Sandwiches and Streets


grace_icon.gif mackenzie_icon.gif

Scene Title Sandwiches and Streets
Synopsis Two strangers meet in a deli and converse on the way to their respective homes.
Date August 11, 2008

Piccoli's Delicatessen

Everything about Piccoli's is welcoming. There's a large, cheerful neon sign mounted on the roof, the interior is brightly lit and spotlessly clean, and the old-fashioned decor is more reminiscent of mother's kitchen than a successful business. Since the doors opened in 1946, Piccoli's has been best known for pastrami, hot dogs, corned beef, and salami. The wait can sometimes be a little long, but the prices are reasonable and the food is always worth it.

Evening finds the delicatessen a little less busy than it was at the peak of the day. That just means new arrivals have their choice of seating. It doesn't seem to stop there from being a line at the counter, probably because only one person is on duty right now — although at least it's short. Dressed in a loose dark blue tee and lighter jeans, Grace is both second in line and at the tail end. She doesn't seem to have been waiting long enough to lose her patience, even if she does lean on the counter to look over at the staff putting together the other person's sandwich.

MacKenzie enters the delicatessen and scans the seating while confidently walking to the end of the line. She looks a little tired, and a few of her braids have slipped out of her hair band, which holds the rest of her hair in a pony tail. From the end of the line she briefly looks over the sandwich selection.

The chime of the bell on the door distracts Grace from her study of sandiwch-making, and she glances back to offer the new arrival a polite smile. When the other customer pays for his sandwich and retreats to a table, she steps over a bit and turns that same smile on the worker. "Hi. I'll have the pastrami and Swiss on sourdough." The sound of Grace's voice — harsh and rasping, perhaps as if she'd swallowed gravel — visibly startles the sandwich-maker, and he hesitates before starting on the order.

MacKenzie sends a smile in the way of the one who just smiled at her. Still as collected as she was when she arrived at the deli, MacKenzie's only action is to surreptitiously remove her watch and slip it into the pocket of her slacks. Her hand now out of her pocket, she looks Grace's way and asks, "Do you have the time?"

Another glance is given MacKenzie's way, before Grace glances down at her own wrist. "Yeah. It's quarter after 7." The rustle of the paper her sandwich is wrapped in draws the woman's focus back to the counter, where the worker has totaled the order. As she pays for it, he asks the nearly inevitable question, 'Are you okay?' Grace grins at him, picking up the sandwich. "I'm quite well, thanks." And she steps away from the counter.

MacKenzie smiles at Grace and says. "Thank you. I guess I don't need to get this to go." She then tells the man at the counter, "I'll have the salami on rye." Not so discreetly, she looks to see where Grace is sitting.

A distracted nod is given to MacKenzie as Grace moves off to find herself a seat. Taking one near the windows and facing the door, she sets down the bag she's carrying, pulling a water bottle out and setting it on the table. At which point, the woman proceeds to unwrap her sandwich, having put both worker and woman behind her.

When MacKenzie's sandwich is ready, the man behind the counter says, "Here you go, ma'am," and presents the woman's sandwich to her. After paying by credit card she takes the sandwich with her to the seating area.

Noticing the other woman on her way over, Grace looks at her for a moment, expression mildly curious. She lets MacKenzie find her own seat, though, neither inviting nor forbidding in demeanor. Which means, if MacKenzie were to close, odds are Grace wouldn't be too bothered.

MacKenzie sits at a table adjacent to Grace's table, choosing the seat nearest to Grace. She then unwraps half her sandwich and takes a bite out of it. When an Emiliana Torrini song is played on the deli's speakers, MacKenzie idly begins to sing along in a dead-on impersonation of Emiliana. MacKenzie then abruptly stops herself and takes an unusually large bite out of her sandwich.

She who has a unique voice doesn't miss the similarity in the singing. Washing down her current bite of pastrami with a drink of water, Grace twists in her chair to look over at MacKenzie. "You sing pretty well," the woman points out.

MacKenzie smiles, probably relieved about what Grace did *not* say. After swallowing down the last of her own bite of sandwich she says, "Thank you. It must be all those years of singing in church."

"That might do it, I suppose. Wouldn't really know." Grace has never been particularly religious, and that lack doesn't seem to bother her any. Setting her sandwich down for the moment, she picks up the water bottle and takes another drink.

Perhaps wanting to move the conversation into safer territory, MacKenzie asks, "Not the church-going type?" She takes another more reasonably sized bite of her sandwich.

"Nah," Grace agrees. "Never really saw the attraction." She takes another drink, then grins broadly at her companion. "And I couldn't sing worth beans, anyway." Not that church is all about singing. But that's where the conversation started.

"For me it's a place where I can connect with members of my family and members of my community," MacKenzie says. "The singing is fun. About the only part I didn't like is the fashion show aspect."

"Hm." Grace picks her sandwich back up and takes another bite, chewing on it for a bit and not making any reply until she's finished. "I can see how that would get blown out of proportion." No comment is given on the family or community aspects. "People can be worse than peacocks."

MacKenzie laughs and says, "Yes, they can." Having recently had incentive to read about evolutionary biology, she asks, "Did you know peacock tails don't even contribute to survival? That they're just a way of saying, 'I have so many resources that I can afford to waste them on these feathers'? Just like a man with a sports car and a two-hundred-dollar jacket."

Grace eyes the other woman sidelong. "No, I didn't." Her last biology class was a long time ago. "Hmph. Sounds like how it looks, though," she concludes after a moment. "Yeah. Don't see quite so many sports cars around these days, though," Grace adds, before she finishes off her sandwich.

"That's true," MacKenzie says. Looking down she adds, "That's one of the more fortunate losses." She then eats the rest of her own sandwich.

"I suppose you could look at it that way," Grace replies. She looks down at her water bottle for a moment, then tosses one shoulder in a shrug. Taking a last drink, she replaces the container in her bag and crumples up the paper on the table.

Noticing that Grace is apparently about to leave, MacKenzie says, "It's been nice talking to you." She adds, "I'm MacKenzie by the way." She wipes her hands with a napkin.

Grace smiles at Mackenzie. "Likewise," she replies, leaning over to shake the offered hand. "Grace." Standing up, she steps away from the chair and pushes it back in at the table. "Enjoy the rest of your evening," the woman adds, before going to throw away the debris.

MacKenzie smiles and says, "Thank you, Grace. You too." She stands and goes to the bin herself.

Grace regards the other woman with a bit of surprise as she's followed to the trash bin, but only smiles wryly before heading for the door. Assuming that, with all the possible places there are to go in the city, they'll wind up going separate ways once on the street.

Little Italy

MacKenzie exits the deli. Noticing she's walking in the same direction as Grace, she looks down at her feet before saying, "Hello again."

Grace chuckles softly, if the sound her ruined voice makes can really be termed such. "Stalking me or something?" she asks, tone light — although anyone not accustomed to interpreting her voice can be excused for not picking up that detail. Slinging the bag up over her shoulder, she sets a fairly stiff pace down the street. Apparently her natural speed is 'fast'.

Not one to let the grass grow under her feet herself, MacKenzie manages to keep up. Taken aback by the question, she says, "No, just going the same way."

"Hm." Grace lets that reply sit for a bit, watching the few others out on the evening street. Most of the smart people have already headed for doors with locks, or are in the process of doing so. "And where would that be?" she asks curiously, finally making a response for the sake of conversation.

MacKenzie points straight ahead and says, "My sister is supposed to pick me up that-away. Where are you off to?"

Grace tips her head in the same direction. "Greenwich Village." Apparently, she's walking there. But then, Manhattan Island isn't /that/ big across.

MacKenzie nods and asks, "What's Greenwich Village like these days? … I mean, how is everyone holding up?"

"Well, I wasn't here before the bomb," Grace points out as they walk. "It's mostly intact, but — like just about everywhere else, I hear — the crime rate's still practically through the roof." She checks her watch; not yet 8:00. Plenty of time. "Most who could, left. Lot of empty business spaces." But apparently Grace decided to move in; not the usual course after such a disaster.

MacKenzie nods as if to say, "Yes, like just about everywhere else." Raising an eyebrow she asks, "So you moved here *after* the bomb?"

Another harsh chuckle. "I was with one of the Air Force crews sent in to help afterwards. Since I was already here when I resigned — " Grace shrugs easily. "— seemed like I might as well stay. Closest I've got to family is here." Which is only half the reason, but MacKenzie doesn't need to know that.

"That makes sense," MacKenzie says. "Family is what keeps me here." Looking at the other woman she asks, "How long did you serve?"

Grace nods to MacKenzie, though she doesn't ask any questions about her companion's family. "Eight years," she answers. "Specialized in computers and electronics, mostly," she adds, anticipating the probable next query.

"I spend a lot of time at my job interacting with people who specialize in computers," MacKenzie says. "I make only minimal use of them myself."

Grace nods slowly. "Seems to be true of a lot of people. 'Tis the way the world works." She pauses at an intersection, tilting her head to indicate the street further down. "You going on that way?"

Pointing at a blue car with a woman behind the wheel, MacKenzie says, "No, I'm going that way. Do you need a ride?"

Grace shakes her head. "No, thanks. It's a pretty light run." She nods to MacKenzie. "Good night - again," says the woman, raven's voice dry. She waits long enough for the return valediction, then turns and starts jogging down the cross-street.

MacKenzie says, "Good night. Thank you for the conversation." She then waves to the other woman before getting into her sister's car.

March 2007: I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours
August 12th: The Civella Recording
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