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Scene Title Pieces
Synopsis Three co-workers, bound by fate and curious postage-based gifts, are brought together to enjoy fruit and steal somebody's lunch.
Date November 3, 2001

The Corinthian

In 1899, William Stokes resolved to build the "grandest hotel in Manhattan": an eighteen-story steel-frame structure with a Parisian-style mansard roof with round turrets and an exterior inspired by neoclassical architecture. When the Linderman Group bought the property in 2007, it preserved the building's outward appearance, which includes grand, arched windows looking out over the Upper West Side with a view of Central Park and the Hudson River beyond.

Past the metal detectors erected just inside the Corinthian's doors, the hotel lobby is a vast and expansive place. It's wide enough for a person to lose themselves in, longer than it is wide, and the vaulted ceiling reaches up a full three stories before budding the glinting, glimmering crystal chandeliers which provide a lion's share of illumination.
The gleam of yellow-tinged light softens the austerity implied by white walls into something warmer, elegantly welcoming. Gold tones pick out a vining pattern across the large, matte-white tiles of the floor, merging with a thicker border of autumn shades around the edge of the room. Rows of corinthian-style columns outline the central stretch of the lobby, base and capital shaded in honey-brown to accent the white of the column's length; tall, narrowly cylindrical pots sit at the base of each pillar, miniature palms heavy with verdant greenery.

At the far end of the column-edged path is a broad flight of shallow stairs, brown and gold edged by white; these lead up to the second floor, its promenades with wrought-iron railings, and the many other spaces to be found within the Corinthian.

For people who don't draw an hourly wage, like the grips and stagehands, there isn't really such a thing as a 'break.' Dirk, though he's sitting at one of the two tables that's been wedged in with the vending machine and the small kitchenette, isn't not-working. Then again, the pile of papers in front of him isn't something he's brought over from his desk. Rather, it's his own mail. He opens envelope after envelope with a quick slice of his finger along the fold, investigates the contents, and then places it either in a pile of what look like bills and other important things or one that is a compilation of worthless circulars and credit card offers. To shreds, you say.

But when he happens upon an envelope that only reveals a rather large jigsaw puzzle piece, the healthy rhythm he's worked up stops quickly. He takes a zip from his Diet Sprite and stares at the thick cardstock that lies on the table, image-side down and with the word saddled written across the back in large black letters. It's almost as if the thing may rear up at any moment and spit flesh-burning acid at him.

Russo, on the other hand, can do whatever he pleases outside of shooting. This is why he enters the break room with an apple in hand. He takes a loud crunchy bite out of the fruit, CRUNCH, spraying fresh apple juice around. He slurps around the fleshy bit of the fruit, sucking in as much of the juice as possible. "Dude! This is like," slurp, "the," slurp, "juiciest apple ever." He takes another bite before lowering a similar envelope on the table.

"Heeeeey. Whatcha lookin at— " he talks around the mouthful of apple and cranes his neck to look at Dirk's mail before lowering his envelope on the table. He slices his own envelope and finds a single word, empathy, on the same cardstock, "Heeey. I think I read about this and talked about it on the show— " that was about a month ago.

The door swung open and a wiry man with shaggy brown hair dashed into the room, slamming the door behind him. Reuben "Revolting Rooster" Spencer stood pressed against the door like Spiderman having one of those 'not quite feelin' the ol' magic' days as a muted voice shouted and railed outside in the hallway. "Before anybody says anything," he says, eyeing both Russo and the dude that he didn't know, "I did not switch her espresso to decaf - maliciously. It was all in the name of science. And fun. It was in the name of fun science." With that, he jogs to the other side of the room, liberates a chair from a nearby table and wedges it under the doorknob. "There, that'll keep Connie the Cougar away from my gazelle-like form."

Without another word, he went to the fridge and pulled out a take-out box from the top shelf, ignoring the post-it note on the front that read "KAREN". With his hand already in the box and plucking out greasy lo mein noodles with his fingers, he plopped down on the couch across from the guy with the jigsaw piece. "Are you the one that's been sending those things out? Cause if so, that's a terrible team building exercise," he says with his mouth half-full of cold noodles. He reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a crumpled letter. "I got one, too. I was gonna see about buying, like, fifty jigsaw puzzles and randomly throwing pieces of them all over the building, but I found that it really wasn't the effort after Kristen said she'd make me clean it all up later."

But he wouldn't, which means that Dirk would get the task. While he chuckles in camaraderie at the radio show host's entrance and pilfering of luncheon noodles, what faint mirth was able to muster fades at the insinuation. "Hell no," he says with a sharp shake of his head before he looks at Russo. "Did you? I didn't watch it." It's a lie, but it's a good natured one at least.

Leaning forward, Dirk picks up the puzzle piece and balances it between his thumbs and forefingers. "I don't think they usually make them this big, Spencer," he muses. "I mean, unless they're for kids. But then they're wood or something. Babies spit." Not that either host would be aware of that fact.

"Don't believe her," Russo quips back at Reuben. "She talks a mean talk, but I swear she's a teddy bear. In all the years I've known her, she hasn't made good on one of her threats." Or he's fallen into line before she had an opportunity. He crosses his arms over his chest only to uncross them and take another bite of his apple. "Good to know you don't watch," he counters sarcastically before shrugging again. "Ehn. Guess it's not everyone's cup of tea."

He arches an eyebrow at the pieces before finishing off his apple and loading the core into the trash. "Well, on the show I suggested our viewers contact us if they got pieces." He pauses, "I wonder if we got a response…"

"I know I sure as hell wouldn't," Reuben says as he dangles the noodles in the air towards his own open mouth. "So what's written on that thing, anyways?" He craned his head 'round to take a look at it. "Saddled," he says, then leans back again. "Is this one of those really kinky puzzle pieces that you spell something naughty with?"
"Because if it is," he says, pointing a finger in the air. "We totally need to keep Connie the Cougar out of the loop, because that silvery-haired woman is just dying to have someone's pre-menopausal lovechild."

"Or maybe just yours," Dirk says without looking up at The Rooster. Instead, he considers the piece for a few moments more before he looks up at Russo again. "Could be worth another shot. I mean, if we all just got them. I know that if I didn't know other people got them too, I'd probably just chuck the damned thing. It's…creepy."

"It's interesting. Creepy maybe, but interesting regardless," Brad quips as his lips quirk to the side. "And we could do that. We could devote a whole show to it. Or an afternoon and cut it so relevant footage is used." Flippantly he waves a hand, "Let Kristen and the eggheads upstairs decide what's relevant, but filming it can't be a bad thing." He clucks his tongue, "I was intrigued by the story in the news about people gathering together. If we could make that happen on the show, could be good." Could also be dull, but his more base instincts say otherwise. "At the very least it'll bring people together."

"Why bring people together when you can drive them further apart?" Reuben said, still slurping cold noodles from Karen's pilfered lunch. "I say we sprinkle pieces around the town and send people on scavenger hunts. For what, I don't know, but it'll be a hell of a lot of fun watching men and women get into fistfights over little bitty pieces of cardboard."

"Maybe if homeslice here," he gestures to Dirk, "has a puzzle piece with a word on it, maybe you do to, TV Man." He glances over at Russo, eyebrows raised. "Did you open your little love letter from the Jigsaw Killer yet, or are you waiting until you're wrapped in a robe and sucking down bon-bons?"

"I hate to say it, Spencer, but you have a point." In a way. "Who would do this? Why?" And why now, with people focused on so many other things, like the midterm election, terrorists, and civil liberties? "Sounds like a good enough basis for a show to me." Not that Dirk has any say in what Kristen decides. He's not that kind of secretary.

Rising from the table and snatching up the can of Sprite, he nods to the two hosts. "I'll call your cell when the cost is clear," he says to Reuben before he gives the barricading chair a light kick in order to get his nose back on the grindstone.

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