So How Is The Weather



Also Featuring:

wf_odessa_icon.gif wf_woods_icon.gif

Scene Title So How Is The Weather
Synopsis It's happening again.
Date July 31, 2018

A scorching hot and dry wind blows over a dune of orange-hued sand. Black trees choked in ash and caked in soot twist up from the ground like burned fingers, broken and twisted in a vice. The sky is a haze of orange and yellow, thick like fog but acrid and foul. The wildfires that ravaged the New Jersey Pine Barrens still rage, a roaring inferno that tracks itself across parched earth, scouring the topsoil away and leaving nothing but rock and dust in its wake. The burned out husk of a pickup truck lays crooked off of what was once a road, warped by heat. The truck's tires are melted to the asphalt, windshield and windows exploded by extreme temperature. A series of dusty bones wrapped in denim and threadbare cotton are not far from the body, a dusty gold watch melted to wrist bones mostly buried in sand.

Imagine me and you, I do

Music blares over the dunes, followed by the whining road of a small engine. The dune buggy that comes blasting over the hill kicks up a wake of sand, crashing back down with a squeak-screech of its suspension before puttering to a stop beside the burned out husk of the truck. Radio blaring a song by The Turtles, the buggy's lone driver presses a black boot into the grit, rising up from the vehicle and removing a pair of battered ski goggles from over his eyes. Squinting against the stinging smoke and hot breeze, James Woods surveys what was once the Egg Harbor township, lips pulled back into an open-mouthed grimace. "Fuck, this ain't much'f anything at all, is it Deputy?" Woods looks to the woman in the passenger seat, then lifts a pair of binoculars up from where they hang around his neck.

"It isn't much of anything at all," the blonde seated beside woods notes with a raise of her brows, running one hand through her hair. Odessa Price slowly rises up to stand through the top of the buggy's roll cage, looking from Woods to the horizon and wondering what it is he sees.

I think about you day and night, it's only right

Through the binoculars, Woods spots two plumes of dust rising up from the fire-baked ground, amid a field of blackened and still-smoldering trees: vehicles moving east to west. "Yep, looks like the Firsters are still sweepin' the area. You were right, Deputy," he pulls his eyes away from the binoculars and looks back to Odessa, "two patrols, probably a shotgun gang." He looks back into the lenses, squinting again as he zooms in. "Looks like four, an' one big ugly fuckin' dog. They never 'ave cute dogs, just big mistreated mongrels that'll tear your throat out. Why's that, eh?"

Odessa's brows furrow. "For… for security, Woods. They have the big dogs for security."

To think about the girl you love and hold her tight

Woods glances at Odessa again, rolling his shoulders. "Oh come the bloody fuck on, I know it's because it's for security, but don't y'think there's an underlyin' condition tha' traces itself back t'their upbringin'? They can't be seen as intimidating if they've got a Scottish terrier in their back seat, yeah?" One of Woods' brows raises slowly, then drops quicker. "Oh you're just no fun a'tall." Swinging one leg back into the buggy, Woods settles down inside and lets the binoculars hang around his neck again. "Let's check Linwood, maybe th' fire din'na burn out the coast much?"

Her lips downturn into a frown, shoulders rising with a shrug. "I… I don't know. I mean, I guess? I'm not a psychiatrist." Though she could certainly use an hour or two clocked with Doctor Sheridan, wherever she is these days. Woods doesn't have much to say to that, and Odessa sinks back down into her seat, hands folded in her lap.

So happy together

With a rev of the engine, Woods peels out and roars away from the burned truck, kicking up a plume of dust and ash in the wake of the buggy's tires as he does. The black trees whip by, one after another, even as the vehicle jostles with every rock and piece of deadfall it drives over or swerves to avoid. "So I was thinkin' when we get back t'the others, maybe you'n me could go for a little stroll?" Woods looks to Odessa again. "Yeah? Take one long drive up the coast, go out t'Montauk, maybe do a picnic or somethin'?" He looks back at the terrain whipping past, carefully driving around another derelict vehicle destroyed by the fire.

"That'd be nice," she notes, though there's something languid about her response. With eyes halfway lidded, Odessa watches the scenery blow past, as smoky and ruined as it is. "Montauk's… I don't have a lot of good memories there," she belatedly notes.

If I should call you up, invest a dime

"I mean, I'm not particular t'Montauk. I just figure its the easiest coast t'get to." Woods notes casually as he drives. "Fond memories of stoppin' by when tha' place was mothballed t'pick up files fer Miss Dalton. 'Course it figures tha' they'd go an' move in there full time after I…" Woods furrows his brows, shaking his head and looking to the blonde at his side. "No, no. See, tha's the thing, in'it? Coney Island would make perfect sense, but it's kinda' a fuckin' mess now. I miss the Slusho machines," he adds with a frown, looking down to his lap and momentarily away from the road, "I miss a lot a'things, come t'think of it."

Looking down to her hand, turning it over to examine from palm to knuckles, Odessa murmurs a soft, "Me too."

And you say you belong to me and ease my mind

Rumbling up from the dusty field of fire's passage, Woods gets back up on the fire-cracked asphalt and the ride is considerably smoother. "Wha's your favorite beach?" He asks of his partner in the buggy. The question elicits a look from Odessa to Woods, then back to her hand, then to the horizon.

"Oh uh…" Odessa's brows pinch together in thought. "Tahiti looks nice, you know, in postcards." She realizes she's never actually spent any appreciable time on a beach, never really took the time to appreciate anything.

The answer has Woods nodding appreciatively, brows raised. "Y'know a'don' know if I'd have pegged you for tha'. I didn't think— " he hesitates, glancing at Odessa then back to the road.

"It's okay. I haven't really… ever seen much of the outside. Not long enough to appreciate it." Her response comes with a slow shake of her head, and blue eyes leveled up at Woods'.

"Oh. Oh, yeah, guess tha' makes sense don' it?"

Imagine how the world could be, so very fine

Shifting into a higher gear, Woods presses down the gas pedal and speeds up, finding the road almost entirely clear of debris save for small scraps of blackened wood that turn to ash when the tires hit them. "When I was a wee lad, my father'd take me for walks around the Thames. I haven't been back home in so long I forget jus' how bad tha' fuckin' river smelled in the summer. Jus' remember tha' it did. Nothing particularly good about it, or m'da, really. He was a right prick, but he'd buy me fish an' chips after a shitty night of yellin' an' hard drinkin', t'make up fer scarin' me an' mum." Woods tilts his head to the side, leaning closer to Odessa. "Don't really regret leavin' home. Just regret doin' it the way I did." That answer paints a smile across her face. They were both runaways, after a fashion.

So happy together

"We're not that different," Odessa admits with one finger twirling a lock of blonde hair around. "I ran from the only home I ever knew too. It just looks like you did a lot better at it than I did."

A burned-out husk of a gas station blows past, smoke still issuing up from the underground fuel tanks in twisting fingers of choking black smoke. "Well, tha's nice'f you t'say," Woods figures. "But the past is the past, really. It ain't nothin' but stuff tha' makes me certain I never want t'have kids of my own t'fuck up." An awkward smile flits across Woods' face. "Well, tha' an' the bloody end of the fuckin' world." Up ahead, the blackened remains of a church is barely recognizable, its steeple toppled down into charcoal stick trees, clock parts scattered across the ground and a heat-warped bell partly buried by dust and ash.

I can't see me lovin' nobody but you

Scanning the ruins of the church from across the buggy, Odessa shoots a worried look to Woods. "This… there's nothing out here." She'd rather be back somewhere safe, somewhere away from the fires.

"Yeah, it ain't exactly sight-seein' territory here." Woods notes as he eyes the bell. "So," he looks back to the road, "what's the over-under, y'figure, on Eve havin' some bat-shit crazy assignment for us when we get back? M'worried she's lost her bloody mind, because there ain't much a sane woman does that involves rubber duckies an' gunpowder."

"If we're lucky," Odessa notes with a wave of one hand at Woods, "it'll be the duckies and not a whole fucking pinata full of gunpowder again. I can't believe any of us are alive after that."

Memory of that spectacular fuckup has Woods giggling fitfully, and looking to Odessa with a fond smile. "Well, I suppose so, yeah? At least Pete's got his head mostly screwed on straight these days. Such as he can, anyway. S'good t'see him again, though the bloody look he gave me when I walked in tha' fuckin' door." A hoot of laughter slips from Woods' lips. "Priceless."

For all my life

Odessa smiles at that too. "I don't think any of us expected you to be alive after what happened in the Bronx." Though more thoughtfully, she considers the man beside her and what he'd gone through to be here, for this. "It's good that you have Peter, though. You two were always close. Like… just from the start."

Up ahead, the smoldering remains of a coastal town com into view as the buggy rumbles down a now car-lined road. Woods turns right, going off the asphalt and back into the loose ash and dust. "Yea', Pete's a good guy. But it ain't like he's gonna win leader of the year award either, y'know? I think he's run from more battles than…" Woods eases off of the gas, still trying to come up with an answer. "Than uh…" He looks to his right. "Who's cowardly— Oh! The Cowardly Lion!" That much has Woods bursting into another fit of laughter and slapping the steering wheel. "Oh, yeah, yeah, tha's a good one."

When you're with me, baby the skies'll be blue

Down the hill, Woods' buggy rumbles through the remains of a once prosperous coastal town, where the fire has torched houses down to their cellars, turned forests into smoky kindling, and reduced any signs of habitation to molten slag. The wildfire was indiscriminate, and judging from the way boats are halfway sunken into the murky harbor beyond, the fire's heat tore partway out onto the river. Woods slows the buggy to a stop, then steps out of the vehicle again and lifts up the binoculars, scanning the horizon. "You see anything?" Odessa asks with a tilt of her chin up into the air.

"Nothin'…" Woods murmurs, "jus' a bunch'a sunk ships an'…" he hesitates, squinting against the murky, afternoon sunlight coming crimson through the smoke. "I think tha's— fuck!" Hopping hastily back into the buggy, Woods reaches into the back and grabs a shotgun, resting it across his lap before he slams on the accelerator. "Hold on!" Odessa lets out a startled yelp when he lands back into the seat, gripping the sides for dear life.

For all my life

Roaring down the hill, Woods plows down a narrow side street between smoking ruins of burned houses. Sharply jerking the wheel to the right, he cuts onto what is clearly East Mill Road, judging from the heat-warped sign. Revving the gas and pressing the pedal down harder, Woods keeps one hand on the wheel and lifts up the shotgun, bracing the barrel against the front frame of the buggy. Quickly coming into view through the thin haze of smoke are a trio of men in gas masks, brutally beating a young man with baseball bats. Woods presses the gas down to the floor. "Woods stop! You'll hit them!"

"That's exactly what m'gonna do." He clarifies.

Me and you and you and me

The buggy collides with one of the masked thugs, breaking both of his legs and sending him crashing over the roll bars, one arm getting tangled up in the cage and twisting with a meaty snap before going limp and rolling over the top and crashing down behind the speeding vehicle. Odessa shields her face and screams, eyes wrenched shut. Woods jerks the wheel to the right, kicking up a rooster-tail of dust and ash behind the spinning tires, them comes back around like a joust. One of the thugs breaks into a sprint, and Woods peels out, fishtailing in the dust as he pick up speed. Instead of running that one down, he drive up parallel and levels the shotgun out across his arm holding the wheel and fires.

No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be

The thug's shoulder explodes in a shower of gore and denim, followed by another yelp of fright from Odessa, and the thug collapses to the ground and rolls end over end through the ashes until his mangled arm is caked in yellow-gray clay staining a dark red. Woods hits the brakes, then rises up through the top of the buggy, standing on one of the seats as another thug goes running past. The shotgun fires again with a deafening road, and the last thug's legs give out as one knee is obliterated by the slug. He lands on the ground, screaming and rolling about.

The only one for me is you, and you for me

"Woods," Odessa starts to say, beginning to rise up from her seat.

"Stay in the car," Woods says as he steps out, shotgun gripped tight in both hands. Slowly, Odessa sinks back down into her seat, eyes wide. The engine idles behind Woods as he moves to the first man he'd shot in the shoulder, training the gun down on him. Squinting, Woods rolls him over with a boot, then notices the man they'd been bludgeoning is still alive, but rocking back and forth on the ground in agony. He points the shotgun down into the attacker's face, then pulls the trigger. The sight has Odessa clapping one hand over her mouth in shock.

So happy together

Pulling shotgun shells out of his bandolier, Woods makes tracks across the back side of the buggy to the second man he'd shot, taking aim before he even has time to asses shis condition and fires another round into the man's back, racks another shell, and shoots him in the back of the head. "Woods, stop!" Odessa shouts, starting to get out of her seat.

"I said stay in the car!" Woods shouts at the buggy, then treads back toward the man he'd hit when this altercation started.

I can't see me lovin' nobody but you

Watching the young man crawl across the ash on broken legs, Woods comes up behind him and stomps on the back of one dislocated knee. The man's scream erupts into the air, followed by a keening gasp of agony as Woods does it a second time. "Th' fuck is wrong with you people?" Woods asks, kicking the man over onto his back. "Tha's a fuckin child," he motions to the young man squirming on the ground that they'd been beating, shotgun held down in the other hand in the attacker's face. All the while, ODessa is watching with wide-eyed horror, hands clapped over her mouth.

For all my life

"He killed my brother," the man on the ground at Woods' mercy chokes out, "hung him— from an overpass." Suddenly, Woods' expression shifts, and a dawning horror passes across his face. He looks back to the buggy, mouth agape, and then back to the twitching man with broken legs in front of him. "He's Humanis." Guilt stabs at Woods' heart, his breath is short, chest tight, face flushed with blood. He looks down at the mangled legs of the man he'd just been stomping, at his friend he'd shot to death in the street. At this distance, Odessa can't hear anything of what they're saying, she can just see Woods' posture changing, his eyes wild.

When you're with me, baby the skies'll be blue

When Woods' eyes track back to the man in front of him, he aims the shotgun down at the man's head and mumbles, "Sorry, mate," and pulls the trigger.

For all my life

Boots crunch in coarse ash and dust, each footfall kicking up a little at Woods' heels. When he reaches the young man who'd been beaten about the head and neck with the baseball bats, he sees him rising to his hands and knees. "Man, y-you saved my life from those fuckin' assholes." He turns a swollen face up to Woods, smiling a pink smile with broken teeth. "It's good to see another human out here who ain't a fuckin Evo-lov— "

Me and you and you and me

A shotgun blast echoes across the ruined town.

No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be

Woods takes a while to come back to the buggy, shotgun held gingerly and eyes downcast to the ground. He gently sets the gun in the back, then climbs back into the driver's seat. He's quiet for a little while, hunched over the wheel, hands gripping it at ten and two, eyes wrenched shut and softly crying. Odessa is frozen where she sits, trembling and hands cupped over her mouth. Slowly, tentatively, she reaches out and lays a hand on Woods' shoulder for lack of knowing what else to do.

The only one for me is you, and you for me

"I fuckin' hate this fuckin' world," Woods whispers to himself, stating to sob. "I fuckin' hate it all." His shoulders rise and fall with each shuddering breath, with each exasperated sob, and the fit ends with two balled up fists slamming against the steering wheel. "S'not fair! Nothing was supposed t'be like this! This whole fuckin' world is a fuckin' nightmare!" She wordlessly agrees, tears welling up in her eyes.

So happy together

Hunched over the wheel again, Woods and Odessa are both quiet for a time. Their only company the sound of the whipping wind, and the lonely creak of fire-damaged wood. He sniffles back another sob, then looks over to Odessa with weary eyes. "The fuck'm I doing?" He asks her, brows furrowed and eyes searching a Odessa for an answer can't give him.

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

"The fuck're we doing?" He asks again, but she no answer. The wind does, though.

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

Just a sharp whisper, and a smoky cry.

Staten Island Trade Commission

Odessa's Room

11:57 pm

With a startle, Odessa twists in her sheets and sits up, a thin layer of salty sweat clinging to her skin and the blankets. Eyes wide, she looks around the room, and sees a single mote of green firefly light sputtering around beside her, before flickering out entirely.

Leaving her alone in the dark of night with her thoughts.

Or, someone's, anyway.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License