La Vie en Sandwich


august_icon.gif caderina_icon.gif emily3_icon.gif

Scene Title La Vie en Sandwich
Synopsis Desperate for a taste of something like normalcy after the city was nearly swept away by flames, Emily Epstein is very interested in grabbing a memewich and makes that intention her friend Caderina— and poor bystander August's— problem. The long line leaves room for conversation even after strangers brought closer by food judgment part ways amicably.
Date July 4, 2021

Red Hook Market

Life is normalizing nearly a week after the fires were stopped at the Safe Zone's borders, the city persevering despite the revelation the fires were propelled by a fuel of hatred. July 4th is a holiday, but where some have the day to themselves, the service industry is alive and well.

Red Hook Market is busy today on all fronts. The Safe Zone Cooperative continues to act as a hub for those affected by the fires, providing advice and resources for citizens that need it, and several stalls at the market advertise that a portion of purchases made will go to charitable cause if not offering reduced prices for those in need.

The fuel that keeps everyone going, though, is food— and one flat-top grill is surrounded by a smorgasbord of food options in food cases, fridges, and freezers. Contents which all are being mixed together in curious ways compelled by a single phrase:

"Give me it Ocky style!"

The chef in charge of the grill grins to hear it every time, raising a fist in solidarity and a promise to deliver. The young woman tending the register rolls her eyes and shakes her head while suppressing a smile nearly every time. She can't believe the attention that's been gathered here, but she enjoys it, too.

Of a similar, more aloof mind is Emily Epstein, paused in her roam of the market to peer in the direction of the sandwiches being ordered. The lot of them are thick, and she's not entirely sure what's going into them…

But she's pretty sure she just heard someone order a Froot-Loop pancake breakfast sandwich and her curiosity will not let her not see how that turns out.

"I think I got diabetes just listening to that order," says the blonde at Emily's shoulder. Caderina Garbo brushes her bangs away from her forehead, squinting in the direction of the counter, dubious.

“I’m not sure that counts as food anymore,” murmurs a tall man as he stands at one of the tables with various condiments that serve a few of the nearby vendors. Here, he’s stirring some cream and sugar into a large coffee – something in a slim paper envelope is also added to the mix. He makes a slight effort to keep the small brown paper envelope palmed, but he also doesn’t try very hard. More for appearances than actual sleight of hand.

Capping the coffee, he takes a sip, his eyes finding the menu board and narrowing his eyes a little. “French toast waffles sound pretty enticing. Not so sure about putting mozzarella sticks and syrup on top, personally, but as a friend of mine used to say, ‘it all ends up in the same place.’”

Still, August Yeats looks a little doubtful.

Emily snorts at Caderina's comment, and the bystander's addition brings her head to turn. If she notes the palming action happening, she doesn't so much as let a lingering stare in its direction happen. She doesn't need to. Her blank look is accompanied by a horrified whisper of, "Mozzarella sticks?"

She grimaces as she looks back to the scene playing out nearby, but neither does she leave. Her look of 'ew' fades away for a thoughtful one instead. She reconsiders with a turn of her head and a slight grimace, and then goes back on herself again with a game, "I mean– I don't know."

"People put pineapple on pizza– the whole concept of opposites attracting isn't– I mean…"

She has no idea why she's trying to defend this. She may just be playing for time to see how this order turns out.

“Pineapple on pizza is one of the things that’s wrong with this world,” Caderina opines. Her gaze shifts to August, amusement in her eyes, even if she doesn’t outright smile at him. “I think mozzarella sticks on french toast is up there on that same list.”

It’s a very long list, and these don’t rank anywhere near the top, but they still rank.

As if she’s unable to hold back anymore, she finally cracks a grin to Emily, giggling quietly. It’s a rare thing to hear from her since they met and bonded through their mutual trauma, but it’s not the first time.

The tall man has the grace to look embarrassed as he confesses, “I like pineapple on pizza. But pineapple can be good in savory food. You ever try pineapple fried rice at a Thai place? It doesn’t even taste sweet. And tomatoes are actually a little sweet. It’s just about expectations. Your brain doesn’t think they go together, is all. Try them when you’re a little stoned sometime – you might change your mind.”

August looks up at the menu and shakes his head. “It’s the everything together all at once that gets me. A little savory and sweet? Sure. Syrup with sausage when they bleed together a bit on your pancake platter? Great. Popcorn with M&Ms? Amazing. But… Fruit Loops, bell peppers, nacho cheese, egg, and maple syrup is just… there’s a line that should be drawn that’s been crossed there.”

He smiles at the poor person minding the counter. Just his opinion, miss.

“That said, the food does look great when it comes out – for me, I’d just be a bit more selective in what goes with what.”

The girl at the counter, upon hearing August's incredibly valid criticism, only gestures with a wide hand toward the other people standing in line after the current customer. She might agree with him, but these people here clearly differ. She turns back around to check on the progress of things, and after seeing how far the current order is along, swivels back around to call out, "Okay, next!"

Emily wobbles her head as she looks sidelong at Caderina, and with apparent seriousness says, "Okay, maybe that might be true– but I saw something in the reverse and, honestly, I'd try it. It was this thing from this account like 'Food In Places It Shouldn't Be', but I'd go for it." She looks back toward the stranger with the unique food opinions and boldly states, "Cheese pizza topped with waffle bits that have maple syrup in the little squares. I feel like that's just like Hawaiian pizza."

She arches her brows high in an invitation to be agreed with or countered.

Ew.” Caderina’s opinion is a fairly simple one. “Sweet stuff goes with sweet stuff and savory with savory. Maybe you put salt on an apple sometimes.” She watches as a freshly-made sandwich is sliced in half and wrinkles her nose. “Cheese and rainbow sprinkles don’t go together.”

She must be fun at parties.

But she tips her head to one side and takes a moment to reconsider. “Okay. Hypothetically, if I were stoned, I might try some of that. But only some.” Caderina frowns. “I guess sausage links and maple syrup aren’t the worst. But it makes me think of when the lunch ladies just slopped everything onto the tray regardless of whether I wanted it or not.”

August dips his head to the person taking orders ocky style – twenty-five people in line can’t be wrong, can they?

Sure, they can.

But Emily’s escalation to violence draws his eyes back to her. “What? No. Maple syrup on pizza is not the same as… what is wrong with you?” But he laughs. “Pineapple has some acid and sweetness. The best foods have a little bit of acid, yeah? That’s what they say on the cooking shows all the time. ‘Needs some acid.’ Maple syrup doesn’t go with cheese. With fried chicken, sure, but not with cheese or tomato sauce.”

He’s not stepping into that line. He has his laced coffee. He’s good for now.

Now it's Emily's turn to let out a cry of dismay disguised as a laugh. "Oh, my god, no– chicken and waffles is terrible. Breading isn't meant to get like… sticky and soggy. Just– how."

Very little of very little of everything they've discussed here should go with each other, but that's not the point. Possibly.

"That bit though about the acid – I've never well-understood it. Food critics on cooking shows are a different breed than the average American, that's for sure." She dips her head in a not-so-subtle gesture at everyone in line to seal her argument with evidence. "And I'm not sure if that's on the account of everybody being stoned or not, but that's definitely not me." Emily lets out a small laugh at that, subconsciously rubbing at the side of her neck, fingers glancing over a very thin scar along the side of it. She's gotten high precisely once since manifesting, and the loss of control was enough to put her off it entirely.

Thoughtfully, she lets her hand hang off her shoulder and looks back to Caderina. "Okay, but what about just trying it for the sake of trying it, though?" the normally-closed-off Epstein asks in a bout of spontaneity. "In the name of all the things we never thought we'd be able to do again." Ah, there's her reasoning– and it's a fresh one, too.

She's never lurched this desperately toward trying to enjoy life in Caderina's presence before.

Caderina makes a sound in the back of her throat, face screwing up in a wince as she tips her head back, thoroughly aggrieved. “Em! Why do you have to put it like that?” Because if Emily Epstein of all people is going to suggest going out on a limb branching out giving something new a try, how can she argue with that? It’s an unspoken challenge. One that’s just been spoken.

The persuasionist is given a flat stare for four solid seconds. “Okay,” Caderina turns to August, brows lifting, “I’m polling the audience. What horrible decision are my friend and I about to mutually embark upon?”

“You’ve not had proper chicken and waffles if your breading is soggy. If you make it crispy enough, it doesn’t get soggy. Sticky yes. I’m not usually a sweet tooth kinda person, but there’s something about it – but to be fair, I mostly eat the waffles and the chicken separately. The chicken does get the syrup though,” August says.

He chuckles as he studies the menu, then the two younger women he’s somehow been pulled into an entire Oprah’s worth of conversation with. Quite unlike him, too.

“You want me to choose your fate? After telling me I’m wrong about pineapple and chicken and waffles?” he asks Caderina, one brow raising. “You are either very brave or very stupid, and I don’t think you’re stupid, for the record.”

He gives Emily and Caderina a crooked smile, pulls out a bill to offer to Emily. “I’ll pay because I would feel guilty otherwise. Honey bun, sausage, egg, and chopped cheese.”

Emily shakes her head once. "Nope, this atrocity has all got to be on me. But, for all the options they've got… definitely could have picked worse." She's confident in this, certainly. Before going, though, she asks with a half-grin to show off she's mostly joking, "What's your name, though? Just in case I get heinous food poisoning off of all this, I need to know who to blame."

Caderina wrinkles her nose a bit in distaste, but she doesn’t back down from this broadening of their horizons. “I’m Caderina,” she supplies before the stranger can ask in return. “That’s Emily.” Maybe she wouldn’t want to share her real name in return, but she’s making what’s fair fair all the same.

August can’t help but look impressed that they don’t try to negotiate with him for a better option – it’s not the worst combination, but it’s also not the best, and his conscience starts to show.

“You really don’t have to eat that crime against umaminity,” he says, making a face. “But you’ll forever have my respect, for whatever that’s worth to you.”

A random stranger’s esteem is a variable value, after all.

“August,” comes easy enough and rings sincere. “You ever on Staten and need some medical attention, ask for Doc Yeats.” August’s smile is a little self conscious. “I don’t have a business card.”

Emily's intent to place herself in line is rooted momentarily by August's introduction. Looking him over, it's clear she's re-evaluating mentally what she expected a doctor on Staten to look like. She's also realizing the rare boon in potentially knowing one, if he was a true professional of a physician. "Given the neighborhood, trauma triage kind of medical attention, or do you do anything else?" she wonders.

To lighten the edge on that serious question, she tags on, "You know, like food poisoning."

The other blonde’s brows shoot up at the revelation of the man’s profession. “So, are you like a doctor? Or like—” Her blue gaze darts one way, then the other, leaning in to ask in a quieter voice, “— a doctor?” One shoulder comes up in a half shrug after she asks the question, looking at once a little sheepish and preemptively defensive. There’s an unspoken you know in there, leaving him to infer her meaning.

August looks a little leery suddenly, aware he’s given too much information to people he doesn’t know, and he nods slowly, glancing from Emily to Caderina. This is why criminals shouldn’t talk to strangers, he reminds himself. Or why he shouldn’t talk at all.

“You know, alternative medicine,” he says, with a shrug of his shoulders that’s a lot more easygoing than he feels. “But I’m equipped to handle medical emergencies if there’s no one more qualified. If you have an HMO or PPO, by all means, I suggest taking your ailments and maladies to them.”

His smile returns, though, and he nods. “Not much you can do for food poisoning but ride it out and try to hydrate, to be honest, unless it’s invasive listeria which is pretty unlikely.” His gray gaze flicks to the menu board, and back to the girls. “Doubtful they’re using unpasteurized dairy, so you’re probably okay.”

Emily glances sleeping at Caderina, having no idea where her definition between doctor and doctor fall, then looks back to August with a small, apologetic smile. "Sorry," she begs pardon, something reassuring slipping into her tone as she advises, "I didn't mean to make that weird. That sounds interesting, is all." Her sincerity carries through her eyes and posture, and even still when she looks off to admit with a self-conscious laugh, "Or, at the very least, brave."

"Maybe we'll see you at the end of the line. If not, have a good one, August." Emily lifts a friendly hand in farewell and then begins to manoeuvre to the back of said popular line.

Caderina lifts her chin slowly, a quiet ah signaling that she understands what August means, flashing an apologetic smile his way. “Right, sorry.” She shrinks behind Emily a little bit, grimacing awkwardly. “It was nice meeting you.”

Emily’s reassurance seems to stave off some of the wariness that’s crept into August’s posture, and he nods, smile returning. “No worries. And nah, not brave. Not in the least,” he says, glancing to the menu board and then to the women who are going to brave eating what he’s dared them to eat.

“I should get going, actually. Just running a few errands before heading back over, but it was nice to meet you, Caterina?” he glances at her, unsure if he’s gotten the name right (he doesn’t, quite), “and Emily. Next time I see you, let me know how it went, yeah? And no respect lost if you change your mind when you get to the front.”

He smiles, and ducks his head a little to make his way back through the crowded market.

Emily waves farewell again since August is heading off, but the look she gives Caderina afterward indicates she's very serious about going through with this wild idea. Besides, what's the point of a day off if not to get into adventures?

The long line gives them an opportunity to talk, at least, which is something Emily had been hoping for in all of this. Things worked out that way, but this gives them the chance for a smalltalk to while away the time. Or… something slightly more than small talk.

"How's work been on your end lately?" she asks, arms folding while she settles in. She assumes it's going to be a while with the craziness of these orders.

Caderina watches August take his leave with a lift of her hand to wave goodbye. She starts to settle again when he’s turned away and it’s just her and the other blonde again. Her narrow shoulders come up in a shrug. “Ah, you know. With the fires and the… You know.” She waves a hand vaguely (Pure Earth) before unconsciously mimicking Emily’s posture and folding her arms. “It’s been crazy. Lots of reports, records to chase down and file, evidence to catalogue and retrieve.”

The file clerk and all around gofer sighs and shrugs again. “It keeps me busy. My dog isn’t happy about it, though.” Caderina laughs softly, shaking her head. “It must be insane over at SESA, right? Any leads?"

Emily manages a small smile, but it edges more toward a grimace. "I happened to catch the handoff of some NYPD mats to SESA for review… about a bunch of different events. Lots of documents. Photos…" She looks off for a moment and then back to Caderina, her brow furrowing upward. There's a hitch in the conversation, a pause too long to be casual.

"… I didn't say anything. I haven't said anything, but–"

She's looking Caderina over closely, and she smiles awkwardly, trying to show she's at least self-conscious about what she's doing. "One of the photos was a personal belonging. A few years old, it looked like, but of kids who are our age. It's… it's weird, right?"

"The names Roman, Evran, and Suzie mean anything to you?" Emily asks with all the air of someone who hopes they don't. Her eyes don't leave Caderina regardless.

“Someone’s personal belonging?” Caderina’s brow furrows, showing confusion, unsure of what this has to do with her. She can’t hide the way the anxiety creeps up. “Nnnnno?” She squints, her own stare staying level on Emily now. “Should they? Shit.” There’s a rush of air that leaves her lungs. “Did I misfile something?”

Color creeps into her cheeks, and she’s starting to look as self-conscious as Emily does. A nervous chuckle escapes her. “That’s the last thing I need is a screw up on something this big. You said you didn’t say anything. You giving me a chance to fix it?”

Emily only lifts one hand in a gesture for calm, for Caderina to breathe. She doesn't break her look even as she makes the gesture, even as she looks through those windows and sees– feels, too– what the question's done to her.

The words that would cut right to the heart of this want to come to her so easily. She should say them.

She can't unsay them, though. And she doesn't want to lose this. She doesn't want to lose her connection with someone else who uniquely understands a pain Emily suffers from that no one else can truly get.

"I don't think there's a chance now," she relates quietly, sympathetically. "The photo was logged a year ago as evidence." She worries her lower lip as she points out, "With positive ID on everyone on it… Everyone except you." Emily narrows her eyes slightly with a shake of her head. "And if my face had shown up on a piece of evidence, I'd…"

She can feel the tension. The anxiety. She tries to cut it away with honesty. The words tumble from her, "I'd have probably done the same thing. Failed to– 'failed to' find any information when looking through databases."

Emily's arms unfold, opening her posture. Nothing in her seems accusing. "You looked different. Thinner, different hair. I'd not have thought twice if it weren't for your name being written on the back with theirs." Her expression seems more sympathetic than anything.


Her shoulders sag, weight off them for it to be out there. Emily's brow creases, her concern still seeming more supportive than anything. "Were… you all friends?" she asks.

The line moves another step forward.

Somewhere during all of that, the blood drained from Caderina’s face and it feels like a transfusion has entirely replaced that blood with ice water. She’s quiet for a long moment, the barest hint of a tremor showing in her shoulders. It’s forced to ease when she needs to move forward with the line.

“Yeah,” she finally admits quietly. “All members of the Dead Parents Club. Met Suzie in foster care. She introduced me to Evran and Roman.” She shakes her head slowly. “We lost our parents to violence. We were angry. We bonded over that.” Her tongue rolls over her teeth. She can’t look Emily in the eye anymore.

“I wanted to be something more than an angry kid, though. I left the system when I was sixteen, came into my trust fund a couple years later… Decided to go to school and try to make something of myself, you know?” Caderina — Cady — smiles weakly. It fades in short order, replaced by a look of dread. “I kind of hoped whatever they were up to, it’d just… I don’t know, blow over?”

Her blue eyes find Emily’s again. “What are you going to do?”

It takes Emily a moment, her look faraway. When she comes back to the present, she gives Cady a small smile of reassurance. She speaks with certainty. "I'm gonna tell you that if anyone else asks you, you tell them that." The ice of her own eyes dances between the other blonde's. "You don't panic. You don't tell them, 'I can explain', you don't clam up– you just tell them that truth."

Her brow furrows up. She takes that step forward. With it comes an exhale. "I'm not… planning on pointing out what I saw. There's–" Emily shouldn't say as much as she is, and she hesitates as she comes to that threshold and steps slightly past it. "There's a ton of other leads to follow up on. I don't even know if they'll try to run facial recognition on the photo again. There's… there's so much other stuff in those files at this point."

She reaches out to touch Caderina's arm gently at the elbow. "Okay? I know it's a lot if they come asking, but I don't know if they will and… everybody has a past, all right? Shit they've lived through."

Emily breathes in and breathes out, like she's showing Caderina should do the same. She ruffles her arm, tries to catch her gaze. "You've got this, okay? You don't have to go anywhere." The words are spoken as much with confidence as a need for them to be true.

Caderina’s chin lifts slowly, then comes down again in a nod, bobbing shallowly three more times. Tell them that. “Okay.” Her voice is soft; relief hasn’t quite come to her yet, but her friend’s agreeing not to tell anyone else about what she’s figured out on her own. It’s up to others to do the detective work if they want to sniff out her connection. That will have to be enough. She’ll be ready if someone asks her again later.

She throws herself forward, wrapping her arms around Emily in a tight, almost stiff hug that lasts only briefly. As though she remembered after only a second that neither of them is actually into that sort of thing. “Thanks.” And she means it. “I owe you so much.” She has no idea how to repay this debt. The smile she manages is a troubled one, but still a genuine thing as she finally takes that deep breath in and exhales slowly, just like she does in her yoga class.

Emily doesn't know the half of what Caderina owes her, unwilling to pry deeper and ask the questions that still linger at the back of her mind. She wants to hope for the best. Or hope that at least, maybe…

Maybe if she was tied up with them, that maybe things have changed. Or that they could change. That they will change. The thought of having made another friend who would hurt her is too painful a one to face in the present, much less the thought of turning that friend in.

Her smile is more a grimace as a result. "Don't thank me yet," Emily tells her with a huff of a chuckle. "We're still on this one-way train going into Crazy Breakfast Sandwich station…"

And then from there, who knew.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License