Learn By Imitation


colette2_icon.gif jack_icon.gif

Scene Title Learn By Imitation
Synopsis Colette discreetly takes some pointers about surviving on Staten Island from one of its residents, en route to the Lighthouse.
Date Februry 24, 2009


Brooklyn is located on the westernmost point of Long Island and shares its only land boundary with Queens. The East river borders and defines the borough's northern coast, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan beach are to the south, and the Narrows separate it from Staten Island to the southwest.

Downtown Brooklyn is one of the NYC's largest business districts. Between the Bridge and Prospect Park, brownstones, townhouses, and high-end restaurants are dominant. The culturally diverse communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are snugged against the East River to the far north. Close by are far more criminally active neighborhoods such as Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Bushwick. Regardless of the social situation, the so-called Borough of Neighborhoods is packed to the gills in post-bomb NYC.

Now that the majority of New York City's container ship cargo operations have shifted to the Jersey side of the harbor, the more secluded portions of the dilapidated Brooklyn Army Terminal serve as a perfect launching point for those who would rather not fuss with docking fees, harbor pilots, or the risk of cargo inspection.

Which is to say that Jack loves this place.

Totally at odds with his surroundings, the Somali pirate is dressed in rust-colored polyester pants, sturdy boots, and a sleeveless shirt printed with single frames of pornography over a salmon-colored background. His only concession to the cold is a red leather jacket that looks like a thrice-purchased thrift store castoff.

Presently, he's leaned lazily against a pylon while he waits for his next fare, apparently uncaring of the smudges of dock grease that his clothing picks up. He's far, far too busy with his snack. The orange is ripe, plump, and perfect. One of the literal fruits of his proverbial labor. Grinning like a child, he bites into it, tears off a hunk of peel, and sucks greedily at the interior.

There's a certain quality of clientele that Jack Discreetly deals in that is expected in his line of work. On this particularly cold and windy evening, it's not his usual client base that comes rounding past the dilapidated buildings and abandoned storage facilities that litter Brooklyn's harbor. In fact, at first it doesn't seem like a prospective client at all, just some kid in the wrong place at the wrong time.

She's small, not just of stature but of frame, barely hidden how thin she is by the thickness of her brown, suede jacket. The backpack slung over one shoulder looks far too heavy for a girl as petite as she is, and the olive-colored messenger bag hung over the other seems to serve as a makeshift counterbalance, keeping her from just tipping right over in a stiff wind. But unlike someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, this young girl seems to know exactly what — if not who — she's looking for.

The closer she gets across the empty lot leading to the pier, the more out of place she seems. Her clothing looks new and clean, save for colorful paint stains on her loose jeans and what shows of her sneakers. Short and ink black hair, while tousled by the wind, is clean; she's not a vagrant, that much is obvious. Once the girl gets up onto the pier, shoes scuffing with each step, Jack can see the odd quality of her eyes, one a chalk white — blinded, the other a rich green, so vibrant and saturated it seems fake.

Hesitating only when she finally notices the man leaning against the pylon, that clearly out of place girl hesitates, looking around as if to find someone else, but only finds the dull yellow glow of a street lamp flickering on overhead as the ambient light of dusk becomes too faint. She doesn't say anything, not yet, she just stands there, looking hesitant and anxious.

Slurp. It's a wet, sucking, unwholesome sound. In short, the orange is delicious. All the same, that doesn't stop Jack from pitching it carelessly over his shoulder and into the water when he spots the new arrival. He wipes his mouth on the back of his hand and sizes her up from head to toe. It's a slow, appraising stare, much like a cattle buyer eyeing a steer that may or may not be promising. After an uncomfortably long moment, he lifts a boot and rests it casually against the prow of his cigarette boat. "I'm Jack, and this is the Dirty Deeds," he informs her. "You the passenger?"

With dark brows furrowed together, the young girl rummages around with one hand in the pocket of her jacket, "Y-yeah I — You're going to," she glances to the boat — dirty deeds? — then back to Jack again, retrieving a wallet stuffed with money. It's not exactly the brightest thing she could do, and it's indicative of both her nervousness and a mild lack of street smarts. "How — " Her mismatched eyes dart back and forth over Jack's, "How much is this — uh — going to cost me?" She's remarkably awkward, but for her worth trying to seem like this isn't as intimidating a scenario as it seems.

Blithely, Jack reaches out, takes the wallet from her hand, and empties it. A few of the larger bills are peeled away from the stack and held aside. "That much," he says, handing her back the balance and her wallet seperately. "And then that much again when I get you across safe and sound. Put the rest of that in your shirt or shoe, kid. Staten's not a safe place to keep that much cash in your coat."

That said, he folds up what he's already taken and shoves it down the front of his pants. Anybody who wants his money is going to have to earn it. There's no haggling, either. This isn't exactly a travel agency.

Without further ado, the pirate springs from the dock to the deck of his boat and holds out a hand to the girl. "C'mon."

Relaxing from the abject tension when her wallet was snatched, Colette watches Jack with lowered brows, looking down to the remainder of her money in between thin, pale fingers. She swallows, looking down to her shoe, then back up to Jack — and learns by imitation, folding up the rest of her money and depositing it down the front of her pants. Perhaps not quite the safest place to put her currency, but Jack seems to trust it, and clearly he's been around this block a few times.

Having hesitated long enough, Colette re-shoulders her backpack, trying to more evenly distribute the weight before following the pirate along the dock, her scuff-thunk of footsteps following a much faster rythm than Jack's long strides.

No questions asked, no reasons needed, this is better than she imagined.

Walking up the boarding plank onto the boat, the young girl's eyes wander the ship, teeth nervously tugging on her lower lip as she looks around for a spot to deposit her bags. Seeing one of the bench seats at the back of the speedboat, she drops them both, the messenger bag with a much harder and surprisingly heavier clunk than the backpack.

"Where — " The sound of her own voice startles her, and the girl takes a moment to recollect her thoughts as her eyes track Jack's movements. "Um, w-where am I getting dropped off? I — There's somewhere I need to be, but I — don't have a fucking clue where it is." Her good eye narrows slightly at the admission, and her pale hands move up to tug the fur-lined hood of her jacket up to cover her head.

Vroom. As soon as they're aboard, Jack settles into the pilot's seat and fires up the engine. When it's roaring, the throttle is slammed down fast enough to jerk necks and rattle luggage. A quick, swooping turn brings the bow around until the lights of Staten Island are visible in the distance.

"Eh?" The lean, spectacularly unkempt man props his foot against the tiller to keep their course steady as he shoots a glance over his shoulder. "We'll be docking at Kills' mouth. Only place you can offload without somebody trying to stick their finger in your pie." Pause. Deep breath. Slight wince. "Where you headed?"

Kills. This place has a horrible naming convention.

Colette's lips purse together, hands tucked into the pockets of her jacket, eyes squinted shut from the cold wind blowing across her now windblown and red cheeks. "The Lighthouse!" she shouts over the roar of the engine, too afraid of unsteady footing to get up from her seat, "It's on the coast — I mean — I figure!" Not that it actually lights the rocky shoreline any longer, but that tall spiral of concrete is a visible landmark during the day to any ship circling the island. "You think you can take me there!?" She raises one hand to keep her hood on, partly rising up out of her seat to try and edge a bit closer to the captain so as to not have her voice entirely drowned out by the roar of the speedboat as it skims across the water.

Another pause, this one slightly longer, then Jack nods. "Sure, I know the place," he replies, his booming, basso-profundo voice cutting effortlessly through wind and whirr. "Hang on. We're in for some chop."

That's putting in mildly. For Jack, speed can be roughly translated into profit. The faster he moves, the more people and cargo he can transport and the more product he can 'liberate' from rightful owners. After all, those oranges, cigarettes, and bottles of booze have to come from somewhere.

So. Chop. At this speed, the boat doesn't dip up and down over waves, it skips across them. Each skip creates an impact hard enough to rattle teeth and slam asses uncomfortably into seats. Clearly in his element, Jack flexes his knees rides each thump like a cowboy breaking a stubborn horse.

His waifish passenger, on the other hand, weathers the chop like a kitten weathers a washing machine set to the spin cycle. Having just raised up out of her seat, the girl tumbles backwards, rolling head over heels as her feet slip out from under her, sending her slamming back against one of the seats and up into the air. Were it not for the boat picking up again, she may well tumble right off the back of the ship and into the water beyond.

The girl hangs on, barely, by digging her fingers into the sides of the seat, her back pressed up against the molded plastic, feet scuffing the deck of the ship to vainly try and find some purchase. Her backpack and messenger bag go rolling and sliding under her seat, and a clearly unexpected and bizarre side-effect of the girl's very palpable panic, is an immediate desaturization of all color on the boat and around her fot nearly six feet. The girl looks like a black and white movie, reduced to monochromatic hues of black and white with shades of gray in between. So too does the boat look drained of all of its color, muted and lifeless as her fingers cling tighter to the bottom of the boat.

For her worth, she doesn't scream, just clenches her jaw and forces her eyes shut, body as tense as her expression suggests.

Jack screams. Oh yes, he most certainly does. Of all the drugs he's experimented with, he's reasonably certain that hallucinogens weren't among them. Certainly not in the last few hours. That means he can rule out flashbacks as a potential cause for being dumped into a monochromatic environment. He's seen more than his share of westerns, war movies, and others that came out before the advent of Technicolor, but he never expected to be living in one.

There's a moment of sheer, unadulterated panic at being forced to confront something so unknown so abruptly. He jerks the throttle down to dead slow, leaving the Dirty Deeds in a bare, quiet idle. "I. Uh. I," he begins tentatively. "Sorry. Uh. I just. Something's wrong, I think. Just a sec."

Knuckles white from how tightly she grips the seat, Colette's chest rises and falls with panicked breaths until the boat slows down. The can't hear Jack's fumbling words over the sound of blood rushing in her ears of her own wheezing breaths, she can only feel the sting of cold dull on her cheeks. As she calms, the situation Jack experiences only becomes profoundly stranger.

The color bleeds back into the surroundings unevenly, starting with the low end of the light spectrum in reds, shifting through shades of orange and yellow, up through greens and blues to finally the deepest of violets. It's like watching someone fingerpaint the colors back into reality, messing with the saturation dials of the world.

From being within that small pocket of photokinetic control, Jack experiences the color shifts in a way no one else truly has. Colette, seemingly unaware of what she did, merely sputters out, "S-slower — " in rough, heaving breaths. It's obvious to Jack though, that the colors staring coming back around the girl, filling her in first like some focus point in a work of art, then threading out from her.

It's unlike anything he's seen before.

That's for damn sure, and with Jack that's saying an awful lot. To his credit, his initial panic is quickly replaced with a keen, scientific sort of curiosity that clicks on as a defense mechanism. It's a way to reassert his comfortably relaxed and uncaring persona. "Christ," he mutters quietly. "This is really somethin' else."

It's the boat that he focuses on first. He knows every rivet and sheet of aluminum on the Dirty Deeds better than he knows himself. It doesn't look quite so familiar at the moment, though. A few seconds are spent knuckling at his eyes and then his hands grab his attention. First they're washed out, grey and corpselike, then they're a vibrant red. This change alone is fascinating enough, but glancing over at his passenger reveals the source of the phenomenon. "It's you," he says, not quite accusingly. "Kid, what the hell are you doing?"

"I — " About to sputter out some bald-faced lie about having no idea what Jack is talking about, the prospect of being thrown overboard for not being straight up with the Captain has her choke on her own words. She's seen some pirate movies after all, and hse's positive he's got a plank around her somewhere. "Sorry," is her more honest, and more ashamed response.

"I — can't…" Mismatched eyes focus down on the deck of the boat, then back up to Jack, "J-just drive/." Demanding little thing, she is, "It — I just… I got scared."
"Sure. Drive." Not a terrible suggestion at this point. Colors in the right place or not, Jack's made this run enough times to get them where they need to go. Throttle up, back on course, and they're off again. This time the pace is quite a bit more forgiving and the engine is much quieter as a result.

Rather than upset, Jack seems curious when he glances over his shoulder at the terrified, marble-eyed girl. "Jesus, kid. Relax. You look like you're afraid I'm gonna snuff you out and toss you overboard. You're not the first 'fugee I've transported, just the most… interesting."

Dark brows lowering, Colette's tone takes on a hostile, defensive edge, "I'm not a — " but it's fleeting, teeth pressing down gently into her lower lip as she winces away the words. The young girl leans forward, reaching under her seat with shaky hands to withdraw her backpack and messenger bag, stuffing slightly scuffed laptop back inside the green bag from where it dislodged in the ride.

Her mismatched eyes flick back up to Jack after a moment, one hand scratching at the side of her neck as she steadies her bags with her feet. "Sorry I just — I heard, stuff… a-about this place, and — I've — " Her eyes dart from side to side, then down to her feet, "V'never been on a boat before, so — fuck," one hand comes up to rub the heel of her palm at her forehead, "I'm… sorry."

Jack just swivels back around to keep his eyes on the dark outline of the lighthouse. Rocks and submerged debris are steered around by memory rather than visual input as the Dirty Deeds makes her approach. "Shush, kid." The words are murmured almost affectionately. A small, lopsided smile tugs at one corner of his mouth as he points toward their destination. "I don't wanna know your secrets. No harm, no foul. Just try and keep your shit in check, yeah? We're almost there."

Almost there?

Colette leans up from her seat, eyes wide as she watches the dark silhouette of the lighthouse coming into view. Her lips part, mostly in surprise at how quick the journey was and also at the fact that she's not seemingly headed to the poorly-named harbor the Captain had mentioned earlier.

It's Jack's choice not to pry at the young girl's reasoning that actually seems to put her at ease, reclining back onto the bench seat with a slowly drawn in breath, exhaling out a sigh as she stares up at the muddied clouds blocking out any hope of catching a star or two. "Colette," she offers over the noise of the engine, not as much of a frightened shout as her tone was earlier. Though as her head turns down, the young girl's expression turns more wry as she looks to the lighthouse again. "You… didn't have to take me straight here." She says in a hushed voice, teeth pressing down onto her lower lip, "…thanks."

"I didn't have to let you stay on my boat after you turned it orange. I hate orange," Jack ripostes playfully, still smiling. It doesn't last, though. When he looks back again, his face and tone are somber.

"And I did have to take you straight here," he continues. "Even with one bad eye, you're too pretty and you've got too much money to wander the Island at night. Get some pepperspray or somethin'."

When they pull up, the boat is looped around in a wide turn that leaves the stern closer to the dock than the bow. It's a light enough craft that Jack can idle it down and steady it with one foot on the deck and the other on the wooden dockway. "End of the line," he says simply.

"Pepperspray…" Colette parrots back with a shake of her head, just smiling away the recommendation as she pushes herself up to stand only once she's sure the boat didn't go any further. There's something of a crookedness to the smile she offers Jack, moving to the side of the boat with both of her bags barely balancing each other out. Though in that wryness of her smile, there's something a bit more somber that mirrors Jack's expression.

Once she reaches the edge of the boat, her mismatched eyes focus up at the Captain, offering him a hesitant but more honest smile. "Hey — I… I appreciate it." She murmurs in a mildly embarrassed tone of voice, "I um — " her eyes dart to the lighthouse in the distance, then back to Jack. "Your not such a bad guy," she notes offhandedly, that teasing smirk on her lips again as she begins to step off of the boat, only to then notice what's printed on Jack's shirt, one brow raising much higher than the other as she stumbles, trips and falls on her side on the dock with a loud clunk, face bright red.

Breaking out into an awkward, self-deprecating laughter, Colette grimaces up towards the Captain, making a makeshift salute gesture from where she lays half on her side from her marvelous lack of grace.

There's a warm, unmocking laugh from the self-proclaimed Captain of the Hudson at his latest passenger's antics. With one knee propped up on the dock, he looks like nothing so much as a modern day Henry Morgan. Then he stretches his shirt out for better viewing, which dashes the facade and replaces it with reality. He's an ordinary guy with a ready smile and no reason to impress anyone in particular.

"See anything you like?" he calls out teasingly.

February 24th: Wanna Talk About It
February 24th: She Has The Light
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