lydia_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Roots
Synopsis A chance meeting turns into a discussion of roots
Date January 25, 2011

Battery Park

While the sun is hiding behind a thicker veil of clouds and smog, it's still a slightly warmer day. And with two extra dogs in his care, Wes Smedley doesn't need much of an excuse to get out of his apartment crowded with too many paws and memories.

He walks through Battery Park, but his path has taken him off the pavement and onto the snow-covered grass. He keeps his hands in his pockets, and his jaw is covered in a thin layer of scruff, his hair slightly unkempt. That, plus the circles under his eyes speak to more than just the stress of being out in colder temperatures.

In contrast, the addition of two younger, altogther robust companions have engergized old Carson, who tears through the park after his new friends, panting as he tries to keep up. All three, though collared, lack leashes.

It's not that Battery Park is a dog-friendly place.

It's just that leashes are like fences - something Smedley has never believed in.

The morning had been silent. Completely silent. Void of activity, void of customers, void of most foot traffic. It didn't promise for a good business day and so Lydia had closed Ichihara Bookstore today on a lark, justifying her premature closure by telling herself she'd opened on the weekend. So she'd flipped the sign, and decided to venture somewhere beyond Roosevelt Island for the first time in quite some time. In hindsight, she probably should have left a note, but by the time she'd thought of it she was off Roosevelt— another fact she managed to justify.

She'd always loved Battery Park. There's a careful quiet about her. That gentleness she tends to exude as she sits on a bench watching children, parents, and others roam the park. Her lips are relatively straight with a faint curl at the edges— a curl that grows into a full grin as one of the three dogs pants his way towards her on her perch. Her hand reaches out to the beast— slowly, cautiously— as she quietly soothes, "Hello. What a handsome dog— "

The dog is quickly joined by his fellow, vying for a sniff and a lick at the offered hand, just in case it holds food. Carson isn't far behind, but the older dog is significantly more cautious, keeping a fair distance.

But when Smedley nears enough to see where the dogs have gone, he nearly stops in his tracks. He looks from the inquisitive dogs at Lydia's feet to the woman, then moves his eyes around the park, searching for the face he knows can't be too far away. Then again, with Battery Park so close to the DHS regional office, he wouldn't blame the man for venturing so close to the scene of the crime.

It takes Smedley a few moments to muster the courage to draw nearer, and when he does, he wears a strained smile. "Hey," he says with a nod, his voice hoarse. Carson trots at his heels, his head low and ears forward with interest. "What're you doin' all the way out here?"

There's a softness in smile and a warmth in her eyes as Lydia recognizes Smedley. "Wes," she greets with that rich voice. She leans forward a little more and clucks her tongue at the dogs to issue a scratch just under each of their necks. Nothing so intense so as to overtly spoil any in particular, but enough pay quiet attention. Her smile loses some of its lustre as she considers the question though, purposely choosing not to answer as her eyes turn upwards to the people in the park.

There's a twitch of her lips as her gaze turns back to him. Careful. Calculating. "Cabin fever, I suppose. Too much time in those same walls for the last few months?" her smile, while it remains a smile has that tinge of melancholy, slightly regretful of something. "Strangely too much quiet can shroud my thoughts. Too much noise does the same, but in a way it's like a mask. I can avoid my own mind when I engage everyone else."

Both Franklin and Clay sit down when the scratching commences, leaning their heads back and letting their tongues hang out. Not only are they getting attention, but they're getting attention from somoene new. Double-win. Carson is still careful, but he does slink to one side in order to sniff at Lydia, unsure yet curious.

Smedley nods, looking from Lydia back to the park at large as she speaks. "Static," he grunts in commiseration. "Keeps things balanced." He doesn't have an ability to apply it to, but there are plenty of reasons for people to want to be able to tone out either the world or themselves to stay sane. "How're things back on the ranch?"

The interactions of the children in particular bring a soft smile to Lydia's pink lips, particularly as she leans further on the bench, away from the dogs to admire the goings-on of the people present. She hmmms in agreement. Static. "I think balance is everything. And I've felt.. imbalanced lately." There's no room for clarification here.

Her smile, however, finds its warmth at the question, "Things are good. We're good." There's a pause while the twinkle in her eye changes, the sadness still present somewhere in the thought, "Even when the world is falling apart there is no one else I would rather cling to."

Inside the deep pockets of his oilskin, Smedley's hands curl into fists. But there's no smooth glass or even stainless steel to comfort the seeking grip. He swallows and nods, then forces a smile onto his face before he sits down next to Lydia. Sitting isn't the best way to describe it - the movement accompanied by a sigh and a grunt is as much a controlled fall as anything else, with the dust the rises consisting of the lingering odor of stale whiskey.

"Miss the bastard, if you can believe that," he says with a heavy chuckle. "S'good t'know he's treatin' you right though." Lydia was already a saint to love a man like Edgar Smythe. "And that you're holdin' up," he adds with a slight lift of his eyebrows.

Lydia's lips press into a thin line while her eyes shift away from Smedley back to the park's many visitors. "There's something so honest about play. Children bring their parents back to it in ways they had never thought possible. It's like joy personified." Her lips twitch upwards momentarily only to fall again with a faint sniff. "Perhaps it's the fleeting nature of joy that makes play so important in a world like this."

Her eyebrows crease a little. She's one part philosopher, one part gypsy. "I missed him for years, Wes. Believe me, I can imagine anyone missing him. And he's always treated me right. Likely better than I've ever deserved." Her smile slips into a thin line again at the last, "We're holding up. He better than I, I think. There's a sincere air of discontent, and I'm afraid I'm more privy to it than most."

There is one question burning a hole in Smedley's brain - one question he holds back. Instead, he reaches out to scratch at one of the dog's ears, to which the canine leans and scoots slightly closer to the man so he can apply more ministrations to the imagined itch. "Who ain't discontent, livin' in this shithole of a city," he mumbles, the words half-growled through slightly gritted teeth. "We jus' soldier on, prayin' the sun'll come up and we'll still be able to stand on'r own two feet.

"Speakin' of, I 'sume business's is good?"

The mention of business actually melts some of Lydia's ordinarily stoic exterior. She frowns slightly as she turns to face Wes, eyes removed from the goings-on of the park. "Roosevelt Island has little foot traffic these days. I worry I can't keep it open much longer. My employees all left." She sighs quietly, nearly silently as her fingers lace together in front of her.

"And maybe we aren't meant to stand on our own two feet. Perhaps in our convictions we need to find many feet to stand with." Her eyebrows arch as she manages a faint smile, gentle in every way. "And yourself? Are you well, Wes?"

[OOC] Smedley says, "fuuuck i need to defrag the desktop"

"Stayin' busy," is Smedley's quick response to Lydia's question. He's unable to keep the defensiveness out of his tone, but he sniffs in feigned nochalance as he leans forward to apply another gloved hand to the scratching of dog-neck. "S'far cry better'n the alternative. Busy means there's plenty'uh money comin' in, and plenty'uh people gettin' what they need. I can't complain. You ever want a job haulin', I'd be more'n happy to take'yuh on. Can't imagine you ain't worth somethin' in that line'uh work."

"Hard work has never scared me," Lydia admits openly. "At the carnival, Joseph insisted work built community, that in order for a community to function we all needed to contribute." There's a different richness to her voice as she talks about her former life— a family long lost and perhaps finally released when she witnessed Samuel's death in the past. "I suspect my husband may have an objection or two, but perhaps. If things quiet more. I have no employees, but I made a promise to several someones that I would keep the store open as long as I am able."

Smedley lets out another chuckling snort at Lydia's comment. "Y'know, you and him always talk about that Carnival like it was the best damned thing that ever happened t'yuh. Guess driftin's different when you're driftin' together." There's a nostalgia of a sort in his own voice as he makes the observation - a nostalgia that speaks to skies unmarred by skyscrapers and expanse uncluttered by pavement.

The smile actually grows into something nearly delighted, a rare expression for Lydia, especially with the world how it is. "It was never about the drifting, it was about the family. No where else have either of us had such a strong sense of belonging." Her smile fades considerably, nearly into a frown while she lowers her hands to her sides to grasp at the bars of the bench on which she's seated. "I think people struggle to find a sense of community. They spend years seeking it out, but we found it. And we both needed it." Her lips tighten into a smile.

He grunts again. It's the easiest way to show agreement, using the minimal amount of effort. Giving the dog a sound thump on the shoulder, he sends it careening back across the snow-covered ground in a game of chase, thankfully giving him something other than children to watch out of the corner of his eye. "Roots'yuh," he finally says after a moment, his voice slightly thicker. "Keeps y'grounded."

Smedley takes a deep breath, narrowing his eyes as he moves his eyes from the dogs to the dark Hudson beyond the pavement and iron railing. There aren't many ships out on it, but and with the clouds drawn across the sky, the visibility to the other shore isn't that great, but it's still quite a view. He swallows, then lifts his eyebrows as the creases around his eyes relax to become mere wrinkles.


Lydia's eyes track over to Smedley and her head tilts, that general intuition, even without touch bringing a twitch of a smile, a very slight twitch of a smile. "Wes." She silences the thought a moment before pressing her lips together again. "Roots can be formed at any time. If they are strong. Centred in something good. Solid. Supportive." Her eyebrows arch upwards again.

To that, Wes shakes his head, one side of his mouth twisted into a frown. "Not if the ground's arid. Too much dust, and nothin'll last long. Nothin' t'hold ontuh. First strong storm'll knock 'em loose. Next big gust'll blow 'em away." He sniffs again, bracing his hands against his knees and staring off into the hazy day.

"You're wrong, Miz Lydia," he continues with another shake of his head. "Even if the roots's strong, if the soil's shit, it's all a waste'uh time."

"Never," is Lydia's quiet response while she issues him another tight-lipped smile. "Never a waste." She slides off the bench, smoothing her skirt after doing so. Her eyes trail to the horizon, the people playing, and then back to Smedley. "Cactuses have some the deepest roots in the strangest soil." She takes a few steps towards a path before looking over her shoulder, "You just need to find different roots, Wes. Cling to something that can cling to you. The right root for the right soil." Her eyes close gently before she's trailing up the path homeward bound.

"Take care now," is as automatic as breathing when Lydia stands and takes her leave, called out as sincerely despite the knee-jerk reaction of it. It doesn't take long for Smedley to stand in turn, whistling to the dogs even as he shoves his hands back into his pockets and lumbering toward, with Carson at his side.

She has a point, as much as he may hate to admit it. So it gets pushed away, back to the back of his mind alongside the thing that burns. He'll gather his charges, and then he'll see to quenching that fire with a liquid one.

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