Just Peachy


peyton2_icon.gif russo_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Just Peachy
Synopsis Late season peaches are enjoyed while political conversation is not, at the 77th Stree Farmer's Market.
Date September 12, 2010

Upper West Side

The 77th Street farmer's market really gets going just after lunch time. Those who have attended some sort of morning worship service have had a chance to go home and change out of their Sunday best. The rain doesn't perturb those dedicated to organic produce and sustainable farms, and as each of the little booths set up is beneath a small canopy, many of the patrons have simply adjusted their route through the market so that rather than walk along the outsides of the booths and dipping into the vendors they find interesting, everyone moves along in a fashion similar to cattle.

In truth, the rain isn't that bad, and some do stick to the old path. Among these are Wes Smedley and Peyton Whitney, the former holding both a large black umbrella and a canvas bag which presumably holds their various purchases. The rain, combined with the gentle wind, has cooled the city down considerably, and it certainly feels like September. Wes is dressed for it, wearing a brown leather jacket over his usual dark t-shirt. His jeans look a little newer than what he normally wears, but they still show the signs of actual, not designed, wear and tear. The frayed cuffs are damp from the pavement where they meet his boot-clad feet.

He laughs as he walks, his face wrinkled with whatever it is that is amusing him. "S'shame all your beef is shipped in," he comments through the mirth. "Drives the price up somethin' fierce, and it ain't nearly as fresh as it could be." Clearly, the best cuts are the ones you hack off for yourself, in the cowboy's mind.

The socialite is dressed for rain in skinny jeans, brown leather boots that come to her knees, and a magenta trenchcoat. Long dark hair is held back in a ponytail, and she shakes her head at Wes' words. "If it weren't all shipped in from the other states, the other states wouldn't have any purpose, right?" Clearly they exist to serve the metropolises of the nation!

Peyton's hand is wrapped around Wes' arm, and she tugs him toward a particular booth that's caught her attention. "Let's get some peaches — that's probably the last fresh batch from the summer. Soon all the fresh fruit will come from South America for the winter," she says, and her nose wrinkles at the thought of the cold season — last year's never ended, and last year's was full of too many tragedies. It is not a season she looks forward to.

"Mmmm. Perfection."

The soft peach Brad Russo bites into has that resounding effect, melting into his very being. Unlike many patrons, he's loaded up with bags — PLURAL. This is his heaven. Food. Gardening. Discussion of gardening. All awesome. Around the peach, very poorly, he talks up the local grower, "So — " Nom Nom Nom. Swallow. " — did you use a natural fertilizer? This peach has a very… sugary taste… better than last year. Did you change the germination? I mean this peach is really good. Kudos, man!" he winks before taking another noisy bite of that red fruit.

A bunch of peaches are added to one of the bags before several dollars are given to the vendor in exchange. As Brad turns away, he nearly bumps into the approaching couple, dodging just by a second, and shoots them a broad grin with widened eyes, their pale green sparkling with just a hint of mischief, "Hey! Sorry bout that! Have you had Spencer's peaches? They are phenomenal…" His grin brightens even more as his gaze flits to Peyton, although his expression turns to mild perplexion with furrowed eyebrows and a finger tapped at his chin, "I should know you shouldn't I?"

As they enter the stall whose banner brightly proclaims it to be "Spencer Orchard," Wes pulls Peyton just a little closer beneath the umbrella so that he can bend and whisper into her ear, his smile widening with whatever it is he says. Inside, he drops the umbrella to one side and slides it closed, though he doesn't go to the trouble of wrapping the Velcro strap around it. Instead, he tosses it into the air and catches it so that his hands holds the plastic against the center pole.

Of course, when they're almost bumped into, Wes straightens up a bit. But when it becomes clear that whoever this is knows Peyton, Wes extracts himself from her as slyly as possible in order to look at the peaches on display. This doesn't mean he doesn't keep an ear finely tuned to the conversation - just that he does his best to not get in Peyton's way.

Peyton smirks at whatever it is Smedley said, reaching to swat at him even as he extricates himself from her grip, then turns to look at the peach-eating man with a curious tilt. "Not necessarily. We haven't met before, if that's what you mean," she says politely enough, as she tries to remember what she remembers his face from — there are no alarms going off that he's dangerous. The former socialite isn't one for political debate shows, but still, there's something familiar about the man.

"Oh, you're one of those talk show kinda guys, right?" she finally says. "My parents watched your show sometimes." At that point, she was rarely home to notice what was on television, too busy out drinking and ditching school. Realizing that might be a bit of a faux pas — suggesting that only people her parents' age might watch him — she reaches for his hand. "I'm Peyton Whitney. I have no head for politics, forgive me."

"Ouch," a hand is raised to his chest like Brad's been mortally wounded, "Your parents." The smile remains, however, as he emits a chuckle and accepts the hand with a solid shake all his own. "At least you didn't say your grandparents. I've gotten that one before." With a now lopsided grin, he introduces himself, "Bradley Russo. Brad. And yes, I have a show. We talk politics, life…" his gaze shifts to Smedley momentarily before returning to Peyton, "… anything important. And, in my experience, everyone has a head for politics."

"For example," now he's addressing both of them. "Do either of you have an opinion on registration? Curfew? All politics. It effects everyone, even if they don't have the head for it, they have an opinion." He winks slyly before drawing another peach from his bag only to light up entirely. "Oh! You both should try these. They are amazing." Promptly two more are plucked rather awkwardly in a trio that clearly doesn't fit in his hand. "They're slow grown… although Spencer could give you more info that way — "

But sadly, Spencer is dealing with another customer - a family of four, one still in a stroller. It makes Wes's attempt to distract himself a failed one, and he's soon looking back to Brad, though his expression is a tense one. Media people. Despite his own subtle fears of paparazzi plus Peyton Whitney, plus himself would land everyone in a heap of trouble, a political commentator isn't so bad, save for the idea that trading words and opinions for a living doesn't seem all that honorable. Not that Wes Smedley is a good judge of honorable work.

He takes a peach, but he doesn't introduce himself. Instead, he fixes Russo with a level stare as he sinks his teeth into the juicy flesh of the fruit. After a moment, he nods in appreciation of the taste. "S'good."'

The snap-snap of a camera nearby does not belong to a paparazzo but instead to a freelance photographer, a press badge around his neck proclaiming him to be working for The Village Voice. Smedley is captured with his mouth around a peach, Russo holding the other two out toward Peyton, in some strange revisionist rendition of Adam and Eve and the Forbidden Fruit.

Peyton doesn't even notice the snapping of the photo, but smiles and waves her hand at the offering. "We'll just grab our own, Mr. Russo, but thanks. And yeah, of course I have opinions on those things. I got kidnapped because people knew I was Evolved. That shouldn't be public knowledge. There are people like Humanis First out there who use that information to hurt innocent people. And I think it's important that people debate over them — I mean, that's our right, and it's how things improve. It just doesn't seem to be working very well right now," she says, reaching into her purse for some cash to pay for the peach that Wes is eating, as well as any others they wish to purchase.

Russo rarely takes a poor picture thanks to his ever-present smile. This one? Well it'll be a little more awkward than unusual with the plethora of peaches stacked into a single hand. Despite it, the smile remains.

His name earns a quick correction, "Brad, please. Not Bradley or Mister Russo." The extra peaches are returned to the bag, "They are good. One day I'll give it all up and have an orchard. Maybe." The smile fades until he forces it once more. "Dreams," he murmurs quietly.

"So you've seen and experienced the effects of unbridled politics? People need platforms to have their opinions heard. That's what The Advocate is about, sharing opinions, leaving openings for people to express themselves…" He shrugs before sinking his teeth into another peach. At this rate he's going to have little to take home.

It would seem Wes doesn't have the same problems with eating Russo's proffered peach that Peyton does, as he chews it in the fashion of a content bovine for the moment he stands there staring back at the man. There's far too much bustle in the market for him to notice the sound of the camera's shutter. Instead, he offers the peach he's sampled to Peyton while nodding at Russo.

"Ain't just that," he mutters, his voice low and his accent definitely not east-coast. "Government's got no cause to be in the business of individuals. Don't matter what color your SLC test comes up as. Just another way for Big Brother t'track law abidin' folk. No reason for it, comrade."

Peyton takes the peach, a little gingerly so that the sticky juice doesn't get all over her hand. She chuckles a little as Brad eats bites into yet another one, and she bites into the one she holds to be polite — also because the owner of the stall seems to be watching from where he confers with the family of four, looking for approval and validation that in fact it is the best peach ever.

She's no connoisseur. It's a peach. "Good," she agrees with a polite nod, then hands it back to Wes as she goes about selecting a few to put in a bag.

"Oh, I agree, the platforms to talk is good. Unfortunately, the people who are … unbridled? They're not the ones who go on your show as an outlet," she says, a little sadly, bagging up six of the peaches. "But it's good to get the opinions out there — except… I wonder how many of the bad opinions sort of corrupt other people who wouldn't have thought them otherwise."

There's a quiet cluck of Brad's tongue before he swallows the peach, the sticky juice dripping down his hand, bringing a moderately sheepish grin to his lips, "Opinions are just opinions. The point is there need to be avenues for debate. Both sides need to be heard." His critics would disagree. Thanks to his re-found balance he's been accused of going soft.

Wes's comment, however, gets a gleam of mischief. Too easily, Russo falls into that persona on the television, the constant devil's advocate designed to spark debate, "What about social security numbers? Should the government have no information on its citizens? If that's the case then what would happen to the order of things? The police? The military? And that's the question — how much is too much control? Should the average citizen have privacy? When has that line been crossed?" He shrugs, "It's not cut and dry. If there had been registration in 2006 would the bomb have gone off?" The last question has an unusual serious edge, paired with a frown. "I… " eyebrows furrowing, he just shakes his head and bites into the peach.

The look Wes gives Peyton following her informed comment is nothing short of endearing, though Russo's words draw his features into a glower by the time he looks back at the other man. Another munch of the peach serves to temporarily silence him, but the narrowing of his eyes is enough to convey his displeasure with the argument presented.

"You know damn well what I mean," he all he says after a moment, his mouth still half-full of peach. He swallows, slipping his umbrella wielding arm around Peyton and nodding toward the booth's owner. Pay the man if you're going to take peaches. "It's pointless to talk about what would'uh been back then. Ain't gonna change what's happenin' today or even what happens t'morrow. Waste uh'time, s'all it is. So why not find somethin' a bit more useful t'do, hmm?"

Part of this outing is meant to appease Wes for her lack of thought the day before, so Peyton is quick to notice his tension and the nod toward the owner. She also notes the seriousness that suddenly overtakes Russo's expression and tone, and she looks apologetically and curiously at him.

"My parents died in the explosion," she says softly, guessing that perhaps someone he knew was lost, too — after all, most New Yorkers were affected somehow. "But it doesn't make what amounts to fascism right. They wouldn't have wanted to see this country like this. They wouldn't want to see me treated like a secondhand citizen just because I can see things others can't."

She chuckles, the sound wry and self-deprecating. "But like I said, I don't have a head for politics. It was nice to meet, you, though. I'm sure I'll see you around sometime. It's a small world, after all."

She gives Brad a smile before moving toward the stall owner, paying with too large a bill and waving off any attempt of change-making.

Brad's latest bite of peach is swallowed. Where the tone had been amiable, it darkens into an odd near-gloom. The peach is now abandoned, the uneaten-half thrown into a nearby trash can, "People were lost. A lot of people were lost. Pointless or not, it motivates and shapes who we are and where we're at today. Not acknowledging or thinking of what could've been betrays their memories." The acknowledgement of Peyton's loss is met with one of his own, public knowledge thanks to his show, "I lost my fiance and my mother in the blast. One day. So much loss."

His lips are now pressed together as he forces a small smile and a nod back at Peyton. "And of course. It was lovely meeting you…." an odd glance is given to Smedley, "…both."

Wes's face twitches into a tight, too-polite sort of smile then. "You take care now," he says with a crisp nod as he guides Peyton away from the peaches and back into the aisle between the booths. The rain has stopped for now, making the umbrella an unnecessary object for now. Wes removes his arm from around Peyton long enough to transfer the tightly held umbrella to the same hand that carries the bag, letting the canvas handles rest looped around his wrist. Freed, he takes the young woman's hand in his own, giving it a small squeeze in apology. "Since when did politics stop bein' one'uh those topics you just didn't have in polite conversation?"

"I guess… when it's your job? To be fair, I'm the one who brought it up," Peyton says, apologetically. She glances up at the sky and then down toward the edge of the blocked off street. "Let's go get some coffee and sit somewhere the sky isn't leaking on us," she suggests, her own hand squeezing his arm before she turns to give him a spontaneous kiss on the cheek.

On his way back to the Village Voice's office, the photographer peers in the display screen of his digital camera — he recognizes two of the three people in the photograph that will end up as "Wild Art" in tomorrow's paper — those extra, slice of life sort of photographs used to fill up the newspaper's pages, especially on weekends — he probably should have interrupted the conversation and asked for the man in the leather jacket's name. As it is, his cutline will have to make do with identifying Peyton and Brad, while "another patron enjoys the bounty of the market."

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