Peace Love Dope


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Scene Title Peace Love Dope
Synopsis The culture war isn't over, as Tamsine and Scott find out.
Date August 7, 2009

Biddy Flannigan's Irish Pub

Ambient lighting blankets the establishment in a soft luminescence, glowing in tones of appealing orange from the front face of the bar and low hanging light fixtures overhead. Old style brick walls given the pub an appealing depth, reflecting the tone of lights in a more amber hue down upon the lengths of the polished, wooden floors. The bar counter of lacquered dark wood stretches along the northern wall, the forefront for shelves of numerous liquors and the substantially sized LCD televisions spaced liberally behind it. The screens flicker with the latest games and news as the labeled spirit bottles wink from lighted shelves with a beckon of their own. Barstools and high tables welcome tipsy patrons to their support, scattered with throughout the barroom with a few wedge into the darker, quieter, and more secretive recesses. Over the bar are a few banners of sports teams, most notably one of English football club Manchester United.

The thick wooden door to the west is fitted with a single neon sign sponsored by one of the brews on tap, glowing in the door's center window to shed its light onto the sidewalk outside and summoning in new customers when the bar is open for business.

It's late afternoon, but not quite Happy Hour, so the popular bar is not too full, but neither is it empty. A few early drinkers sit either alone or in pairs at the tables and at the bar. Tamsine is working, after a month or so off. They lost one of their bartenders, and Tamsine finished the bartending course she started when she agreed on this venture.

The petite redhead wipes down the lacquered wood of the bartop with a rag, then heads over to one of her customers, noting that he's just finished his beer. "You want another, Bruce?" she says cheerfully. He may or may not be a regular — she's only learned his name in the last thirty minutes.

"Are you a natural redhead?" he tosses back, and she grins, heading to the tap to fill up his glass a third time.

"Bullshit," comes a voice from the far end of the bar — a low, growling baritone, flavored with just a hint of Brooklyn twang and a whole helping of Secaucus drawl. Its source is a large, powerfully built man who's kept mostly to himself this dreary afternoon in the City; indeed, he's spoken to the redhead only once before, and that communication consisted of only two words: "Coors. Four."

Because imported draughts just aren't his style.

Scott's already on the third of that quartet, and his gulps have grown noticeably longer as the day wears on. His eyes haven't left the one of the larger LCDs on the wall since the rebroadcast of last night's baseball game came on the air. It's the top of the fourth, now, and the closed-captioned text filtering up the bottom of the muted screen hints at the reason for his sudden outburst: some random Red Sox player has just ripped a two-run homer off a pitch by number 62. "Fuck you, Joba," he mutters sotto voce, his forehead looking more creased than usual under the room's soft light. "Learn to play this goddamned game, eh?" And he takes another long swig from his bottle.

Arching one of her brows, Tamsine looks at one of the screens in her own line of sight to see what's happening and why it's apparently the end of the world. Oh. Baseball. Her lips quirk into a smirk and she moves down toward the end of the bar toward Scott, tilting her head curiously.

"I can change the channel if it's too upsetting for you," she offers with mock sympathy, her dark eyes sparkling in amusement. Men and their little games. How is it that she's working in a bar with sports channels on every television again?

Joba — that would be Joba Chamberlain, for the uninitiated — might not have heard this fan's visceral reaction to his latest foul-up, but the tens of thousands of other fans packing the new Yankee Stadium are doing their best to communicate outrage of their own. The Yankees' starting pitcher, perhaps sensing his supporters' sudden loss of faith in his abilities, does his best to recapture the crowd with a pair of beautiful strikes, the second of which is a powerful heater that just nicks the outside edge of the plate.

"More like it," Scott grunts, setting down his now-empty bottle on the reflective surface of the bar. His other hand — easily larger than a coffee mug, even when balled up — reaches for his fourth drink in as many innings. For a moment, the bartender's question is ignored: Chamberlain's started his wind-up, and Harkness waits with bated breath before 62 delivers a — "That was a fucking strike," he snaps, brown eyes focused balefully on the umpire. Then, only then: "Don't you touch that remote, lady."

Tamsine watches the game for a moment, leaning on the counter with her chin topping her folded hands. "Just didn't want one of my patrons to have an anxiety attack due to a little ball game, is all," she says with a tease. The server comes by with an order, so Tamsine gets to work making the drinks for a couple of moments. Luckily, there's nothing that taxes her new skills too much — she does have a cheat sheet, or rather recipe box, full of the more rare drinks that no one really ever orders in a bar like this. She mixes the seabreeze and then the Cosmo, setting them out on the tray for the server to pick up.

"Women. All the same." The derisive words are accompanied by a sharp humph that sounds almost like a laugh. After all, he's not a misogynist — he just pretends to be when a ball game's on, not that he looks like a man who cares all that much about what this woman thinks. Indeed, Scott probably has no idea what she looks like, so engrossed is he in this epic matchup between division rivals. "Stop your fussing and get me another." Judging from the eerily-silent jubilation on screen, the man's about to kill this last one right quickly: Lowrie's struck out.

And so it is that Harkness' practiced thumb flicks off the partially-loosened cap from the top of his beer, catching the jagged piece of metal in the massive palm of his left hand. It's deposited quite neatly on the counter next to its three identical siblings, all of which have that trademark bend where Tamsine's bottle-opener made its mark.

"Cheers." Glug glug glug.

Tamsine doesn't seem to take much offense at the mockingly scornful words. It seems par for the course with the beer drinkers, to be honest. "Don't tell your lady friends that. We all like to think we're unique, sparkling, special snowflakes," she retorts as she heads to the refrigerator to grab him the fifth beer. Really, how do they drink all of that? She refills the peanut bowl nearest Scott — maybe she can at least get some protein in him, along with all the beer. Another drink order comes and she goes about mixing the drinks, a little more careful with her measurements than most bartenders — after all, she's still new, hasn't quite learned to eyeball the amounts going into the highball glasses.

As the bartender gets closer, nuts in hand, she might note that Scott seems surprisingly unaffected by the alcohol he's consuming, though the distinctive smell of hops clings tightly to his collared white shirt and pressed black blazer. "Thanks," he growls — it's pro forma, as if he's speaking by rote. Not the friendliest guy, it seems, in part because he's too damn old to be flirting with a spry young thing like Tamsine. Wouldn't be proper, see. He does, however, have the courtesy to ask her name: "So I know what to tell your boss when you switch New York-Boston to the fucking Oxygen Network, or Oprah, or whatever else you watch."

Thrust, parry, jab — all deadpan, and all without looking at the woman whom he's engaging in conversation. This is fun, though he seems to have used up his sarcasm quota for the moment. For a while, nothing at all is audible from Scott's side of the room, until the clink of glass against wood announces that he's finished his fourth and started on his fifth in celebration of Ellsbury's soft grounder to the pitcher's mound. That's out number two for the pinstriped crew. Joba might just be able to tamp the bleeding.

"I am the boss," Tamsine says, with a toss of her hair. Well, sort of. She hasn't been around, and she's probably leaving again soon, but on paper? She's the owner and thus the boss. "But my name's Tamsine," she says. "That way when you call to say some redhead was pretending to be the manager and owner, I'll know who I'm talking to."

Bruce, down at the far end of the bar, gives a little wave, as he slides off his barstool to head home. She heads his way to collect his money and offer a farewell. "You're not driving, right?" Tamsine asks, and he laughs. "Nope, live across the street." Better safe than sorry. She goes to the cash register to deposit his money, then glances up at the screen when most of the bar cheers in unison.

"You own this joint?" Scott sips thoughtfully at his beer, swishing the amber liquid through his teeth as he does. Then, with a gleam in his eyes that offsets his otherwise blank countenance: "Do you burn your bras, too?"

He, at least, thinks it's witty, judging from the tight little smile that darts across the craggy planes of his face. Another swig and it's back to the peanuts, which Harkness is used to gobbling down not one but eight at a time. With surprising delicacy, he wipes his oiled and salted hand with a thin paper napkin before returning his attention to the screen, where YES Network has just gone to ads: "Good catch, Swisher," he mumbles, mouth full. Boston 3, New York 1.

"Wow. A bra-burning joke in 2009. How very timely," Tamsine says drolly, with a roll of her eyes that makes the 30-year-old look all the younger for her age than she already does. "Are you trying to imply that women can't be business owners, or that if they are, it means they're somehow radical and out of the ordinary? Because if you are, that's rather naive, even primeval thinking on your part, buddy." Tamsine scans the bar quickly — everyone seems to have everything they need for the time being. She picks up Bruce's glass and puts it in the crate beneath the counter of dishes to be washed. Not her job. The kitchen gets to do that.

"I'm a baby boomer," Scott replies archly. "Card-carrying soldier in the culture wars." Now that the ads are on, he finally tears his attention from the screen, swinging sideways in his seat so he can face the woman — owner — more directly. "Remember Woodstock? I lived through that. Was ten, maybe eleven, whatever. I was old enough to know the teens in my neighborhood who went. Saw some of their pictures afterwards — long-haired tie-dyed hippies fucking like rabbits upstate."

The grizzled man pushes the bowl of peanuts toward him with the bottom of his bottle; his hand, just cleaned, reaches in for another scoop. "Asked them what they were doing," he says at length, expression still blank. "Said they were trying to levitate the Pentagon with nothing but the power of their hearts. Peace, love, dope." His derision is evident in his voice. "Now half the kids in the City are high on rock. Good old days, huh?"

Tamsine's comment on his implication he lets slide for now. She serves him drinks; he won't antagonize her too much, tempting as it might be to needle. He's old, but he's not senile yet.

She leans on the bar and looks at Scott with amusement. "My parents were… are… hippies," she points out with a shrug. "But they never tried to levitate the Pentagon with love or anything like that." The idea gets a light chuckle from her. "Of course, these days, that might actually be possible. The levitating. Not the love thing. You know, with all the people with powers now." She heads to the coffee pot and pours herself some in a tall ceramic mug that's clearly "her" cup, rather than anything that belongs to the bar. She adds some cream and sugar and brings it back to the counter near Scott, sipping the hot fluid carefully. "Of course, people had powers then, too. We just didn't know about them," she adds, an afterthought.

Scott's expression tightens momentarily at something the waitress says, though that may just be a trick of the bar's dim lighting. Regardless, the moment passes after a few quiet seconds, if there had in fact been a moment in the first place. Yellowing teeth crunch loudly on the peanuts he's tossed into his mouth; above him on the screen, a stunning brunette with spectacularly long hair is proclaiming the virtues of Neutrogena conditioner or some other rot along those lines.

Tamsine's decision to pull up a chair drags Harkness' attention away from the model on TV. "So you grew up in that crowd," he says off-hand. "Hippies — not those freaks that blow shit up with a snap of their fingers, or whatever. Protest any wars growing up?" His tone is conversational, if not quite genial. He's not looking for a fight.

She chuckles. "I was dragged on a few protests, yes, but they let me think for myself. My parents are good people. They really do believe in peace and 'live and let live' so to speak," she says quietly. There's something that suggests she isn't enitrely set in their way of thinking. "They used to run a halfway house for runaways. Now, they run Whitaker's Whole and Organic Foods." The original market has been a popular "alternative food" market in Greenwich for years, and now has become a small chain throughout the state. "So you know. They're helpful and productive hippies. Not the ones who just do drugs and sing Kumbaya." She smirks at the last, assuming that's his view of most hippies.

"They still vote for the Democrats, I bet." Scott's lips curl into something halfway between a snarl and a grin, wiping at his hand as he does. He's neat, almost compulsively so: four empty bottles form a square to his left; their caps, a small tower at its base. The twice-used napkin is folded up lengthwise, then widthwise before it's placed on top of the arrangement he's made. "But anyway, that's good to know. I might need some marijuana for my cataracts someday, and until today, I had no contacts in the liberal fringe." He delivers the self-deprecating line as if announcing the weather; then, it's back to the game, where the Red Sox's pitcher has allowed Jorge Posada to double to right.

"Like baseball?" Harkness asks, eyes glued once more on the TV. "Or are your parents Communists too?" Another grin, this one almost feral in nature.

"Yep, they — and I — do vote Democrat. And no, I don't like baseball. My dad does, though." She slips off her stool to go refill a beer and a glass of vodka before coming back to her own cup of coffee. "I think it's a guy thing. I don't really follow any sports — until recently I was much too busy to even watch a game, between my old job and taking care of a kid. Now, well, the sports are on even if I don't want to watch them, right?" she says, with a nod toward the screen. "I still don't actually watch them. At least with mute, I don't have to feel like I got dropped off in a foreign country where I don't speak the language. I swear they make up stats for the most ridiculous things. Like who has the most homeruns made on Tuesday evenings when it was raining or something like that. Don't those people have anything better to do?"

"Fuck," Scott drawls, speaking slowly, deliberately, almost lazily. "Doesn't matter anyway. Donkeys'll steal the damn election if they lose. What's the use?" He doesn't bother backing up that rather incendiary talking point with facts; being incendiary, after all, is the point. In the meantime, he takes his time with his beer — money doesn't grow on trees, after all. Every so often he'll punctuate his words by tapping a hardened knuckle against the neck of the bottle.

He’s about to go on, but the bartender is saved by the fact that the Yankees have just punched in a run, as Robinson Cano fires a laser to center field. Posada — old, creaky Posada — somehow manages to trundle home ahead of the throw to Varitek: three-two Sox. "Ain't a foreign country," says Harkness, slapping the table as he watches the replay of bat hitting ball. "This is America. You don't know what an RBI is, you can get out of my country. If they aren't teaching that in schools these days, well. That's a goddamned shame." A brief pause is marked off by four taps on his bottle. Then: "Your kid. He play, at least?"

"I know what an RBI is," the bartender says with a toss of that fiery hair. "Some of the other stuff. I tune it out, or I'd give you an example. And this land is my land, too, or so the song says." At the mention of her kid, she blinks, then looks up at the screen, watching the next batter come up to the plate. "You're so gender-centric you assume it's a boy?" Tamsine says, making light of the comment. She hadn't meant to bring up being a mother. Now comes the rush of sorrow and grief that washes over her, when that tiny part of her that's still in denial has to accept that she isn't a mother anymore, that there is no kid anymore. "She did play softball for a couple of years. Catcher."

"Good for her." For a moment, Scott's attention drifts from the game; he's always found walks to be boring, anyway, and Smoltz — that would be the Sox's starter, for those just tuning in — is currently in the midst of dispensing four straight balls into his catcher's mitt. "I played Little League too, back in the day." His stern visage softens slightly as his memories take him forty-odd-years to the past. "I was amazing as a six-year-old. Then everybody else started getting better, and my average went down the shitter. Walked onto my high school's football team instead. Turns out I'm better at hitting people than balls."

Piercing eyes narrow as Nick Swisher tosses his bat to the ground before he jogs to first; and now Melky Cabrera is up, looking hungry as usual — as he should, with two men on and no men out. He sniffs; the moment's over. "All right, then. So you think you know baseball? Tell me about WHIP, Ks, and backwards-Ks and I'll shut up for the rest of the game. Won't even ask for more peanuts." Because the bowl's verging on empty, see, hint hint.

"I didn't say I know baseball. I said I know what an RBI is," the redhead says with a shake of her head, taking the peanut bowl and refilling it from the large container behind the bar. She pushes it back toward him and picks up her coffee, sipping it before she goes on. "I don't know how I know, or if I do, but I think a K is a strikeout. I think maybe I saw it on a video game or something." She'd played video games with her caseload kids once in a while, to try to earn their trust. "But I don't know what a backwards K is," she admits.

"Good service," says Scott, inclining his head in thanks. "I'll have to mention it to your boss, when she's not out trying to turn this great country into a socialist paradise." There's no rancor in his words: it's probably been quite a while since he's last been able to shoot the shit with somebody willing to take his gruffness in stride, and he'll milk the opportunity as much as he can.

"And yeah, a K's your run-of-the-mill strikeout. Backwards K is even more impressive: that's when you catch the batter looking as you ram a ball into the strike zone." Smoltz would settle for the regular stuff now, judging from the expression on his face: Cabrera's lofted a 1-2 pitch over the seats by the right foul pole, knocking in three more runs. Harkness chugs approvingly, head tilted back, bottle lifted high. His explanation of WHIP will have to wait.

"Catch the batter looking at you? I don't understand what that means. Isn't the batter always looking at the pitcher?" She glances up to the screen to follow what's going, since apparently it's something good as opposed to bad. "This is why it's confusing. I mean, a strikeout is a strikeout, right? Why do they have to give them different names?" She smirks, then refills a pitcher when the server comes up with an empty one. "I'll let the boss know," she adds in regards to his compliment.

"Why do you have different names for your shoes?" Scott rejoins, perhaps a bit more acidly than he intends. His face is angled up toward the television, revealing a prominent Adam's apple and a rather thick neck. "It matters. But," he acknowledges, "probably not for you." Before he can go on, a familiar face wearing number 2 strides up to the plate, and Harkness suddenly holds his index finger up to his lips. Jeter's up; silence, until he's done.

Tamsine smirks and takes Scott's quiet as an opportunity to refill the other bar patrons' glasses. A beer on tap for one, a bourbon on ice for another. Easy, mindless work that she's starting to like, despite the fact that it's never what she wanted to do. She goes to the coffee pot and refills her own coffee. The benefit of being your own boss is that you can drink and eat on the job, if you want.

As it turns out, Tamsine won't have as much respite as she'd like: Derek Jeter — hero of countless postseason games, star of countless Gillette commercials, favored son of the Bronx — flies out harmlessly to Jacoby Ellsbury's outstretched glove. The disappointment on Scott's face is evident, though it pales in comparison to the disgust on Jeter's own. "Just get those juicing shitstains next at-bat," says Harkness, raising his beer in salute. Then: "What time is it, anyway?"

"About four-thirty," Tamsine says, with a glance at the rugged leather watch that encircles her tiny wrist. "Gonna get busy soon, almost Happy Hour. Two-buck margaritas and half-off appetizers," she says, a little plug for the popular hour-long event that she instilled recently. "You off to work on five beers? I hope not. And not driving, are you?" she asks, little mother hen that she is.

"Night shift." Scott doesn't elaborate. "Nothing like those limp-wristed margaritas for me, though I might come back some weekend if your buffalo wings are better than the slop they serve at KFC." With a grunt, he polishes off the rest of his beer before pushing himself free of the counter, his heavy boots hitting the ground with a loud and definitive thud. He diverts his gaze from the screen to fiddle with the plain black wallet he's fished out from his jeans; in the meantime, dryly: "And spare me your concern, lady. I'm not going to sue your pretty red head if I walk into a lamppost out there, not that five beers could do that to me in the first place." He's not even slurring his words, and there's not even a hint of a flush on his pockmarked cheeks. "How much do I owe you?"

"I wasn't worried about being sued, sir," Tamsine says with a chuckle. She calculates the tab, giving him a buy four, get one free discount, and hands him the bill, her writing scrawled across the slip of paper in green ink. "The buffalo wings are very good. The Irish Nachos are even better," she adds with a wink. Out comes a little white paper bag, and the uneaten peanuts in the bowl get tossed inside. "Here, snack for later," she says, offering him the small bag with a smile.

“The fuck are Irish nachos?” Scott snorts again, accepting the bag and eyeing the bill before slapping down a twenty for the drinks and another five as a tip. His wallet slips back into the rear pocket of his jeans, their denim fabric worn and weathered by what looks like years of use. “I can see you’re trying hard to capture what’s distinct about Ireland in this fine, authentic establishment.”

Tamsine laughs at his comment, taking the bills and heading to the register. "It was an existing bar… some of its traditions are a bit suspect, but we didn't want to upset the regulars by changing it all," she points out. "And Irish Nachos are like nachos, but with potato wedges instead. Try them some time." She gives a wave and a genuine smile, finding his gruff personality amusing. "Have a nice night."

"Yeah." Which is as close as Scott gets to "Thanks for the hospitality, Miss Tamsine, and for the conversation." Instead, he spares himself one last, lingering glance at the score — the Yankees are up, having humiliated Smoltz so thoroughly that Terry Francona's already walking to the mound — before stumping toward the door, pausing only to snag a paper menu from the plastic holder nailed to a nearby coffee table. And then, without another word, he's gone, his stalwart frame clearly visible through the burgeoning rush hour crowd as he makes his way to the subway station nearby.

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