliar with paperwork. He did run the pawn shop when Staten wasn't a hive of scum and villainy. Which means he had to pretend it was all legal. Which also meant some creative bookkeeping and such. Still, it takes him a moment to find the most relevant information. "A casino?" he asks. Brows arch towards newly-trimmed hairline. Innteresting. He works his jaw to the side. This is better than he imagined. He pictured himself in a back room of Burlesque or another Linderman-affiliated property, doing some creative bookkeeping. "Well. That's a smart move. All above-board?"

"Hotel and casino," Logan clarifies, leaning back in his seat and spreading out his long, pale arms along the back of the booth. "And yes, same as this place." Legal, that is, without deception. It's a brave new world. "Considering the location, you might catch news about anyone interesting going in and out of Staten Island. If there's anything to make a note of, you know who to talk to."

"Well," says Tuck as he examines the document. He clucks his tongue, "If this news about Staten is true, it's likely the flotsam will wash up in Red Hook," and probably stay around that area. Which means his old contacts might very well come to him. "I know most of the boatmen already. They'd tell me if anything was going down. Also run certain…merchandise in the next little while." Drugs, booze, cigarettes. All the necessities of life on no man's island. "Though maybe not if this is meant to be run on the good side of the law."

Logan gives a soft snort. "Somehow, I don't think you're being taken on to run purely on the good side of the law. You can figure it out yourself, I'm sure, where the legit business starts and where you begin." A wrist flick indicates the rest of Burlesque, a respectable business if there ever was one. The jukebox switches from Nine Inch Nails to something especially grinding by Britney Spears, around the time a new girl stamps out onto the stage.

"True, true," says Tuck, see-sawing his head back and forth. "I…don't think I've ever played by the rules." He is a career criminal, after all. "I know how to pretend that I am, but…" The switch of music draws his attention to the stage, but for a far briefer period than any red-blooded male should pay attention to a grinding girl. He'd rather look at Logan. Make of that what you will. Speaking of things that he pretends to do.

"You get used to it," Logan says, simply, with a lift of one shoulder. He himself doesn't glance towards the new girl, not while he has other things to do than to survey the now familiar scenery. "We've— " There's a slight hesitation there, barely eats up any time, before he continues. "We've got connections in the NYPD. Staten Island might be its own entity, but the mainland's plenty crooked. Just give us a bell if there's trouble. Is that everything?"

Tuck gathers the papers together. "I suppose so. I take it I call this number…" he points to one on the paperwork, "…to work out all the legal details, deeds, permits, et cetera?" He folds the pages in half and checks to see if his smashing tweed jacket has an interior pocket. "This whole city is Pisa, leaning a little to one side. Anyone who thinks it's straight up and down needs his eyes checked."

Logan simply nods in confirmation that everything required is written out for him, and being squirreled away into his jacket as they speak. "Never known a city that wasn't," he says, simply, and now his glassy, green gaze swivels on over towards the attractive blonde insinuating herself around the silver pole in the center of the stage, the ends of her hair trailing the ground as she flips in an unnecessarily complicated fashion when it comes to displaying what is only sort of for sale. Window shopping. "Have a good evening, Tucker."

Tuck slides out of the booth and shifts the bulk of the papers inside the pocket of the jacket before buttoning it up. He starts to move away, then stops. "One more thing. As I am closing up my shop, I am now in posession of a rather large quantity of firearms that I will soon have no place for. You don't happen to know anyone who might be interested in said weapons, would you?"

"Oh, pick me," Logan says, with a slightly more familiar spark facetiousness, his smile knife-like and the first one of the evening as he directs his attention back towards Tuck. "I might have a couple of names if you're willing to wait a bit but I know I wouldn't say no. Renting out stages to single mums, coke whores and undergrads isn't quite as profitable as selling flesh - I need something to keep me amused."

"Ah yes. Our Staten heydays are behind us, sir. But it was a sweet thing while it lasted." Tuck glances over his shoulder, towards the stage. Is it a coke whore, undergrad or single mom who graces the stage at present? Or perhaps there are those in his employ who are all three. "I have a safe place to keep them for now, but if you know anyone willing to take the whole lot, or if you would yourself, then I'm willing to offer a very reasonable price for them. Along with some explosives and sundry bits of ammo." Considering his criminal activities now will likely involve rigging machines and laundering money. It's really more his speed.

He tips an invisible hat towards Logan and makes his way towards the door. He'll have to have a look around Red Hook before he turns in for the night.

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