eileen_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Likelihoods
Synopsis Smedley makes a new contact on Staten Island.
Date July 19, 2010

The Rookery

When Smedley first lost his hold on the lunchbox, he came to the Rookery looking for answers. Now that he's looking to unload said lunchbox, he's back at the Rookery for information, particularly about his now cold and probably helping to hold down the ocean-floor contact. He hasn't had much luck.

The collar of his jacket has been flipped up to help ward against the afternoon rain that has slicked back his hair. He kicks at the ground every few steps as he walks along the Rookery's ragged and bleeding edge, as if the rain were only for him, and the Charlie Brown theme played as his soundtrack.

The woman who steps out of the bar at the corner, silhouette lit silver by the sunlight straining to break the diarrhetic cloud cover overheard, does not look like she belongs in the Rookery. That is to say: she's dressed conservatively in a dark pea coat with burnished buttons worn over paler clothes in washed out shades of gray and a matching headscarf worn over her hair to protect it from the rain.

At first glance, the stick she holds in her hand appears to be part of an umbrella, but when she pauses in the shade to adjust her leather gloves and tuck a stray strand of damp black hair behind one ear, it becomes swiftly apparent that it's no umbrella at all. A white cane instead, universal symbol for the blind.

When Smedley looks up, the first thing he thinks is bludger. No sane blind girl dressed that nice goes to a bar in the Rookery, even if it's technically daylight. He frowns and begins to aim his feet toward the other side of the barely demarcated road, all the while keeping his eyes carefully trained on the girl. She can't really be blind. Taking a deep breath, Smedley summons what confidence he has left after an unsuccessful day.

He whistles. "Find a new game, kid!" he calls to the girl with the scarf. "Sympathy vote just don't exist here, and yer mor'n likely to pay up'n rake in with that gag."

The woman lifts her chin, turns her dark-haired head in the direction of Smedley's voice and seeks him out with a pair of eyes that are either gray or green — impossible to determine at such a distance. Rather than look directly at him, she appears to make a vague approximation and focuses her attention on the opposite side of the street rather than attempt to pinpoint his location.

"I'm sorry?" she asks in a voice that's just loud enough to carry and touched by the breath of accent difficult to identify using only two words, both of them clipped, monosyllabic. Something European.

Oh, she's good. Smedley smirks though and gives his head a disbelieving shake. "I'm sure it works in the city," he calls back, sliding his hands into his pockets, "but the folks out this way are too sly for you t'pull the wool over their eyes so easy, if you don't mind the expression." He laughs then, looking up and down the street before returning his attention to the girl.

"I mean, I get that you wanna stay 'in character,' but really. Chances are you'll turn down the wrong street and into someone that don't believe you ain't blind, and there goes your pretty stick. Maybe more. Do yourself a favor and just… get home quick." What is with these helpless women these days? Not that Maddie is helpless, but geesh. Smedley's luck is just gone.

The corners of the woman's mouth curl feline without showing even a sliver of tooth. "The likelihood of encountering a stranger with a sincere interest in my well-being," she says, "is as strong as the possibility that you've crossed paths with something genuine. Out here: not very."

It's neither a denial nor a confession. The only thing Smedley can be sure about now is that she's very English.

"Hence why I'm standin' on this side of the street, little lady," Smedley says with a chuckle, lifting his hands from his pockets to gesture. "There's always a way to sort it out, once an'fer all."

Lowering his hands, he's quiet for a moment before he slides back his jacket to draw one of the six-shooters from the holster that hangs across his hips. Without a word, he draws a bead, not on the girl, but a spot of wall just to the left of her head.

The woman responds by lifting her chin a fraction higher as her mouth curves into a more disdainful expression, mild though it is. At her throat, there's a flutter of something periwinkle, and a moment later a tiny songbird with matchsticks for legs launches itself out from under the collar of her coat, flutters through the mist and alights on the handlebars of a motorbike parked outside the bar, front wheel fastened to an adjacent fire hydrant by a thick silver chain glistening with fresh moisture.

"You're pointing a gun at me," she observes. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't sound particularly enthralled. "Please don't."

Smedley sputters out a series of half-whispered expletives mixed in with a view religious figures, and the gun is quickly lowered. His eyes snap from the girl to the bird, then back to the girl again. He shakes, somewhat uncontrollably at the idea of something small, feathery, and pokey that close to your skin. "So you ain't blind," he announces with a small degree of triumph, but bewilderment still colors his tone. What's up with the bird?

He returns the gun to it's holster and holds his hands up in a surrender of sorts. The gears in his head work a moment more before he adds, "But that don't mean my interest ain't sincere. There's some epidemic of out'a place females 'round here lately. Dirty'n the streets in a way. Ain't good for business. 'Sides, who'd want to see your face plastered up in newsprint?" Not him.

The bird scrutinizes Smedley from its perch on the handlebars, and when its head tilts so does the woman's. Whether or not she can see, her eyes narrow, their lashes gone low. "Out of place," she repeats with an inquisitively arching brow. Her eyes and mouth make it look like the latter half of this accusation should lift up and indicate a question, but her tone is even, unfaltering.

"I'm afraid you're mistaken on that count."

Smedley's still lifted hands turn into boyhood pistols - one pointed at the bird and the other at the girl. He frowns. "Now that ain't right," he says, clear as day, though it isn't necessarily directed at the girl. "Right, so maybe you ain't so out of place, weird's that shit right there is," since many evolved running from one thing or another hole up in places like Staten Island rather than add their name to a database. "But still - you're too clean. Stand out. Cane helps that too.

"Staten ain't about standin' out, 'less your a hooker. And you don't look like a hooker." Smedley lowers his hands and straightens, still unsure if he should look at the girl or the bird. "So what the hell are you, other than a not blind girl with a freaky bird. Thing." Maybe it's a robot.

"Intrigued," the woman supplies. The bird, meanwhile, hops from one side of the handlebars to the other and gives a brisk flick of its wings to dislodge the raindrops from its feathers. Although more purple than its namesake, it's almost impossible to mistake a bluebird for anything else, especially out here on Staten Island where most of the local fauna comes in drabber colours. "What brings you out this way?" she asks. "You seem to know a fair deal about hookers, but it would be unfair of me to assume."

"But accurate." The admission comes with a gentle shrug and a sheepish, if short-lived smile. "And don't knock it. Hooker's reliable company, given that she don't stick around long enough to rob y'blind and s'clean." Smedley's smile grows to his own version of a cat-like grin. "But my business just so happens to be my business." Even if that business isn't so hot today. "But it don't involve hookers. S'awful early for that sort'a thing."

He looks both ways then and steps out into the street, his hands sliding back into his jacket pockets. But he doesn't cross it all the way. Rather, he stands in the middle and raises his chin, taking a moment to assess the obviously competent young woman who stands on the other side of what might as well be a chasm. "Don't involve much, tell you the truth," he says after a moment. "But that ain't due to lack'a effort on the part of yours truly. So how 'bout yourself?"

"I wanted to interview some of the local talent," she says, gesturing to the bar behind her with a subtle gesture of her inclined chin, "and regretfully found it lacking." While the distance between them might not have narrowed by much, the change hasn't escaped her notice; the closer Smedley draws, the more guarded her posture and body language become.

Fortunately, there's not much traffic on the roads this time of day or in this weather. The most Smedley has to worry about is being caught in a pair of diluted headlights and having a far-off horn blared at him. "What's your business?"

He whistles. "You are a persistent little lady, ain't you." He clucks his tongue, but the sound comes from the side of his mouth. That, plus his own speech patterns and accent place him far from the east coast of the States. "Trouble is, the last time I got to talkin' to someone I didn't already know pretty damned well about my business, I ended up runnin' away from more'n my share of bullets. So you'll 'scuse me if I'm a bit tight-lipped on that subject."

He shrugs, pursing his lips and looking to the ground for a moment. "But if you can tell me what's on my lunchbox, then I might be a bit more forthcomin'."

Her lips don't move, but a perplexed knit of her brow plainly asks, What lunchbox? There's a moment, however brief, where she seems to debate that being code for something else. Eventually decides there's no shame in not knowing everything. "You'll have to be a bit more specific," she says with a small note of apology. "Lunchbox?"

"You know," Smedley says without missing a beat. "A box. That you put lunch in. So that if you stick your lunch in your bag, or your briefcase, or whatever bit of somethin' you tote about, it don't get all over the stuff you don't regularly want your lunch to be on. Sometimes they come with stuff painted on 'em. For kids, mostly."

The smile comes back, and this time it reaches his eyes. "So if you want to know my business, you gotta tell me what's painted on my lunchbox."

She turns the cane in her hand, lips pursed, and offers the other to the bluebird, which scissors past Smedley's ear and sinks its fishhook toes into the soft lambskin of her glove at the wrist like a miniature falcon. It cranes its neck, sweeps a glittering black gaze up and down the length of the man's body in a cursory check for details it might've initially missed.

He isn't carrying a lunchbox. She is confident of that. "I don't suppose it's too much to ask for a picture?"

The bird whizzing past his ear makes Smedley wince slightly, but the girl's question makes him laugh. A real laugh. A laugh from the gut that bubbles up and spills into his words. "Oh, no, missy. You ain't usin' your bird trick on me. Don't have one, 'gardless." He wipes at his eyes and shakes his head, the last of his laugh emerging and fading away with the mist brought on by the rain. "Does my business really mean that much t'you?"

Smedley tilts his head to one side, watching the girl and the bird through squinted eyes. "Normally, I smuggle certain items either onto or off of this godforsaken island. Takin' a bit of a break from that at the moment, though. But sooner'r later, I'll be back to my regular run. Why? That sort of trade what your lookin' for? 'Cause I can always make an exception for a pretty gal with a pretty penny in'er pocket."

The woman's clothes appear more durable than they do expensive, but there's often a direct correlation between durability and cost. What they aren't is fancy, and if she's wearing any jewelry, it's hidden behind the collar and sleeves of her coat, her gloves and — at least for earrings — the weave of the scarf she wears over her hair.

In short: unless appearances are deceiving, and they often are, if it's money that Smedley is after… he may wish to look elsewhere. "Exactly how pretty a penny?"

"That," Smedley says with a duck of his head, "depends on the job. You're smart enough to know that. Price fluctuates dependin' on what the job needs, plus what the job's worth. If those goons in there," and he gestures toward the bar on the corner, "were quotin' you without knowin' what the job was? They ain't worth your time. Lowlifes lookin' for an easy payout on a job they're gonna half-ass quick-as-you-please so they can move on down for the next one."

A smile. "Don't blame you for turnin' 'em down. 'Sides, the real talent ain't suckin' down booze or shootin' pool this time'a day. Real talent's workin', 'cause they're good enough to get the jobs in the first place. And darlin'? There's always a job to get."

"Spoken like a true American." Whatever consideration she has to give Smedley takes the same amount of time required to usher the bluebird from her wrist to a more secure vantage point on her left shoulder. The quiet mirth in her eyes does little to thaw the chilliness of her tone.

They are indeed green. "If I should ever find myself in a position where I need a man capable of performing the services you just described, who ought I ask for?"

She did look genuinely confused when he mentioned the lunchbox, so maybe, just maybe, she isn't a plant. Maybe she is a potential client. Still, Smedley hesitates, looking her over. He even looks her in the eye, vacant as they are in their own way, but only for as it long as it takes to cough three times.

"Smedley," he finally answers, confident that those in the Rookery that do know how to reach him can adequately feel out a job before sending it his way. "Wes Smedley. You gonna stay Creepy Bird Girl to me, or do I get the pleasure'a knowin' a name too?"

"Eileen." There's a pause in which a surname would normally follow, but the silence is filled instead with the sound of rain pattering against the pavement. "Good luck with your business, Mr. Smedley," she says, and when she turns to leave she makes sure that she shows him her side with the bluebird clinging to it. Flat soles designed with functionality rather than fashion in mind splash through a shallow puddle, emphasizing the sound of her retreating footsteps. "I hope that it's profitable."

"So do I," he whispers, watching her go with the rain falling on them both.

"So do I."

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