Stuck in the Middle


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Scene Title Stuck in the Middle
Synopsis Adam approaches McRae for a partnership of sorts.
Date November 11, 2009

Angry Pelican

A stone's throw away from the little makeshift harbor on the foreshore of the Arthur Kill river is this little even more makeshift bar. Little more than a shack, the interior barely fits more than its own stock of alcohol and kitchenware, and the seating spaces are outdoors under a rickety wooden cover decorated with fishing paraphernalia and nets. The chairs and tables are broken down cheap things that look like they've been scavenged from all over the place, mismatched but comfortable with some cushions or blankets thrown over them. The ground is sandy and dirty, as if the beach extends right under your feet, and despite being outdoors, the place is cluttered. Simple alcohol is provided - whiskeys, rums, and beers - without a chance of food, and you'll mostly find yourself in the company of thieves, considering the kinds of boats that dock here.

David McRae is out for a drink. He doesn't come alone, but he's alone when the hands of the musty old analog clock between plastic crabs on the Pelican's wall click twelve, his companion having excused himself to evict the contents of his bladder somewhere that— hopefully isn't somebody's shoes.

McRae wouldn't honestly be surprised if it was; Charles was seeing red by the end of Emile Danko's trial, or the farcical cesspit of shouting temper and differing moral standards that served thereas, and it was as much for the younger man's sake as for his own that he invited him out for beers. Now the old man is fifteen dollars shorter than he was an hour ago and, it seems, down more soldiers than are merely dead. Too many have already died. He never thought he was really going to be part of this war—

"Thank you," he tells the barman, saluting briefly with the shotglass after he's knocked its transparent contents back with a nasal scorch of scent at the back of his throat. He exhales, closes his eyes briefly, squeezes them before reopening their bloodshot blue panes to study the snaggletoothed and stained troop of bottles along the shelf.

Adam's been quiet around New York, aside from those few people he's contacted. No big grand gestures, no large explosions, just quiet, delicate tapping along the frame that he's been pushing at with the previous explosions and grand gestures.

But of all the people he's been seeking out, none has been more elusive than David McRae. For whatever reason, Adam has been looking along the shores of Staten Island for the weather wizard and it's only tonight that he's finally found him. He doesn't approach the man while his companion is with him, he waits for him to go off eventually. When he does, Adam smoothly slips up to the bar and sits down next to the man. "Buy you another, David?" he asks in a quiet, amiable and british voice. "You look like you've had a Hell of a night." he mms, "Not the half of it I hear." of course, he's actually heard very little. That's one disadvantage of being so subtle, less people remember to tell you things, but drunk men who think they're talking to another knowledgable cohort tend to let things slip.

"They mentioned you." The first slip, if it can be regarded as much, comes accompanied by a squint that can be termed neither hostile nor friendly. "In conjunction with murderers and liars. How can I help you, Adam?" There's a nod of his thinning dome when the bartender swoops like a vulture upon the Englishman's offer of money for him and alcohol for McRae. The drink offer may thus be regarded as accepted, effectively, though the weather wizard doesn't assign words to it. Sure.

As Adam wishes. Another shot of tequila lights on the bar, is pushed two inches closer to the callused curl of the man's hand before the bartender abandons it. The calluses are on the inside of David's palm, thickened over the curvature of knuckles and the bases of hsi fingers: those of a farmer, not a fighter.

There's an interesting way to play that. Because he's not clear who mentioned me or why they were talking about murderers and liars. But, it's not hard to suss out who exactly would be talking to McRae about Adam and who would use words like murderer and liar. "They've got blood on their hands too. I suppose in a way most of us do." he doesn't order a drink, there's no point because he can't get drunk. But he pauses, indicating to McRae there's pieces of what he said that he doesn't have information on, a bit of truth in the ruse, "But why would I come up? I didn't have anything to do with it."

There's a slight bob of motion through McRae's fingers, accepting, dismissing, or both. "Peripheral. You were an example of something, I can't remember precisely and shouldn't trouble you with the details. I wouldn't worry about it; we all have our reputations." A beat's pause, lagging, unhappiness clouding the old man's face as the weight of his own words sinks in, the weight of his own reputation pressing lag into the beat of his heart. Whatever his reputation is, he's long since lost the taste for it. "What brings you to Staten Island? The Refrain market?" There's no real rancor in his voice, in asking, the same rough slow register.

Adam chuckles a bit, "No…I don't really take direct interest in any of that. I put it in motion and it has its own gravitas. Sort of like Norman. Or…" he trails off, letting McRae fill in the blanks with whatever's wearing on him. After a moment of quiet he says, "I was looking for you, David." he says, "I thought that there might be a chance you had tired of general inaction and compromise. Of dealing with so many people with dishonest standards." he presses forward a moment, "I thought we might talk about a future, in fact."

"You're terribly vague given your proposition is concrete action," McRae observes in an equally circuitous, elliptical sort of way, equanimous despite a certain droll quality to his patience. He takes more tequila, lays the shotglass down without perceptible annoyance at the lack of availability of lime. A beat, and then his demeanor softens, or at least his choice of words does, smoothly sanding a margin of room for Adam's quasi-Socratic aesthetics to squirm within. "I would like to hear about the future. Right now, I admit: I can't see much of one when I look forward."

Adam considers the response lightly and thoughtfully, he slides his fingers in turn across the bartop and says, "There's always a future. There's just a question of how many people are left in it really or whether it's worth surviving in." he taps his hand against the counter, "I think Norman sees that. Norman's problem…other than a general disregard for life, I suppose, is that he lacks all patience when it comes to seeing the big picture." of course, it's sort of easy to step back when you look at things in terms of centuries than decades. "I want to work with you. Help you with what you need and have you help me with what I need. Right now, all I need is information, Staten Island seems to be the lynchpin of the whole damned thing and I don't have enough people on there."

The old man's head tilts slightly on its axis, his expression hardening and thinning in piecemeal portions of anatomy. By the end, his mouth is anemically white, humorless, his eyes hooded, considering. A beat, and he pushes his fingers through his hair. "My people are not privvy to much information that I believe a man of your means and interests would be interested in. There's nothing tactical. Nothing even directly political.

"I don't imagine you're trying to open up the island for tourism, are you? I know where the more scenic parts of the beach and Greenbelt are. White isn't one to share his secrets with an old friend. Not one with my inclinations."

Adam shakes his head for a moment, "I think you'd be surprised what a man of my means and interests would be interested in. It's all connected, David. It always is." he shrugs a shoulder at the comment about White, "I wasn't asking you to give up secrets on Norman." he says, "I think whatever Norman is doing is.." he pauses, "Well, it'll certainly make things happen, whatever it is."

"But why try transforming a warzone? Why not find a new place for you and your people? Land is land. Putting too much sentimentality in one lump of dirt and rock gets too many people killed."

"We are helping the Ferrymen. There's a strong presence of transients and a sense of haven in this place. I can't say it brings much good, but it has an appeal for certain people, as I'm sure you're aware." McRae inclines his head, rotates weary eyes up the wall to the visible squiggle of breakage, seismic or by age, up the grain of the stone and cheap wood. "What would you use this information for?

"Is your agenda righteous?" The question is almost infantile in its simplicity, he knows, and he would be almost ashamed of it if he wasn't drinking. If he hadn't been drinking.

Adam is considering how to answer McRae's question. It's really hard to tell any specifics for information he does not yet have. And 'try and make the world a pile of cinder' isn't really an appropriate response. But when he's asked if his agenda is righteous, he seems rather surprised. At which point he says, "Of course my agenda is righteous." but then, any believer believes their agenda is righteous. "David, I can make the world a better place. I swear I can. My methods aren't pretty. They're clearly not popular, but they're effective. I do what I do for the greater good." he says, "And I don't lie to myself about who or what I am for doing it."

Suspicion and amusement begin to run together in the old man's face, like cheap paint on a wall that isn't properly dealt with. Against the grain, with the grain, on a day that has too much humidity with it. McRae rests his face against a spanned forefinger and rough thumb, exhales coarsely.

That tequila is hitting the spot. Even in his mood for excess, he's entirely certain that that has been more than enough glasses for him. "A better place," he repeats, thickly. "Well, I can't fault you for wanting that, however deranged your terms are. I'll consider this. Do you have a way that I can contact you?" he inquires, suddenly abrupt, business-like. He extricates a phone from his pocket, an unattractively cheap and broadly-proportioned thing.

Adam tilts his head, it's unclear whether he's curious about McRae's attitude or the fact that the old man has a cellular phone. He pauses a moment and slides out a piece of paper. Upon the paper he writes down a phone number, "You can call this number." he says and slides it across, "It'll reach me." he pauses, "We really can help each other, David. I wouldn't be so hated if I wasn't effective."

Paper instead of type. This is acceptable by McRae's standards, despite a momentary discombobulation when he tries to put his phone back into his pocket and. Well. Misses. Second time's the charm, though, and by the third second he's pulling up the paper to examine. The numbers waft in and out of focus three or four times before squaring solidly into legible focus. It takes him only a moment to decide that this will be readable when the time comes, too, and the paper is folded forefinger over thumb, safely sequestered away in his pocket.

"Very good," he answers, straightforwardly. His gaze seesaws slightly into the space over the regenerator's shoulder, an instant of blinking consideration at the Pelican's ramshackle doorway. A young man is emerging out of the darkness, scratching his shoulder against the doorframe and stringy fibrous netting, tottering slightly and sporting a fat bruise and scabbing notch in his lip.

Adam glances over his shoulder towards the man who is presumably McRae's companion from earlier. He reaches forward and pats McRae's shoulder a bit and says, "Well, I hope to hear from you, David." he says, "I hope things…work out." his lips purse a moment and then he steps away and starts to make his way out of the makeshift bar. For now.

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