People Who Are Into The Macabre


constantine_icon.gif delia_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title People Who Are Into The Macabre
Synopsis Delia and Rue pay a visit to Constantine Filatov to pick up a shipment of medical supplies.
Date March 22, 2011

The Old Apothecary

One part traditional druggist's and one part antique shop, the Old Apothecary does not number among the brightly-lit boutiques that sell similar but more common items at an inflated cost. Lights are intentionally kept low, providing a subdued, intimate atmosphere and a warm glow designed to illuminate the store's wares without banishing the shadows to the far corners of the room. Just to the right of the entrance is a wooden counter with a sign hanging from it that reads: Cash Only. There is no digital register, no accompanying card reader. Apart from the electricity that powers the overhead lights, the most contemporary piece of equipment in the entire store is the French coffee press and unpolished steel carafe, though even this looks as though it could have come from a different era. Coffee is advertised at sixty cents per cup.

The walls - papered in dark green with widely spaced, thin vertical columns of tiny, deep red rosebuds - are lined with shelves made from wood stained a dark brown to match the floorboards, which are haphazardly covered by a collection of faded, Persian-patterned rugs. Many of these shelves are home to a variety of books spanning at least one and a half centuries, ranging from dusty old tomes to more modern reading material that includes a small selection of New Age titles published by respectable authors, all of it non-fiction. Others display glass bottles containing essential oils, jars with more exotic contents - snake wine, roasted crickets and dried tree lizards - as well as small tins of loose leaf teas, painted ceramic bowls, cups and pitchers, although there appears to be no particular ordering to any of it. Beneath these shelves are rows of apothecary cabinets, labeled but locked, their drawers acting as storage for herbs, seeds, roots and other ingredients that the shop's proprietor values enough to keep inaccessible to customers.

Most of the store's floor space is occupied by other goods that have either been specially imported or acquired from flea markets, the quality of which varies from very low to extremely high depending on the nature of the individual item. A selection of pocket watches, ladies' jewelry, fine silver and war medals stands behind glass. One corner features a stack of vibrantly-coloured rugs from Turkey and Iran, another a bin of glass plate negatives, old postcards and water-stained letters still in their envelopes, some dating back to the First World War and in languages other than English. Ornate oil paintings, antique swords, knives and firearms, perfume bottles and decanters of every shape and size imaginable, boxes of brass and silver keys that unlock nothing - the store's collection is constantly changing as new items are purchased and sold by the owner.

Behind the counter is a velvet curtain that divides the front of the store from the back, public from private, and in case anyone should be tempted to cross this barrier without permission, a small monkey skeleton standing on a bird's perch inside an iron cage keeps watch.

For the last two hours and about $56 worth of gasoline on a budget of $10, Rue has been tortured in the passenger side of Nick's truck while attempting the impossible. Teaching Delia to drive. Rather than let the former model take the wheel, the nurse has insisted that she was the one entrusted with the vehicle and therefore she will fake drive it. It's a lucky thing that it's a fairly swanky newish vehicle and Rue's seatbelt works, because things could get much worse.

For the past three red lights, the younger redhead, the one in the driver's seat, has been attempting to hop across an intersection close to their goal. "I AM IN FIRST!!" she yells at the poor woman next to her. The truck jumps, stalls, there's honking… lots of it… and amazingly enough no policemen on the way. Yet.

Up ahead is the sign for the apothecary, Rue probably could have gotten out and walked in less time than it's taken Delia to make it across the street.

"I'm driving us back, okay? I don't have my reg card with me and when you get us pulled over — because this is not an if — I do not want to deal with that. I don't think Reynard's gonna show up this time." When Delia stalls out for the umpteenth time, Rue's leaning around her seat to hold up a placating hand to the car behind her.

"No. You fuckin' aren't in first." Rue reaches down to manoeuvre the shifter to the proper position. "Okay now you are. Just— Just get us parked, okay?"

Rue figures out very quickly that Delia can't do that either. "No! Stop the fucking car! You're gonna hit something and then we're going to go to jail when they figure out one of us is in violation of the registry." Which is a polite way of saying Robin's ID isn't gonna fly if it's actually run. Rue's hand slaps down over the red triangle on the dash, turning on the warning flashers. "Get out and wait for me on the sidewalk. I will park." She's pointing out her window to indicate the pavement in front of their destination, and haggard as she is, she's also managing to look terribly severe. Which is really something given the fact that she tends to resemble a cherub most of the time.

It's most likely not commonplace or even expected for business owners to stick their head out the door every time something a little out of the ordinary happens on the street. But then again, it's not often that the sort of spectacle that is playing out in front of the Old Apothecary happens, either. It's for this reason alone that the front door opens just enough for Constantine Filatov to look out at what's happening. Predictably, seeing it without glass in the way doesn't help him to make any more sense of it.

It doesn't stop him from trying, though, and he keeps watching for a few seconds more. One of the truck's occupants looks quite familiar as well, so the logic follows that if he watches long enough, everything will be explained to him. Probably.

"I can do this!" Delia yells back as she grinds the stick shift into reverse and immediately stalls again. This time the twist of the ignition brings a grating noise, like she's been turning it too long. It's exactly what she's doing, actually, since the truck is already running long before she lets up on the key. "See? Everything is fine." The younger of the two puffy reds retorts as she narrowly misses backing into another vehicle. Not on purpose, the truck was jumping again.

This time when it stalls, she throws open the door and just jumps out, slamming it quite hard behind her. "FINE!! See?! I parked just FINE!!" In the middle of the street. Pivoting on one booted foot, she spies a sliver of Constantine's face and inches her hand up in a tiny finger wave. "Hi there~"

Rue's hands come up to cover her face because she can't bear to watch when they just about hit another vehicle. No. No, this is not fine. And as soon as Delia's out of the truck, Rue's unbuckling her seatbelt and climbing over the shifter to get into the driver's seat.

When Rue said she knew how to drive a stick, she wasn't lying or bragging, apparently. The truck is rather smoothly navigated into an actual parking spot by the Chicago native who looks absolutely relieved once she's got the thing snug up against the curb, the parking break on, and the emergency lights off.

A slow look of exasperated annoyance is cast out the window to Delia before Rue emerges from the vehicle. The horn beeps once as she hits the lock button on the fob and she pockets the keys to ensure she'll have control of the truck later. The smile she gives Constantine is more of a grimace, a lift of her hand in a wave. "Hi."

Constantine gives a glance first to Delia, and then Rue, and finally back to Delia. "Hi," is all he says before offering another glance to Rue, and then back to Delia, and finally, back to Rue again. "Why don't you both come inside and have some tea?" is the shop owner's next suggestion, "Something without caffeine sounds like it might be wise." Only then does the doctor open the door fully, standing aside to allow the women entry.

Giving the shop owner an easy smile, Delia makes her way toward the door and peels the scarf from around her neck. "Yes, no caffeine. Rue is pretty high strung today, I think it's because she's a model." Of course, the thin and pretty aspects are the ones picked on. She did the same thing to her sister. "C'mon Rue, let's have some tea, you can meet the dog, he's really nice." Of course her fixation is on the pet.

At once, the young nurse is inside and in search of the canine in question. "Ranger~ C'mere boy~ Who'sa coodie woodie iddie biddy puppy uppy~" Upon finding the sleeping purebred near the counter, she immediately kneels down beside him and begins scratching him behind the ears. "Good boy~ Sucha good good boy~"

"Tea," Rue repeats and nods her head, moving to step inside of the apothecary. "Sounds lovely." She pinches the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger when Delia calls her high strung. "I will fucking strangle you. You didn't tell me you didn't actually know how to drive. New York traffic is no place to learn on the fly."

A helpless and weary look is slid to Constantine as Rue makes sure the door shuts behind her. "Nice to meet you." Really, it's just nice to have survived the ride here. Meeting new people is just a happy side thing.

"Nice to meet you as well." Constantine makes a point of ignoring Delia's baby-talk as he steps around the counter again. Just like the last time, the electric kettle and a bottle of water find their way onto the counter. One way for the doctor to distract himself.

Ranger, in the meantime, is momentarily displeased about being woken up, but is quick to forgive when he realizes he gets ear scratches out of the deal. And ever the schemer, he rolls to the side just so in an effort to turn ear scratches into belly scratches. "What can I help you with today?" Constantine asks that. Ranger can't talk.

The redhead on the floor is more than happy to comply with the wishes of the dog. Using both of her hands, she scratches and rubs the fat belly if only because it took labor to get it exposed. "Yes you like that~ Don't you~ Esh oo dooooo~ You wanna meet Roooooo? It rhymes!" She gets her face close enough to the dog's to give him a light peck on the forehead and only then she glances up to his owner.

"Oh! Hi.. uhm.." Blame the fact that there's a dog around for forgetting anyone else is in the room. "I uhm.. supplies. I brought Rue so she could get them back. I sent the pack ahead, I think they got it." No one's said any different, anyway.

Rue tilts her head upward. That's her! Supply runner. She casts a look down to Ranger, who is a cute doggy, but seems very content with Delia right now. Maybe if she weren't so wound up from the drive over, she'd be fawning over the creature.

She suddenly realises how badly she misses tiny little Selina and makes a mental note to pick up some more cat food. "Whatever you can spare would be appreciated," is added for good measure. Rue figures a little extra expression of gratitude can only help.

"Fortunately-" The last of the bottle's contents go into the kettle, and it itself is plugged in- "I was able to acquire quite a bit. The situation here might be insane, but go just north, and things are remarkably calmer." That's good news, at least. It's plain to see why Delia was told to see Constantine originally. "Enough antibiotics to last you for some time, I think, so long as you don't have too many 'incidents,' and what painkillers I could get ahold of. I have the sedatives that Eileen requested, as well." Something that was not part of the original order.

Delia's eyebrows shoot up on her head and she pushes herself off the floor to stand at the end of the counter. While she can't exactly hide the surprise on her face at the acquisition, she does well enough to mask it with a chipper smile. "I can take those, I'm going to be seeing her soon." At least she hopes, since the message was sent almost a week ago. Communication can be difficult when one party (the redheaded one) refuses to use convenient means such as cell phones.

"What kind are they? I recommended something not very strong to begin with." Leaning her elbows on the glass top, Delia rests her face in her palms and stares up at Constantine. A quick smile is given to Rue, a little bit apologetic. Maybe a touch.

"Ms Ruskin ordered sedatives?" That sends one of Rue's manicured brows arching. The smile alerts the other redhead to the fact that there's something going on that she isn't privy to, but Delia is. "Is there something I should know about here, or do you need me to go fuck off and wait in the truck?" There's no hint of bitterness or insult in Rue's tone, but rather an understanding that she doesn't have the right to know everything going on behind the scenes. Not everyone on the council trusts her as much as Barbara Simms or Lynette Rowan seem to.

"They won't stop her heart or her breathing," is Constantine's answer. "She'll know how to mix them to the right strength. As for reason, I stopped asking her why she needs things like this. She's not my assistant anymore, and in any case, she has a dangerous job now. She knows what she's doing."

After a second or two, Ranger has had enough of not being scratched anymore, and rolls back over and clambers to his feet in the true old dog style. And of course, he ambles around Delia and starts towards Rue, sniffing and snorting as he goes. Someone new in here.

"Hmm?" The humm is directed toward Rue before Delia's eyes fly open just a little wider and she's shaking her head. "Oh no no… you don't have to go anywhere. I was looking up stuff for Miss Eileen one day when she was visiting, back at the hotel." Looking up at Constantine, her eyebrows furrow a little and she scrunches her lips to the side in thought.

"Do you think you'll ever be looking for an assistant again?" The curious question actually has the young woman standing a little straighter, as though trying to appear a little more presentable. "I mean, just— If you were ever needing a hand with— things. People need hands with things sometimes… I used to be in a nursing program and uhm.. I.. well I can't go back for obvious reasons… and uhm.. I wanted to be a doctor."

There's a slow nod of Rue's head to Delia's assurances. The other woman's verbally offered resume is enough to make Rue zone out some, and she takes her turn with the friendly old dog, crouching down to scratch behind his ears with a smile to her lips. Any baby talk she might direct toward the animal is all internalised.

"I can't say. I'm not able to focus on doctoring as much as I used to. Even two years ago, things were much less complicated." Whatever that means. Constantine doesn't elaborate on it, instead busying himself with ready two styrofoam cups with tea bags. "However, I suspect that before much longer, some event will occur that will force a change in everyone's perspective. This seems to be what happens in New York, anymore. And then, I might well need an assistant. Or, who can say? Maybe I'll need somewhere to hide, instead. Maybe I'll be in a laboratory again."

"Yeah…" Delia simply agrees to the assessment of the situation of the world and the city. "Well, if you're ever looking. I mean… I can…" She pauses for a moment before shrugging one shoulder and giving a crooked grin, "I have hands." Like most people. Except the people who don't have hands but then she would have hooks and be able to carry plastic sacks.

"Thanks for all the antibiotics and stuff though, that'll be a great help. Nurse Young will probably kiss you or something for it, we've been getting low for a while." She quiets a little and glances outside to the truck that's marvellously parked (no thanks to her own efforts). "That truck is big enough, right? It's the only one I knew I could borrow."

"If it can't fit on that truck, Delia, then we aren't going to get it past any checkpoints," Rue points out, lifting her head from the attention she's lavishing Ranger with. "Let alone get it to our destination when we have to unload it." She smiles to show her amusement and then gets to her feet again after one last pat of the dog's head. There is impending tea! Sorry, doggy.

"I saw the truck that you came in," Constantine remarks. The kettle works fast, and already he's unplugging it and shortly pouring hot water into each of the styrofoam cups. "It has plenty of space. I'm an unlicensed physician, not a Costco."

"Oh.. I didn't mean to imply…" Delia's face turns a little crimson at the thought that they've been using the man as a shopping center. "I mean— I just— " She stops stammering only long enough to deliver a very weak, "sorry."

Rolling her shoulders forward, she slumps enough that she goes from confident (as she can be) to meek. "I mean, thank you, anyway. It's a really nice thing you did for us, there's a lot of families that are really going to appreciate it."

Rue approaches Delia and snakes an arm around her waist in a hug. A bump of her hip is meant to convey a hey, lighten up. "Seriously," she agrees, "there are going to be a lot of people helped by these supplies. You're a literal lifesaver." She grins, because yes, she knows that was terrible. "If there's anything we can do to help you out, just let us know. I'm told I make a marvellous errand girl."

Constantine can't help but give a tiny, tiny chuckle. More of a snerk, really. But all in good fun. Probably. Both cups of tea are lifted just slightly and then set down again closer to the edge of the counter. "If I need anything, I'll be sure to let you know. If you happen to see anything at a garage sale or next to a dumpster with a certain 'eclectic' look, please let me know." It's not hard to guess why he might make such a request: One look around the shop is all that's needed.

"I have a little ceramic ca— Oh nevermind." She bought it here, Delia's nervous laugh as she tries to follow along with the joke ends up just being a little titter. Accepting the tea, she takes a small sip and her face contorts with a little pain as the searing liquid burns down her throat. "Good tea," she squeaks, she's never really had it plain before.

Rue has the good sense to blow on her tea to cool it before an experimental sip. "Eclectic stuff. Check." She looks around the space as if really taking it all in for the first time. "What all do you do anyway, Mister Filatov?"

"I sell," is the shop owner's statement of what he does, or perhaps his suggestion of what he does. "What you find here, you won't find in most other places. Has someone ever tried to sell you snake wine? Roasted crickets? Glass plate photographs?" Briefly, Constantine turns his attention behind the counter and up, towards the caged monkey skeleton that hangs from the ceiling. "That one isn't for sale."

"I had a mealworm sucker once," Delia pipes up, still trying to recover from the swallow that never should have been. Now she's actually using the intelligence graced to her and mimicking Rue in tiny little puffs of air over the surface of her beverage. "It wasn't really that bad… do you need cooked bug suppliers? Or are they special bugs that are grown in special conditions?"

Rue eyes the cage and its contents and actually looks a little crestfallen. "Damn. That thing would look awesome in my bedroom." She may actually be totally serious about that even. "Gross, Delia. — What is snake wine, precisely? Will it get me drunk or poison me? Either way, I am intrigued."

"The insects, I'm having no trouble finding, fortunately. And as for snake wine, it's wine with a snake in it." There is quite possibly no better way to describe 'snake wine' than in the way Constantine now does. "I don't sell much of it, admittedly, and I'm not complaining about that. It's difficult to acquire. More of an oddity than anything else." As Constantine speaks, Ranger reaches the conclusion that, yes, his fifteen minute are over yet again, and so he ambles back around behind the counter.

A curious look is given to the tall man and Delia's lips take a downturn that when combined with the raise of her eyebrows and widening of her blue eyes make for quite an impressed expression. Without thinking, she takes another gulp of her tea, nothing so refined as what a member of her social club would but it's a learning process more than anything. "Oh god hot…" is squeaked as she puts the cup down and pushes it a little farther out of reach than comfortable. Just so the temptation doesn't strike her to reach for it absently and take another. At least not until it cools.

"Dude. Can I buy a bottle?" Rue sets her cup of tea on the counter next to Delia's so she can reach into the back pocket of her jeans for her wallet. "I totally want to give it to someone as a gift." She angles a look to Delia with a mischievous smirk as she asks, "Have you met Mister Epstein?"

"I have not," Constantine replies, "And I hope you're quite prepared to find an ATM. The least expensive bottle I have is eighty dollars before tax, cash only. But if you'd prefer some crickets or tree lizards, either would be significantly less." Rather than tea for himself, Constantine opts to fill a cup halfway with dark coffee from the carafe at the end of the counter. It's still quite chilly out, after all. "But for a gift, it would certainly be unique. Unless he's spent any amount of time in Southeast Asia."

Delia's nose wrinkles a little as she seems to not recognize the name of the man. "Wasn't he one of the guys in that show Welcome Back Kotter? They had it on reruns when I was little… He was like a Puerto Rican Jewish guy or something. Had a really weird afro. He was John Travolta's friend, before he was the alien guy on that movie no one liked. Except me, I thought it was sort of funny." There's another glane up to the monkey skeleton in a cage before the young woman focuses on Constantine again, pointing to it. "So if.. like.. people were to make things like that. Would you buy them?"

Rue opens her wallet and stares into it, counting bills. At least moths didn't fly out. She frowns. "I bet Quinnie will loan me the money." The wallet's folded up and tucked away again. She points a finger at Constantine, "You save me a bottle. I'll totally be back for it." So sincere about that, too. She will find a way to afford a bottle. She peers over at Delia slooowly at her speculation on who she's referring to. "Nnnnnno. He's part of Activities. Buddies with Mister Raith. Both of them are super cool."

Blue eyes shift up to the cage again, and then back to Delia. Rue raises her brows. "You're gonna put skeletons in cages and sell them to Mister Filatov? Girl, I don't know about you," she teases.

Maybe it's a fair question. But all the same, it's one that leaves Constantine looking at Delia flatly for a few moments. "That is, at the time, both the most practical and most unnerving question I've been asked in a long time."

Shrugging one shoulder, Delia looks up at the caged skeleton again and sighs. "Do you know how long it's been since I actually had more than five dollars in my hand that actually belonged to me? I'm just trying to think of ways to not be a leech anymore. My room mate delivers food under the table but I don't have his skill on a skateboard and I lost my bike when we had to run." Grabbing her tea, she takes another gulp. Thankfully it's cooled to a good temperature. Clearing her throat she purses her lips and shrugs one shoulder, "It's not like I have a lot of skills that don't require a real ID."

"What are you going to do? Collect road kill and make it into decorative conversation pieces?" Rue actually laughs at the notion. "Just make sure you save the meat for rations, huh?" The people at Bannerman would totally appreciate it, right?? Retrieving her tea, Rue takes another sip and then lifts her chin. "That's not a bad idea, actually. But no horses. That was just sad." Her lips pull into a pout at that particular memory.

Well, the conversation has, perhaps, changed direction. Or so it might seem from the subtle changes in Constantine's body language. "Can you operate a cash register?" he asks, "Write out a bill of sale?" Two, very specific questions, that can only have specific answers.

"Well… Taxidermy is sort of big with hunters. I bet skeledesigns would be huge with people who are into the macab— what?" Delia's thought is interrupted by Constantine's questions and she gives him a rather confused look and a nod of the head. "Yeah, I can. I used to do it at Ichihara all the time but I had to quit when we … " She jerks a thumb over her shoulder and gives a sharp enough little whistle that the dog actually might have woken up again.

"I think he's offering you a job, Delia." Rue's skills lie in being blunt, and stating the obvious. She nudges her gently with her elbow. "Tell him you can start Monday. This is clearly the right place for you." That's even supposed to be a compliment.

"It's not an assistantship, but it is something." Constantine stops just short of sipping his coffee to add, "If you want it." And then, he does sip his coffee. His expression and reaction indicate that the taste is not perhaps what he was hoping, but hey. Cold, 60 cent per cup coffee isn't exactly gourmet.

"I'll— I would start on Monday, I'm moving to— Staten Island." A quick glance to Rue, along with a furrow of her eyebrows and a slight shake of her head is warning. "Don't tell anyone, I don't want my dad or anyone to worry." She offers a weak smile and a nod up to Constantine, "I want the job, a lot. You don't know how much but I don't want to promise to be here and then not show up for my first day because I couldn't get through the checkpoint."

Delia's smile widens to a friendly one as she passes a glance over the contents of the store. "I'll let you know tomorrow morning though, for sure, when I can start." Her hand extends to grab her cup of tea and she raises it in a little toast to the both of them. "Here's to getting back over the bridge."

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