Pardonnez Mon Français


francois_icon.gif joy_icon.gif

Scene Title Pardonnez Mon Français
Synopsis Francois, waiting for his ship to come in, offers a sympathetic ear to Joy, whose ship seems to have sailed.
Date February 19, 2010

Fresh Kills Harbor

Situated at one end of the Arthur Kill, this small harbor has clearly seen days of better and more frequent use. Though it's little more than a network formed by a few creaky docks and causeways, it's still more than suitable to tie up for those who have business on the Island. Invariably, at least one of the ports is taken up by a houseboat covered in seagull shit. A thick, greenish layer of bilge scum floats on top of the water and clings to the hull of every passing vessel. Welcome to Staten Island. If you have baggage or cargo to unload, there are usually a few layabouts at the Angry Pelican, which is just a short walk away. Just be sure to ask for a clean glass and keep one hand on your wallet at all times.

There's a boat coming soon. In theory. The men at the Angry Pelican certainly confirmed as such, as far as Francois could wring the information and try to hedge his accent towards something more American so that they don't leer quite so much. Strangely enough, he didn't feel fit to hide his scars as much as he did the French twist to his words, the white scar tissue knitting along the rim of one ear and the way his fingers on his left hand warp a little likely doing better to fit him in among the swiftly depleting range of Staten Island denizens.

He left them to their morning beers and conversation, boots crunching on slushy foreshore ground and making certain not to get his feet wet. The dirty water looks blackly icy, deceptively cold, and the wind comes harshly off the river, which a wool-lined brown leather jacket does a fair amount against. No scarf, and so his chin tucks down into his grey sweater, and tucks his hands into pockets to palm against a simple leather wallet which should hold enough cash to get him from one river side to the other.

Standing near the edge of one of the docks with her back to those watching at the Angry Pelican, a blonde woman is having a tense conversation on a cell phone. The angry words spit into the receiver sound pretty, if vicious, to most listeners, but Francois can make out what she's saying plain as the nose on his face.

"«I can't believe you've taken up with that whore!»" Contemptuous French is growled while ungloved fingers appear to threaten to crush the mobile. "«What about everything I've given up?! For you! I can't believe you would just-»" She pauses, listening to whoever is on the other end, posture rigid. After a long, drawn out silence, it seems she's had enough.

"Casse-toi!" The woman doesn't bother to properly end the call, but instead lets water damage handle that for her, seeing as how she's just hurled the phone into the harbour. She gives most of her back to the water now, covering her face with one hand, obviously trying not to cry. Whoever she just told to fuck off must truly have hurt her feelings.

Awkward. That much is plain to Francois probably by the time he's close enough for his presence to be rude. He does stop, though, turn on a heel and letting one shoulder grant some privacy as he studies the melty line between the lapping water and fallen snow on grey river stone, and then further out towards where a broken jetty descends into water. Like a staircase reaching for the sky, going no where in particular. And then bleak water ripples when what feels like an impressively expensive piece of technology (of all the eras he's seen, he has to be from the nineties) breaks its surface.

"Hommes." In other words: men. A brilliant piece of commentary. Sympathetic, succinct. Francois trades her an apologetic look as if to confirm both his presence and attention span, and clears his throat. "«He probably was not worth the phone. Are you alright?»"

The woman's head turns sharply and it takes two or three blinks of her eyes before it seems to sink in that the man near her understood what she just said. She blushes faintly. "Oui. «I will be fine.»" Her brows crease in a wince indicative of her embarrassment. "«My apologies. I didn't mean to curse…»" In front of someone who knew what she was actually saying. Not that her language is so out of character for anyone in New York, really. Let alone the dregs of Staten Island. It's just a thing about the French. Cursing is generally unrefined, and you had better make sure you're using your words in the right context. "Je m'appelle Joie. Comment vous appelez-vous?" The blonde extends her hand, offering a shaky smile to the Frenchman.

His eyes have gone crescent in a smile, one of apology and encouragement, and he steps to the side to meet the hand out. It's his right one that grasps hers, all even knuckles and scarless skin, with the other still hiding in a pocket. His hand is cold, but likely so is hers — it's the end of winter in New York and it hasn't seen fit to let go yet.

"Francois. Enchante." The pink that's gotten into Francois' skin must be from the cold, because he certainly doesn't seem bothered by the swearing — it would be difficult to be, in this city. "«I didn't mean to listen in. I didn't see you there, and then, the language…»"

Sound hand goes up in a vague gesture before meeting the other in symmetry, disappearing into brown leather and pale wool of the opposite pocket. "«It was hard not to.»"

Joy smiles faintly and slides her own hands into her coat pockets. Red wool hugs her form. A black skirt peeks out beneath, paired with dark grey leggings. One foot lifts, then the other, covered inadequately in ankle strap heels that match her outerwear near perfectly, a small movement to ward off the chill of the lingering winter.

"«I certainly don't blame you. I wasn't exactly being quiet…»" Joy shrugs, quick to forgive Francois for his eavesdropping. "«Language aside, you aren't from around here, are you?»" Her head is tilted to indicate something about the image he presents. "«You look better suited to another part of town.»" Her attire makes her look like she belongs in a better part of New York, but the way her hair looks as though it's been just a couple days too long since it's been washed, or the barest smudge here and there on her face suggest Staten Island may be exactly where she calls home.

Francois is vain enough to keep clean — he even shaved this morning, so perhaps that's the difference, or errant strands of brunette have veiled off the slice taken out of his ear, or maybe just a polite demeanor. He could probably list the things that make him foreign — introspective and self-absorbed is a fine and malleable line — and so cracks a wry smile at that, looking down at where the toes of his boots spade restlessly into icy gravel and sand. "«I go in between,»" he says, with a chin up across the river. "«And I haven't been from anywhere for a while. Are you a native speaker? If not, you're very good.»"

"«I learned from a native,»" Joy admits. "«I am told that that makes all the difference when one is learning a language. I was very young. I'm told that helps as well.»" She shakes her head and chuckles quietly. "«My tutors would be horrified if they heard what I just said there,»" Joy gestures toward where the phone sank through the ice. "«They tried so hard to instil a need to speak so very politely. I feel as though I should be writing a letter of apology.»"

Another breath of laughter escapes Joy's lips before a hint of awkwardness creeps into her expression. Tipping her head, she indicates the building nearby, "«Would you care to join me? It is very cold, and so far, you seem to make good company.»"

Taking in a breath of stingingly chilly air, Francois casts a judgemental gaze out towards the river. There's no yacht coming in any quick amount of time, counting mainly on the inevitability that someone will want to come back to Staten Island. Eventually. Under a sky just waiting to shake off some more snow, the river's gone a steel blue, thick looking, metallic and increasingly empty. A flick of a glance back at her with eyes of an earthier tone, foresty green gone slightly grey from all the grey everywhere, and a quick smile. "Oui."

Inside, as much as the Angry Pelican has one. His walk is a meander. "«Politeness is wasted on the French language,»" he tells her. "«I may be biased with it being my native tongue, but I also believe it is the most attractive to curse with. Italian— »" Lines at his eyes go deeper in a smile. "«Italian is similar.»"

Again, Joy laughs, this time resting a hand lightly on Francois' arm as they step near enough to order something to drink. "«I think, perhaps you are correct.»" She isn't quick to withdraw her hand, but she does do so. Polite company and all of that. They may still be outside, but they're more protected from the chill of the air, and the drinks they soon receive should help to put some warmth in their bones. Once seated, Joy seems to fix Francois with an almost dreamy sort of smile.

"S'il vous plaît, Francois… «Tell me of France.»"

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