Many Hats


christmas_icon.gif odessa4_icon.gif

Scene Title Many Hats
Synopsis Chris Macendale makes the acquaintance of Doctor Price and perhaps discovers in her a kindred spirit. If they only knew.
Date September 9, 2010

Suresh Center - Second Floor Lounge

The second floor is an idiosyncratic combination of small medical center and psychiatric hospital. In the back of the building are several lab rooms, equipped with everything from blood-test equipment to an MRI; despite its size, the facility is competitive in a features sense with many larger and more mainstream hospitals. The core is dominated by a multipurpose room, usually serving as a cafeteria but sometimes transformed into a game hall or ad-hoc movie theater; on either side of it are the two permanently-staffed nurse stations, the balcony at the front offering a view of Roosevelt Island and the opportunity for plenty of sunlight.

One wing of this floor has been given over to a medium-term ward, intended to house medical or psychiatric patients for only a few days, perhaps a couple of weeks at most. Most rooms are double-occupancy, particularly for medical patients, but in some cases they may be allocated as singles; all have large exterior windows and are surprisingly not painted in generic institutional shades. Rather, they each have their own personal theme, from ascetic to modern, oceanic blues to autumn reds and browns. Rooms are allocated primarily by what environment a patient feels comfortable in. The opposite wing is the Suresh Center's juvenile ward, designated for the care of Evolved children and teenagers coming to terms with their abilities. It has its own rec room, several single-occupancy rooms, and at the end of the hall a larger shared room for siblings, friends, and children who do better in company. As for the adult ward, the d├ęcor is engaging and inviting rather than blandly uniform.

Visitors are required to check in at one of the stations before going anywhere else on this floor, and in some cases may be provided with an escort for the duration of their visit.

It's mid afternoon in the Suresh Center, many of the guest lecturers, professors and service staff linger about in the second floor cafeteria. They mingle and chat amongst themselves at tables and by the coffee machine, making small talk before they have to depart to return to their classrooms and conference rooms. That is, all of them except for one small figure who has staked out a table to himself in the back corner, hunched over a steaming cup of black coffee. He wears a blue janitorial outfit, the faded lettering of his name spells it out in cursive: Macendale. He reads from a book, his attention focused squarely on it, the other warm bodies in the lounge largely avoiding his table.

After her meeting at dawn, Doctor Price has been spending much of her day acquainting herself with the nooks and crannies for the Suresh Center. Deciding it's time to take a break, Odessa strides into the second floor lounge, desperately seeking a cup of coffee. After pouring the dark liquid into a paper cup and bringing it to her lips, she relaxes visibly. Only after that first sip does she look for a place to sit.

It would seem that not many people want to share a table with the studious janitor, which is perhaps what draws Odessa to take up a seat across from the man whose sewn-on name reads Macendale. "Hi there," she greets in a tone as sunny as her frilly yellow blouse. "I hope I'm not interrupting. I'm new to the building, and I'm trying to get to know people," she explains, holding her hand out across the table. "I'm Doctor Price."

Taking a sip from his cup of steaming coffee as the woman approaches, he checks her appearance and demeanor over the lid of the cup, his own eyes mostly obscured from Odessa's. When she shits down, his cup has returned to the table, his eyes apparently having never left his book.

He doesn't respond to the woman at first, eyes moving back and forth across the pages of the book - Albert Camus' The Stranger. Finally he sets it down, and gives her a smile. It is not nearly as warm, but it is a smile. "Hello." His hands fold on top of one another. "You are not interrupting anything important, just an exisentialist's ramblings. I'm Chris Macendale."

Odessa slowly retracts her hand and instead wraps it around her coffee cup with the other. "It's nice to meet you, Chris." Her smile falters only somewhat at the rejection of her handshake, but she peers with polite curiosity at the man's book. "Is it any good?" He seems to be devouring it, but she doesn't want to make any assumptions.

Christmas sighs dramatically, maybe a touch more than necessary, but sometimes exaggeration is good when you're pretending to act at least a little bit human. "Oh, no. Not particularly. I find Camus to be a bit of a lame duck, if you catch my drift. Blaming all of the problems of the world on others, but then not lifting a finger to change it." He has a bunch of small scratches on his hands and wrists, and likely more hidden underneath his jumpsuit. They look a few days old, but not serious.

Odessa may even recognise the scratches on his arms for what they are. Pulling her white hair behind her ear, it seems she's no stranger the wounds like he's acquired, the worst of which is hidden by the black patch over her left eye. Now completely revealed, Chris is able to see the bubble gum pink heart decorating the centre. Perhaps it's little wonder as to why she chose to sit with the outcast janitor, rather than the other knots of people chattering away amicably in the lounge.

"Oh, I hate that," she says sulkily in response to Christmas' assement of Camus. "Do you generally enjoy the work of existentialist philosophers otherwise?"

Christmas doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow at the eye patch, but his eyes are drawn to it briefly when it's exposed by the hair being pushed behind an ear. "No," he answers with a voice that is far more even and monotone than his earlier response. He takes a drink from his coffee, taking a moment to look out the window. With his head turned, it is obvious more of the same small scratches found his neck as well. "It is important to familiarize yourself with things you do not agree or approve with. Know their weaknesses." He turns his head back, his vibrantly blue eyes landing coldly on her one good eye.

His response sparks something in her gaze. Odessa leans forward, a small smile spreading across her lips. "I could not agree with you more, Mister Macendale." A deeper scar across her mouth dimples awkwardly. "It would do the world some good if more people thought the way you do."

It is perhaps because Christmas does not often hear approval for his opinion, or perhaps because there is something in Odessa's face - the scars, the fashionable patch on her eye, perhaps a combination of things that have him believing she may approve of his 'hobby' - but whatever the reason, Christmas genuinely smirks. It is subtle, but there, the slight curve of his lip before he covers it up by taking another drink. "I have every intention of doing the world a service, Doctor, whether the world wants it or not."

The nod Christmas receives from Odessa is somewhat knowing, as if she could possibly understand his reasoning. "You must do something other than read to engage that mind of yours," she insists. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as they say. You have a hobby? I play the harpsichord and piano, myself."

"Music dulls my senses," the janitor remarks evenly without skipping a beat in the conversation. "I don't like it. I prefer the silence, it allows my brain to work." He looks out the window again, though if he's looking at something specific out there, it's hard to tell. Perhaps he is just using it as an excuse to take a break from looking at Odessa. After a moment however, he turns back. "I like puzzles. Anything that stimulates the mind. Makes you step back from your own life to examine the pieces."

Odessa steeples her fingers, glossy nails with white French tips resting upon opposite knuckles. "That's how I view medicine." If his dismissal of music bothers her any, she doesn't show it. "There is so much we don't understand about the way the body works," she explains. "Especially this day and age with the Suresh Linkage Complex." Her visible eye widens a little bit as she inclines her head. "Every person is a puzzle to be solved."

Christmas drums his fingers on the table with the hand that doesn't keep close to his coffee. "And some have more obvious answers than others." He ignores the mention of the Suresh Linkage Complex, perhaps so eager to move past that topic that he poses his first question towards the Doctor. "What exactly are you a Doctor of, Doctor Price?"

"Medicine," Odessa replies simply. "I consider myself a surgeon of some skill, but… I dabble in genetics now and again." Sometimes even by choice. "It's not my strongest suit, but it could almost be counted among my hobbies, I suppose." Music and gene splicing. An odd coupling.

"That was a very vague answer, Doctor." Christmas lifts his cup to his lips, taking a longer drink now that the coffee has cooled considerably. "I was expecting an answer along the lines of pediatric medicine, or optometry. Unless you are so skilled you practice everything. Perhaps you are that good, if you dabble in genetics." He opens the pocket in the front of his jumpsuit opposite is name, pulling out an old looking cell phone. No fancy BlackBerry for him. He checks the time, then puts it back.

Odessa lets out a breath of laughter. "I should have guessed such an answer wouldn't pacify you. I suppose if I had to have a classification, I'd say general practitioner or family medicine. I have worked with children in the past, but not as any sort of specialisation. I wear many hats." With a ghost of a smile she tips her head to one side. "I've worked in scenarios where I've had to have a basic understanding of many things. I've done a lot of urgent care or ER work." In a sense.

Christmas runs a hand through his shortly kept hair, pausing in one spot to rub at something unseen underneath the locks of brown hair behind his head. When he does he winces a bit, but his eyes never leave hers. "Ever work off the books, Doctor Price?" He gathers his book, bending it enough to push it into one of the larger pockets on the leg of his jumpsuit. "Sometimes a man gets hurt, and he can't just take it to a hospital." His tone gets a little more serious, a little deeper. "I surmise that cash directly in your hand is better than waiting on the pay from this place."

"All the time," Odessa murmurs without missing a beat. When has she ever worked on the books? "You would surmise correctly. My rates are very reasonable, I assure you." The change in her smile is subtle, the way it shifts from simply pleasant to self-satisfied. "You want me to take a look at that injury on the back of your head?"

"Good." The small janitor stands to his feet, picking up his drink and finishing it. He has a bit of a relieved look on his face, but it quickly fades to his normal impassivity. "Yes, I do." He doesn't seem surprised she was able to tell, especially since he winced on purpose. "I will get your information later, and we can discuss it." He crushes the paper cup, pulling a hat out of his back pocket with STAFF written on the front, affixing it atop his head. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Doctor Price."

Odessa nods her head and stands when her companion decides to take his leave. "And you, Mister Macendale." She takes a drink from her own coffee, mostly forgotten during the course of their conversation. "I'll leave my information for you at the front desk. Be seeing you."

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