Not Thicker Than Water


mary-campbell_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Thicker Than Water
Synopsis Veronica visits the mother of one of the Company's current suspects. She leaves feeling a little bit of sympathy for the murderer.
Date March 18, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Trailer Farm

Before the bomb, this was Thomas Jefferson Park. Some of it still is, stretches of grass and trees that far fewer people visit than once did.

Some of it is not.

Faced with the sheer number of people displaced from their homes after the bomb, but too stubborn — or without the means — to move from Manhattan, this is one of the many places the city and various federal agencies have given over to shelter the refugees. As such, what was once meticulously maintained greensward has been turned into dirt road and trailer lots. The grass has been worn thin by the repetitive passing of hundreds of feet. Trailers sit all but side-by-side, with room only for a car and perhaps a few chairs to be parked in between. Younger children run around underfoot, seemingly undeterred from their games; older ones might slink behind the trailers with hungry eyes, resentful of those who have more, while the adults seem more heart-weary and worn-down than not. These are the people who have nowhere else to go; some have jobs, but many do not, surviving on as little as possible. Alcohol and drugs are common; so is suicide, for those who have passed from desperation into surrender.

New York City has weathered worse storms than this, but the last great blizzard to his the Big Apple was before the bomb, before hundreds of thousands of people were put without a home and relegated to a sea of trailers that fills up what was once one of the most well-tended parks in East Harlem. Now, it looks like a refugee camp from a third-world country, a sea of FEMA trailers packed like sardine cans one beside another, blue plastic tarps covering the roofs on many of them to help prevent leaking that has likely occured during the three years these trailers have been left to rot out here.

Steel drums are used like shanty-towns to burn wood for exterior fires, while private generators rumble and thunder thorugh the park providing electricity and meager heat for the improperly insulated shelters. Only a scant few people are out here during the blizzard, and public works hasn't yet seen fit to even plow the road that leads up here, forcing Agent Veronica Sawyer to abandon her car almost a block away and hike her way up thorugh the snowy trail to the heart of the park where the trailer farm persists.

Thankfully laid out in an organized — if not clustered — grid, it makes finding trailer 88 easy enough. It's not a comfortable looking acomodation, though at least the glow of lights inside shine out warmly through the haze of blizzard condition snow still raging through the morning.

Buried under the snow, a nearby car looks to have simply been forgotten for the winter, or perhaps just left out too long over the last couple of days, now buried under a drift shifting like the Sahara dunes.

This is Veronica's first winter in New York, and it's far too cold for the Southern California native who used to surf on what she thought were cold winter mornings growing up in a beach town. She's dressed a little more casually and a little more warmly than normal, given the demographics of the person she's come to interview and the frigid climate. Jeans, boots, thick sweater, and a shin-length down-filled black poncho don't quite make her look like one of the "natives" of this trailer park, but she doesn't look like a "spook," either. Perhaps a slightly-more affluent distant relative, coming to check on an ailing aunt.

Her gloved hand slides out of her pocket to knock on the door of the correct trailer, the tinny sound sharp when everything else seems to be muffled by the blanket of white. She pulls out her DHS badge, prepared to flash it to the woman within.

There's a grumble inside the trailer at the knock, heavy thumping footfalls storming over to the door. There's a creak as the front door opens to the storm door exterior that Veronica's holding open with her shoulder, and a tired looking woman with ratty brown hair dressed in a thick blue nylon winter jacket with a scarf wrapped around her throat and gloves on answers the door, wrinkles creasing her face and dark circles under her eyes making her look older than someone in their mid 40s should.

"Unless you're with whoever the fuck is supposed to get my heat turned back on you can take a flying fucking leap off of the short end of the President's di— " Mary Campbell's eyes divert towards the raised badge, her words cut off immediately, and her eyelids waver down even as her eyes roll up and a sigh slides out of her lips.

"What's this about?" Mary strains tthe words out as if it's a positively enormous inconvenience to even be taking the time to look at Veronica let alone talk to her. "I already told you people I haven't seen that girl anywhere, so if you're looking for that missing kid I didn't see shit."

Veronica smiles, dimples showing in either cheek. "Mrs. Campbell, I presume? My name's Agent Sawyer. I'm really sorry to inconvenience you like this. I just wanted to have a little chat with you about your son. Can I come in? Or we can stand out here — it's a little warmer in there, I think, though." Whichever it is, it's clear Veronica isn't taking no for an answer from her words. Inside or out, but we're going to talk.

"And which missing girl would that be, Ma'am?" she asks, tilting her head curiously — perhaps to Mrs. Campbell, a 30-year-old Jane Doe is a girl, and Luke is the missing kid, but her wording is ambiguous — is there a third victim that the Company doesn't have intelligence on, that the other agencies do? She puts her badge in her pocket, pulling out a notepad and pen to take notes, waiting for the woman to let her into the hovel on wheels.

"No it's ont a little fucking warmer in there it's just less windy, but unless you have a warrant you can just park your ass right there." Mary's brows furrow, wrinkled lips purse together and she eyes the badge again before looking back up to Veronica coldly. "The girl, I don't know, some kid that went missing in little Italy a couple of weeks ago, there was an agent from your department out here about two hours ago knocking door to door asking if anyone in the neighborhood had seen her, but he wouldn't tell anyone her name or who she was or— " Mary just stops, one hand swatting up in the air as she takes a half step back.

"And— for the record, I don't have a son." Her hand curls around the door, swinging it forward to try and shut it in Veronica's face.

Veronica's gloved hand comes up quickly to catch the door before it is closed, jerking it a bit outward at the same time to ensure her fingers don't get smashed. There's a tinge in the recently dislocated, recently surgically reset wrist, but she holds the door firmly despite the slight ache.

"That's fine. We don't have to discuss your 'son,' but I'd like to discuss Luke Campbell with you, Ma'am. I highly suggest you cooperate or else we might consider you to be suspicious in our investigation. Reluctance to speak to me about it might suggest you are aiding and abetting a possible suspect." So much for dimples.

"When is the last time you saw him?"

The scowl that cuts down Mary Campbell's face is a bitter, venomous one. Her eyes glass up just a touch when Veronica says Luke's name, and she offers a furtive stare to the other trailers before hissing out a curse under her breath and stepping in to the trailer, letting Veronica step up inside to the low-ceilinged and cluttered home that has a funny — but not quite recognizable — odor to it. "I haven't seen that piece of shit since the day I tried to register him like those freaks are supposed to be. Maybe if I'm lucky one of those Humanis First guys strung him up from a fucking lamp post. Do you have any idea what having a monster like that in my family has done to me?"

Mary narrows her eyes at Veronica, taking a tone that's almost blaming the agent for all her troubles. "I never even wanted to have children, I never wanted a family. He was always causing problems, and then— then he turns out to be just like those freaks. He— my family won't even talk to me anymore because of him. I tell people my son died in Midtown…"

Mary's lips press together tightly, eyes still glassed over and jaws clenched before she snaps out more words, "and for all the good he's fucking done me I wish he had."

What did Veronica expect from a mother who turned her own son in to the government? Yes, he was dangerous, but it's clear that Mary's motives weren't made in the best interest of herself or her child, but out of pure hatred. She never loved Luke Campbell, and perhaps that hatred is what forced that terrifying ability to manifest in the first place. It reminds her, in an eerie way, of the video of Mortimer Jack, realizing his father was the cause for his split mind.

"I understand, Ma'am," Sawyer murmurs, her husky voice professionally sympathetic. "Now, I've read his file. You said you found out he had the power when you witnessed him melting an action figure when he was upset? Did you ever see any other manifestations of his abilities? Is there anything you didn't tell the department then, that you thought of later? I know I sometimes think of things that I should have said days later. Usually in fights with my boyfriend." Back to the charm and dimpled smile.

"Nothing I thought about then," Mary notes sharply, "but when I think back about it— we used to have this nice house in Newark, before the bomb. Things— there used to be little melted spots on the couch, I thought the little shit took up smoking or something, I turned his room upside-fucking-down and didn't find any cigarettes or even a lighter. Sometimes— when he was mad at me, lightbulbs used to just— I don't know— pop nearby. I thought we had bad wiring in the house, I paid— I paid six fucking thousand dollars in electrician fees over two years."

Broken lights. There were shattered light bulbs at both victim's places of death.

Still plastering a scowl across her face, Mary shakes her head and rolls her tongue across her teeth. "He tried to kill someone when we registered him, and he was happy about it. He's— he's a fucking monster and he deserves to be in a— " in a prison?

"Wait." Suddenly Mary's realizing what might be going on. "I thought— I thought he was locked up?" There's a crease of Mary's brows, her eyes darting from the door to Veronica. "Don't tell me he got out? Don't tell me you fucking morons let him out onto the street, he's a psychopath!"

Veronica jots down notes, nodding sympathetically before the woman begins swearing at her for the Moab snafu. It wasn't her fault! She can't be tied to that situation, at least, even if it seems the break out keeps causing problems for her.

"I do not have that information, Mrs. Campbell. We have some similar cases occurring in the vicinity — some of the evidence points to someone with a similar ability to your son's, and we're just gathering information to compare the two cases currently," she says smoothly, apologetically.

"So did you notice those occurrences — the broken light bulbs, the burnt spots on the furniture — did these seem to happen perhaps after moments of stress? When the boy was feeling particularly angry, afraid, otherwise upset? Perhaps after family fights or arguments?"

A suspicious look lances away from Mary as she practically glares daggers through Veronica and into the wall behind her. Breathing in deep, the older woman slowly shakes her head. "I don't know, it was years ago. He— he got pissed at me for something— I don't even remember the fuck what, and he melted this stupid toy of his he had on the sofa. Like he was— threatening me with it. But shit like bulbs popping, that always happened when we were arguing…"

Reaching up to smooth a hand over her mouth, Mary slowly gives a shake of her head. "I still think he did shit just to amuse himself though, he— he was a sick kid, sick in the head." Dark brows lower and Mary's words seem a bit wavering in tone. "Is— is that all you wanted to ask about?"

"That is pretty much all, Ma'am," Veronica says, reaching into her pocket to pull out a business card and handing it to the older woman. She doesn't give her usual spiel of 'if there's anything else you can think of' since she's sure the woman won't call her willingly — unless Luke shows up prowling around the trailer park — which is precisely why the agent hands her the card, aside from the fact that it makes her look like an actual DHS agent rather than Company.

"One more thing," the agent murmurs, before Mary can be too excited to be rid of her. "You mentioned another agent coming out and asking about a missing girl. What can you tell me about that? Do you remember the name or the description of the girl? The name of the agent who came asking you about her? I just want to make sure that no one's stepping on any one else's toes."

Mary snatches the card up, shaking her head once slowly. "No… No there's— You people really got your shit together." Mary notes coldly, slapping the card down on on the cheap formica countertop in arms reach. "No, the agent didn't give me a name. Tall, young guy, about your age. Dark hair, had one of those fucking ear-piece headset things on, bluetooth." Mary shakes her head slowly, breathing in a slow breath. "I don't remember what the girl looked like— young? Skinny, the picture was black and white, I dunno. I hadn't seen her before, so I didn't look too hard at it."

Rolling her tongue over the inside of her cheek, Mary Campbell swallows noisily and motions towards the door of her trailer, "Now— if you would kindly get out."

Sometimes this job isn't easy.

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