Murky Taxonomy


bella_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif

Scene Title Murky Taxonomy
Synopsis In her second encounter with Tamara, Bella still doesn't manage to pin down her peculiarity. She does, however, benefit.
Date September 23, 2009

Roosevelt Island

Bella has never been to Roosevelt Island before, and this shows in the way she moves, quickly and with many glances, through the broken streets and past the derelict and not-so-derelict buildings. The days are getting shorter, and the air chillier and Bella has started sporting a pea coat and a scary, drawn close around her neck and lower jaw, though some of this closeness is symbolic of a general wish for protection. She's an uptown girl who's lived a cushy life, and in the face of real tragedy she naturally feels a bit threatened. It's one thing to cope with grim realities from the comfort of a professional chair, but out here, in the empty streets, she's robbed of her presumed mastery. She checks the card Magnes gave her again, searching for a street number that will help locate her properly. She needs to get inside somewhere or somehow before the predicted rain makes its advance; she forgot to bring an umbrella.

Winter is coming.

It's not so much as on the radar for most people, a distant thought at best; they think in terms of days, hours, New York minutes. Ascribing a timeframe to Tamara's thoughts, to her vision, is a chancy proposition at best; if nothing else, whimsy alone will put the guesser in the wrong. But it's winter that dressed the girl today, in a long-sleeved knit of multiple subtle shades of gray, black jeans, vivid scarlet scarf coiled about her throat, ends trailing haphazardly behind her left arm. They partly hide the lump of a denim handbag at Tamara's side, ratted crimson fringe waving in the sea-born breeze. The same breeze picks at her hair, weaving tresses decidedly needful of trimming into a chaotic pattern never conceived by any stylist.

She stands on the sidewalk, stopped as if just prior to colliding with a vivid blue postal service drop-box, regarding the length of street beyind it with a moue of distaste — the look of someone who doesn't care for the area she's about to be walking into. Or, perhaps, the person approaching her out of it.

Bella's somewhat fixated on the the buildings, on locating herself in this strange, hollowed-out place. Her gaze reaches the edge of the block, and swings over to the other side, hoping for better luck there, and midway along the shift her eyes graze over Tamara. Double take. Bella halts, first alert: the presence of Another. Second investigation, preliminary: a young woman. Not necessarily a threat. Then, third, finally… recognition: she's met this one before. The little schizo case in Central Park! She musters a smile and lifts her hand. "Hello there," wondering if she'll even be recognized.

If recognition is wariness, then Bella is known; but the oblique study, the stiffness of carriage, the uneasy shift of weight to the balls of her feet could just as easily be a generic caution given to any complete stranger. She fails to return the woman's greeting, fails to offer even the politesse of a cool smile. Blue eyes start at the peak of the woman's head, trace down the length of her body, back up again; seeing… seeing what? There's something off about the regard, something fey and uncanny; it's also peculiar that Tamara's next act is to glance over her shoulder, looking up towards the menacing sky. The sybil's lips pull back in a thin grimace at the certainty they offer her sight.

Bella's pace is slower than before as she approaches the young woman. For a second she considers asking her for directions, but then decides… maybe not. At least not yet. She's not that desperate. She draws nearer, sensitive to any reaction that might tell her to keep her distance. "Remember me?"

Tamara isn't slow. She also doesn't bolt away.

She takes just enough time to cross the distance between them for Bella to catch the words come on, sharp and insistent, before her hand is snatched up; the girl doesn't run pell-mell down the street, but she sets a pace that makes Bella work to keep up. There seems to be no room for doubt that the older woman will tag along.

The pace allows another observation: Tamara's socks aren't as white as they used to be. She isn't wearing shoes, though there's enough of the thick fabric still visible to suggest she did have them not so long ago; a matter of minutes, paces, mere handfuls of city street.

Her shoulder finds an open door, although there was no searching involved; it opens onto the dust-tinged tableau of antiques left alone too long, the patter of door-mounted pick across a stringed instrument overturned above drawing no attention from the back of the store — where there is assuredly a desk somewhere behind the semi-arrayed chaos of things, and presumably a person to man it.

As the glass-paneled shop door swings closed behind them, rain begins to fall.

Bella is thrust into the position of an observer, watching Tamara and even herself as the former leads the latter to the storefront and through the door. Her eyes are wide as she moves automatically, trying to catalogue the happenings as they happen. Only once they are inside and the rain begins to pelt down onto the street does she seem to merge body and mind once again. She lifts a hand to her chest, rising and falling with breaths a bit quicker than normal. "I… well…" she glances behind her, at the darkening street, "Thank you. That was a near thing!" she turns back to Tamara, looks down at her besocked feet, and her brow furrows. "Where are we?"

The girl drops Bella's hand as soon as they're inside, sidling around a display cabinet in order to restore some semblance of space between them. She presents her profile to the woman, looks everywhere around the room except at her; eyes flitting from the painted plates hung on the walls to a case full of Loony Tunes memorabilia to carved statues and boxes and figurines jumbled together with no care for subject, material, or provenance. The girl's wandering gaze could be construed as an attempt to gather information for an answer. Could be, if she said more than a single dismissive word: "Here." Her shrug is more implied than seen, but present nonetheless; where clearly doesn't matter. "Not wet," the girl relents and elaborates, left hand rolling a worn bit of scarlet fringe between her fingers.

Bella takes the time to peruse their surroundings as well, and there is a noticeable drawing together of her legs and feet, a small tightening of her limbs. Old kitsch gives her the heeby jeebies. "Duly noted," she says, on the matter of dryness. "We met in Central Park, didn't we?" She's 99% sure, but that one sliver of uncertainty takes on disproportionate weight, as doubts tend to.

The girl draws her shoulders up, her chin tucking slightly down; eyes Bella sidelong as if the question were ill-loved, some sort of offensive jab directed her way, albeit in a perfunctory fashion. She doesn't answer immediately; doesn't, in the end, answer directly at all. "There's no parks left here. Broken streets and rusting metal. Lots of rust left; the rain only eats so much at a time." Tamara edges a little farther around the display case, sidesteps away, turns away.

Turns back, a sudden spin that sends blond hair flying, the handbag thudding into her own side, its impact given neither notice nor regard. "Don't!" she snaps, wide eyes fixed on the psychiatrist. "Don't box and shove and stuff; there's no pigeons for a reason." Voice raised with the definite tense edge of apprehension, Tamara backpedals two uneven steps, barely avoiding collision with a large vase. "I didn't like your shadows and you can keep them to yourself."

This particular brand of loose association and word salad is as good as a 'yes'. Bella has met a number of schizophrenics, and few are as distinctly thematically consistent as Tamara. This is the same girl, or perhaps a twin sister with the same exact mental condition. Bella fixes the younger woman with a steady look. "Why are you here, if you don't like the shadows and the rust?" she asks, "Is there something you're looking for?"

Tamara flinches from the questions; from the identifications behind them that aren't spoken, but could have been. Her shoulders slump down, as if the force of her prior remarks drained the energy from them. "You were looking," the girl says, as mild a correction as might be. She picks up a small figure, clay molded to suggest a rearing horse, brought to life through detail and paint against a rougher outline. Wipes the dust from its surfaces with nervous streaks of her fingers, not looking at Bella but never quite looking away either. "The mirror walked."

"I was. Am. For a fortune teller," Bella admits, and at once feels a little embarrassed by the admission, "It's for a client. On his behalf, I-" but she cuts herself off. Why she feels the urge to explain herself is beyond her. But circumstance and company both are extremely strange. "Where did it walk to?" Turning questions, however free floating and unexplained, back to Tamara, for fear she'll divulge something herself.

The girl turns her back to Bella, holding the figurine against her chest. Looks at the wall, or perhaps through it; the spot she's regarding doesn't have any decoration worth the scrutiny. "It was fitting," Tamara remarks softly, thoughtfully. "Ghosts and dreams all caught in the same snare. You expect her to be nothing. Expect that she wasn't." Blue eyes fall, the horse absently returned to its place on the shelf in her ensuing silence — without looking. "Wherever it went," the girl answers, by tone intentionally deflecting the query. "Nobody knows; look the wrong way, can't see right. Noise in the water, falling rain. You only found one drop after it hit the ground, or maybe just before."

Temporal looseness? A spread out delta-t, as some might put it. Perhaps Tamara has come unstuck in time. Bella suppresses a small smile. She feels much more at home now that she's putting questions to a patient. That's the term that bounces into her mind, though she has no intention of trying to get this young woman committed. For all her disarray and shoelessness, she seems to get along fairly well. And there's no money in it so… "Can you see right?"

Peering over her shoulder at Bella, Tamara frowns, the quality of frown that goes with mentally turning something over and around until it makes a comprehensible fit. Or something approaching that state. "Did yours leave?"

Bella doesn't want to answer the question without knowing what the answer will mean. But she also doesn't want to just answer. So she tries for a compromise. "I don't think so. What do you think?"

She looks askance at Bella; the evasion certainly doesn't escape Tamara's notice. She doesn't press the subject, sidestepping the bounce-back in her own turn. Instead, the girl draws in and releases a breath, sliding the handbag off her shoulder and stepping forward to set it on the display cabinet between them. "It's raining," she replies, as if the pattern of drops against roof and flashing, against glass, against concrete were not a self-evident background to their conversation. The short and abrupt steps that carry her behind cabinets, behind half-stable arrays of junk and rare value, are swifter and more sure; Tamara vanishes into the recesses of the store without anything more formal in the way of goodbye.

A sense of evasion goes both ways. Bella remains unable to grasp any tangible part of Tamara's pathology. Of course, this may be a matter of taxonomy. She's looking for crazy, and while Tamara might be crazy, she might not be crazy in the way Bella thinks she might be crazy. It's enough to drive one crazy, if only out of sympathy. Bella considers giving chase as Tamara flits away… but she has someone else to see tonight. As she stoops to pick up the bag, and sees the umbrella within, her mind is made up. She has the means to go back out there, so she ought to. She removes the umbrella, but leaves the rest of the bag's contents, as well as the bag itself. "Thank you!" she calls out, into the shop. She lingers for a moment, but in the next moment she is out the door.

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