Investing in the Future


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Scene Title Investing in the Future
Synopsis While cruising Staten Island, Leonardo Raphael Maxwell and his chauffeur for the evening come upon some Ferrymen making a delivery.
Date October 27, 2009

Staten Island

The inland of Staten Island changes dependent on the path you choose, but for the most, it can be described as containing desolate, sprawling suburbia ripped apart from the sudden overpopulation of Bomb survivor refugees, and the subsequent evacuation that took place nearly immediately after. Streets and blocks of houses emptied of families and taken over by squatters; the libraries, the schools, the churches all left behind and taken over by whoever is brave enough to claim it.

The cluster of civilization is namely controlled by a still developing crime population, a neighborhood known as the Rookery. A large portion of the island is taken over by a somewhat wild, unkempt rural landscape known as the Greenbelt, and most of everything, be it structure or vegetation, seems to be in a stay of slow death and decay. Graffiti stains brick walls, glass windows are broken and boarded, and plant life slowly tries to make a feeble reclamation of the land.

This is New York's forgotten borough, and it looks it.

It's a bit early in the evening, the sky still a very dark blue as the few street lights on Staten that aren't broken start to shut on or flicker trying. While this might not be the Rookery, it's still a fairly bad neighborhood, but that doesn't stop Leonardo from taking a rather expensive white 2007 Aston Martin Vanquish out. Sure, it's almost three years old, but this is a bad neighborhood.

He's driving, and Cassius is in the passenger side, just generally checking out potential future real estate, and keeping a scope out for the Evolved activity he hears of so much. He's going at a pretty slow cruise speed, so people walking by aren't exactly blurring, and of course he's made sure that the car he drives in Staten is pretty bulletproof, at least from the average stuff one would have to worry about. "What a sad state this island is in. Once we're done with Midtown, we have a lot of work to do…"

Parked off to the side of the road is a beat up Ford pickup with flaking red paint and a dented body where it looks as though someone once took a baseball bat to the passenger's side door and went to town on the aluminum siding. One of the tires, too, is noticeably low on air, but as far as vehicles in this neighborhood go, the truck is relatively good condition for something that's exposed to the salty ocean air on a regular basis. Rear lights glowing white illuminate a small, slim figure dressed in dark colours at the back of the truck, and as the Vanquish pulls closer, its shape comes into sharper focus and reveals a young woman with a head of thick black curls that are kept from blowing around in the breeze by a cashmere headscarf she wears knotted under her chin.

There are two men accompanying her, one with a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes, the other in a offensively yellow poncho made of plastic designed to protect the clothes he wears under them from the rain. Standing in the bed of the truck, the woman unloads what looks like bags of rice from a wooden crate and passes them down to her companions on the pavement, who gather as many as they can carry in their arms and then head into the dilapidated townhouse outside which the truck is parked.

The woman is spotted, and Leonardo parks not far from the truck, looking over at Cassius. "You come out with me, you don't say a word." he warns, sounding very serious. It's a warning.

Cassius laughs as he starts to open the door, both men wearing black suits, but Cassius has his jacket unbuttoned and shirt only half tucked in. "It's about time you started checking out chicks, but y'know, if this chick is on Staten, she's not gonna be rich."

After stepping out, Leonardo walks around to Cassius, just staring. "You talk, a lot, but consider this business hours, and I do not pay you to talk." Then, off towards Eileen he goes.

Simply shaking his head, Cassius follows, grinning. "Yeah yeah, I'll shut up." he casually offers, as if used to the other man's demeanor.

When Leonardo finally stands a few feet from the truck, he offers Eileen a curious stare. "What's a person like you doing on Staten? Charity?" he asks, not elaborating on what he means by 'like you', though considering his own expensive clothing, perhaps he means 'like him'.

It's not every day you see men in business suits out on Staten Island — or every other day, for that matter. One hand angled over her eyes, Eileen peers down at Leonardo through the drizzle, though it isn't his face he's interested in. It's the way his suit jacket sits on his torso. "I live here," she says, and while her tone is not unkind, there's a certain crispness about her words that rivals the brittle leaves rattling in the trees as she reaches into her pea coat's interior pocket and retrieves a tattered package of cigarettes. Her eyes continue scrutinizing the cut of his clothes, searching for the telltale bulge of a pistol and holster or a glimmer of silver peeking out from one of the garment's lapels.

The package is thumbed open, gold foil peeled away and one cigarette slid out between the knuckles of two fingers gloved in soft leather. "Do either of you have a light?" Eileen asks with an arched brow, her tone unfalteringly polite.

Cassius quickly makes his way to the car, then runs back with an umbrella for Leonardo, both of them opening them at nearly the same time. While Eileen may not get the scrutinizing look, he does, unknown to anyone else, feel for the signature of nearby guns, concealed, peeking from a nearby window, or otherwise. "Cassius, give the woman a light." he casually orders, smiling with a look that almost tries to understand why she might live here.

Cassius walks over, flicking back a silver lighter and holding it up for her, while Leonardo simply continues speaking. "My name is Leonardo Maxwell. And I simply cannot understand why a woman such as yourself would live on Staten of all places, though this place certainly has potential, I have plans for it in the future. Would you mind if I asked your name?"

One hand braced against the side of the truck, Eileen uses fingers to keep her cigarette secured between pursed lips as she leans forward and surrenders its tip to the flame that leaps up from the lighter. When she withdraws, the cigarette is smouldering cheerfully — a solitary point of burnt orange light fighting against the gloom. Smoke leaves her nostrils and the corners of her curling mouth in silver tendrils, or maybe that's just the moisture in her breath condensing as she lets out a low croak of laughter.

Whether or not the men in the baseball cap and poncho are armed remains a mystery. Wherever they are now, it's somewhere deep inside the townhome, out of immediate range. The closest weapon is the pistol Eileen wears in the shoulder holster beneath her pea coat, but with the buttons done up and the collar turned to shield her neck from the chill, it's unlikely that she has any intention of turning it on the strangers.

"Thank you," she murmurs around her cigarette's filter. "And I do mind. But please, call me whatever you'd like."

"Whatever I want?" Leonardo smiles, walking closer, his demeanor unchanging despite the concealed gun on her. He stops only a few feet from her, offering his hand. "Dahlia, because it's one of the only flowers you can call a woman beautiful with that doesn't have a strange name." he teases, laughing lightly as Cassius simply shakes his head.

"Hey, boss, I'm gonna go sit in the car. If I wanna watch a train wreck, I'll toss a hooker into a comic book store." He shakes his head, heading back for the car while leaving Leonardo to fend for himself.

"Please, don't mind him, he can be a tad… disrespectful, but he does his job well."

Eileen — Dahlia — clasps the offered hand and curls fingers around Leonardo's. Her gloves prevent the businessman from making any further judgments about her background; the skin of her palms could either be smooth or coarse, callused or like the velvet on a baby rabbit's back. Her age is even harder to determine thanks to the dying light and the dark circles under eyes that are comparatively bright and alert, either gray or a very washed out green — it isn't clear which. Twenties, maybe. Middle. Early. As with her name, he's welcome to take his pick.

"National flower of Mexico. Good choice." Eileen watches Cassius retreat and does not shift her attention back to Leonardo until the car door has slammed shut behind him. Releasing her grip on his hand, she reaches up, wipes some of the rainwater from her face and takes to a knee in the bed of the truck so she and Leonardo are at eye-level. "So," she says. "Mr. Maxwell. Tell me about these plans you have for our humble island."

Leonardo holds the umbrella over her head, more than willing to sacrifice a simple six hundred dollar suit! "Shortly after I begin to rebuild parts of Midtown, once I find a way to make it safe and livable, I intend to do the same for parts of Staten, and eventually the entire island. Many say they're risky investments, but I say I'm investing in the future. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't take risks." When his hand is taken back, he's still giving her that attentive stare. "So, why don't you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?" While he may not be keeping it a secret, he makes no overt effort to tell her exactly what he does.

Eileen removes the cigarette from her mouth, rolls it between her fingers and taps ash over the side of the truck. "You might say we're in the same of business," she tells Leonardo. "Investing in the future." She brings the cigarette back to her lips, freeing both her hands, and then rests them on her denim-clad knees. "You call it charity, I call it humanitarianism. A little bit of common decency toward my fellow man."

Her elbow thumps against the wooden crate behind her, producing a hollow sound that resonates like the bang of a war drum. "Rice," she explains. "Pickled fish, eggs. I'm sitting next to twenty-odd pounds of evaporated milk, and that's just this trip. You'd be surprised how much people really need just to survive."

"And if I wanted to donate to your organization, who would I speak to?" Leonardo asks, reaching into his suit pocket to pull out a business card, offering it over. President Leonardo R. Maxwell, Maxwell Development Corporation. And then there's all his contact information. "I suppose I could call myself a humanitarian myself, it's my goal to clean up this state and bring it back to its original glory, no, better. I dream of a world where we no longer have to live in poverty, and I trust that in a decade or so, I may accomplish that, with very hard work."

Eileen turns the business card over, looking at it both front and back, then slips it into her coat pocket along with her package of cigarettes. Even with the umbrella providing her with shelter from the rain, she makes an extra effort to keep it dry in the safety of her garment's silk lining. "I used to know someone with a similar vision," she says. "A real god of a man. All your very hard work aside, what makes you think that you'll succeed where he and everyone else before him has failed?"

Leonardo's smile is far more genuine and less political when she asks why he thinks he'll succeed. "The problem with being a real god of a man is that you believe you know what's best for everyone. One should aim to be a king among men, and stay in touch with what the people want, and how they want it done. Failure comes once you gain a false sense of security, the feeling that you cannot fail. I know that I can fail, there are no master plans, one simply builds a network of plans, plans that always change, you adapt to failure and always remain a friend to those in your kingdom, and eventually, you'll succeed where all others have failed." Placing a foot on the truck as the water begins to dampen his suit a bit more noticably. "Of course, I'm willing to hear ideas and input from everyone, because as I said, there is no master plan. Would you like to discuss this a bit more, at Tavern on the Green?"

Leonardo's timing could not be better. As he speaks, Eileen's two companions finally emerge from the townhome, one adjusting his cap, the other heralding their approach with the crinkling of his plastic poncho. Neither appears perturbed by his presence, but judging from the resentful glances sent askance his way, they don't seem to appreciate polished-looking men in six hundred dollar suits prowling around their territory.

"The restaurant in Central Park?" Eileen asks for clarification, as if unsure she heard him right over the patter of rain bouncing off the umbrella's shiny synthetic material. Her lips press around the cigarette's filter, pursing in quiet contemplation as one of the men climbs into the driver's seat and pulls the door shut behind him with enough force to rock the truck. The other takes the passenger's side, leaving Eileen to ride in the back with the crates. "All right."

Leonardo simply stands there as they start to pull off, offering a subtle wave, "Wear whatever you like, though you'd certainly remind me of a Dahlia with your hair down."

Shortly after he says that, Cassius comes from the car once again, standing next to Leonardo with his umbrella out. "Man, I know you're rich and all, but ruining a six hundred dollar suit for the chivalry act?"

This of course causes the Evolved Supremacist's smile to fade, the truck long gone, and he adds, "Please, shut up. Let's go home, I may want to revitalize this place, but for now, it smells."


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