Much Left to Learn


devon2_icon.gif ziadie_icon.gif

Scene Title Much Left to Learn
Synopsis Devon poses the suggestion to Ziadie, over random encounter in the park, that maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Date May 4, 2011

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

The hustle of Central Park never seems to rest, even during the hours directly following lunch when most people would be returned to their places of work. Amidst the comings and goings little islands of calm crop up, mainly in the form of loiterers and people with nothing better to do than sit and watch the world pass them by. Fewer still actually take the opportunity for the mild weather to focus on work or enjoy a good book.

One such patron to the park site easily falls into the latter group. Devon Clendaniel, off from work this afternoon and as such dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt and blue jeans, sits on a bench. A book of some nature, too large to be a novel in its cardstock cover, rests on his knees. A coffee is held in one hand, vaguely remembered, while pale blue eyes focus on words before him.

Ziadie has nothing better to be doing than enjoying the mild weather in the park, though his shoulder is bothering him and his knees feel like they're creaking more with every step he takes. But he is nearly sixty-eight. He shakes his head, steps slowing and leaning more on the cane. It's nice weather, but the retired police officer still wears the heavy leather jacket, though now it's not so much out of necessity as out of habit. He definitely could have left it back at the apartment, but he didn't. Habit, after all.

Looking around, the closest bench happens to be the one that Devon occupies. And so it's with a duck of his head and a bit of straightening of his shoulders that the old man walks over. "Would y' mind if I sat a bit?" There's a genial smile accompanying the question, that adds more lines to the lines of age that mark his face. "I been out a while. Not 's young as I used to be."

Barely a glance up precedes Devon inching toward one edge. It's a silent invitation or response to his question. The coffee cup is lowered to rest beside his hip, between himself and where the retired cop would find a seat. He fingers a page in the book, pulling up a corner in preparation to turn it when he glances toward Ziadie again. "I hear that's what happens when you get old," he comments. "You're no longer as young as you use to be."

Ziadie moves slowly, bracing against the back of the park bench as he sits down. His words are tinged with a lifetime spent in New York, Harlem. "Thanks," he says, cane pulled up to his chest a bit. "And I don't know, y' know, no one ever told me 'bout this part of getting old." There's a weary shrug, and some of the medals on the breast of his jacket catch the light for a moment. After that, though, Ziadie seems content to sit in silence, reaching into the pocket of his jacket and pulling out a small silver flask, though not doing anything with it beyond holding it.

"Obviously you should have listened to your elders." It's delivered with a half grin, only slightly warmer than a smirk and meant to take the sting from his words. Devon glances down at his book, then flips the page over though he doesn't begin reading again. "I'll try to keep that in mind when I grow old though. I won't be as young as I am now." His eyes flick toward the glimmer of shiny inside the man's coat, then politely looks away again.

There's a wry smile. The humour is appreciated, at the least. The flask, noticed, is just put away rather than drawn out. "Hopefully y' have elders t' listen to," comes the reply from Ziadie. He did, but only in the form of his superiors on the police force, and less otherwise. Instead, he pulls out a cigarette, letting it hang in the corner of his mouth. A zippo is flicked open and closed, open and closed.

"Something like that," Devon answers with a roll of his shoulders. His elders are either dead or in the same line of work he is, both above and under the table. He glances toward the man again then turns his attention back to his book. "They keep me in line usually."

Eventually, Ziadie lifts the lighter to the cigarette. The scent of clove drifts heavier on the breeze that's picking up somewhat, and then the old man rests it in his hand, on his knee, ignored after it's been lit. He peers over the teenager, observant, gaze sharp despite his age. "Well good," he says, good natured. "Someone oughta. Then again, someone prob'ly ought keep yer elders in line as well."

The teenager's eyes flick up at the smell of clove, then follow the stick down to where it's left to smolder. A half grin surfaces, only a quirking of one cheek to really give the impression of a grin, and a half remembered encounter with someone else and a vice of that nature. "Nothing wrong with my elders. They do pretty good for themselves. They're hard working people and don't need old guys like you saying otherwise."

"Even I need someone t' keep me in line sometimes," Ziadie says. There's a faint wince, tapping the ash from the cigarette off to the ground. Still good-natured, really. The cigarette is held in his mouth again, hands folding back to play with the silver zippo, a reminder of his past. "Or most of the time."

"Yeah, well not all of us need babysitters." Devon turns his gaze back to his book, though he doesn't really focus on the words printed on the pages. "Some of us actually grow out of it and lead perfectly normal, natural lives."

Ziadie raises one eyebrow, though he's not paying quite enough attention to pick exactly which part of the statement wasn't fully true. Another drag from the cigarette. "Normal. Odd word choice there. Normal's boring, ya' know?" A small shrug, and then Ziadie does bring out the flask, opening it, tipping it to his lips.

A shrug echoes the old man's thoughts. "What's wrong with normal," Devon counters, his eyes slanting toward Ziadie. If there's any dislike for the drinking, it doesn't show on his expression. "Never found normal to be boring myself. Just a part of life like anything else." He earmarks the page, folding the corner down just enough to mark it as his place, then picks up his coffee.

"Lack of excitement," Ziadie responds without missing a beat. "Part of life, as long as you don't overdo it. Then again, overdoing anything." He shrugs. Like he's one to talk, with the alcoholism and the drinking that he needs to do even in public. The flask is tipped to his lips another time, tucked back into his pocket. "In any case. Nocturne Ziadie." Introductions come with a polite nod, switching the cigarette to his left hand in the case of a handshake, though there's no move made to initiate such.

"Excitement is arbitrary to living a full life," the teenager states. "It's not necessary to make life interesting and often comes at a cost." Whether monetary or otherwise is left unsaid, the young man knows he's seen more than his share of excitement in his short life. "Devon Clendaniel," he offers in return, though no move is made to shake hands. Instead, the cup of coffee, surely tepid by now, is lifted and a measure swallowed.

"Perhaps for some. Or mayhaps I jus' had too much excitement when I was a young man. Ruined me for normal life, at least." Amongst other things. Ziadie offers Devon a tentative smile. "So what're you reading?" And he actually sounds genuinely interested, as much as a stranger in the park ever does and perhaps more than many. Or maybe it's just a topic that the former police officer figures is bound to be one less fraught with omission and lies than many he could bring up. And if he's going to sit a while longer, finish catching his breath, and have a cigarette, it feels less awkward for him to make idle conversation.

A brow arches upward as Devon's eyes taken in the old man sharing his bench. If there's any clue to what kind of excitement might have ruined the man, he doesn't see it. Devon glances at the book then turns over the cover, revealing a course catalogue for Columbia University. "Giving some thought to the future, weighing options." It's no big secret, he's been weighing those options for several months now.

Ziadie nods. One raised brow mirrors the teenager's expression for a moment. "I wasn't always an old man," he says, offhand, before responding to the original question. "Good." He nods. "Never did get the real chance a' go to college, though. Sometimes, wish I had. Weren't as many chances for folk, then, though." And colleges were still de facto segregated, and immigrants had less chances, and many things that Ziadie doesn't say. Instead, he just nods, another long draw from the cigarette pinched between weathered fingers, the hands of someone who has worked all his life, at the very least.

"You're—" Devon frowns slightly, taking in another scrutinizing look of Ziadie. "Seventy, give or take a few years? Yeah, could see that as being a tough place to get into." Segregation and all that, the kid knows history fairly well. "Why not try to go now? Hell, I dropped out just after the fall semester and I'm looking at going back." He's thinking about it, not necessarily sure it's an avenue he's going to pursue yet.

"There's a faint smile, and the half of the smoldering clove cigarette is rested above Ziadie's knee again, ash tapped to fall on the ground. "Not quite there yet, but soon 'nough I'd suppose." Even Ziadie doesn't know exactly how old he is. No birth certificate, and so his age could as well give or take a few years from what his identification says. "Went to police academy instead."

Consideration is given to Devon's suggestion. "You know, I jus' might. Summat a' do with my time. The kid'd like that, prolly." A flash of wistful sadness across Ziadie's face, but pushed aside, resolutely. There's no use in considering what Felix would think of the choices, when the former police officer doesn't know if he'll ever see the man again. It's replaced with the same genial smile as before. "Lots of time these days, after all."

The "Oh," that Devon offers to the man's occupation falls a little flat, but it's not terribly revealing. "Noble profession." Most of the time, one he's undeniably wary of. "You should," he continues, pushing the catalogue toward Ziadie. "S'long as you're alive, there's still much to learn. And besides." He pauses to stand and draw off another swallow of coffee. "I hear you can teach old dogs new tricks."

A glance toward his wrist, a watch wrapped around it and partially hiding the scars he still bears. "Mister Ziadie, pleasure to meet you, but I'm going to be late if I don't leave now."

With a half a nod, Ziadie takes the catalogue. "Funny, I ne'er heard that one," he responds, with a bit of a grin. "No, don't go be being late. Bad habit to start, you know." There's a hint of irony, considering the other two bad habits that the older man has displayed during the conversation, and he's well aware of it. "And mayhaps, but less so than it used to be." There's a dispassionate tone to the mention of Ziadie's former profession. "Less 'bout what it used to be, either. Not for me t' say anymore, I suppose." There's a smile. "Maybe I'll run into you again, Mr. Clendaniel." There's a pause, as Nocturne tucks the catalogue into his jacket, begins wrapping his hand around his cane. "You take care."

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